Poet and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama will spend the second week of September virtually touring Eastern Mennonite University: speaking in chapels, colloquia, and classes; chatting with pastors and LGBTQ+ groups; and networking with community organizations, including NPR’s local radio station affiliate WMRA and JMU’s Furious Flower Poetry Center.
All of these events will be live streamed on Facebook via the EMU page. Those who register to attend will receive a webinar link and will be able to interact with Ó Tuama through Q & A.
His book In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015) is this year’s Common Read selection, one book the campus community is encouraged to read, reflect on, and engage with.
The author of four books of poetry and prose, Ó Tuama is known for integrating themes of language, power, conflict and religion. He is also a peacebuilder and mediator. From 2014-19, he led the Corrymeela Community, Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organisation. He hosts the Poetry Unbound podcast from On Being Studios.
Monday, September 14
- 6 p.m. – Writers Read
Ó Tuama will read excerpts from his poetry and prose. The event is open to the public via Zoom and live stream.
Tuesday, September 15
- 11 a.m. – Seminary Chapel and Talkback
Ó Tuama will speak on “Jesus of Nazareth: Strange man in strange times,” looking at Jesus through the lenses of story, poetry, literary analysis, and imagination. This event is open to the public via Zoom and live stream.
- 3 p.m. – Books and Brews with WMRA
This live event, open to all, will also be available via Zoom and live stream. WMRA’s Books and Brews moderator Mary Katharine Froehlich will speak with Ó Tuama about “how poetry, books and reading kept me safe.”
Wednesday, September 16
- 10:15 a.m. – Convocation and Talkback
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. 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?
This event is open to all: EMU students and employees may attend the event in Lehman Auditorium, with overflow space in SC 106 and UC 170; the public may tune in via Zoom and live stream.
- 4:15 p.m. – University Colloquium
Ó Tuama will speak on “Reading can save your life: living our lives in conversation with received narratives.” This colloquium will touch on the practice of reading poetry, religious texts, and the stories of our own lives, as well as narratives about belonging. Available via Zoom and live stream.
Thursday, September 17
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?
Friday, September 18
The Furious Flower Poetry Center is the nation’s first academic center for Black poetry. In “The shelter of stories in uncertain times,” Ó Tuama will talk with Executive Director Joanne Gabbin about the poet’s role in modeling truth-telling, social justice, and activism. This event is open to all via Zoom and live stream.
- 1 p.m. – “How shall we go from here?” Closing session
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. This event is hosted by Patience Kamau and Catherine Barnes.