Poetry helps see what could be

“The power of poetry came alive for me as I listened to Bonnie Thurston read her original poems,” said Sister Stephanie Schmidt, Director of Ongoing Formation in response to the Enrichment Series recently held at the monastery. “This evening was a rich and personal experience for me.”

Bonnie Thurston is a unique combination of theologian, poet and author. Her topic: “Why Poetry Matters: Poetry of Protest and Prayer” highlighted the importance of poetry and language, especially in the times in which we are living. “Poetry is a tool for seeing beyond . . . it helps us see what is and what could be . . . what is doesn’t have to be,” shared Dr. Thurston who then read a selection of her protest poems on such topics as war, economy, walls, too much talk, and too many gadgets. In transitioning to poetry as prayer she suggested that poetry and prayer both challenge and comfort; she explained that “Protest and prayer drive one another into the arms of the other.”

“As a lover of poetry, I especially enjoyed Bonnie’s presentation,” said Sister Anne Wambach, prioress. “We have gotten to know Bonnie in many ways, as a theologian, Merton scholar and retreat director but this evening we experienced her as a poet who reveals the heart of what she believes through poetry that is as beautiful and moving as it is challenging.”

Reverend Dr. Bonnie Thurston resigned a Chair and Professorship in New Testament to live quietly in her home state of WV. She is author or editor of 22 theological works and frequently contributes to scholarly and popular periodicals. She has 6 published collections of poetry, and her poems appear in a variety of periodicals and anthologies. An internationally known Thomas Merton Scholar, hers was an early doctoral dissertation on Merton. Bonnie is an avid reader, gardener, cook and classical music lover.