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The solitude room

The solitude room

Smyth, Cherry (2009) The solitude room. In: School of Humanities and Social Sciences Research Conference, 28 May 2009, University of Greenwich. (Unpublished)

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‘Would somebody start Meditation Rooms, places of silence, so silent you couldn’t help but hear the sound of your page without opening your mouth…’

Lorine Niedecker

Where do poetry and meditation intersect? Both require silence, practice and faith. Krishnamurti once said that ‘meditation is the action of silence’. The same could be said of poetry. Both develop a sense of process, of beginning in emptiness, and commitment, individually and collectively. Both are forms of concentration, attentiveness and illumination.

I propose to discuss a selection of poetry concerning stillness by a range of poets from both secular and spiritual traditions, such as Li Po, Paul Celan, Jorie Graham, Charles Wright, Nina Cassian and Jane Hirshfield. I will consider four categories of solitude: chosen solitude, enforced solitude, magical solitude and frozen solitude.

If many poems start in doubt and end of some kind of faith, this paper would address the quiet, still space that is both within a poem and comes after it. As Jorie Graham puts it: ‘If poems are records of true risks (attempts at change) taken by the soul of the speaker, then as much as possible, my steps are towards silence.’ How does the silence in which words fail relate to the teeming silence of the creative flow? Can the solitude that inspired the poem be transmuted to the reader as a restorative act? Through a short, participatory visualisation exercise, the session would allow time to actively and alertly focus on the point where contemplation becomes creativity, where repose enables reinvigoration and clarity.

‘I can be alone,
I know how to be alone.
By tea-light
I write.’

Nina Cassian


Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: poetry, meditation, faith,
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Department of Communications & Creative Arts
School of Humanities & Social Sciences
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Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:09

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