How Poetry Has Found Its Way Into My Life

As a group of us are looking forward to a gathering in April focused on the renewing power of poetry, I’ve begun to think about how poetry has found its way into my life, and why it has turned out to be so handy, so practical, so useful.  As a practical, native Michigander from a farming family, poetry has often been far from my mind.  In fact, when a wonderful mentor of mine, John Gardner read my book The Choice and said it was a fine policy book on end of life decision-making, but that I was a poet and my poetry should be published, I remember being dismayed at the idea.  I’d only stuck my first three poems in the book because they seemed to fit.  I’d not intended to be taken seriously about it.  But there I was.   There is nothing more unsettling than a wise mentor who sees a gift in you that you didn’t know you had—and aren’t sure you wanted to know about.  In fact, some poet or other has written (my rough paraphrasing) that writing poetry is the act of  writing something you didn’t know you knew and you aren’t sure you want to know. 

But poetry has showed itself in my life in a second way, and a very useful way.  Over the years, in designing courses and leadership development programs, I’ve begun to splice in the poetry that most touches me—particularly poems that are accessible, and often nature-based—and I  have noticed that people may not take away the 10 main points of insight from research, but they do want a copy of the poem. 

And so I who started out working with words in one way, have found myself learning about the power of words in another way.  And enjoy sharing those words with you.  It’s the pleasure of seeing my own poetry arrayed on this web-site (by my very creative web-site designer— L-Co.)   And it is that pleasure which moves me to invite you to the gathering coming up in April in Pennsylvania—Poetry and Bread for the Journey.  An exploration of the sustaining and enlivening power of poetry in our lives.  

I’ve included an invitation letter to the gathering below, with a link to the registration site.  And if you would like to know more about it, or have questions, please jot me a note on the contact me page.

An Invitation to you, from Judy Sorum Brown


Bread for the Journey; a Celebration of Poetry and the Human Spirit

April 15-18, 2013

Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center


2495 Fox Gap Road,

Bangor, PA 18013-6028

Registration Info

For many of us, poetry has been, at times in our lives, an important source of inspiration, imagery, and insight.  We may have found it personally renewing. Or it may have become a professional resource in our work. A touchstone in our leadership, in the way we gather people together.  

Yet there are also seasons where we lose touch with the power of poetry; we lose our connection with the poetry that moves us, even with whatever might be the poetic voice within us--that poetic voice that speaks to us in clear and direct ways about things that often in the daily to and fro, seem other than clear and direct.  

The Kirkridge gathering, Bread for the Journey; A celebration of Poetry and the Human Spirit, April 15-18 is a renewal retreat with poetry at its heart—a chance to refresh your relationship with poetry, to experience poetry and ways to work with poetry—a time out for grown-ups. And all of that in a beautiful rural Pennsylvania retreat setting in early spring. Some who join us may come because they write poetry themselves and want to give a spacious time to that endeavor.  Others may come, as I do, to explore further the power of poetry in my work in the world—in the teaching that I do, retreats that I lead, programs that I design.  You needn’t be a poet to find sustenance in our time together.  You need only love the power of rich evocative language, and be curious about its renewing and inspiring power in our lives, its ability to help us discern more clearly the path of our particular journey.

We hope you will join us.  If you have questions, please call Judy Brown at 301-261-5322.  

Click below to view event poster: