Grace Cavalieri talks Buddhism with "Lion's Roar Magazine"
Grace Cavalieri, MD's 10th Poet Laureate and a practicing Buddhist, talks about her spiritual journey with "Lion's Roar Magazine."
GRACE CAVALIERI, poet, playwright, author, educator, poet laureate, radio personality, and Buddhist. Grace Cavalieri recently spoke to Lion's Roar magazine, an English-language Buddhist publication, about how her spiritual journey in Buddhism has dovetailed with her artistic journey in poetry. Grace started practicing Buddhism after her partner of 60 years, Ken, passed away. She was named as the tenth Maryland Poet Laureate in 2019.
Many of Grace's poems, plays, and her interviews with US Poets Laureate are collected in her Legacy Book Other Voices, Other Lives.
Below is an excerpt from the interview (conducted by Haleigh Atwood)
Haleigh Atwood: When did you first discover Buddhism?
Grace Cavalieri: It was a very distinct beginning. My husband of 60 years died five years ago. When he died, I said to one of my four daughters, “I need what I had from him. I need community, I need people I can take a journey with.” I went to the Unitarian church and they had a notice about a meditation group, which I thought would be fine. I started going, and I don’t believe I’ve ever missed a Sunday.
The sangha is the most important component of my life right now. This is a place where people come just because they want to be there. How many places must we go for a reason?
HA: I read that you instruct your poetry students to think about their lives as buildings where each floor is another year. They can pull inspiration from those floors, specifically from past hurts and past wounds. Could you tell me how you came up with that technique?
GC: I had a spiritual teacher who once imagined that metaphor. He said our lives were like buildings and at the end of our lives we would be on the roof and a helicopter would sweep us away and then the building would crumble. But, until that time, every floor is still intact. For a teacher of poetry, that was like a gold mine.
Every one of my teaching exercises is about humanity. They’re not about poetry. People find out who they are by writing, and I call that poetry. When I teach, I always start the class with a meditation. It may sound crazy to start teaching that way, but I ask them to humor me. So far, everyone has been cooperative.
Other Voices, Other Lives: A Grace Cavalieri Collection is a selection of poems, plays, and interviews drawn from over forty years of work by one of America’s most beloved and influential women of letters. The author of 23 books of poetry and 26 produced plays, and the founder of the legendary radio interview program, The Poet and the Poem, Grace Cavalieri has won multiple national awards for her writing and her service to literature. She currently resides in Annapolis, Maryland.