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Featured Poet: Judyth Hill

Last spring we launched a series with poets whose work we love and want to feature and will continue it moving forward.

Our next poet is Judyth Hill whose work is currently centered on honoring the ordinary. Read her poetry and discover more about the connections she makes between poetry and the sacred. Listen below to hear Judyth read her poems: The Hand That Holds the Pen Can Rock the World, On Call for Life, Writing Home, and WAGE PEACE.

Wage Peace

Wage peace with your breath.

Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.

Breathe in terrorists
and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields.

Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.

Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.

Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.

Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.

Make soup.

Play music, memorize the words for thank you in three languages.

Learn to knit, and make a hat.

Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief
as the outbreath of beauty
or the gesture of fish

Swim for the other side.

Wage peace.

Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious:

Have a cup of tea …and rejoice.

Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Celebrate today.

Themes of Her Work

Right now, my work is centered on honoring the ordinary… I have a daily practice of sitting with a cup of milky tea, (Bewley’s, actually…) my journal, and my favorite pen, and being available to what wants to be written.

My writing is usually driven by passion and impulse, so I’m finding this a sweet and surprising process, combining an interesting quality of empty with morning light and quiet. With nothing hot driving the poem…I love the patient practice of staying open, staying present, as words form on the page. Then – nearly always – mirabile dictu! – a poem emerges into the space the openness has created.

Traveling At The Speed

“He could work with fewer hints…”
Albert Einstein exhibit,
Museum of Natural History

Einstein loved what he didn’t know.

A good way to work, and probably the only way to think about light.

The constancy of love hides in that relationship.

No matter how we drag our feet to meet the Beloved,

Shine arrives at exactly the same moment,

as if we had hurried.

Poetry and the Sacred

Writing poetry is a practice of deep listening…and into that resonance of availability, comes Presence. The act of writing itself, that delicious surrendering to deep Mystery, is an invitation to the Divine to enter… a door opening. I love the feeling of being ambushed, the Call to Poem, the heart’s shofar, summoning us, not to understand, but to stand under, make relation, to hold steady in wonder.

Studying and teaching: Bliss! New poems: pure Grace!

There’s a great Hasidic story, of Zoyishe, who feared to meet God in heaven, because, unlike Moses, he’d done nothing great in his life. So God says, “Listen, I didn’t need you to be Moses, I needed you to be Zoyishe!” For me, reading, writing and teaching poems is remembering to be Zoyishe…to live the Gift I’ve been given.

Poetry is threshold, entrance and exit to the Morada, that enigmatic place, the tender, raw, household of faith. The celebrants, secret, but kin to hummingbird and bear, moth and musk ox, sworn to brother/sisterhood, wrestling to articulate the aching to be said – or is it heard?

Where does the urge originate? I think we are both the catcher and the caught.

I am ever grateful for this Reciprocal Echo; this singing to and back from our so utterly amazing and Blessed world, this graciousstate we celebrate: our lives!

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Last Time At The Buen

Say coyote and mean surprise.
Say fallen petals and mean the way you look at me.
Say espinaca and mean the color leaves learn at birth.
Say doorway and mean a courtyard from memory.
Say chocolate and mean little Buddha in the mouth.
Say febrero and mean first scent of sweet acacia on the wind.

When we are gone say lemon tree, say new buds, say palm fronds,
And mean that you loved it here.
Say maguey and mean thorny guardians of the heart.

Say mesquite and mean the rattle of later.
Say that twice and mean the rattle heard over long distances of night alone.
Say stars falling, and don’t mean that.
Say fish in the quiet pond and mean early rain.

Say starfish and I can’t tell you what that means.
Say cloud and mean a dream that wakes you.
Say glass table and mean the first step on a journey.
Say tamales and mean Kalamata olives.
Say I will give you what I have brought and mean voice.
Say doorway again and see what it means.
Say look one more time and mean thank you.

About Judyth Hill

Judyth Hill, poet, author, editor, teacher, educated at Sarah Lawrence, where she studied with Galway Kinnell and Robert Bly, is the author of nine books of poetry and the internationally acclaimed poem, Wage Peace, published worldwide; set to music, performed and recorded by national choirs and orchestras.

A recipient of grants from the Witter Bynner Poetry Foundation, the McCune Foundation, and New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities, Hill served as the Literature Coordinator for the New Mexico State Arts Division.

She is the current President of PEN San Miguel, conducts poetry and memoir workshops and classes at high schools and conferences world-round, including the San Miguel Writers Conference.

Hill leads global WildWriting Culinary Adventures in France, Mexico, Slovenia and Italy, and edits memoirs, novels and poetry manuscripts.

She was described by the St. Helena Examiner as, “Energy with skin” and by the Denver Post as, “A tigress with a pen”.

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Dreaming of Stones

Christine Valters Paintner‘s new collection of poems Dreaming of Stones has just been published by Paraclete Press.

The poems in Dreaming of Stones are about what endures: hope and desire, changing seasons, wild places, love, and the wisdom of mystics. Inspired by the poet’s time living in Ireland these readings invite you into deeper ways of seeing the world. They have an incantational quality. Drawing on her commitment as a Benedictine oblate, the poems arise out of a practice of sitting in silence and lectio divina, in which life becomes the holy text.

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