Sometimes one is asked to review whether something has been life draining or life giving. Malcolm Guite priest, poet and rock musician, is very definitely the later both in his poetry but moreover in person.
He talked about poetry being the embodying of the imagination in the local, but I felt that he himself is also the embodiment of poetry and therefore the imagination. His enthusiasm is infectious and his ability to quote poets to elucidate his responses to our questions was a gift.
He read some samples of his poem and although his books are readily available he makes them all available for free on his blog for all to enjoy and for us as priests to use to help open the horizons of our congregations. See https://malcolmguite.wordp ress.com/blog/ where you can also hear him read his poetry.
Our questions to him were earthed in our experience as priests. And as someone nervous about how to access poetry having no great literary tools in my personal inventory, he encouraged us all not to be fearful for he believes ‘poetry restores to the preacher the incarnation’.
He alluded to the reading of non-scriptural readings in church services as a way of accessing the imagination of the biblical writers and suggested Paul used this technique in Acts 17.
His advice on using poetry in our preaching is to be careful that it is not the closing of an argument but the opening of door from the street into a garden with a fountain in which there is an open space to explore.
He teased us with a poetic structure called a sestina, which akin to campanology weaves a pattern of repeated words. Yet he encouraged us that a poem contained by a form, rather than restricting the imagination, actually deepens the poem. He suggested that Wikipedia on poetic form was the place to experiment ourselves and have a go at writing poetry. Not least because he believes that metre and rhyme will restore the poem to every person in society, which has been robbed of it joys, by overly complex writing in the last century.
I think by now you can tell that I am a fan not least because he had piqued my desire to engage with poetry to dive into the glory of God which he said is always present but not always noticed. Poetry is not to be art contained in a gallery for the knowledgeable spectator but rather a doorway leading out from academia to a God infused world.
I left the lunch hungry. Hungry for the chance to use his book devotionally but also to become a mediator of poetry to those who might not otherwise encounter its gift of life.