I learned about poetry therapy in the early 2000s and was to study for two years to become a facilitator. From the start, I was drawn to the nature poets: Mary Oliver, Joy Harjo, William Stafford, Linda Hogan, and Wendell Berry, among others.
It stirred me with wonder, filled me with the breath of my own wildness.
Lines of poetry began to stalk me. This was poetry that arose not from some tame part of the self, but from a part that resisted domestication. The language leaped and slithered and winged its way across the page, as something deeply alive and wholly wild. It stirred me with wonder, filled me with the breath of my own wildness.
Over the years, I have come to believe that to write a poem and then to speak it out loud is to evoke the power of the elements. A poem rides the breath, just as a raptor rides the thermals. There is earth in a poem, and sunlight and sinew and the silence of stones.
“I don’t know exactly what a prayer is,” writes Mary Oliver, but “I do know how to pay attention, / how to fall down / into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass.” This reverent attention, brought to poem-making, creates a field in which inner and outer nature meet and something unique and fresh bursts forth into the world.
Mary Reynolds Thompson is an international teacher, facilitator of poetry and journal therapy, and core faculty for the Therapeutic Writing Institute in Colorado. She is author several books, including the award-winning Reclaiming the Wild Soul: How Earth’s Landscapes Restore Us to Wholeness. She has run many online courses before and is experienced in holding the space.
Mary will soon be running her 3-part course, “Writing our Way to Winter Solstice” (2, 9, 16 Dec) as part of the Hawkwood Online Programme