Poetry and Prayers for Preachers
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.
What Others are Saying
“Pádraig Ó Tuama invites us to lay our trinkets aside and turn to our treasure.”
— Malcom Guite, poet and literary critic, author of Sounding the Seasons and Mariner
“Pádraig Ó Tuama is an extraordinary person, whose influence extends quietly and gracefully across the world. His poetry bears these same qualities and brings him close. It is a gift to us all.”
— Krista Tippett. creator and host of On Being
“Reading Pádraig Ó Tuama’s work is like living inside a prayer.”
— James Martin SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage
“Pádraig was amazing. He took us into poems and writing exercises and led us through conversations about storytelling and sermons that will really help in both my writing and future preaching.”
—2019 Glen Attendee
“Pádraig was spectacular, generous, and thoughtful teacher.”
—2019 Glen Attendee
Pádraig Ó Tuama is the host of Poetry Unbound, a podcast from On Being, and he is also theologian in residence for On Being. Based in Belfast. Pádraig’s interests encompass poetry, religion, conflict, and storytelling. His poetry and theological essays receive critical acclaim from circles engaged with poetry, psychology, and religion. No stranger to the underbelly of the world, Pádraig has worked in conflict resolution for much of the past twenty years. Most recently, he was the leader of the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization; dedicated to “transforming conflict through human encounter.” A recurring guest on Krista Tippett’s On Being, Pádraig’s words bring art and theology together in a compelling experience.
+ Listen: Pádraig in conversation with Marilyn Nelson about “Choosing Words that Deepen the Argument of Being Alive.”
+ Listen: Pádraig on navigating difficult conversations and how “Belonging Creates and Undoes Us Both.”
photo credit: Trevor Brady