Dancing With Words During National Poetry Month

My latest piece for "Good Letters." It describes and reflects on some work I'm doing with my students at UNC Asheville in an honors class on poetry as a spiritual practice.

Here's an excerpt from the piece:

My writing exercise was intended to challenge the students to read our alphabet as a visual language, and then to write a poem based on the translation of the letters of our alphabet into a visual (other senses, too) language. When we discussed their experiences of working on this exercise, many students reported that they couldn’t find any sensible connection between and among the words into which they had translated the letters in their original poems. They faced chaos.

But, as many reported, over time, they were able to create some order out of chaos. Bingo, I said! That’s Genesis! That’s the human experience represented by the story of the creation of the material world as told in the book of Genesis. Before the creation of light, according to Genesis, the world was in a state of tohu va vohu: chaos and desolation. In completing this assignment, the students became creators of an ordered world out of chaos! To get there, the students had to activate these capacities: attention, effort, openness to change, patience, humility, discipline, trust.

Find out more details about the exercise and read one of the student's poems here: