Two poet/contemplative/social creatives. To make sense in times of senselessness. Prayer is words and shape and art around desperation and delight and disappointment and desire. “Shame’s first language is the body.” Dignifying the desires we wish to name. “We erase our stories, we erase our existences.”
Pádraig Ó Tuama and Marilyn Nelson are beloved teachers to many. To bring them together at the On Being Gathering was a delight and a balm. Marilyn is a poet and professor and contemplative, an excavator of stories that would rather stay hidden yet lead us into new life. Pádraig is a poet and theologian and social healer at Corrymeela in Northern Ireland — “a soft place for hard conversations,” of hostility met in hospitality. They venture unexpectedly into the hospitable — and intriguingly universal — form of poetry that is prayer.
Pádraig Ó Tuama is the community leader of Corrymeela, Northern Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization. His books include a prayer book, “Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community,” a book of poetry, “Sorry For Your Troubles,” and a memoir, “In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World.”
Marilyn Nelson is professor emerita of English at the University of Connecticut and a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She is the 2012 recipient of the Poetry Society of America’s Frost Medal for “distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry.” Her books include “The Fields of Praise: New and Selected Poems,” “Mrs. Nelson’s Class,” and “The Meeting House.”