This morning’s Sunday Sequence on BBC Radio Ulster featured the melodic tones of Pádraig Ó Tuama reading his own poetry. Readings from the Book of Exile, Ó Tuama’s first collection of poetry, was published last month by Canterbury Press.
Apart from sharing a couple of poems, Ó Tuama’s interview with presenter William Crawley included insights into how Ó Tuama began writing poetry, the structure of his poetry, the role of poetry in contemporary Christian spirituality, and Ó Tuama’s own reflections on the poetic form. He said:
I think belief and religion and faith does lend itself … to trying to say something in the form of poetry that can convey something more than the form of the words.
… Poetic form tries to speak to the mystery of life – what does it mean to be human? … Poetry, partly by what it can’t say, by the empty space it leaves around the words … is a great form for describing, and leaving all the space for the things we can’t say.
You can listen to the full interview by clicking the play button below or click here to download the mp3 file:
Ó Tuama, a speaker and activist based in Belfast, has a long-standing association with Ikon, a ‘collective’ associated with the wider emerging church movement. Ó Tuama was also part of the North American ‘Insurrection’ tour, led by writer and philosopher Peter Rollins, in 2010. This tour featured Ó Tuama’s debut album “Hymns To Swear By.”
Ó Tuama will be sharing his poetry and speaking at the upcoming Greenbelt Festival, 24-27 August. He will also be involved with the (what promises to be) mysterious transmission of ‘Ikonbelt’to Greenbelt at midnight on the Saturday of the festival.
I’ve not yet read Readings from the Book of Exile, but the publisher’s blurb describes it this way:
One of the most intriguing and engaging voices in contemporary Christianity is that of the Irish poet, Padraig O Tuama and this is his first, long-awaited poetry collection. Hailing from the Ikon community in Belfast and working closely with its founder, the bestselling writer Pete Rollins, Padraig’s poetry interweaves parable, poetry, art, activism and philosophy into an original and striking expression of faith. Padraig’s poems are accessible, memorable profound and challenging. They emerge powerfully from a context of struggle and conflict and yet are filled with hope.
That description sounds pretty accurate to those of us who, over the years, have heard Ó Tuama recite his poetry at various events.
Readings from the Book of Exile will eventually be reviewed on this blog, but in the meantime, let Ó Tuama’s interview with Crawley whet your appetites for his larger body of work.