Pádraig Ó Tuama
Poet, Theologian and Peacemaker-in-Residence September 14-18, 2020
Photo credit: Trevor Brady
Writers Read- Poetry with Pádraig Ó Tuama
Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet, theologian and conflict mediator from Ireland. His work
centres around themes of language, justice, story and religion. In this hour, Pádraig
will explore stories of the past — of the garden of Eden, of Ireland, of gayness —
and consider strange vantage points to narrate strange corners of those stories. In
form and in free verse, using a musical English that is always informed by the Irish
language, Pádraig’s work echoes a longstanding Irish tradition that has learnt much
from midrash: ask the questions, explore the corners, raise your hand, object.
Moderator: Kirsten Beachy
Seminary Chapel- Jesus of Nazareth: strange man in strange times
This chapel will take a fresh exploration at some stories of Jesus of Nazareth. Taking a literary approach to the gospel texts, we will consider — through story, poetry, literary analysis and imagination — the character of this man from Nazareth.
Moderator: Carmen Schrock-Hurst
Moderator: Mary Katharine Froehlich
EMU Convocation - In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World
Hello to Language. What does it mean to use language today? — in a time of pandemic, in the latest racist decade of a racist era, in a time where truth is questioned and language is fake if it’s labelled fake. Taking an approach from his memoir In the Shelter, Pádraig Ó Tuama will explore the power of language; power to harm and power to heal, and consider that power in conversation both with story and time. How do we tell stories about the times we are in? How long do we imagine the times we are in will be the times we are in? How do we speak today in order to consider new stories?
Moderator: Brian Martin Burkholder
University Colloquium - Reading can save your life: living our lives in conversation with received narratives
In the Shelter can be understood, in a way, as an homage to reading: reading poetry, reading religious texts, reading the story of your own life. This colloquium will explore the practice of reading, and the question about normative narratives in personal and group belonging.
Moderator: Fred Kniss
Center for Justice and Peacebuilding - Insights and Mistakes from Ireland for Isolated times
In 2021, Ireland will mark 100 years since partition. During that time, there have been numerous sustained periods of conflict about British-Irish dynamics: conflict that has been witnessed both on the streets and in policies. Given this hundred years of conflict and attempts at brokering peace, what lessons might be relevant for today?
Moderator: patience kamau
Furious Flower - The Shelter of Stories in Uncertain Times
Pádraig Ó Tuama will talk about how stories open up the possibilities of understanding, peace and reconciliation, and belonging. In these uncertain times when the claimed values of this nation are bankrupt, the role of the poet is crucial in modeling truth-telling, social justice, and activism.
Moderator: Joanne Gabbin
Closing: how shall we go from here?
Acts of the Imagination:
What is the role of the imagination in peacebuilding and public life? Building on
years of LGBTQI advocacy Pádraig will reflect with us — on the last session of his
residency — on how the imagination might nurture public action, change and witness.
Facilitated by Catherine Barnes and patience kamau
Poet and theologian, Pádraig Ó Tuama’s work centres around themes of language, power, conflict and religion. Working fluently on the page and in public, Pádraig is a compelling poet and skilled speaker, teacher and group worker.
Pádraig presents Poetry Unbound with On Being Studios and in late 2019 was named Theologian in Residence for On Being, innovating in bringing art and theology into public and civic life.
When BBC journalist William Crawley introduced Pádraig on the stage to deliver a TEDx talk on Story, Crawley said, "He's probably the best public speaker I know."
Ó Tuama’s published work incorporates poetry (Readings from the Book of Exile [longlisted for the Polari Prize 2013]; Sorry for your Troubles), prose (In The Shelter) and theology (Daily Prayer, The Place Between). Poems featured or forthcoming in the following publications or platforms: Poetry Ireland Review, Academy of American Poets, Raidio Teilifís Éireann’s Poem of the Week, Post Road, Cream City Review, Holden Village Voice, Proximity Magazine, On Being, Dumbo Feather, Gutter, America, and Seminary Ridge Review.
From 2014-2019 he was the leader of the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation community.
A profoundly engaging public speaker, Ó Tuama has worked with groups to explore story, conflict, their relationship with religion and argument, and violence. Using poetry, group discussion and lectures, his work is marked both by lyricism and pragmatism, and includes a practice of evoking stories and participation from attendees at his always-popular lectures, retreats and events.
Ó Tuama has been a featured guest on On Being with Krista Tippett twice, and is a regular broadcaster on radio on topics such as Poetry, Religion in the public square, Loneliness, Conflict and Faith, LGBT inclusion, the dangers of so-called Reparative Therapy, and the value of the Arts in public life. He has broadcasted, recited and been interviewed countless times on RTÉ, BBC (Radio 4, Radios Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland) and Radio National (Australia). His work has been used in Medical Journals, quoted by Princes and used in Atlases and Liturgies.
Pádraig has told a story for The Moth and has extended interviews with On Being and ABC Spirit of Things. Together with his partner, Paul Doran, he cofounded Tenx9, a storytelling event where nine people have up to ten minutes each to tell a true story from their lives. Begun in Belfast, this event now has satellite events in many other cities.
For Ó Tuama, religion, conflict, power and poetry all circle around language, that original sacrament. In the context of public theology, he takes the received form of biblical texts and explores the civic and artistic dynamics of language, narrative and impact in these stories. He holds a BA Div validated by the Pontifical College of Maynooth, an MTh from Queen’s University Belfast and is currently engaged in a PhD in Theology through Creative Practice (Uni of Glasgow) exploring poetry, Irishness and religion. In addition to these qualifications, Ó Tuama has numerous professional accreditations in conflict, focusing particularly on dynamics of group conflicts.