LCI are delighted to announce the appointment of Hannah Stone as Poet Theologian in Virtual Residence.
Hannah has lived in Leeds for 30 years and in ‘normal’ circumstances facilitates a number of local poetry events within the community as well as teaching for the Open University. She has published four volumes of poetry since 2014 and collaborates with composers and other poets. As Hannah Hunt she was an academic theologian specialising in the spirituality of the Eastern Christian Church, from the monastic communities of the Desert Fathers onwards. Having already worked with LCI with workshop support for their recent poetry anthology, she is delighted to have been appointed as Poet Theologian in Virtual Residence. Hannah will be contributing a weekly blog entry reflecting on the Covid19 situation via the medium of poetry and is looking forward to engaging with LCI members.
This is my first posting as Poet Theologian in Virtual Residence and I wanted to start by saying a big ‘thank you’ to LCI for giving me this opportunity to draw on poetry to share some reflections on the times in which we find ourselves. The idea of these postings is to offer you some food for thought – and do please post any reactions or reflections of your own. We’re keen that as far as we can in these curiously distanced times this process of reflecting through poetry is interactive.
I have much to be thankful for. Amidst the strangeness, doubt, and frustration of lockdown, as communities we are still saying thank you – not least on a Thursday evening when we clap for our key workers. And I guess there’s some continuity in that sense of being thankful. I’m of a generation that was required to write thank you letters for Christmas and birthday presents – even the ones you didn’t really like much! I remember a childhood prayer, maybe used today as grace before meals, which included the words ‘thank you for the birds that sing.’ Lots of people have commented on how much more we can hear the birds, with roads and skies being quieter. And there is ‘tweet of the day’ on Radio 4 (which causes my cats some consternation), and webcams beginning to show the return of migrating swifts to last year’s nesting places. So today I’m also saying ‘thank you’ for birds. Here are a few lines from a longer prose poem I wrote just as we went into lockdown, at the start of the recent spell of glorious weather.
That was the spring you could walk down the middle of the road, stone cold sober, at 2pm, and no-one batted an eyelid. After a week of awkward elbow-bumps we settled for eyeing each other suspiciously above over-worked smiles … And the sky was so blue and the sun so warm it was hard to believe there would be a Good Friday before the Resurrection … And each day you woke and heard birdsong in place of rush hour traffic you opened your lungs to the world and the air was like champagne.
To close, here is the start of a poem by the American poet E.E. Cummings. He is known for using the lower case for the first person pronoun; I feel in this poem, that choice speaks of the humility of us humans in the presence of God. And, yes, ‘most’ is where the poet placed it! There is no full stop at the end of the stanza: does this suggest the infinity of creation, and God’s own purpose?
i thank you God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
Thank you for stopping by.
Hannah wants to hear readers’ reactions and reflections to this piece and your personal experiences of the Covid19 situation. You can submit a comment below or email us at [email protected]