The importance of words in seeking peace and reconciliation will be the focus of the presentation “Poetry and the Art of Peace” by poet, theologian and peace activist Padraig O’Tuama of Northern Ireland on Tuesday, April 10, at 7:30 p.m. at Hope College in the Concert Hall of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

The presentation will explore the way in which words are significant in the process of deepening trust, acknowledging pain and impact, and acknowledging both the past and the truth.  The lecture will consider words that have current political and poetic currency for peace.

O’Tuama is the director of Corrymeela Center, which is Northern Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization, and the author of multiple books of both poetry and prose, chapters, articles and presented papers.  He addresses topics spanning theology, peace and justice studies, narrative, identity and his context of Northern Ireland.  He also leads retreats, and has worked with groups in Ireland, Britain, the United States and Australia on storytelling, theology, identity and healing from conflict.

His collection “Sorry for Your Troubles” shares poems that tell stories of individuals who have lived through conflict in Northern Ireland, the Middle East and elsewhere.  His book “In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World” relates ideas of shelter and welcome using poetry, story, biblical reflection and prose.

“Sorry for Your Troubles” was described as “deeply moving and thought-provoking poetry which invites readers to let the sacred reach into them touching their vulnerability and opening their hearts” by Dr. Cecelia Clegg, who is a theologian with New College, Edinburgh.  Mary McAvoy of Irish Independent’s Review of Books praised “In the Shelter” as “Compassionate, Resolute, Confronting, Challenging, Wonderful, Comforting.” 

O’Tuama holds his Bachelor of Arts in Divinity from the Maryvale Institute of Birmingham and his Master of Theology degree from Queens University, Belfast, and has taken additional professional development courses in mediation, group conflict, group mediation, dialogue and adult education.

While on campus, he will also speak to classes and meet with students and faculty.  The college’s international off-campus course “Celtic May Term: Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland and Scotland” met with him last May and has worked with the Corrymeela Center for several years.  “In the Shelter” has been used for several of Hope’s Senior Seminars.

The event is co-sponsored by multiple Hope programs and departments, including the dean for the social sciences, Student Development, the Cultural Affairs Committee, the Mellon Scholars Program, the Peace and Justice Studies program, and the departments of communication, English, history, political science, and sociology and social work.

The Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts is located at 221 Columbia Ave., between Ninth and 10th streets.