About the Women Poets Writing God course
There is a long and venerable tradition of women’s religious poetry, although it is much less well known than the comparable male canon. Beyond the explicitly religious, many female poets engage with broad spiritual themes of truth, meaning, longing, healing and redemption. In this short course, we will draw on some of this neglected tradition, mostly from the contemporary era and in English to illuminate our own quest for God and the place poetry can play in our spiritual lives.
Poets chosen may include: Gillian Allnutt, Maya Angelou, Liz Berry, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Lucille Clifton, U A Fanthorpe, Jane Hirshfield, Elizabeth Jennings, Jane Kenyon, Denise Levertov, Rachel Mann, Marge Piercy, Sylvia Plath, Kathleen Raine, Stevie Smith and Alice Walker.
In combining close readings of poems with a consideration of the contexts of the poet’s lives, we will seek to unearth the conditions that provoked their writing and consider how their poetry may inform our own writing, as well as our lives. There will be opportunity for creative writing, using prompts from the poems studied, as well as plenty of time to talk around the poems and the issues they give rise to.
About the Tutor
Professor Nicola Slee is shortly retiring from her role as Director of Research at the Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, Birmingham, although she will continue to supervise PhD students. She is glad to be resuming a wider freelance portfolio, offering workshops, retreats and speaking engagements in the interconnected fields of spirituality, theology, feminism and poetics. Her most recent publications are Fragments for Fractured Times: What Feminist Practical Theology Brings to the Table (SCM, 2020) and Abba Amma: Improvisations on the Lord’s Prayer (Canterbury Press, 2022). From the Shores of Silence: Conversations in Feminist Practical Theology, edited by Ashley Cocksworth, Rachel Starr & Stephen Burns (SCM, 2023) honours Nicola’s work in a wonderful collection of creative, scholarly essays.
Nicola will bring theological and literary considerations, scholarship and a concern for poetic craft to the course. Sharing something of her own quest to forge an authentic feminist theological poetic voice, she will hold the space for participants to explore connections in their own lives between poetry, faith, selfhood and truth.