NOTIONS OF THE SACRED: Poetry as Spritual Practice


“Without art, we should have no notion of the sacred; without science, we should always worship false gods.” W.H. Auden

Originally pulished in The BeZine.

When we move on in the arc of our lives – to center – we cross the threshold into that place from which all things emanate – the sacred space of poetry and indeed all art and creativity. We leave behind the cacophony of assumptions and received wisdom to rest in Rumi’s field – a place he says is “beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing.” We cross the threshold into a w-h-o-l-l-y, place – a place Rumi tells us the “world is too full to talk about.” The ideal of this field reminds me very much of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, where all the hallelujah’s – broken or whole – are equal. And so it is with us and with our poetry, which as a spiritual practice brings balance and sacredness into our lives.

This business of taking up our pens involves more than learning the technical rudiments, the history of our craft and its key players. It requires of us a trust in ourselves. It requires letting go of the expectation of understanding everything. We learn to embrace mystery and ambiguity. We learn to sit with process and to sit with the poems we are drawn to or the poetry we write . . . or, perhaps which writes us. We allow the visions, the word-play, the colors, tones and cadence to work on us. Whether we share our poems with others or not, whether we are amateur or professional, is irrelevant. What matters is that we go on the hero’s journey and we come back with a gift.

When we write, we are like Rilke’s “Swan” …

“when he nervously lets himself down
into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each moment more fully grown,
more like a king, further and further on.”

Sacred space always reveals the unexpected. We are always changed, though the change may be subtle. What might come up are the daily concerns – how to make it through the day – or the current pain: the loss of a loved one, abandonment, ills of body and mind, concerns for children … Joy! and Gratitude! As we grow “more like a king, further and further on,”  our sacred space may reveal something about the greater mysteries…

does it matter after all, the curiosities

when fish and water are one
when light and dark are indistinguishable
when we are neither content nor discontent
when questions cease and ideologies melt
when there is no helping and no taking

. . . there is this” [© Jamie Dedes]


And “this” is well represented by the Buddhist ensō illustrated above. It is meant to express that moment when the mind is still, allowing for creation. It symbolizes enlightenment. I’m sure all faiths have similar concepts. From a Christian perspective – perhaps the discussion would be about the “gaze of faith” and claritas (Thomas Aquinas) –  “intellectual light,” illumination. In Buddhism, traditionally this ensō is done as a part of spiritual practice and it is a kind of meditation in the way that all creative efforts are meditation.

“Writing is a process in which we discover what lives in us. The writing itself reveals to us what is alive in us. The deepest satisfaction of writing is precisely that it opens up new spaces within us of which we were not aware before we started to write. To write is to embark on a journey whose final destination we do not know. Thus, writing requires a real act of trust. We have to say to ourselves: ‘I do not yet know what I carry in my heart, but I trust that it will emerge as I write.’ Writing is like giving away the few loaves and fishes one has, trusting that they will multiply in the giving. Once we dare to ‘give away’ on paper the few thoughts that come to us, we start discovering how much is hidden underneath these thoughts and gradually come in touch with our own riches.” ‪‎Henri Nouwen‬ REFLECTIONS ON THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION (unpublished)

So trust that through your poetry you will enter that field where there is no right doing or wrong doing and …

“The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life. “ [Love After Love, © Derrick Walcott, Collected Poems, 1948–1984 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1987)

© 2016, essay and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; Ensō (c. 2000) by Kanjuro Shibata XX under CC BY-SA 3.0


SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Calls for Submissions, Contests, and Other Information and News

“There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it.”  Bertrand Russel


Opportunity Knocks

ALT-MINDS LITERARY PRESS, creativity from alt-healthy minds has an open call for fiction, non-fiction/memoir and poetry related to mental health, which will close on July 1. Payment: $50 CDN for fiction and nonfiction and $20 CDN for poetry, Details HERE.

GULF COAST, A JOURNAL OF LITERATURE AND FINE ARTS publishes poetry and translations of poetry, stories, essays, interviews and reviews, art and critical art writing and online “exclusives.” (There’s also a guest blogger in residence program.) Reading fee: $2.50 Details HERE.

HCE REVIEW literary and art journal is a quarterly online literary journal of students in MA and MFA Creative Writing courses at the University College of Dublin. The journal publishes fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and visual art from established and emerging and welcomes submissions from around the world. Currently they are only accepting submissions of art and the deadline is December 31, 2018. Watch for 2019 calls for writing submissions. Details HERE.

MASON JAR PRESS has an open call for submissions of novellas. $5 submissions fee or free with purchase of a Mason Jar Press book.  Submissions close on August 31. Details HERE.

NEWSTATESMAN welcome submissions from established and emerging poets. Details HERE.

NOURISH POETRY call for submissions for ballad, sonnet, couplet, tanka, tanka-sequence, villanelle, haiku and free verse closes on June 20. Details HEREChildren’s poetry is also of interest.

ONE STORY, Read Learn Connect a literary magazine, which publishes one story at a time. The next submission reading period begins on September 1st and runs through November 14th. Length: 3,000 – 8,000 words. Payment $500 and 25 contributor copies. One Story also publishes One Teen Story. Details HERE.

PLOUGHSHARES at Emerson College reads submissions of fiction, nonfiction and poetry from June 1 through January 15 each year. There is a $3 “service” fee for submissions. If you have a subscription, there is no service fee for submissions. Payment is $45 per printed page with a minimum of $90 per title and a max of $450 per author. Payment includes two contributor copies and a subscription. Details HERE.

THE REMEMBERED ARTS JOURNAL, Modern Life, Awakened Art has an open call for submissions of poetry and creative writing including poetry, short stories, and essays and performing arts, crafts and visual arts. The theme for the fall issue is: splendor.

“In the competitive, compartmentalized, modern world, it can be easy to neglect the creative impulses that make us human. We put aside our sketching and scribbling to pay our bills, raise our children, serve our communities, and pursue our ambitions. The Remembered Arts Journal is a forum for reviving almost forgotten artistry. Its purpose is to encourage readers and contributors rediscover the joy of creating and sharing works of art.”

The deadline for the fall issue is July 1. Details HERE.  This journal nominates for the Pushcart Prize.

SONORA REVIEW, a publication run by students in the MFA program at the University of Arizona. This review publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction. $3 submission fee. Payment: two contributor copies. Details HERE.

SPRING SONG PRESS is currently open for submissions for it’s NobleBright Fantasy Anthologies: Oak and Iron/through July 1; Steam and Lace (steampunk)/opens August 1 and closes November 1. Details HERE.

STINGING FLY’s (reminder) latest reading period will close on July 12th. This journal publishes Irish and international writers of poetry and fiction. Details HERE.

TETHERED BY LETTERS (TBL), a nonprofit literary publisher and writer’s resource, describes itself as “passionate about educating budding authors and increasing literacy rates across the globe. We run several FREE programs to help cultivate the next generation of great literature: For more, visit our Education or Writing Resource Center.”  Open year-round for submissions of short fiction and creative nonfiction, poetry, and graphic stories or comics to f(r)online. Details HERE.

WILDNESS publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction in its bimonthly online journal and reads submissions on a rolling basis. The editors nominate for Pushcart, Best of the Net, Best American and other prizes. Details HERE.

The BeZine

Call for submission for the September issue.

THE BeZINE, Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be. Submissions for the September issue – themed Social Justice – close on August 10 at 11:59 p.m. PDT .

Please send text in the body of the email not as an attachment. Send photographs or illustrations as attachments. No google docs or Dropbox or other such. No rich text. Send submissions to

Publication is September 15th. Poetry, essays, fiction and creative nonfiction, art and photography, music (videos or essays), and whatever lends itself to online presentation is welcome for consideration.

No demographic restrictions.

Please read at least one issue and the Intro/Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines. We DO NOT publish anything that promotes hate, divisiveness or violence or that is scornful or in any way dismissive of “other” peoples. 

  • September 2018 issue, Deadline August 10th, Theme: Human Rights/Social Justice
  • December 2018 issue, Deadline November 10th, Theme: A Life of the Spirit

The BeZine is an entirely volunteer effort, a mission. It is not a paying market but neither does it charge submission or subscription fees.

Previously published work may be submitted IF you hold the copyright. Submissions from beginning and emerging artists as well as pro are encouraged and we have a special interest in getting more submissions of short stores, feature articles, music videos and art for consideration. 

The Poet by Day



Response deadline is Monday, June 18th at 8 p.m. PDT. All poems shared on theme will be published on this site on Tuesday, the 19th. Details HERE.


Opportunity Knocks

AMBIT MAGAZINE 2018 POETRY COMPETITION is to be judged by Malika Booker. Entry deadline is July 15. Cash Awards. Publication. Details HERE.

BLUE MOUNTAIN ARTS will close this year’s first of two Poetry Card Contests on June 30/deadline. Cash awards. Online display. Details HERE.

CANTEBURY FESTIVAL POET OF THE YEAR COMPETITION 2018 closes on Monday, 18 June 2018. National and international entries are welcome. Entry fee. Cash award. Details HERETight deadline but you can submit by email.

THE McLELLAN POETRY PRIZE 2018 closes on Thursday, 21 June 2018. Entry Fee. Cash award. Details HERE.

THE MASTERS REVIEW, a platform for emerging writers is hosts a summer short story award, which will close or entries on July 31, 2018. The winning story will be awarded $3000, publication, and agent review. Second and third place stories will be awarded publication and $300 and $200 respectively. Further detail HERE.

NEW AMERICAN POETRY PRIZE will open for submissions on September 1 and close on January 15.  $25 entry fee. Award: $1,000. Details HEREAlso noted: “We’re accepting submissions for the 2018 New American Fiction Prize. Winner receives $1,000, publication, and book promotion. Final judge is novelist, story writer, teacher, and memoirist John McNally. Submit at our fast and easy online submission manager.”

6th Ó BHÉAL FIVE WORDS INTERNATIONAL POETRY COMPETITIONS is open for the current week through June 19. The five words are: terror, magpie, spot, incandescent, wall. How it works: “Every Tuesday around noon (UTC), from the 17th of April 2018 until the 29th of January 2019, five words will be posted on this competition page. Entrants have one week to compose and submit one or more poems which include all five words given for that week. The 2018/2019 (6th) competition runs for 41 weeks.”  Entry fee. Details HERE.

THE POETRY KIT SUMMER COMPETITION 2018 is open for entries through Monday, 27 August 2018. Entry fees. Cash award. Details HERE.

RUMINATE’S KALOS VISUAL ART PRIZE is open for entries. Entry fee. Cash award and publication. Deadline: September 18. Details HERE

WRITER’S DIGEST POETRY AWARDS – Deadline October 1. Entry fee. Cash awards. Details HERE.


Accessible anytime from anywhere in the world:

  • The Poet by Day always available online with poems, poets and writers, news and information.
  • The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, online every week (except for vacation) and all are invited to take part no matter the stage of career or status. Poems related to the challenge of the week (always theme based not form based) will be published here on the following Tuesday.
  • The Poet by Day, Sunday Announcements. Every week (except for vacation) opportunity knocks for poets and writers. Due to other Sunday commitments, this post will often go up late in the day.
  • THE BeZINE, Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be – always online HERE.  
  • Beguine Again, daily inspiration and spiritual practice  – always online HERE.  Beguine Again is the sister site to The BeZine.

YOUR SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS may be emailed to Please do so at least a week in advance.

If you would like me to consider reviewing your book, chapbook, magazine or film, here are some general guidelines:

  • send PDF to (Note: I have a backlog of six or seven months, so at this writing I suggest you wait until June 2018 to forward anything.Thank you!)
  • nothing that foments hate or misunderstanding
  • nothing violent or encouraging of violence
  • English only, though Spanish is okay if accompanied by translation
  • your book or other product  should be easy for readers to find through your site or other venues.



PLEASE do not mix the communications between the two.

Often information is just thatinformation– and not necessarily recommendation. I haven’t worked with all the publications or other organizations featured in my regular Sunday Announcements or other announcements shared on this site. Awards and contests are often (generally) a means to generate income, publicity and marketing mailing lists for the host organizations, some of which are more reputable than others. I rarely attend events anymore. Caveat Emptor: Please be sure to verify information for yourself before submitting work, buying products, paying fees or attending events et al.


Then and Now, a poem by Debbie Felio

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Albert Einstein

Then and Now

That was then – 
   those people killed – wrong religion –
    those hangings – wrong color
    that war
that was then –
  those people killed – wrong country  
      those beheadings – wrong beliefs 
        that war
that was then 
  those people killed – wrong place 
   those raped and pummeled – wrong gender 
     that war
that was then
    those people killed – in utero
      those shootings – protected second amendment rights
        that war
that was then
       those people killed – thousands
         those imprisonments – thousands
           those wars
that was then
        hard to believe
           newspaper, radio
             those indescribable acts
   this is now –
         hard to believe
           live coverage
             devastation / destruction
    then – over and over
               this war and
                   the next
© 2018, Debbie Felio, All rights reserved
DEBBIE FELIO is a poet/witness living and writing in Boulder, Colorado. This poem – profound for the way it showcases the insanity –  is Debbie’s response to Baruch, The Baker

THE BeZINE: Vol. 5, Issue 2, Theme: Sustainability, Subtheme: Readers and Writers Speak Out on Abuse

June 15, 2018

“Having the right priorities in a wrong world will humble you with a journey that only love can sustain.”  Bryant McGill, Simple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life

As I sorted through the sustainability submissions for this issue, I was struck by two things: a preponderance of both love and sadness. The love with which so many of us – I’d like to think most of us – have for this planet, its natural beauties, and its voluptuous generosities and a sadness for the issues we largely lay at the feet of unenlightened irresponsible corporate and government policies. The former combined with our willingness to speak up and speak out gives me hope that we will overcome the profound challenges of our day. We have after all the power to unite our voices, vote with our dollars, and refuse to play the games.

You’ll find here this quarter a collection of works on nature and the environment that encourages and admonishes, that makes love to the earth and its natural beauties, that shares frustrations and anger, and that hearten us with their very breath of awareness.

Special thanks to team member, Priscilla Galasso, for our lovely cover photo this quarter.

We’ve also included a profoundly moving collection of work on abuse, mainly domestic. This section is published in response to reader requests and together the collection affirms courage and provides confirmation, insight and information. We are honored to have England’s Emergency Poet, Deborah Alma, introduce this section. Deborah is the editor of #MeToo, rallying against sexual assault and harassment, a women’s poetry anthology.

We welcome contributions from all over the world and know that you will appreciate the work of our new guest contributors (writers, photographers, and artists) this month as well as old friends and our core team members. Please support them with your “likes” and comments. This year in October we plan to nominate writers (guests, not team members) for Pushcart, so do please leave notes to let us know your faves. Thank you! 

In closing, once again I share this quotation (as I did in the last edition of The BeZine) from L.R. Knots. It seems to encapsulate the best rallying cry for our times.

“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.
All things break. And all things can be mended.
Not with time, as they say, but with intention.
So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”
—Author and counselor, L.R. Knost

In the spirit of peace, love (respect), and community
and on behalf of The Bardo Group Bequines,
Jamie Dedes
Founding and Managing Editor, The BeZine


How to read this issue of THE BeZINE:You can read each piece individually by clicking the links in the Table of Contents.
To learn more about our guests contributors, please link HERE.
To learn more about our core team members, please link HERE.



What Fossil Fuels and Factor Farms Have in Common / Hint: They’re both issues of environmental injustice, Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch and Food and Water Action, Originally published in Yes! Magazine


Crossing the Great Divide, John Anstie
Shkinah III: My beloved whispers in my ear, Michael Dickel
Insatiable =/= Sustantable, Corina Ravenscraft
Sustain What?, Steve Wiencek


Hypocrite DespOILer, Gary W. Bowers
Earthquake and devastation, Michael Dickel
Multiplying Media, four poems, Michael Dickel
Gertrude’s Poem, Michael Dickel
Sustainability Should Be Our Creed, Mark Andrew Heathcote
When NASA Finishes Mining & Carbon Footprint, Zoë Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe
Clear the Brush, Ursula Jacobs
Climate Changes, Patricia Leighton
Life Eternal, Patricia Leighton
Gifts to the Poet’s Newborn Child, Patricia Leighton
Species Sustainability, Carolyn O’Connell
Evil Ones, Eliza Segiet


We all know the wisdoms around why it is so important to speak up about any form of abuse; the reasons are many and various. But often our abusers are close to us, members of our own family or community and so speaking out is a great act of bravery. It may be difficult because we may also carry feelings of guilt, responsibility or shame. But if we can overcome such strong reasons to be silent, we are hugely empowered; we are made stronger by facing our fears.

It can also help to turn the abuse into a narrative that distances us from the pain in each retelling; an act that helps us to understand, to process and then to move beyond it; and in an act of alchemy to turn it into the piece of art that is the poem; that gives us gold out of the dirt. We ourselves as writer are transformed by it and for those who come after as readers, the work can hold out its hand from those who have been there before, who have worked something out for us.

To read the stories and poetry of those who have been abused can also act as a warning or a flag that says ‘Yes this IS abuse. Take care! This is how I made myself safe or sane again.’

– Deborah Alma, Poet and Editor

#MeToo Anthology, The Back Story, Deborah Alma, poems by Sheila Jacob, Jane Commane, and Roberta Beary, and an introduction to Persephone’s Daughters
Hell Prefers Unaware, Susie Clevenger
Never Had a Chance, Isadora de la Vega
a man, a woman and a stick, Jamie Dedes
Closed Doors to Hotel Rooms, Michael Dickel
When Sexual Harassment Goes Public, Michael Watson


Wild Women in Art, Poetry and Community featuring Gretchen Del Rio’s Art and Victoria Bennett’s “The Howl or How Wild Women Press Came to Be”



The BeZine: Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be (the subscription feature is below and to your left.)

Daily Spiritual Practice: Beguine Again, a community of Like-Minded People

Facebook, The Bardo Group Beguines

Twitter, The Bardo Group Beguines


Read Info/Missions StatementSubmission Guidelines, and at least one issue before you submit. Updates on Calls for Submissions and other activities are posted every Sunday in Sunday Announcements on The Poet by Day.