Poetry and the Awakened Heart

Jennifer FerraroA two-day workshop, with associated evening events, led by international poets, artists, and storytellers, Jennifer Ferraro, Jay Leeming, and Martin Shaw.

Friday 13 and Saturday 14 April 2007, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Workshop Venue: Quaker Meeting House,
7 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Cost: Day Workshop: £20/£15, or £35/£25 for both days.
Evening Events: £7/£5, or £12/£8 for both events.

For Registration Forms: http://www.eicws.org/component/option,com_docman/task,cat_view/gid,40/Itemid,29/

Photo Gallery: http://www.eicws.org/component/option,com_zoom/Itemid,21/catid,8/

Contact: Neill Walker, This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it , 0131 331 4469.

Organised by, and under the auspices of,
Edinburgh International Centre for World Spiritualities, EICWS.

This exuberant inspiring workshop will deeply explore how poetry and the development of poetic imagination can help preserve the wild places, both without and within. Poetry can be a practice of attentiveness and deepened feeling; it can be a bridge creating intimacy, a way to speak to one’s beloved; it can also preserve and express our neglected intuitive wisdom, thereby revitalizing the hearts of individuals and communities. Through sharing of poetry and stories, through writing and discussion, we will deepen our sense of how the awakened heart and word can transfigure awareness. Join us for a cutting edge exploration of the power of language to awaken, heal and transform.

Day Workshops

Friday 13 April 2007

9.30am-10am: Arrival and Registration

10am-1pm: Intimate Distance: The Poetry of Longing and Ecstasy with U.S. poet and performer Jennifer Ferraro

1pm-2pm: Lunch

2pm-4pm: Inner Forest/Outer Thunder: Poetry, Myth and Wilderness with U.K. storyteller, mythologist and wilderness guide Martin Shaw

Associated Evening Event

Friday 13 April 2007, 7pm onwards

Wild Heart, Awakened Word: A celebration of poetry, song and dance

Saturday 14 April 2007

9.30am-10am: Arrival and Registration

10am-1pm: The Poetry of Awareness: Haiku and Renga with U.S poet and musician Jay Leeming

1pm-2pm: Lunch

2pm-4pm: Weaving the Strands of Wisdom: A dialogue/conversation with Martin Shaw, Jay Leeming and Jennifer Ferraro

Associated Evening Event

Saturday 14 April 2007, 7pm onwards

Roots and Wings: An evening of old story, ritual and poetry

Detailed Workshop Descriptions

Jay Leeming

The Poetry of Awareness: Haiku and Renga

The poetry of China and Japan has much to teach us about the awareness we bring to our poems and to our daily lives. It also provides us with an intriguing alternative to our own tradition of poetic creation, being a practice rooted in observation and perception and not in direct emotional statement. We'll begin the workshop with the poetry of the Chinese wilderness poets Wang Wei and Tu Fu, reading a selection of their poems aloud in English translation. We’ll discuss the ways in which these poems focus on the present moment, and how the heart awoken to the natural world finds its feelings reflected there. We will write some poems in this style ourselves, through an exercise which focuses our attention on our immediate surroundings. We’ll share some of these poems with each other and then move onto the Japanese haiku, reading a selection of haiku in English translation. We’ll discuss how the idea that “everything has Buddha-nature” contrasts with the Christian idea of a paradise present only in the future, and how Buddhist views of the universe are reflected in the haiku form itself. We’ll focus on the qualities that haiku share with the Chinese poets we have just read, bringing that same meditative state of awareness into this more precise and intensely focused form.

Renga is a Japanese poetic form in which many small poems are linked together to form a larger whole. We’ll read examples of the form by Basho and his followers, focusing on how the same meditative state involved in the poems of Tu Fu and Wang Wei is now expressed with a greater sense of both playfulness and loss. A renga can be more imaginative than a haiku, but is also a form defined by constant change; every small poem within it is immediately replaced by the next, in a process of constant letting-go. We will discuss how this relates to the Buddhist idea of illusion. We will then write renga together ourselves, focusing on the deeply playful, water-like manner in which a renga can transform itself, gathering the words of all the participants into a constantly shifting whole.

Participants will come away from this workshop with the following:

1. An awareness of the styles of Wang Wei, Tu Fu and Basho, and the differences between them.
2. Written examples of poems by these poets (provided).
3. A simple exercise for use in bringing attention into the present moment through language.
4. An understanding of the rules governing the haiku form, and of the major Buddhist ideas behind it.
5. Written examples of haiku by Basho, Buson and Issa, as well as renga by Basho and his followers (provided).
6. An understanding of the basic rules of renga, and how the form differs from that of haiku.
7. An experience of writing renga together with others.

Jay Leeming is the author of Dynamite on a China Plate, a book of poems published by The Backwaters Press.

Raised in Ithaca, New York, he studied composition at Bates College and music at the Salzburg Mozarteum before moving to Minneapolis to start a band. There he spent eight years writing, recording, and performing his own compositions in a variety of musical incarnations. In 1999 he moved to New York City to study poetry, earning an MFA in Creative Writing from New School University in 2001. His thesis included a poetry book manuscript as well as an anthology of poems translated from the German.

Over the years he has earned his living through a variety of means including caring for developmentally disabled adults, office work, and restoring timber frame barns. Since 2004 he has been the co-director of Roots and Wings, a world music choir which he founded.

His poems have appeared in a variety of magazines including Ploughshares, The Gettysburg Review, and Poetry East. He has been a featured reader and teacher at Butler University, the Omega Institute, Robert Bly’s Great Mother Conference and the Woodstock Poetry Festival.

He now lives and teaches in Ithaca, New York, where he writes a monthly poetry column for the Ithaca Times.

Jennifer Ferraro

Intimate Distance: The Poetry of Longing and Ecstasy

Poetic language and utterance can often be a kind of bridge: between self and other, between Lover and Beloved, between the inner and outer worlds. It is often the longing for intimacy and union with one’s beloved that compels the poet to speak, giving powerful voice to the rich complex terrain of the human heart. Mystical poetry plays fascinating games of hide and seek with the “Beloved,” the You of the poem; Sometimes the “Lover” (poet) uses the poem as a bridge to reach the Beloved, sometimes the poem is born of an ecstatic experience of intimacy and union, and sometimes there is a lamenting of the distance, emptiness and pain of separation. Paradoxically, sometimes there is even a savoring of suffering and separation!

What does the poetry of ecstatic Love have to teach us in our own lives? Can it heal our awareness from certain cultural wounds, showing us hidden pathways to wholeness and passionate embodiment in our lives?

In this workshop we will feast on the ecstatic, impassioned, tender-hearted words of poet-lovers from the Sufi tradition, the Bhakti and Tantric traditions of India, and poets of love both sensual and divine such as Neruda and Rilke. After attuning to the consciousness of the poems each day, you will have an opportunity to enter the archetype of the Lover and to write from your most potent authentic intimate voice.

What are the most passionate, awakened and secret words you long to address your Beloved with? What fills you with secret hope and brings the touch of the ecstatic into your body? How do you connect with that sacred image within yourself and commune in language? We will explore the burning point of intimacy sacred and personal to each one of us, allowing the texture, form, and voice of our central longing to inhabit our poems.

Jennifer Ferraro, MFA, is author/co-translator of Quarreling with God: Mystic Rebel Poems of the Dervishes of Turkey (White Cloud Press, 2006) and a book of illustrated poems, Divine Nostalgia.

A poet, artist and performer, she teaches writing and speaks about poetry, creativity and soul.

As an artist, Jennifer’s old-world pyrographic portraits (woodburnings) are in many private collections and she has been recognized internationally for her work in the medium.

She has degrees in writing and literature from the New School for Social Research in New York City and University of New Mexico.

For five years she toured internationally with a Turkish Sufi music ensemble, performing percussion and poetry with devotional dance.

In 2004 her poems were choreographed and arranged musically in a collaborative performance called “Intimate Distance” with a dance company in Santa Fe.

She is a student of Sufism under Pir Zia Inayat Khan, grandson of Hazrat Inayat Khan, and has studied Buddhism in depth.

She has lived in the lovely high desert city of Santa Fe in the American Southwest, since 1996.

Martin Shaw

Inner Forest/Outer Thunder: Poetry, Myth and Wilderness

In some extraordinary way we contain a body of thunderstorms, owls’ wings and open meadows. Located in our form is the wisdom and guile of a hunter, the snuffling inquisitive ferocity of a wild boar and the resolve and steady hand of a great queen. Through the poetry of myth we find a mirror of our own need for vocation, challenge and the sensual in our lives. In this workshop we will explore the Bardic imagination, through stories from the Celtic fringes of Britain, specifically exploring the role of oratory as major component in initiatory process.

Mythology is like some swan feathered cloak with unexpected pockets: you put your hand in one day and find a courting flute, the next a rooks nest, the next foam from the Irish ocean. If you start to walk with the old gods, you are lifted into a realm that requires questing, the intoxication of romance, canniness to know what to fight for. In other words, wilderness, myth and story are a tapestry of information about how to carry ourselves through our own lives with dignity and a kind of feral elegance.

A theme will be presented early in the session which will be framed in the tapestry of myth. How does the story’s metaphorical implications relate to your own life and journey? We will also examine how poetry and story are holders of ‘tacit knowledge,’ the undervalued moon sister of ‘explicit knowledge,’ primarily what we see in the media and contemporary education. Through sharing of stories, discussion and writing, we will attempt to clear a trail between the “forest” and the “village,” both in our consciousness and in our use of language.

Martin Shaw is a wilderness Rites of Passage teacher, mythologist and award winning painter. He leads “Stalking the Rebel Soul” a year-long program exploring story, wild places and the poetic imagination. For a decade Shaw has been leading individuals and groups, from at risk youth to corporate directors, through the initiatory process. Winner of the 2006 Robert Bly scholarship, he is directly involved with the use of poetry as a vehicle to what Gaelic mythology calls “The Otherworld,” the edge of the human landscape.

In his early life Martin had a successful career as a musician, touring and recording all over Europe before securing a contract with Warner Brothers in his early 20s. By age twenty-five he decided to devote his attention to his passion for wild places, old stories and great art.

Living under canvas for four years, he studied intensively the ritual and initiatory practices of tribal cultures and sought a deepened dialogue with the British landscape. As an artist he is holder of both the Summerfield scholarship in painting from the British School in Rome and the Bretherton, Price, Elgood award for outstanding achievement in the field of painting.

He is currently writing a book “The Leopard is Made of Many Crow,” an exploration of the relationship between wildness, culture and vocation.

He lives in Dartmoor, Devon in the UK.

Martin Shaw, Jay Leeming and Jennifer Ferraro

A dialogue/conversation with Martin Shaw, Jay Leeming and Jennifer Ferraro

In this final synthesizing workshop, we will consider the question: How can poetry and the poetic imagination heal, transform and awaken awareness individually and collectively? Presenters will discuss the question in light of their own work and personal lives, and invite participants to offer their insights and experience as well, weaving a rich tapestry of meaning and beauty from the workshop’s offerings.

Associated Evening Events

Friday 13 April 2007, 7pm onwards

Wild Heart, Awakened Word: A celebration of poetry, song and dance

This collaborative evening will include inspiring and soulful words shared and performed with music, hypnotic drum and lyrical dance in ways sure to enchant and inspire. This evening will expand the notion of poetry and spoken word to include the incantatory, ecstatic and profound. The program will be interspersed with stories from the Celtic lands that inflame the imagination, masterful ritualistic drumming with spoken word, Sufi poetry recited with Persian style dance, live music, the opportunity for audience participation and sharing, and a sampling of the poems and writings of presenters Martin Shaw, Jay Leeming and Jennifer Ferraro.

Saturday 14 April 2007, 7pm onwards

Roots and Wings: An evening of old story, ritual and poetry

This evening will be a mesmerizing sharing of poetry, myth and stories from different cultures, particularly those that involve a shifting of perception as a doorway into the Otherworld. In the Bardic tradition, magic happened through the vehicle of the mouth. Together we will journey through village and forest, into the wild terrain of our yet unlived vocations, through the power of oratory, myth and poetry. Martin Shaw will be our bard-in-residence for the evening, and will guide us through the intersecting paths of myth, ritual and wilderness initiatory process. Poems will be shared which spring from a deep intimacy with wilderness and the intuitive knowledge of the earth. With Jay Leeming and Jennifer Ferraro.