June 5 Learning Hour: Queer Poetry & the Spirit with Christina Hutchins

Mystics have long used sexual imagery for the divine-human relationship. Poets, by drawing on the radiant play of multiple meanings and music in language, have long refused to separate sacred and daily experience. You might (or might not!) be surprised how many well known poets have been queer! Sappho lived 600 years before Jesus and founded the community of Lesbos, Persian and Christian mystics in the middle ages expressed fluidity of gender, and some of the most beloved English and American poets, including Shakespeare, Whitman, and Dickinson, sang queer love as holy motion in their lives and their poetry. In this Learning Hour, we will hear some poems, talk a little about the poets’ lives, and touch on the blurring of sexual imagery, joy, and praise of the sacred in queer poetry. No worries if you are not used to poetry or it has caused you difficulties in the past. You will be gently guided as together we wander into the and through the poems.

Christina Hutchins, an ordained UCC minister, is former professor of Theology & Literary Arts at Pacific School of Religion and was the first poet laureate of  FCCB. She now teaches process thought and poetry at the Cobb Institute. Her books include Tender the Maker (2015 May Swenson Award) and The Stranger Dissolves, finalist for the 2011 Lambda Award and the Audre Lorde Prize for lesbian poetry. Her poems appear in Antioch Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, Women’s Review of Books, etc., and scholarly essays are in volumes from Ashgate, Columbia UP, and SUNY.  She has received The Missouri Review Editors’ Prize, two Barbara Deming Awards, and was named the Dartmouth Poet in Residence at the Frost Place in NH and first poet laureate of Albany, CA.