Church adopts a poet

The Reverend Peter Walker

The Church in Wales is 'adopting a poet' to help raise the profile of poetry in Welsh life.

The Reverend Peter Walker has published three collections of short verse with Y Lolfa - Penmon Point, Old Men in Jeans and Listening to Zappa.

The Llandudno Junction-based vicar will be formally adopted on Thursday at the Church in Wales's Governing Body, meeting in Lampeter.

His adoption is part of the H'mm Poetry Foundation, an initiative to bring more poetry into people's everyday lives.

He said: "As the Church's adopted poet, I hope to offer a perspective on some of the issues facing the church - for instance, how we engage with the largely post-Christian, secular world, and also how we might tap into the broad spirituality that we often encounter around us.

"If theology is about seeking to know the unknowable, then poetry helps nudge us towards that goal with its hints and shadows, its nuances, and the way it can express our thoughts in sometimes unexpected ways. Poetry is at the heart of liturgy, and can be at the heart of our contemplation of the divine.

"Hopefully, it helps reflect on our experiences, perhaps putting our intuitions and our hidden feelings into words."

Mr Walker was nominated to be the Church's adopted poet by the Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron.

He said, "Poetry has always had a way of urging people to look beneath the surface of life to a deeper reality, and so it has been an integral part of our worship and life.

"The Church in Wales has been fortunate always to have had a rich vein of talented poets who express their faith in hymns and prayers – including, of course, one of Wales' most famous writers, RS Thomas, who was a vicar in North Wales.

"I am delighted that Peter has agreed to be formally adopted by the Church as part of the H'mm Foundation and I'm looking forward immensely to his readings – and possible compositions – over the year. His poems have a way of challenging us to reconsider the world through the eyes of faith, and to comment poignantly on the realities of Church life today. He is a poet worth listening to."

Businessman Ali Anwar, founder of the H'mm Foundation said: "I'm delighted that the Church in Wales is taking part in the 'Adopt a Poet' scheme.

"Building links between the business and the arts communities should be a creative experience for both, especially in a country which has a deep and innate respect for poetry. The H'mm Foundation is a new source of income for poets and hopefully a source of inspiration for people in business.

"We are looking forward to working with the Reverend Peter Walker over the next months to raise the profile of poets and poetry in Wales particularly during the centennial celebrations of RS Thomas's birth."

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