Saturday, April 09, 2011

Poetry and the Provenance Of Pleasure - new article by Maitreyabandhu

Maitreyabandhu, an Order Member from Triratna’s London Buddhist Centre, winner of a number of poetry prizes (and well-known to readers of Triratna News as a result), writes with news of his recent article in the current Poetry Review. He says “It’s called ‘The Provenance Of Pleasure’ and aims to explore what a Buddhist vision of poetry might look like. You can read it on a PDF at this address. Hope you like it. Love, Maitreyabandhu ”.

We’ve taken a look, and discovered a whole issue devoted to the theme of poetry and spirituality. The editors introduce the topic by saying "It’s easy to assume that spirituality is an old-fashioned topic: one that poetry outgrew when modernity began. Yet we can reclaim the term, and use it to glimpse what various faiths feel like from the inside. Spirituality isn’t just a way to get lyric lift into a poem – it must colour the poet’s whole relationship to poetry…"

Maitreyabandhu begins by quoting David Constantine’s poem ‘Pleasure’, from his 2004 collection A Poetry Primer, going on to say “I want to explore the kind of pleasure described in David Constantine’s poem from a Buddhist point of view. I want to do this because I believe Buddhism offers fresh insights into the spiritual value of poetry. I use as my model an ancient Buddhist Sutta (literally “thread of discourse”) called the Honeyball Sutta, which describes how our mind is patterned and structured. What I hope to show is that the human and spiritual value of poetry is to be found in the end-in-itself pleasure that David Constantine’s poem affirms.

After introducing and discussing quite a number of Buddhist technical terms, he ends with a reflection on why he’s driven to write poems (and enter them into poetry competitions!), by saying “I’m writing to give myself, and hopefully others, non-appropriative (niramisa) pleasure. I want to participate in that strange magic of poetry – its capacity to enhance creaturely life, mature vitarka (self-awareness) and suspend the ruminations of prapañca”.

To find out more - and to discover the meaning of those terms - you’ll have to read the full article! It’s available at

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