A Whitman Sampler

At one of our Message Circles a couple of months ago, I reconnected with Christina "Tina" Daub, a longtime ISDDC congregant and friend. Soon after that encounter, Tina sent me a delightfully intriguing email: “Hey Rob! Can we talk? Have some ideas for you!”

I love hearing new ideas! And when it's coming from an award-winning poet, writer, and literary journal founder/editor -- who also happens to be one of ISD's gifted intuitive message bearers -- you know it's going to be a good one.

And it was! Tina had a most awesome suggestion. She was in charge of one of the many events of the upcoming Walt Whitman 200 Festival honoring the bicentennial of the beloved American poet’s birth. The event, called "Todos Somos Whitman," is a free poetry reading, open to the public, featuring local Latin American poets reading their own Walt Whitman inspired poems. Wouldn’t it be great, Tina asked, to host this event at ISD? A unique opportunity show off our beautiful sanctuary to those who might not normally seek it out. A great way for us in the ISD community to explore the spiritual elements of poetry, and the relationship between all creativity, inspiration and spirituality.

So after exclaiming “oh HECK YEAH” to Tina, and after we got approval from the Festival folks to host Todos Somos Whitman, I had the chance to chat with Tina about why she was so excited about ISD hosting this event. Her answers were so clear and true that I wanted to share her inspiring words with our entire community.

Here is my question and answer session with the fantastic Christina Daub:

Q. How long have you been associated with ISD?

A: I have been going to ISD since my youngest son Luke was in utero, 16+ years ago!

Q. What are your thoughts on the connection between creativity and/or poetry and spiritual growth? How can poetry be used as a spiritual enrichment tool?

A. Poetry comes from the same place as divine inspiration, intuition & the entire field of consciousness. Reading poetry and even better, hearing poetry read by the poet/s who wrote it, opens up a channel to a higher state. The language used by poets can convey emotions, narrate an event, reveal an epiphany, or share a universal truth. Poetry heals. Poetry consoles. Poetry celebrates. We go to poetry for special occasions, for transitions, when we want to discover something we didn’t know we already knew. The ones we learn by heart are the ones we take inside us, which accompany us & inform us the rest of our lives.

Poetry is jazz. It takes your everyday words and riffs and improvises. Poetry stirs us up. It awakens us. It elevates. A great poem will change your life.

Writing a poem is a spiritual exercise and very spiritually enriching. It’s getting out of your own way, so another voice may speak. It’s an adventure into the unknown, a song which needs no instruments, a call to the world by the world. Poetry is life, is love, is beauty, is a deep gift to all who embrace it.

Q. Just what is this Walt Whitman 200 festival about? And what is the event at ISD about?

A. As part of the bicentennial celebration of the poet Walt Whitman’s birth and the time he lived and wrote in Washington DC, ISD is joining the citywide festival (walt200.org) honoring his brilliant, expansive & inclusive work.

“Todos Somos Whitman” is a bilingual poetry reading featuring prominent Latino and Latina poets from the DC area who have been inspired by Whitman’s poems. We will be treated to a rich variety of poetry as they share their spirited poetry with us in both Spanish and English. Not to be missed!

Q. Where did your idea come from to link it with ISD?

A. Because of the spiritual nature of Whitman’s poetry, and the spiritual home ISD offers to the community, as well as the embrace of Spanish speakers with special services and events, ISD seemed a natural fit for the festival’s bilingual, bicultural Whitman celebration.

Q. Since it is open to the public, what might poetry newbies expect to experience/enjoy at a reading like this one?

A. Close your eyes, sit back and be prepared to be inspired by the wonderful words and sounds and meanings you will absorb in an intimate and inspiring evening of poetry in both English and Spanish. As these celebrated poets share their own work with us and the influence of Whitman on their poetry, open yourself to experiencing, in Whitman’s own words how, “every hour of every day is an unspeakably perfect miracle.”📷

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