Today I happily introduce friend and fellow poet, Sara Letourneau. Not long ago I met Sara on social media; I have enjoyed her wonderful writing tips and learning about her life as a writer and editor. When I found out Sara wrote poetry, I connected further with her and asked her to write a guest blog. Sara agreed. I know you’ll enjoy reading Sara’s thoughts on: poetry being part of her spiritual practice. Her bio, links to connect with her, and my review of The Aurorean, the journal which published several of Sara’s poems, follow the post. Enjoy!
How Poetry is Part of My Spiritual Practice
What does it mean when a poet’s craft is part of their spiritual practice? In most cases, it’s not just about describing our observations or ideas in an artful way. It’s also about more than being moved by what inspires us. In other words, it has nothing to do with craft, talent, or motivation¾in fact, it transcends all that.
For me, poetry has long been part of my spiritual practice. It beckons me to hit the “pause” button on life and witness . . . well, everything. The vivid colors of sunset, the sulfurous smell of hot springs in Iceland, the way my body moves during yoga class¾and, most importantly, the intensity of my thoughts and feelings at the time, no matter if they’re anxious or peaceful, sorrowful or joyful.
When I write a poem, I know better than to rush things. Instead, I sit quietly, with music playing in the background, and take stock of the poem that’s begging to be written. If I’m struggling to focus, I’ll write a mission statement about the poem: two or three sentences that remind me of what I want to write about, why I want to write it, and how I hope the reader will feel at the end. In this way, the act of writing poetry asks me to be patient, clear-headed, and intentional about the process.
And just as other aspects of my spiritual practice have changed my life, so has my approach to writing poetry. By making it my “poet’s mission” to magnify the extraordinary in the ordinary, I’ve learned to walk through the world with all five senses open and awake. I now view each moment, big or small, as a blessing and with childlike excitement. I’m not kidding. I get excited about everything from the first flowers of spring to the blinding brightness of the sun after a storm. It may sound cliché, but beauty really is everywhere. And so are sources of inspiration for poems.
The funny thing is, if I had to choose three poems of mine that are good examples of my spiritual practice at work, it would be the three poems featured in the latest issue of The Aurorean, which Jenny has been kind enough to review here at her site. Let me explain each one briefly.
“Glimpse of a Bald Eagle”: The idea for this poem came to me while I was traveling to visit relatives in Maine with my parents. I was busy writing in the backseat—so busy that if my dad hadn’t said, “I think that’s a bald eagle,” I probably wouldn’t have looked up! But I did, just as we passed the eagle sitting on the snow-covered ground and before it was too far out of sight. That idea of being just in time was really what inspired the poem. It may be about a regal and iconic bird of prey, but it’s also about the act of glimpsing itself: the thrill of a split-second sighting, and the gratitude that comes with knowing you didn’t miss it.
“Late Winter Cardinal”: One early March morning, while I was driving to my day job, a cardinal flew into view. If you’ve ever seen this bright red bird fly, you may have noticed it does so with a quick, bobbing rhythm. And because the sun was rising, the angle of the morning light accented the cardinal’s feathers in a way that the bird looked like a huge ember. It was gorgeous; and like with the bald eagle sighting, it happened so quickly. I was so elated that I knew I’d write a poem about all of the layers of that moment: the musicality of the cardinal’s flight, the vividness of the feathers’ colors, and the reminder that my favorite season (spring) was just around the corner.
“Hunter’s Moon”: Yet another poem that came to me while I was in the car! This time, it was an October night, and I was driving home after meeting up with one of my friends when I saw the full moon. I’d already been fascinated with the moon for years, so moon-watching is one of my favorite nighttime habits. But on that particular night, when the moon was that buttery yellow color instead of its usual silver-white, and with thin cirrus clouds drifting across like fingers . . . gosh, it was beautiful. And, of course, that moment turned into a poem. One that’s about not just the beauty of the October full moon (Hunter’s Moon is the nickname for this full moon), but also how different people perceive that beauty and the strange affinity we have for our planet’s satellite.
How about you? How is writing—either poetry, novels, or other forms—part of your spiritual practice? What has your writing practice taught you that has transformed your life?
Sara Letourneau is a poet, freelance editor, and writing coach who lives in Massachusetts. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Mass Poetry’s Poem of the Moment, The Aurorean, Golden Walkman Magazine, From the Farther Shore, The Bookends Review, The Avocet, Soul-Lit, Amethyst Review, and elsewhere. She can often be found performing her poems at local open mic nights, reading good books, and enjoying a cup of tea. Learn more about how Sara can help you with your writing at Heart of the Story Editorial & Coaching Services. You can also connect with her at her writer website, Twitter, Goodreads, or Instagram.
- Homepage: https://encirclepub.com/aurorean/
- Fall / Winter Issue for sale at webshop: http://encirclepub.com/aurorean/product/fall-winter-2019-2020-aurorean/
HEAR FROM SARA:
Tomorrow Sara will join me for an interview on Jenny Knipfer–Author podcasts. Check on my Facebook page and Instagram for the podcast link.
Review by Jenny: The Aurorean
The Aurorean is a poetry journal containing the work of over sixty poets from the New England area. The journal contains a wide variety of poems reflecting the fall and winter months. Within its pages a reader will surely find poems which resonate with their soul, as I did. The offering compiles a diverse smorgasbord of poetry, which touches on the everyday experiences of life to the depths of loss and the heights of joy and wonder.
Those poems which struck a chord with me painted vivid word pictures of nature and the painfully beautiful moments of life. I am a poet, and I enjoy reading the poems of fellow poets. The poems of the featured poets, Martin Willitts Jr. and Sara Letourneau, were my favorite, along with Carol Grametbauer and Russel Rowland. The poem, “Hunter’s Moon”, by Sara Letourneau spoke to my fascination with the moon. I love these lines: “How many thinkers have found clarity in her fullness? How many lost souls have found home in her light? Me? I sometimes see myself in her, which means either I am partly satellite or she is partly human.”
I found The Aurorean a very enjoyable read, which I am sure I will pick up in the future and savor again.