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Poetry as Spiritual Practice: Reading, Writing, and Using Poetry in Your Daily Rituals, Aspirations, and Intentions Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 15, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1416566502 ISBN-10: 1416566503

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Poetry as Spiritual Practice: Reading, Writing, and Using Poetry in Your Daily Rituals, Aspirations, and Intentions + Saved by a Poem: The Transformative Power of Words + Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books (July 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416566503
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416566502
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #746,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Far too many people today are still intimidated by poetry. They consider poetry elitist, difficult, a secret language impossible to crack. Poet, teacher, and mentor McDowell couldn’t disagree more. He firmly believes that anyone can write poetry. All you need is an openness to poetry and some understanding of its mechanics. Indeed, McDowell argues that poetry is, or at least can be, the most democratic literary form. His inspiring and quite lovely book explores the sound and language of poetry, examines its building blocks, discusses its various genres (nursery rhymes, hymns, elegy, free verse, narratives, haikus, sonnets, limericks, prose poems, and free verse), and includes writing exercises and meditations. He discusses, too, the significance of metaphors and similes, alliteration and assonance, and rhyme and meter. The work of great poets (from John Keats and Emily Dickinson to Lewis Carroll and Lord Byron) is cited, and so is the work of poets most of us probably have never heard of, not to mention examples of his own and his students’ poetry. --June Sawyers

Review

"Reading this lovely guide awakens in you a deeper appreciation for poetry and messages of the Spirit. It communicates a poet's soul -- and helps you articulate that deep place of truth for yourself." -- Caroline Myss, author of Entering the Castle and Anatomy of the Spirit

"In the way that Rumi allowed us to touch the heart of our soul, Robert McDowell -- with a lyrical grace -- shows you how to easily create poetry that can propel your spiritual journey beyond normal reality into cherished mystic realms." -- Denise Linn, author of Sacred Space and The Secret Language of Signs

"At the same time that Robert McDowell is teaching us to approach the reading and writing of poems as acts of prayer in his brilliantly insightful book, Poetry as Spiritual Practice, he is quietly doing another astonishing thing: creating community. McDowell's exercises at the end of each chapter liberate poetry from a solitary contemplative practice to a collective celebration of the sacred. I will share this book with everyone I love." -- Mirabai Starr, author of new translations of Dark Night of the Soul by John of the Cross and The Interior Castle and The Book of My Life by Teresa of Ávila

"Poetry exposes me to a different way of experiencing the world. When I read Poetry as Spiritual Practice I instantly translated the poems into pictures. I can see fields of grain or rain in Autumn. It is fascinating to see all the patterns and rhymes that can be woven into language. I always enjoy learning about the different ways that other people think of and experience the world." -- Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures

"[McDowell firmly believes that anyone can write poetry....an] inspiring and quite lovely book." -- Booklist

More About the Author

Robert McDowell, The Poetry Mentor, believes that everyone is born with a soul-poem, the prayer-song that awakens each hero's journey, tells each person's unique story, and connects one to divinity. He navigates his life through poetry, and he teaches others to do the same.

Author/editor/translator of ten books of poetry and prose, McDowell has said of his work, "I don't preach, promote one religion over another, psychoanalyze, prescribe drugs, or promise you wealth in (pick your number) easy steps. I can show you how writing poetry and journaling enriches your family life, relationships, and job performance. I can show you how fun writing can be. If you have a specific project you'd like to do (a book of poetry, stories, memoir, family history, essays), I can draw on my experience as a publisher and editor of 250 books to get it done. I teach workshops that benefit everyone--beginners and longtime authors. I'll read your poems and listen to your stories. I'll give honest feedback and compassionate encouragement. I'll stick with you."

McDowell is a sought-after public speaker on a variety of topics from Neurotheology, the hero's journey, and the soul-poem of work to the guide of the spirit horse and living a life of integrity and awareness. He has led workshops at Esalen, Kripalu, Pine Manor Retreat Center, California Poets-in-the-Schools, and many universities and writing conferences here and abroad. He created the community outreach program, The Rural Readers Project, and was co-founder of Story Line Press, which he led as director and editor for twenty-two years.

Customer Reviews

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It's not just a "how to," but an interesting read.
michelle j
Rather than tearing it down, McDowell lifts us all up in his joyful and loving embrace, so that everyone can enjoy the spiritual practice of poetry.
Jane R
There are lots of poems in the book, lots of technical explanations and lots of exercises.
Kevin Brennan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Brennan on July 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Reading "poetry as Spiritual Practice" was like quenching a deep thirst I didn't know I had. Robert McDowell explains with simple clarity how important prayer is to our lives, and how to create our own prayers -- as poetry. He explores the great poems of literature not as museum pieces, but as the brilliant soulful voices of our fellow human beings. He invites us to share their company, and to open our hearts as they have. There are lots of poems in the book, lots of technical explanations and lots of exercises. But McDowell seems to have that rare gift of being quite detailed and yet simple at the same time. A warm and welcoming book from a great teacher.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Galer B. Barnes on July 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For those of us without academic training in the writing or understand of poetry, poets and their writing process seem unique and incomprehensible. And yet, we all long to put into words, to set down on paper, the moments of pure grace and serenity that we experience in our spiritual process, whether that process is rigorous or casual, structured or independently woven. Poetry as Spiritual Practice removes the mystique from the writing process and offers it to us in a development of method that is not only successful, but fun! McDowell leads us through the building blocks of traditional poetic forms in such a way as to make writing these forms effective. Applying the practice of writing poetry to our spiritual process is icing on the cake. If you've ever longed to write poetry but were intimidated by the mystery of the forms, or even wondered just how to get started, this little book is a course in exactly that. With a friend, with your book group, or on your own...pick up Poetry as Spiritual Practice and experience the joy of the poem, your poem. McDowell's manner is unpretentious, the poetry is accessible, the poetic forms demystified with simple clarity. You feel as if you are sitting with him over coffee playing around with words, and every so often you will sing out with joy as you hit upon your muse.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn T. Bass on January 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm delighted that others have had a good experience with this book. Mine was not as positive. As an experienced poet, writing teacher and facilitator, I felt the text's exercises were not as engaging or as varied as I would have hoped. Many of them simply provided end words for each line and asked readers to "fill in the blank." This repeated technique certainly will short-change readers of different learning styles, and it struck me as sheer laziness on the part of the author. Likewise, I felt he could have found better and more varied poems from which to draw the book's many citations. I had hoped the book would give more guidance about (or at least examples of) how the author and others have created a spiritual practice around poetry. Instead, it seemed like an introduction to poetry writing with a misleading title. For those who share my interests and point of view, I would suggest they consider Wooldridge's "Poemcrazy" or Koch's "Making Your Own Days" instead.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By michelle j on August 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I've been a journal writer and spiritual practitioner for years. Many of my spiritual teachers read poetry at retreats and workshops, but I've always felt too intimidated to write poems myself. Recently a friend urged me to turn one of my journal entries into a poem. I wanted some help and found this book. It was exactly what I was looking for. It's not just a "how to," but an interesting read. The author gives plenty of stories and exercises that make poetry fun and less intimidating. My husband and I tried a few of the exercises together and it got him interested too. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever wanted to write their own poetry and wake up their spiritual practice.
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