Tag Archives: CS Lewis

One Book,Three Launches! (Cambridge, Houston and Hatley St. George!)

singing bowlWell, my new collection of poetry, The Singing Bowl, is out at last. And this is to let you know that it is having not one, but three launches. Not because it is so stodgy and heavy that it will take three mighty hurls to get it off the ground (I hope -though you must be the judges) but because there are so many and various places with which I, (and my poetry), are somehow woven and connected.

So this Wednesday at 7:30pm there is the Cambridge Launch at St. Edward King and Martyr, the church I serve in the city centre, in and through whose ministry so much of the poetry has been written and to which my last volume, Sounding The Seasons, was dedicated. Come if you can for wine, cheese, poetry, and book signing.

Then on Friday (the 8th) we have the Houston Launch. Tempting to do this remotely, simply so that I could say’Houston we have a problem’, but I will be there for the CS Lewis Foundation’s Regional conference and they are kindly hosting a launch for the American edition of my book. It will take place at the opening reception of the conference. If you are not attending the whole conference you can still get a ticket to come to this evening event. contact Steve Elmore Here.

Finally on the 29th of Novemebr I will be doing a special launch/reading in the beautiful little church of Hatley St. George, in the village of the same name. One of the poems in the ‘Local Habitations’ section of the book is dedicated to that church and is about its unique silence and peace. they have the poem inscribed and hung on the church wall and have asked to have this special event to celebrate the publication of the book.

I hope you can get to one of these three, meantime I leave you with the Hatley St. George Poem. as always you can hear it by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button.

Hatley St. George

Stand here a while and drink the silence in.
Where clear glass lets in living light to touch
And bless your eyes. A beech tree’s tender green
Shimmers beyond the window’s lucid arch.
You look across an absent sanctuary;
No walls or roof, just holy, open space,
Leading your gaze out to the fresh-leaved beech
God planted here before you first drew breath.

Stand here awhile and drink the silence in.
You cannot stand as long and still as these;
This ancient beech and still more ancient church.
So let them stand, as they have stood, for you.
Let them disclose their gifts of time and place,
A secret kept for you through all these years.
Open your eyes. This empty church is full,
Thronging with life and light your eyes have missed.

Stand here awhile and drink the silence in.
Shields of forgotten chivalry, and rolls
Of honour for the young men gunned at Ypres,
And other monuments of our brief lives
Stand for the presence here of saints and souls
Who stood where you stand, to be blessed like you;
Clouds of witness to unclouded light
Shining this moment, in this place for you.

Stand here awhile and drink their silence in.
Annealed in glass, the twelve Apostles stand
And each of them is keeping faith for you.
This roof is held aloft, to give you space,
By graceful angels praying night and day
That you might hear some rumour of their flight
That you might feel the flicker of a wing
And let your heart fly free at last in prayer.



Filed under literature, Poems, St. Edward's

CS Lewis and The Inklings ‘Ideas’ with CBC Part 2

lewis-inklings-featuredAs part of the commemorations for Cs Lewis’s ‘Jubilee’ year the Canadian Broadcasting Company have commissioned two in depth programmes on CS Lewis and the Inklings for their Flagship ‘Ideas’ series. I was happy to be involved with Frank Faulk in this endeavour and did an extensive interview with himwhich has been used in both programmes. I was impressed by the research he has done for this programme and the range of people he has speaking on it. Two good results of that research are first that he is not content with second hand cliches about Lewis but goes out of his way to scotch falsehoods, and secondly that he gives due weight to the neglected ‘other inklings’ beyond Lewis and Tolkien, and particularly gives the much-neglected Owen Barfield who is allowed at last to come into hi own. Finally, Faulk has, in my view rightly, identified Imagination, and the truth of Imagination as the key to the whole ‘Inklings endeavour. Here is my post on the first programme. Here us what CBC say to introduce the second program on their website:

C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Owen Barfield and Charles Williams were the core of the legendary literary group The Inklings at Oxford University. They were united by a love of myth and the belief that it is through the imagination that reality is illuminated. In Part 2 of this series,  producer Frank Faulk looks at C.S. Lewis’s conversion from atheism to Christianity, and his deep friendship with Tolkien, Barfield and Williams. Together Lewis and his three friends would forge a radical critique of modernity’s reductionist, mechanistic and materialistic understanding of reality. It is a critique that today remains more relevant than ever.

And here is the link to both the first and second programmes:

Lewis and the Inklings Part one

Lewis and the Inklings Part two

I hope you enjoy them.


Filed under Current affairs, Inklings, literature, Theology and Arts

Canadian Thanksgiving; a Sonnet for my Canadian Friends

At the Fork, in Winnipeg

At the Fork, in Winnipeg

As this Monday 14th October is Thanksgiving Day in Canada am posting here a sonnet for Thanksgiving which I have written for all  my North American friends. But today I am particularly grateful for the hospitality I recieved on my Recent trip to Winnipeg from Steve Bell, and the good people at St. Bendict’s Table and St. Benedict’s Monastery.

There is no feast of Thanksgiving in either the British national or church calendars, but it seems to me a good thing for any nation to set aside a day for the gratitude which is in truth the root of every other virtue. So here is an Englishman’s act of thanksgiving. as always you can hear the poem by clicking on the play button if it appears or on the title.

I composed this as part of a friendly competition with some American poets to compose Petrarchan sonnets on the theme of Thanksgiving. Check out this Excellent Sonnet from my friend the academic and poet Holly Ordway. You will see that we have both been influenced by the ideas and language of CS Lewis’s fellow inkling Charles Williams.

This sonnet comes from my sequence Sounding the Seasonswhich came out last year with Canterbury Press. since we don’t keep thanksgiving I have made it pasrt of a mini-sequence of three centred on the feast of All Saints, which we have recently celebrated. I took the photograph on a morning walk by the river cam, a walk whose views are a constant spur to thanksgiving! The image that follows the poem is by Margot Krebs Neale My next book with Canterbury Press, The Singing Bowl, comes out this month! Come to the launch at 7:30pm on November 6th At St. Edward’s in Cambridge.


Thanksgiving starts with thanks for mere survival,
Just to have made it through another year
With everyone still breathing. But we share
So much beyond the outer roads we travel;
Our interweavings on a deeper level,
The modes of life that embodied souls can share,
The unguessed blessings of our being here,
The warp and weft that no one can unravel.

So I give thanks for our deep coinherence
Inwoven in the web of God’s own grace,
Pulling us through the grave and gate of death.
I thank him for the truth behind appearance,
I thank him for his light in every face,
I thank him for you all, with every breath.

Image by Margot Krebs Neale


Filed under literature, Poems

CS Lewis and The Inklings ‘Ideas’ with CBC

lewis-inklings-featuredAs part of the commemorations for Cs Lewis’s ‘Jubilee’ year the Canadian Broadcasting Company have commissioned two in depth programmes on CS Lewis and the Inklings for their Flagship ‘Ideas’ series. I was happy to be involved with Frank Faulk in this endeavour and did an extensive interview with him, some of which is used in this first programme and most of which will be in the second one, to be broadcast on the 17th to which I will post a link next week. I was impressed by the research he has done for this programme and the range of people he has speaking on it. Two good results of that research are first that he is not content with second hand cliches about Lewis but goes out of his way to scotch falsehoods, and secondly that he gives due weight to the neglected ‘other inklings’ beyond Lewis and Tolkien, and particularly gives the much-neglected Owen Barfield who is allowed at last to come into hi own. Finally, Faulk has, in my view rightly, identified Imagination, and the truth of Imagination as the key to the whole ‘Inklings endeavour. Here us what CBC say to introduce the program on their website:

C.S. LewisJRR TolkienOwen Barfield and Charles Williams were the core of the legendary literary group The Inklings at Oxford University. They were united by a love of myth and the belief that it is through the imagination that reality is illuminated. In this two-part series producer Frank Faulk first explores the early life of C.S. Lewis, and the experiences that would shape him on his journey to becoming one of the 20th century’s greatest thinkers and writers on Christianity. Part 2 airs Thursday, October 17.

And here is the link to the page from which you can listen to and download the program:

Lewis and the Inklings Part one


I hope you enjoy it.


Filed under Current affairs, Inklings, literature, Theology and Arts

From Westminster to Cambridge! A special day on CS Lewis Nov. 23rd.

mag7I know that many of my friends and readers will be going to the Westminster Abbey conference and celebrations to mark the  occasion of CS Lewis’s admission to ‘Poet’s Corner’. Those who are coming over for the Westminster event may like to know that on the very next day, November the 23rd, there will be a one day conference on Lewis as Critic in Magdalene College Cambridge, where Lewis was a fellow whilst he was Cambridge’s Chair in Mediaeval and Renaissance Literature. There’s a wonderful line-up for this one day event, speakers include Professor Helen Cooper, who is Lewis’s sucesor in the Cambridge Chair, and Dr Rowan Williams, now master of Lewis’s old college. This will be an important event as academics from Cambridge and beyond re-assess Lewis’s importance as critic, and the way in which his literary scholarship developed and influenced the rest of his work. I will be giving a paper on his important short book ‘The Abolition of Man’, assessing the various ways in which it has proved prophetic and looking at its implication for contemporary education.

Full details are available by clicking this link: Lewis as Critic conference

You can register for the conference or make any enquiries by emailing here: lewisascritic@gmail.com

Finally here is a brief extract from the conference website:

This conference aims to redress this neglect by reappraising the significance of Lewis’s contribution to the practice of criticism, fifty years on from his death (22nd November, 1963). We will be joined by the Rt. Rvd. and Rt. Hon. Dr. Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College and recent author of a book on Lewis’s Narnia; Professor Helen Cooper, current Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature – the post created for Lewis; Professor Ad Putter; Professor Stephen Prickett; Dr. Stephen Logan and Rev. Dr. Malcolm Guite.

We have plenty of time for discussion in the day and would love you to join us to mark this anniversary and explore Lewis’s role as critic.

I look forward to this immensely.


Filed under imagination, Theology and Arts

Oxford, Winnipeg, Houston, Westminster!

oxford-collegesI mentioned Greenbelt in my last post, but I thought I’d cast my eye a little further ahead, up to the end of the year and let you know what else I am doing, in case any of my readers might be able to get to any of these events!

First up is the CS Lewis Jubilee Festival based at Holy Trinity church Headington, in Oxford. Holy Trinity was CS Lewis’s local parish church, and amidst all the grand institutional celebrations of his Jubilee ots great that his local parish church is putting on events too, and particularly good that these will also inclyde games and explorations for children in ‘Lewis Reserve’ the nature reserve that was part of the grounds of Lewis’s Oxford Home The Kilns. I will be giving a talk at 7:30pm Celebrating Lewis’s Imaginative writing, during which I will also play some songs and read some sonnets that he has inspired

winnipegThe following week I am flying to Winnipeg to hang out with the amazing Steve Bell and maybe write some songs. We will do a concert together in Winnipeg on thursday 26th. Full details here.

This is followed by a retreat on poetry, prayer and imagination, on the 27th and 28th September at the St. Benedict’s retreat centre in Winnipeg. Here is their poster with all the details: Malcolm guite

Downtown-main-artThen from November 8-10th I will be at the CS Lewis Foundations Fall conference in Houston Texas where I will be leading a ‘writers track’ on both the spiritualities and the practicalities of creative writing, and also leading meditations and performing some of my songs and sonnets. I hoe this conference will also be the occasion for the American Launch of my new book of poems The Singing Bowl (US Amazon page here)

100_8915_westminsterThen I will be back in the UK getting ready for the big celebration of Lewis on 21-22nd November at Westminster Abbey and unveiling of his memorial in poets corner. I will be speaking at the conference on 21st. Full details here.

Finally I will be back in Cambridge for a day conference on the 23rd in Magdalene, his old college, where I shall give a paper on the contemporary relevance of Lewis’s book The Abolition of Man. Rowan Williams and Helen Cooper will also be speaking at the Cambridge conference. The web page for the conference is here

Please keep an eye on the website for information as it will be updated frequently in the coming weeks with details of registration, information about the speakers and their paper titles. In the meantime, if you have any queries, please feel free to contact lewisascritic@gmail.com


Filed under christianity, imagination, Inklings

CS Lewis: A Sonnet

Scribe of the Kingdom, Keeper of the Door

Scribe of the Kingdom, Keeper of the Door

As I mentioned in my last post, this is a Jubilee year for CS Lewis as, fifty years after his death, we reassess his extraordinary legacy. That can be done in lots of ways and I will be participating in some of the conferences that will hilight the sheer weight and power of his academic work, and explore the depth and richness of his imaginative writing. But for many of us the debt we owe to Lewis is more personal, and more poetic; it is a debt to someone who has opened a spiritual door, someone who has baptised the imagination. As I worked on academic papers I found that what I also needed to do was write a poem! So here is a sonnet articulating something of who Lewis is and what we owe to him. It will be appear as part of a sequence called ‘The Household of Faith’ in The Singing Bowl, my next volume of poetry with the Canterbury Press, which should be out in November.

As usual you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button, or on the title

CS Lewis

From ‘Beer and Beowulf’ to the seven heavens,

Whose music you conduct from sphere to sphere,

You are our portal to those hidden havens

Whence we return to bless our being here.

Scribe of the Kingdom, keeper of the door

Which opens on to all we might have lost,

Ward of a word-hoard in the deep hearts core

Telling the tale of Love from first to last.

Generous, capacious, open, free,

Your wardrobe-mind has furnished us with worlds

Through which to travel, whence we learn to see

Along the beam, and hear at last the heralds,

Sounding their summons, through the stars that sing,

Whose call at sunrise brings us to our King.

Your wardrobe mind has furnished us with worlds

Your wardrobe mind has furnished us with worlds


Filed under imagination, Inklings, literature, Poems

From San Diego To Westminster Abbey – a big year for CS Lewis

cs_lewisMany of you will know that I am a great admirer and, as far as I am able, a follower of CS Lewis, without doubt one of he most influential people in my life. This year marks the 50th Anniversary of his death. There will be many events, conferences and meetings across the world to celebrate and commemorate his life and legacy, but I thought it might be useful for readers of my blog to let you know which of these various events I will be involved in. (also a useful reminder to me, so that I can try to be in the right place at the right time!) In this post I’ll give you the lowdown about the first one, the San Diego Summer Conference, and then list the others about which I’ll blog in more detail later.

So first up is the CS Lewis Summer Conference in San Diego June 21-23rd. This is going to be a major event focusing on Vision and Vocation in Lewis, both his own and the new vision and sense of vocation he can inspire in us, all focused through listening for his distinctive and unique voice amidst the modern cacophony. I will be giving the daily meditations at this conference, reading poetry and also performing with the amazing Steve Bell who will also be there as one of the resident artists and performers. But the real heart of these CS Lewis Foundation events is not just the lectures and seminars, good as they are, but the sense of community and interconnection, the friendships inspired, the new projects begun. I have seen the genesis of new books, plays, poems and songs, new collaborations and scholarly projects, all happening over coffees in corridors at these conferences, or over a beer in the famous evening sessions known collectively as ‘The Bag End Cafe”. I’m really looking forward to this one. My collaboration with Steve Bell on his last album started at the Foundations Oxbridge Conference in 2011 and we are going to be working on some new material after the San Diego meet. Steve has blogged about it here. They have assembled a great team of speakers including Peter Kreeft, James Como, Diana Glyer and Andrew Lazo. Check them all out here: Speakers and Artists. There are ‘early bird’ discounts on booking this conference still available until the April 25th.

July 14-19th there will be an Inklings Week in Oxford with all kinds of talks and events. I’ll be speaking on the Friday 19th July

On the 21st and 22nd of September there is going to be the CS Lewis Jubilee Festival, a weekend of events and talks on Lewis in Headington, centred on the church where he worshipped. I will be speaking on the evening of Saturday 21st on Lewis’s poetry and science fiction. Alister McGrath will also be speaking at this event.

Then in November around the anniversary of his death itself there is going to be a major conference and event at Westminster Abbey leading up to the ceremony on the 22nd of November when Lewis will be inducted into poet’s corner.  At the conference I will be speaking on Lewis’ use of imagination as a truth-bearing faculty, in a lecture complementing a talk by Alister McGrath on Lewis’s use of Reason in apologetics.

Then on the 23rd November there will be a conference in Magdalene College Cambridge, where Lewis was a fellow. I will be giving a paper on the contemporary relevance of Lewis’s prophetic words in The Abolition of Man.

Phew! well I hope I’m able to meet some of the readers of this blog afresh, or for the first time at one or other of these events.


Filed under imagination, Inklings

Lancelot Andrewes on Christmas: a sermon lives again

Lancelot Andrewes 1555-1626

Lancelot Andrewes 1555-1626

At the request of various members of St. Edward’s Church I recently preached one of Lancelot Andrewes‘ great Christmas sermons. In this one he reflects on what it means to say ‘The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory… full of grace and truth’

Here is a soundcloud link to a recording of the sermon, preceded by my brief introduction and kindly recorded and posted by Honor Clare White. This is the full Seventeenth Century Monty, so if you want to hear it all. you’ll need about an hour! There’s also quite lot of Latin and some Greek, but almost always Andrewes translates as he goes along, so you dont need Latin to get this, though you’ll enjoy the sound and the word plays I hope. as an encouragement I should mention that in my view this sermon is the source of some other great poetry and writing. I believe it contains the essence of what became, George Herbert’s poem Come my Way my Truth my Life, it is the starting point for TS Eliot’s lines about ‘The word without a word’ in Gerontion and Ash Wednesday, and I think it may also be the original locus for the children’ first glimpse of Aslan emerging from his Pavilion in the midst of the encamped Narnians. (It is also the source for two lines in my song ‘Angels Unawares’; ‘Its right here in the dirt, where we’ve all been loved and hurt, tat Love Himself has come to pitch his tent’. If you have a chance sometime over Christmas I hope you enjoy it.

You can find the full text of the sermon here:

Andrewes Christmas Sermon 1611

I preached the sermon from Latimer’s pulpit, which was made in 1510 and may well have been seen in St. Edwards by Andrewes who was Master of Pembroke, just round the corner. The famous pulpit was already over a hundred years old when Andrewes preached this sermon in 1611, the year in which the great Authorised Version of the Bible, which he had done so much work on, was finally published


1 Comment

Filed under christianity, St. Edward's

Inconsoleable Longing; Some Advent Reflections

Tomorrow is Advent Sunday! The first Sunday in the Church’s year. The beginning of a holy season in which we connect again with our ‘inconsolable longing’, as CS Lewis called it, our yearning for the One who is to come and is also, mysteriously, the One who has come already, come as child, come as fellow-sufferer, come as Saviour, and yet whose coming, already achieved, we hold at bay from ourselves, so that we have to learn afresh each year, even each day, how to let him come to us again.

In the first centuries the Church had a beautiful custom of praying seven great prayers calling afresh on Christ to come, calling him by the mysterious titles he has in Isaiah, calling to him; O Wisdom. O Root! O Key  O Light! come to us!

I have responded to these seven “Great O” Antiphons, as they are called, with seven sonnets, revoicing them for our own age now, but preserving the heart of each, which is a prayer for Christ’s Advent for his coming, now in us, and at the end of time, in and for all. These Sonnets form the opening sequence of my larger cycle of sonnets for the church year which some of you have been following on these pages. That cycle is now completed, published, and, I am happy to say, actually available as a book called Sounding the Seasons. It is available immediately from Canterbury Press, the publishers, and should be available in the next few days from Amazon etc.

Over the course of this Advent season I shall post these sonnets onto my blog, so here is the first one; O Sapienita, (O Wisdom). I shall also give you the original o antiphon, in both Latin and English. You should also be able to hear the antiphons sung and hear me read the sonnet if you click on the play button just before the poem, or else click on the title of the sonnet to be taken to my audio page. Also check out the wonderful resources on the Advent Antiphons and aother mediaeval Wisdom on Julia Holloway’s beautiful website  The Great O Antiphons

O Sapientia

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the
Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

O Sapientia

I cannot think unless I have been thought,

Nor can I speak unless I have been spoken.

I cannot teach except as I am taught,

Or break the bread except as I am broken.

O Mind behind the mind through which I seek,

O Light within the light by which I see,

O Word beneath the words with which I speak,

O founding, unfound Wisdom, finding me,

O sounding Song whose depth is sounding me,

O Memory of time, reminding me,

My Ground of Being, always grounding me,

My Maker’s Bounding Line, defining me,

Come, hidden Wisdom, come with all you bring,

Come to me now, disguised as everything.

Another way you might like to consider entering into and rediscovering Advent as a season of longing is through Steve Bell‘s new cd Keening for the Dawn. Steve has written a moving sequence of songs taking us from  longing and waiting in the dark, through the oracles of prophecy, to the first fulfilment in the birth of Christ and the deeper glimpses of epiphany. He has woven some of my poetry into his songs and I feel deeply honoured to be part of this record.

Steve Bell's Advent Album

Steve Bell’s Advent Album


Filed under christianity, imagination, literature, Meditation, Poems