26 April 2024

Poetry gatherings offer insight into faith at St Peter’s Eastern Hill

St Peter’s Eastern Hill is running a series of poetry and faith sessions. Picture: iStock.

Jenan Taylor

30 March 2024

Melburnians have the chance to discuss the connections between faith and poetry during a series of talks at an inner-city church.

St Peter’s Eastern Hill’s Poets and the Faith sessions feature the work of poets aligned with the Anglican and Catholic traditions, including Annie Dillard and Denise Levertov.

They are presented by a range of local and international Christian lovers of poetry such as former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Assistant vicar the Reverend Kathryn Bellhouse said the offerings sought to enrich understandings about belief, the poets and their compositions.

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Ms Bellhouse said poetry could convey insights into the world, life, faith and God in a deeply personal way while imparting a new perspective on an eternal truth.

She said participants also had the chance to hear how it had enriched the lives and faith journeys of the presenters.

Ms Bellhouse said participants at the first session heard how Gerard Manly Hopkins’s work had played a part in presenter theologian Professor Dorothy Lee’s spiritual journey.

She said despite being a medium that both people of faith and non-believers could appreciate, there was a dearth of opportunities where people could gather to engage with it.

“It’s meant to be read aloud in community, unlike a novel. Most forms of poetry are there to be shared,” Ms Bellhouse said.  

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St Peter’s Bookroom manager Carol O’Connor said poetry grew people by getting them out of their set patterns of thinking, and encouraged them to question and think more deeply.

Ms O’Connor said her presentation would focus on Denise Levertov, a poet who encouraged people to stand back and witness, rather than dive in and try to change things.

The sessions run monthly at St Peter’s Eastern Hill until November.

For more details, see here.

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