Poetry and prayer: making the connection
Writing creatively, especially the writing of poetry, can help one connect with God even when one is not consciously doing so.
This was a point stressed by acclaimed Singapore poet, Dr Anne Lee Tzu Pheng, at a full-day workshop held at CANA – The Catholic Centre on Sept 26.
The workshop, titled On Earth as it is in Heaven: Connecting with God through Poetry, aimed to show participants how poetry is a way of praying, and how the simplest poem can be the deepest prayer.
“To work with words, especially creatively, is to touch and connect with God because all words are holy,” Dr Lee, a professed member of the Secular Franciscan Order, told the 15 participants.
She shared that from the earliest times, Man had responded to what moved him most in the form of poetry.
The first examples of poetry, which included creation stories and spiritual teachings and songs, began as oral traditions and were later written down.
“The basic pulse of poetry is to make images,” said Dr Lee. Images appeal to people’s imagination and senses, and they stir up feelings, she added.
The way that people in ancient days have expressed their response to life in poetry continues “up to our present day”, she said.
Dr Lee also drew a parallel between the unifying work of the Holy Spirit and the creative process of poetry writing, which helps a person gain insights into things.
During the workshop, participants also did some creative writing and were shown how their pieces corresponded to certain ways of praying.
Participants said they came away from the workshop with a deeper awareness of the connection between poetry and spirituality.
“The workshop taught me to be mindful of poetry not just as an exercise in words but as a prayer, for example as hymn, petition, suffering and thanksgiving,” said Ms Moira Ong.
Mr Kevin Koh said the class helped him “to be more aware of the power of words and how they often impact and connect us to our surrounding situations”.