Reading Poetry
…for Spiritual Growth

Bio & Books









         Peggy Rosenthal



Though Peggy began her career in academics with a doctorate in literature, after

her baptism into the Roman Catholic church in 1983 she became increasingly

interested in fostering literature - and especially poetry - as a spiritual resource.


Her recent reflection guides, published by St. Anthony Messenger Press, each

meditate on ten poems by major contemporary poets. In Praying the Gospels

through Poetry: Lent to Easter the poems offer a fresh angle on some beloved

Gospel passages; in Praying through Poetry: Hope for Violent Times the poems

envision hope in our broken world.


Previously, Peggy wrote The Poets' Jesus (Oxford University Press), a survey

of how Jesus has been treated in mostly twentieth century world poetry, and co-

edited an anthology of poems keyed to Gospel passages, Divine Inspiration: The

Life of Jesus in World Poetry (Oxford University Press). During 2002, she wrote

the monthly feature "Poetry Reading" for The Christian Century magazine.

Peggy's essays and spiritual reflections have also appeared in Image, Cross

Currents, Commonweal, and America.  

She blogs for Image journal's Good Letters blog at


Offering poems for hope and healing in a spirit of nonviolence is also her

mission in the new anthology Imagine a World: Poetry for Peacemakers,

compiled for Pax Christi USA. []


"In everything I do these days," Peggy says, "I'm trying to help people attend to

'the words under the words,' as Naomi Shihab Nye puts it in a poem of that title.

Poetry nurtures my soul because it draws me toward that silence where God speaks

to us, beneath our society's clamor. I also have a special interest in poetry which

engages us in the biblical call of shalom and animates us to work toward God's reign

of justice."






Praying the Gospels through Poetry: Lent to Easter (Franciscan Media). Sometimes we find that the best-loved Gospel stories become so familiar that we can no longer respond to them. Poetrys special art is to cast a fresh eye on the too familiar. This book offers meditations on selected poems which reflect on the Sunday Gospel readings of the Lenten season. 




  Praying through Poetry: Hope for Violent Times (Franciscan Media).

Meditations on ten contemporary poems, from a range of religious traditions, that bring us through the worlds violence to visions of hope. 




 Imagine a World: Poetry for Peacemakers (Pax Christi USA).

A collection, with commentary, of 75 contemporary poems by poets including Barbara Kingsolver, Wendell Berry, Alive Walker, Joy Harjo, & Lucille Clifton; suitable for personal or group use on issues of war, injustice, nonviolence, and peace. Available from




The Poets' Jesus: Representations at the End of a Millennium (Oxford University Press)

Though the twentieth century defined itself as "secular" and "post-Christian," its poets never stopped musing on the figure of Jesus of Nazareth. Drawing on poetry from Africa, the Arab world, and the Far East as well as the West, The Poets' Jesus discusses the surprising range of poetic configurations of Jesus produced at the close of the second millennium.  Winner of Christianity and Literatures Best Book of the Year (2000), honorable mention. 


Divine Inspiration: The Life of Jesus in World Poetry, compiled with Robert Atwan and George Dardess (Oxford University Press)

 An anthology of poems reflecting on particular Gospel passages. The poems are arranged in the narrative sequence of Christs life, with corresponding gospel excerpts to set the context for the poetry.  Represented are contemporary poets from all backgrounds and faiths, as well as major poets of the past two thousand years. 

 Reclaiming Beauty for the Good of the World:
               Muslim & Christian Creativity as Moral Power
Expanding from my longtime interest in the spirituality of poetry, in 2010 I co-authored with my husband, George Dardess, a book on the spirituality of all the arts and how this spirituality can be a grounding for dialogue among Christians and Muslims. Our book is available at or the publisher (where description is included):

Knit One, Purl a Prayer: A Spirituality of Knitting

For this newest book, I spun off from poetry to talk about the spirituality of another favorite art form: knitting. There is poetry in the book (of course), as well as reflections on the spirituality of creativity in general. But mostly it is a book for knitters who want to reflect on the spiritual dimensions of their craft.


















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