Summoning the Unseen:

Poetry and Meditation to Conjure Deep Support and Inspiration


A 10-week online workshop series

with Brooke McNamara
& Special Guests
Shann Ray, Danusha Laméris, James Crews, and Pouria Montazeri


Wednesdays, February 16th - April 27th (no class March 23rd)

9-11 am PST/ 10am-12pm MT/ 11am-1pm CST/ 12-2 pm EST/ 5-7 pm GMT/ 6-8 pm CET

 

 Investment:

Please choose the price that works for your current financial context:
$565, $345, $125

 ~ Scholarships Available ~

“There is an unseen 

presence we honor, 

that gives the gifts.” 

~ Rumi

 

“The poet is the priest of the invisible.”

~ Wallace Stevens

 

“do not choose the lesser life. do you hear me. do you hear me. choose the
life that is. yours. the life that is seducing your lungs. that is dripping down
your chin.” 

~ Nayyirah Waheed

 

 

In these bewildering times, both our inner and outer worlds are undergoing rapid change and unraveling. So much is unknown and yet to be seen. We may fear becoming overwhelmed or disconnected from the emotional, relational, creative, and spiritual resources we need most right now.

What if there is a dimension of experience always available right here, which is innately meaningful and vivid - without cause or condition? 

What if it's possible to tune ourselves to receiving and transmitting this poetic dimension of being human?

When we tune and open ourselves to the poetic dimension of life, we may access the world’s innate aliveness, teeming with unseen layers of imagery, intimacy, guidance, archetypal narratives and codes, as well as spacious awareness holding and infusing it all.

How do you tune to the poetic? Do you remember your ways as a child of connecting to this animate, breathing world?

In these times of rapid change, challenge, and opportunity, with an overwhelming flood of imagery, information, and disinformation flowing in from the outside, it is vital that we become both discerning about what we take in to our minds and psyches, as well as pro-active about sourcing the imagery and intelligence of our own souls, intuition, and deep being. 

It is vital that we connect in brave, supportive community to feed each other the wisdom and vision we receive when we turn our embodied gaze toward unseen, poetic dimensions folded into any and every moment of being alive.

And, in this kind of trustable community, we can learn, discern, and think critically together about what information - whether received from the outside or inside - is truly life-giving, and also gently come to know what might be unjust or oppressive, to ourselves or others, that we’ve simply assumed to be the way things are.

 

“This course has been medicine for me.” 

~ Esi Wildcat, Artist & Priestess, Los Angeles, CA

 

"The sessions with Brooke and the community she gathers are gently powerful and powerfully gentle. After every session you have a sense of having had close friends for a visit and you would like them to stay, almost like when you were a kid, playing outside and being called in for dinner — you just want to play a little more, but no, you have to go... and you do it, because next week you will play again. Thank you Brooke for bringing soul, joy and presence to the sessions and the community. You are a gift.”

~ Igno Van Niekerk,
Author, Leadership Trainer, Photographer, Storyteller, South Africa


 

Poetry can usher us into this realm of soul, imagination, and the liminal where we remember or sense things we didn’t know we knew. A realm where we can receive vision or calibration not available through thinking or the conventional five senses alone. Where we may court and be courted by our muse. And where we can unfold and reveal bits of magic and insight simply by showing up to listen or bring pen to paper.

 

Meditation can harmonize body, mind, and breath, allowing deep letting go of unnecessary tension and revealing an ever present Awareness. This deeper nature is our birthright to realize, is not separate from any moment or expression of life, and is refuge when old reference points fall away.

“No, my soul is not asleep.

It is awake, wide awake.

It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches,

its clear eyes open,

far-off things, and listens

at the shores of the great silence.”

 

 

~ Antonio Machado

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It is vital to gently allow in to our awareness and nervous systems that which has been in shadow, individually and collectively, and - as in the teachings of activist, author, and lawyer, Valarie Kaur - to wonder about who we really are, what we must resist and dismantle to enact a revolutionary love, and also how we can reimagine something more beautiful, equitable, and life-giving for all. 

This may emerge for you in a short poem of forgiveness for yourself. It may manifest in a letter of apology to an estranged friend. Or it may become a vision for deep structural change at work. “To attend to the moment is to attend to eternity. To attend to the part is to attend to the whole,” asserts the maxim from the compilation of Jewish teachings, Pirke Avot.

In these transitional times, it is vital that we help each other feel and express the pain of injustice and loss. It is vital that we also feel the burn, ache and pleasure of longing for something more for ourselves and our world, something deeper in, something more alive, connected and intimate with the holy truth of death — something perhaps already here, but as yet untended or made manifest.

You are invited to enact, articulate and enjoy your vision of truth, beauty, and justice, presence and play, together in community, as a weekly ritual. 

By writing our way into and from our deep hearts, our untethered imaginings, and our solemn declarations of what we stand for in this life, we will create a blueprint for our living and relating with all of life in its sentience, wonder, grief, and mystery. 

We will summon the unseen forces around and within us to activate deep support, inspiration, and service, here and now.

Each two-hour weekly workshop includes:

 

  • Spoken poems and teachings to bring themes alive in your experience
  • Gentle embodiment practices
  • Meditation instruction and sitting practice
  • Writing prompts, guidance on technique and artistry, and time to explore through your own writing
  • Interpersonal exploration and time for connection to build robust relationships and intimate community

Brooke will lead 6 of the workshops, with four gifted and inspiring guest teachers joining the community to offer specialized explorations.

 Small Kindnesses

~ Danusha Laméris 

 

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk

down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs

to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”

when someone sneezes, a leftover

from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.

And sometimes, when you spill lemons

from your grocery bag, someone else will help you

pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.

We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,

and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile

at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress

to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,

and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.

We have so little of each other, now. So far

from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.

What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these

fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,

have my seat,” “Go ahead—you first,” “I like your hat.”

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weekly themes:

Week 1, February 16th: Ordinary Magic: What Does it Mean to Summon (& be Summoned by) the Unseen?

 

Week 2, February 23rd: Embracing Obstacles to Enter Creative Flow: “What’s In the Way IS the Way”

 

Week 3, March 2nd: Thick Darkness: Listening and Wrestling with the Divine Antagonist with special guest Shann Ray

 

Week 4, March 9th: Alert, Relaxed, and Ridiculous: Coming Alive through Rest and Play

 

Week 5, March 16th: Knowing and Not Knowing: Writing into Doubt and Uncertainty with special guest Danusha Laméris

 

NO CLASS MARCH 23rd: Catch Up, Integration, & Rest

 

Week 6, March 30th: “The Mysterious Pivot”: Shifting from Concepts to Vivid Experience

 

Week 7, April 6th: Stepping into Soul Time: Writing Toward the Mystery with special guest James Crews

 

Week 8, April 13th: Shunyata: Experiencing and Expressing Fertile Emptiness

 

Week 9, April 20th: This Beautiful Drowning: The Love of Beauty and the Beauty of Love Inspired by Rumi with special guest Pouria Montazeri

 

Week 10, April 27th: A Celebration of Beloved Community: Integration and Completion

You will also be invited to join a private Mighty Networks online group for members of Summoning the Unseen, in which to share poems, share your own writing and receive feedback, and generally explore together what comes up in the workshops.

 

Workshops will be recorded and sent to you within 48 hours, along with prompts and inquiries to consider in your writing and living between workshops.

special guests:

shann ray (Vanessa Kay)

Shann Ray (he/him) is the author of the poetry collections Atomic Theory 7, Sweetclover, and Balefire. He is also the author of the short story collections Blood Fire Vapor Smoke, and American Masculine, the novel American Copper, the libretto The Garment of Praise, and two books of nonfiction Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity, and The Souls of Others. Ray’s work has been featured in Poetry, Esquire, McSweeney’s, High Desert Journal, Poetry International, Narrative, Prairie Schooner, and Salon. Ray spent part of his childhood on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in southeast Montana and has served as a scholar of leadership and forgiveness studies in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. A Bread Loaf and National Endowment for the Arts fellow, he has been honored with the American Book Award, the High Plains Book Award for poetry and fiction, the Western Writers of America Spur Award, and the Foreword Book of the Year Readers' Choice Award. Ray lives in Spokane, Washington, and teaches at Gonzaga University. Because of his wife and daughters he believes in love. http://shannray.com

Danusha Lameris headshot

Danusha Laméris (she/her) is the author of The Moons of August (Autumn House, 2014), which was chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye as the winner of the Autumn House Press poetry prize and was a finalist for the Milt Kessler Book Award. Some of her poems have been published in: The Best American Poetry, The New York Times,The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The SUN Magazine, Tin House, The Gettysburg Review, and Ploughshares. Her second book, Bonfire Opera, (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020), was a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize, and winner of a 2021 Northern California Book Award. The 2020 recipient of the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award, she teaches poetry independently, and is a Poet Laureate emeritus of Santa Cruz County, California. She is currently on the faculty of Pacific University's low-residency MFA program. http://www.danushalameris.com

James Crews-headshot

James Crews (he/him) is the editor of the best-selling anthology, How to Love the World, which has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, as well as in The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post. He is the author of four prize-winning collections of poetry: The Book of What Stays, Telling My Father, Bluebird, and Every Waking Moment, and his poems have been reprinted in the New York Times Magazine, Ploughshares, The New Republic, and The Christian Century. Crews teaches in the Poetry of Resilience seminars, which he co-founded with Danusha Laméris, and lives with his husband in Shaftsbury, Vermont. To sign up for weekly poems and prompts, visit: www.jamescrews.net.

Pouria Montazeri

Pouria Montazeri (he/him) grew up with Rumi’s poetry and teachings. He draws from his 28 years of experience with Sufism, Advaita Vedanta, and other mystical and contemplative practices and his experiences as a teacher, spiritual director/coach, speaker, poet, mindfulness instructor, sangha guide, mentor, and filmmaker to support himself and others to live more creative, peaceful, and meaningful lives. He wrote, directed, and shot Shams & Rumi: The Fragrance of Axis Mundi, which won many international film awards. Pouria Montazeri travels and offers his heart as a gift through conferences, workshops, retreats, and 8-week long Rumi courses. All of the proceeds are either obtained by the hosting body or donated to a charity in need. Pouria loves nature and can always be found on one of his sunrise contemplative hikes with scraps of poetry in his pocket in his home state of Colorado. https://www.footprintsofrumi.com/pouria-montazeri

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God Particles
~ James Crews

 

I could almost hear their soft collisions

on the cold air today, but when I came in,

 

shed my layers and stood alone by the fire,

I felt them float toward me like spores

 

flung far from their source, having crossed

miles of oceans and fields unknown to most

 

just to keep my body fixed to its place

on the earth. Call them God if you must,

 

these messengers that bring hard evidence

of what I once was and where I have been—

 

filling me with bits of stardust, whaleskin,

goosedown from the pillow where Einstein

 

once slept, tucked in his cottage in New Jersey,

dreaming of things I know I’ll never see.

 

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What people are saying about my online workshops: 

"Participating in Summoning the Unseen will be etched in my heart as the most powerful medicine during these times. The combination of meditation and poetry continues to invite me into deep inner stillness, amplifying my capacity to listen and reflect, to move beyond the noise and chaos and witness my own quivering voice.

This course has offered a practice that reverberates connectedness between us. There is magic to be experienced as our whole group listens to a poem and allows it to land with unique resonance. The beauty of witnessing how each of us are moved within the online space has increased the beauty tenfold and I am deeply grateful to be held in a circle of people with hearts wide-open, as we weave the words, witness ourselves and each other, and uncover wisdom to navigate these times.

The guest teachers have been a delightful bonus to find new pathways into this art; they have inspired me deeply. Some are lingering with me, weeks later. For me, Summoning the Unseen is weaving an invisible web between the hearts of the world and whispering poetry, vulnerability and love into these silken strings, summoning the soul to wake up more fully into conscious living."

~ Heather Baillie,

Death Doula, Poet, Teacher, 

Scotland


“My expectations have continually been surpassed. Every week the balance between space and structure is delicately and sensitively facilitated by Brooke (sometimes accompanied by other guest teachers that bring their own energy to the space) so that I have been delighted by the range and depth we have accomplished in a relatively short time. The sessions stay with me all week and I find myself having a wider palate to delve into and many moments of inspiration and experience when I want to find my voice. I would highly recommend this course for poetry beginners or seasoned practitioners.”

~ Priya Logan, Aritst, Doula, Mother Scotland

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Hesperus

~ Shann Ray

 

My four-year-old daughter handed me a card. 

To Daddy written on the front

and inside a rough field 

of  five-pointed lights, and the words

You’re my favorite Daddy in the stars.

 

In this western night we all light the sky

like Vega, Deneb, Altair, Albireo, 

the Summer Triangle, 

Cygnus the Swan, our hair 

tangled with wood and gravel, 

our eyes like vacant docks

that beckon every boat.

 

Tell me about the word

stars, I said.

 

Oh, she said. Sorry. 

I didn’t know

how to spell world.

Enjoy an introductory

"Summoning the Unseen" workshop:

Please join a powerful, intimate, international community of humans for an exploration of opening to the poetic together, and sourcing the support and inspiration of the unseen around and within us all. 

 

For me, there are four enduring, overlapping practices for opening to the poetic: reading poetry, writing poetry, meditation, and real connection in community. Exactly how these practices work their magic feels like a matter of grace, but they reliably provide bridges into the breathing soul of this moment.

 

Reading and writing poetry, meditation, and connection in community, as practices to up-level sensitivity toward and enchantment with this gorgeous, terrible world and our gorgeous, terrible selves requires embodied perception. These practices require that we feel the language of the poetic touching our private inner landscapes so we can become awake to the wisdom locked up or liberated in our flesh and bones. For this reason we’ll include gentle somatic practices and inquiries to open and activate the intelligence and perception of our whole body and being.

 

The real beauty of reading and writing poetry as a presence practice, the secret that keeps me coming back to drink this water-from-the-source, is that it requires my embodied perception, but at the same time trains it. The more I give, the more I get, so to speak. The more I wrestle, die, and delight with my favorite poets and poems, the more I perceive the rest of my world with full body-mind, sensuous curiosity and love. And then, at moments, this “me” perceiving “my world” dissolves into simple, undivided flow - the poetic.

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