Invitation to Poetry: A Celebration of Poetry!

Invitation to Poetry

Our 25th Poetry Party and over a year of poetic inspiration!  I had no idea when I began these how meaningful they would become to me and to those of you who participate by writing or reading. Thank you for the wonderful creative community that forms around each of these.

I select an image and suggest a title and invite you to respond with your poems, words, reflections, quotes, song lyrics, etc. Leave them in the comments or email me and I’ll add them to the body of the post as they come in along with a link back to your blog if you have one (not required to participate!) I’ll add your contributions all week and then I will draw a name at random on Friday morning from everyone who participates and will send the winner a special prize in honor of my 25th Poetry Party — a signed copy of my new book Lectio Divina: Contemplative Awakening and Awareness . Feel free to take your poem in any direction and then post the image and invitation on your blog and encourage others to come join the party!

This week’s theme is simple, I invite you to write a poem celebrating the gift of the written word in your life.

The photos below were taken this past summer in the library at Melk Benedictine Abbey in Austria (to see the library, click on the link in the righthand sidebar that says “The Abbey museum, marble hall, library, church” and then click “Library.”)  

From their website: “In the order of importance of the rooms in a Benedictine monastery, the library comes second only to the church” –another reason I love the monastic tradition!


“is like one organic process with four moments —
reading, meditating, praying, and contemplating —
flowing naturally into one another.”

Being –
Consciousness –
Bliss –
Behold! the kingdom of God is within you!

(Luke 17:21)

-submitted by kigen


with breathless anticipation
i run my finger down your spine
to be entertained
swallowed up
taken away.
to dream
to learn
to feel with you.
i peek inside
then slowly dive in
gratefully losing myself.

and when i’m through
my heart is full
my mind is awake
and i miss you.

-Nichol at Yankee Girl’s Journey



I pause to breathe
the words from the page.
Ancient letters carried
though time, fragrant
in this sacred space.

With eyes closed I
sense the new dawn.
Illumination comes
as the Spirit stirs.
Lectio Divina.

-Andy at a man breathing


Hardwood floors that creak with each step
Sounding too loud in the deep silence –
Passing through slanting bars of bright sunlight
Streaming from tall uncovered windows
Filled with a million dust motes dancing with abandon

Standing still and silent in a forest of tall wooden cases
Towering upwards to a distant shadowy ceiling
Like ancient trees
Spreading untold limbs filled
with book
upon book
upon book
beyond counting
beyond knowing

Breathing deeply
That unique scent of dust and old paper
Long bound and waiting
Book! It cries
Hinting of untold discoveries hidden between brittle pages

Wonder and longing
Buried deep inside
Awaken and
Stretch out an arm….

-Rebecca at The Difference a Year Makes


i read a voice once.
it said what I could not
about the stain of life
on parchment;
about not making a house from my own words,
about being quiet
inside another‘s throat,
inside other restless eyes.
listening for what it is like there,
allowing word and silence
to run slow like water
and pool like longing
inside a sullied cup.

-Laure at Weaving the Hours


Let me tell you about myself
I have died repeatedly
and continue to live
I have seen the future
and lived in the past
I can travel the world end to end
in the time it takes to blink
I have climbed Mt Olympus
and feasted with the gods
I have known and lost love
more times than can be counted
I have lived like a king
and fought as a knight
Don’t believe what you’ve heard
Let me tell you more
I have tasted the salt
of all seven seas
Felt the rough scales
of a mighty dragon
Smelled the foul stench
of Medusa’s lair
Heard the deafening sound
of a thousand swords clashing
and I have seen the jagged scar
on the head of the boy who lived
Who am I you ask
a wizard
a magician
a fraud
I am just one of many wanderers
that travel the written word



Toni Morrison wrote, “They straightened out the Mississippi River in places, to make room for houses and livable acreage. Occasionally the river floods these places … but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering. … All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Writers are like that: remembering where we were, what valley we ran through, what the banks were like, the light that was there and the route back to our original place.”

The written word flows like the mighty Mississippi!

-Tom Delmore at Crow’s Perch


“Let me read with open eyes the book my days are writing and learn.” 

-Dag Hammarskjold

(submitted by Jenifer Hartsfield at South Texas Art League)


The Fellowship of Poets

Seasons may
burnish words golden
or bring forth empty husks

but we affirm
the burning which consumes you
the searing ache to
capture the live flight
of the moment
and give prismatic voice
to wings

Now know this
and be comforted:
you do not sing

– Diane Harvey

My Daughter’s Class Writes Poetry

Surely the teacher did not
know what she was doing
when she assigned
flame into your hands
sparks and lightning
chemical reactions
and sizzling dangerous companions

Surely the lab is about
to explode into dazzling colors
and at the very least
she could have issued
safety glasses

– Diane Harvey


In Praise of ABC

In the beginning were the letters,
wooden, awkward, and everywhere.
Before the Word was the slow scrabble of fire and water.

God bless my son and his wooden letters
who has gone to bed with A in his right hand and Z in his left,
who has walked all day with C in his shoe and said nothing,
who has eaten of his napkin the word birthday,
and who has filled my house with the broken speech of wizards.

To him the grass makes its gentle sign.
For him the worm letters her gospel truth.
To him the pretzel says, I am the occult
descendant of the blessed bread
and the lost cuneiform of a grain of wheat.

Kneading bread, I found in my kitchen half an O.
Now I wait for someone to come from far off
holding the other half, saying,
What is broken shall be made whole.
Match half for half; now do you know me again?

Thanks be to God for my house seeded with dark sayings
and my rooms rumpled and badly lit
but richly lettered with the secret raisins of truth.

-Nancy Willard

(submitted by Kathy Flugel Colle)


Poet of poets, magical prose

The rocks they heard you

The trees bear witness

The birds teach the song to their young

And the sun comes up and the sun goes down

The moon swings and arcs

Your words they live for eternity

Up with the dew and down with the rain

Through the seasons

The trunk of a tree, the face of the stone, the beginning of a page

Listen, listen, do you hear?

Walk in the woods

Pay attention to the wind

Working through the old whispery pines

Enter their quiet and understand

Without knowing for they are constantly changing

But the message stays the same

Peace, Justice, Love, Beauty


-Ben Lindwall at Journey Something



I’m so giddy I don’t know where to begin!

My only grief is that I cannot read

more than one of you at a time— one cover,
one page, one line, one word— and,
like binding against binding on the shelves,
draw you nearer to myself.  As it is,

I can only embrace you one by one.

You have introduced me to a multitude,
each with a sacred story, taking me on vast, wild journeys.

I cannot grasp it all!

You have expanded my heart, mind and soul to see

beyond myself.  What greater gift?

What can I do,
but gasp with gratitude for all
the elbows, hands and fingers,
all the paper, pens and printing presses

that have given so generously?

What can I do,
but open your covers and
be opened by

your gifts?  

-Martha Louise Harkness



Snuggled up close, to one another,
cover to cover, page to page.
Word to word, cloistered together,
ever ready, wisdom to engage.

Birthed in light and fertile air,
a dream to every willing heart.
A never, but ever, changing vision
to each eager guest impart.

Yellowed pages comfort fingers
longing for a sense of time,
smells of ancient ink arise
lifting words and prayers sublime.

O hear, the sound of one book closing,
as an accent to new thought,
freshly given to the world,
consider what God hath wrought.

-Rich at Pilgrim Path



The seductive curve
of a letter written
on ancient yellowed
vellum, smelling
of secrets. The cracked
leather binding encloses
stories that fired
the imaginations
of a hundred years
and all flowed out
of a human heart.

The scratch of pen
against the sweet curled
sheets of paper, fades
into the rhythmic patter
of fingered keyboards
no less visceral
as my fingers caress
each word to the staccato
beat, the primitive drum
of the soul.

And now, born, thought
and dream becomes
a word, a sentence,
a whole idea and ceases
to belong to you, or me,
or Aristotle bent
over his work bench
by candle light.
To the human soul,
the writer bequeaths
a universe of dreams.

-Josephine at Left Turn at Joy


Developmental snapshots

Books from long ago
Grandparents’ bay window seat
Christmas afternoon

Aunty Ruth’s Bible
Write and draw in my notebook
as I daily read

Box came from city
while I was at school today
Read until dinnertime

D H Lawrence is
required reading for English
Hide it under bed
(what would Mother say?)

Behavioural Science
Grown up now share books with Dad
Discuss not agree
(and that is fine)

Long distance plane trip
Wonder at power of fiction
almost forgotten

Grandmother’s Bible
Gift to highland teenage lass
Treasure here and now

Dust coated bookshelves
Emptying parental home
cherish memories

-Mavis at Set the Bird Free

Leah at This Far by Faith had these words to offer:

Rather than attempting a formal poem about the suggested “written word” topic (it would fill at least one book), I’ll thank Christine for the images, inspirations and friendly support. It’s rare that I don’t start a poem or reflection or retrieve one of my own graphic designs for the party, though only a little more than half of what I begin is ready to post by Friday. Nonetheless, the Poetry Parties have helped me remember past places, persons and events, ponder this present now and dream of a somewhere future in healthy, non-obsessive ways. This has been a sparse blogging year in terms of formal theology and of writing more directly about my own stuff, but uncharacteristically I’ve been allowing myself an amazing number of naps! Many of those slumbers have featured long, interesting dreams that have recast experiences from my past into where I am now and have helped me finally start sorting through ways to express my ongoing sense of call to serve world, church and creation in ways related to my gifts, passions and education. Thanks, Christine!!!


And Tess at Anchors and Masts offers this reflection:

Well here’s a thing: it’s Christine’s 25th Poetry Party at Abbey of the Arts, the inspiration for writing a poem is celebrating the gift of the written word and, despite my life-long love of books and words, no poem will come!

Ironic that the muse has completely deserted me when she should really have been paying attention.

I saw a news item today though that I loved, and I’m going to share it with you instead.

Ammon Shea is a New Yorker who has spent a year reading through all 20 volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary.

He hasn’t done so because he longs to show off long words in conversation. In fact he believes firmly that conversation is about communication and one does not, therefore, use words others are unlikely to understand.

He’s done it because he loves words. This is what he says:

All the normal emotions – grief, happiness and loss – exist in a dictionary but not necessarily in the order that you would think.

If you come across a word like “remord” (to recall with a touch of regret) it’s impossible to read that word without thinking of things that you regret yourself, he says, or to read “unbepissed” (not having been urinated on) without a chuckle.

Knowing what to call something makes me more aware of that thing. For instance, it’s not terribly useful for me to know that [the sound of] leaves rustled by the trees is a psithurism.

I don’t want to walk down the street with my girlfriend saying: ‘Listen, there’s a psithurism.’ But knowing it means I pay more attention to it.

Similarly, knowing that “undisonant” is the adjective to describe the sound of crashing waves and that “apricity” is the warmth of the winter sun brings these things more often to mind.

It’s not easy to use them in conversation and so I enjoy them for their own sake. They are like one-word poems.

You can read the full story (and more delicious words) here.


to words

acclimate, weep, ache,, wistful, anticipate, worship, allelujah, wisp, admonish, unexpected, allegory, topsy-turvy, bodacious, tranquility, barren, sustenance, bidding, stagger, cacophony, shadow, chagrin, surprise, convoluted, scapegoat, covenant, rhaspody…


calculate, reverence, clarity, raucous, caterpillar, ressurrection, discombobulated, remnant, freedom, pause, foliage, puddle, glamour, nest, immerse, mayhem, jiggle, meander, kaliedeoscope, morsel, longing, mystery, lucious, mindful, zest…




ode to the dictionary

remord materialized.
i had turned a deaf ear to the psithurism of the beautiful golden day.
nevertheless , while walking through the park, apricity stirred my dour mood especially when i realized
he dog had mistaken me for a fire hydrant and somehow i had remained unbepissed.
what a joy to have the words to express my extreme profundity!!!

-Kayce at lucy creates


Your Word knocks down the verbal strongholds in my mind
where I think I can fool others, I do not fool You.
Your Word presents the Truth with a gentle whisper,
removes the barriers of my rebellion
the defenses of an angry heart tumble to the ground.

You lovingly teach, remind, rebuke.
You celebrate and tenderly restore.

I remain at Your feet.
Lifted up. Rejoicing. Renewed.

Thank You for Your Word…

-Deb Vaughn at An Unfinished Symphony


Living Among Us

Books.  Words.  Stories.
As fresh as the daily paper.
As ancient as story itself.
They enlighten, enrich,
   nudge us beyond our comfort zone.
They can also oppress, injure,
   attempt to keep us in our place.
The gift lies in the Sacred Story,
   the story of the Holy One
   living among us.
And this Story, by necessity,
  is lived and told and written
  in varied form…
Fiction.  Poetry.   Narrative.
Drama.  Dancing.  Drumming.
Theater.  Signing.  Singing.
Living.  Loving.  Dying.
Living again.
“and the Word, the Story, becomes
flesh and lives among us.”



I wasn’t abused.  I was a not-so-secret-shame.  Better to not be acknowledged, better to be invisible.  Make the adults happy – be seen and not heard – but don’t be seen too often. In books I found the friends that made no judgments and had their own problems. 
I explored secret gardens, sat in a cold attic with Sara while she hoped for her father’s return, and rode red stallions across the sand.  I traveled around the world in 80 days and solved every mystery with Nancy, while we sighed over Ned together.  I absorbed their courage and their wisdom and their strengths until the language of their stories became the language of my story.  I commiserated with Edward and when Aslan loved him, Aslan loved me and I knew new freedom.
While the adults around me didn’t know the language that would help me grow and find my way, the adults I didn’t know and hadn’t met, found pen and paper, built worlds of truth and put my feet to paths I would not have otherwise found.  Thank God for the written word.



celebrating the gift of the written word in my life

the written word is indeed a gift. 
one I can hardly cherish
but in my own language. 
the words of my elders glow in magic and light
every time I enter this sacred space they occupy in my heart:

la frágil transparencia de escribir
escribo y me deslizo de la existencia
a la vida.
contempladas mutuamente,
perplejas, ella y yo, de nuestra esencia,
tan repetidas la una en la otra. 
en pedregosa inconsistencia
emboscadas en la senda erosionada
sedientas de luz en el verano
ciegas de añoranza por la otra.
abrazadas como sombras al santuario
a través del cual brilla
como sol,
la palabra con su luz.




With ancient patience
you lie
silent beneath
my hushed gaze
and tentative touch



My Son’s Class Reading Poetry

Surely the teacher did not
know what she was doing
when she assigned
that heavy book
of poetry to read.

I’m surprised that
the poems didn’t just
fall off the page
like crumbling leaves,
so dusty and dry.

No life, no humor,
not even
one jewel of a line
to keep me from
nodding off.

No wonder so many people
have distain for poetry.
There must be a
conspiracy among
high-school English teachers.

Maybe putting good poetry
into the hands of teenagers
would be a dangerous thing.
Who knows what
sparks might fly?

-Pam McCauley (who admits a bit of plagarism from Diane)


-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts
(Mosaic created using Flickr Toys)

You might also enjoy