Poetry: Metaphors for the Soul with Margaret Barkley

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Poetry is a deep collaboration of language, music, psyche, and soul. A poet reveals to us the beauty, the sorrow, and even the humor of the world. It guides us in being ever curious and observant, helping us to notice even the smallest details of life. A ripening peach or the twisting of a damp tissue in our hands can transport us with wonder and joy. A good poem takes us on a treasure hunt for the ineffable emotions that toss us like flotsam and jetsam on the relentless pounding waves on the seas of life. It is the sacred text of life. When asked what advice she would give for writing poetry she says, “Just start and try not to be hard on yourself about what comes out. Because the truth is, someone else will be touched by it if you are. If it has meaning to you, someone else will be touched by it.” Master poet and word weaver, Margaret Barkley, leads us in awakening our own creative energies of Divine Imagination. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Margaret Barkley is a teacher, poet, and curious observer of humans and nature. Her poetry has been published in the Redwood Writers poetry anthologies Beyond Distance, And Yet, and Crow, in which she was an Award of Merit poet. She holds an MA in Psychology with a focus on group facilitation and emotional intelligence and has taught for over twenty years, including at Sonoma State University and the University of San Francisco. Her latest love is leading women’s retreats in the Grand Teton National Park.

Margaret Barkley is the author of a book of poetry: 

  • Ribs (Finishing Line Press 2021) 

To learn more about the work of Margaret Barkley go to www.margaretbarkley.com

Topics explored in this dialogue include: 

  • How writing a poem can be like being a journalist
  • How the Persian poets Rumi and Hafez speak directly to the heart
  • How to listen to a poem
  • How to find metaphors for your writing
  • How Joan Baez writes her song lyrics
  • What was inspiration for her poem Junkyard Dogs
  • What is Barkley’s advice in writing poetry
  • Why poetry is so often used in ceremonial moments and rites of passage
  • How paying attention to small moments can be an antidote to the bigger worries in life
  • How the poem about beauty and loss “Feeling Him Close” came to her when her friend was diagnosed with a terminal illness
  • How poetry can reveal the paradox of ecstasy and grief
  • How poetry can expose the light in the cracks of life
  • How poetry can take us down to soul
  • How life can be so quirky and writing poetry is about expressing, without judgment, what shows up 

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 11/4/2021   Program Number: 3744

Music Playlist

From Album: Origins
Artist: Radhika Miller
1989 Radhika Miller Music #RMM-1108

Opening Essay: Track 03 Net of Gems
Music Break 1: Track 04 Children of the Sun
Music Break 2: Track 07 Petrathaki
Music Break 3: Track 08 Song for Alia