Monday, January 6, 2014


Burnt Offerings, my book of poetry, will be released next week. It's a book fifteen years in the making, the poems arising from my participation years ago in a UC Extension writing class, then clergywomen's retreats, the Academy for Spiritual Formation, and lately the Amherst style writing group I participate in.

In those situations I have gathered with a group of like-minded people to learn and grow and express the longing of our hearts. I am away from my home and all responsibilities that exist outside those rooms and retreat centers. At retreat centers I show up to prepared meals, sleep in my small cell, shower in a communal bathroom, bundle up my sheets and towels when I leave and drop them in a laundry shoot.

In the writing group, someone else keeps time, someone else holds space and guides responses. In those settings I am fully present. There I write with pen and paper. There I nearly always choose poetry.

At home, I write alone. I am distracted by phone calls and UPS deliveries, by the dryer's buzz and oven timer, by cats who jump in my lap, sit on my keyboard, sail my paperwork to the floor with their flicking tails. I write with a computer, constantly editing as I write, the quick availability of technology interrupting my forward progress. At home I nearly always write in prose.

Interesting how I am shaped by those environments. When I think back to college I remember the debates over "nature versus nurture" and I think about my life wondering how much of what happened is me responding to the settings and their content and context, and how much was simply due to my natural bent.

I probably won't come up with a definitive answer, but it's interesting to speculate, and that's what I do in my poem "Shaped."  Enjoy listening and thinking about your own shaping.

The view from Skyview Observatory Columbia Center Seattle

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