Advent with Merton

Poetry on Merton

I’m excited to let you know that three of my poems have appeared in the Advent issue of the Merton Journal.

It’s a real honour for me as I’ve been reading the Journal for years and Thomas Merton himself for decades.

I first came across Thomas Merton’s writing in a bookshop in Hay-on-Wye where I picked up one of his diaries for what seemed like an extravagant sum of £5, especially for a new-to-me writer. But, leaning against the floor-to-ceiling shelves of the shop I had lost track of time reading the honest words of someone whose doubts echoed mine.

That was the start of a decades-long relationship with Merton. My collection of his books now takes up two bookshelves. I am still missing some. I prefer to grow the collection organically, and even my husband has been trained to keep an eye out for Merton’s books as we mooch around second hand bookstores or browse random collections at charity shops.

One exception to that has been Merton’s poetry. I hadn’t really read much of his poetry until I was introduced to it by my writing mentor Matthew Lippman. Matthew set me some poems of his to as a starting point – a platform to bounce off – in my own writing. And I enjoyed them so much I bought the doorstop of his collected poems brand spanking new.

Merton continues to inspire me in his writing. In fact I have this photo above on my desk to encourage me. He stands there, smirking, at all the reasons I am about to come up with for not writing. And reminds me of his disciplined schedule and prolific output.

No excuses, he seems to say, get on and write! But first – God.

Yes. May I be like Merton in both respects.

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