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Monk in the World Guest Post: Andrea Potos

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series. Read on for Andrea Potos’ reflection and poems on the contemplative process of poetry.

My contemplative practice begins at my writing table each morning.  Spiral notebook spread open and pen nearby, I don’t start writing immediately. I read a few poems of other writers that I love, or look at art books with images that compel and inspire me. Then I close my eyes, wait for a feeling of stillness that makes space for quiet to unfold and deepen. I may also make a list of individual words that hold a resonance for me in that moment.  Always there is a pause before the actual writing happens.  As in my poem below, I am waiting, for that “doe” to find its way to the core where poetry is discovered.  I write to hear what I know, and what I may need to know and remember.   

As I move into the rest of my day, I try to bring this space of stillness and attention with me into the world. I believe poetry and beauty can be found everywhere when we are present and receptive enough to notice. And so often, poems contain such holy wisdom.  

Daily Practice

Some mornings all I do
is write down words–cistern,
tribal, cached–copying them
from sprawled pages of books
across my desk, words that call out–
glimmerings, cursive, saffron,
heartwood–holding me in place
as if to say listen, you may need me
someday, I might offer you another way
toward beauty, or even beyond. 

(appeared in Potomac Review)

When Beginning the Poem

may there be a listening
rather than a making

curiosity over expectation,

lightness and ease,
no straining 
toward some glut of air.

May you step aside 
like a watcher at the meadow’s edge
as the doe
finds her way to the center.  

(this poem first appeared in Marrow of Summer from Kelsay Books.)

Andrea Potos is the author of seven full-length collections of poetry, most recently Her Joy Becomes (Fernwood Press), Marrow of Summer (Kelsay Books), and Mothershell (Kelsay Books).  Her poems can be found widely in print and online, most recently in The Sun, Braided Way, How to Love the World:  Poems of Gratitude and Hope (Storey Publishing), and The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy,  also from Storey Publishing.  She was a longtime bookseller in independent bookshops in Madison, Wisconsin where she lives, and still needs to live surrounded by books. 

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