Soul Forte: A Gathering to Write is a casual online workshop to read, revel in, and write poetry. Come! Share what you find beautiful and inspirational in poems, and sketch your own in an informal space of openness and wonder. Or simply listen, knit, and drink coffee.
Guest poets join us to share their work and to find inspiration in ours. Come to write in response to established poets' work, and hear their poems inspired by yours in writing workshops that activate open questions, deep listening, and friendship with the whole self.
The Institute creates space for group spiritual companioning through the quiet ferocity of poetry, written both by established writers and first-timers. We read, write, and revel in spiritual poetry together across all and no religious traditions, from antiquity to today, to inspire us to write more poems and share what we find beautiful and inspiring with each other in poetry and our lives.
We hold writing workshops and a visiting poet series, and we publish a journal of participants' writing. Join us! Bring a notebook, writing utensil, and a willingness to be surprised by the immensity inside a small poem and inside yourself.
Benjamin Bagocius, PhD, is founder and director of the Institute for Spiritual Poetry. He facilitates the poetry-writing workshop Soul Forte: A Gathering to Write (formerly under the name Soul Salon) and edits Soul Forte: A Journal for Spiritual Writing. We also invite guest facilitators, such as authors and professors Dr. Fleda Brown and Dr. Lina Rodriguez, professor and performer Dr. Carl DuPont, poet-playwright Irene Loy, and poet, editor, and consultant Tanja Kummerfeld.
Ben holds a PhD in English literature from Indiana University, an M.FA. in creative writing from The New School, and a B.A. with distinction from Kenyon College. His book of poems, "The Canaanite Woman," is due out later this year from Wipf and Stock Publishers. His second collection of poetry, "The Gospel According to B.," is forthcoming from Unsolicited Press.
Ben publishes widely across poetry, essays, and academic articles, and his work can be found in On Being, Tiferet, The Other Journal, Untold Volumes, Pensive, Rat's Ass Review, Dark Moon Lilith, After the Pause, Door is a Jar, and elsewhere. Ben teaches literature and writing at Bard High School Early College in Cleveland, Ohio.
We are an eclectic group of seekers and sometimes, for a moment or two, finders. We are heteros and queer folks, witches and pastors, mischievous saints and delicious sinners spanning ages, regions, races, and creeds. We gather on Zoom, which makes it possible for participants to convene from far and wide, from Massachusetts to Germany and Italy, California, and Minnesota. Some of us have turned to poetry for spiritual companioning for years. Others are newer to poetry. All of us are exactly and clunkily who and where we need to be. Join us.
You are invited to ditch the idea that writing is good or bad. As poet Christopher Perez has shared, "Writing is not assessment, but time" -- time to discover and rediscover your soul's calling, which knows nothing of right or wrong. We don't write well or badly. We write.
And soul far, soul good! Our writing workshop and group spiritual companioning started under the name Soul Salon and is now called Soul Forte: A Gathering to Write. Please click here to learn about previous and upcoming workshops, and please click here for other events to refresh mind, body, and soul.
All participants are invited to publish their writing in Soul Forte Journal, the official publication of the Institute. You are also welcome to enjoy our visiting poet speaker series to write your own poems in conversation with the work of revered poets and fellow participants. In all events, we write, listen, and learn, courageous acts of both tenderness and strength. Be soul bold with us.
Participants are regularly delighted that they have become not only more prolific writers, but more athletic listeners -- to their hearts and each other's. How?
We write, share, and listen to each other's written responses to surprise us into new writing and inspiring ideas. We become each other's spiritual companions by default, simply by being present to listen to whatever the heart writes.
The more we hear in each other's writing, the more we have to write about. The soul uses all of it to pull us closer to who we are and "to sit there awhile in the petals," poet Jane Hirshfield has written, "altering nothing."
Would you like to pop in to Soul Forte, our spiritual writing gathering? Would you like to book a workshop to refresh your community group or business into shared moments of wonder and surprise? Send us a message for that or other requests. We will get back to you soon!