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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
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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
"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
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I found Mary Oliver's Rules for the Dance to be helpful in further discussion of metrical verse. I found Susan Goldsmith Woolridge's Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life With Words and Julia Cameron's work helpful in prompting the creative process more. I liked the writing prompts in Robin Behn's The Practice of Poetry Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach. I recently ordered for Lewis Turco's The New Book of Forms Handbook of Poetics to continue in the study of forms of poetry. I found it useful to discover classic and award winning poets and look for them at my library and on amazon.com. But I still refer back to this book constantly because I found it a very useful in growing in my own journey as a poet. This is because it stresses the more spiritual aspects of poetry, which is what the essence of poetry is about. But more resources are needed to develop the craft of poetry.