I wrote a response to Bryan Walpert’s book Poetry and Mindfulness: Interruption to a Journey, for Booksellers NZ.
In a Gaurdian article about poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, writer Jeanette Winterson called poetry ‘one continuous mantra of mental health.’
It is, she says, ‘… a way of thinking without losing the feeling… a way of feeling without being too overwhelmed by feeling to think straight.’
I’ve had that quote saved in my phone since forever, so it was gratifying for it to find a home in this piece for Booksellers.
Bryan Walpert’s book, Poetry and Mindfulness: Interruption to a Journey, could be said to be making the same point as Winterson.
Walpert, a Massey University professor, poet and author, explores links between literature, science and spirituality to present a defense for the study and writing of poetry today.
Mindfulness, he says, has a fundamental importance in developing an awareness of the present moment – an awareness that poetry encourages.
‘In an age where we are encouraged always to focus on the next destination, poetry offers an interruption.
‘Poetry, a very old and ultraportable piece of technology, can help to stave off tendencies to mindlessness, can cultivate empathy—can even help us to think ecologically at a time when we most desperately need to think in systems but instead are encouraged to think in bits and bytes.’
’Poetry teaches us the value of the journey,’ he writes. ’A poem isn’t just about experience; it is one.’