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a writing seminar with Pádraig Ó Tuama

Writers have always stolen things: stories, language, anecdotes, ideas. The writer of the gospel of John stole his opening lines from the writers of the book of Genesis. And they, in turn, probably stole from some Babylonians. Nobody knows who the original stealer was, but perhaps all writers are stealing words overheard from the mouth of God in Creation. Contemporary poets, too, steal from texts. Ted Hughes, in the midst of his own hell, refashioned Eden but inserted a new character: a particularly malevolent Crow. Marie Howe brings Mary Magdalene to today, crossing a street, trying to decide whether to watch another episode on Netflix.

This workshop will examine contemporary poets who use biblical land, literature, and language, and consider how these poets are theologians whose insights can reshape our reading of the biblical text as preachers. The poems we’ll explore are not for prettying up your preaching; they’re for undoing it. Scripture itself tells us “the Word of God is alive and active.” In this workshop we will explore how poetry gives us new ears to hear the Bible’s growling, its desperate breaths, its shouting, its pleading for a different way of living.

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