Kathleen O’Toole has braided writing and teaching poetry into a professional life, in a community organizing and faith-based social change. After receiving her MA from Johns Hopkins University, she taught writing at JHU and the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her poems have been widely published, and have received special recognition from Hunger Mountain, New York Encounter/IMAGE Poetry Contest (2017), Northern Virginia Review, Smartish Pace, and Cape Cod Outermost Poetry Contest (2019). She is a Benedictine oblate of Emmanuel Monastery, and the current Poet Laureate of Takoma Park, Maryland.
This collection, THIS FAR, offers a rich harvest taken from one season in the poet’s creative life. Like movements in a musical composition, these poems share leitmotifs ? grief and the desire to honor those “saints” who have passed on; the sacramental power of nature; and, how works of art illuminate and console as they do. They point to the tension between the practice of monastic silence and the urge to bear witness, interrogating faith in the light of crises facing the earth and our human community. At the same time, the poet celebrates encounters that offer blessings of hope, inviting us to join her in a pilgrimage that leads us, with her, “this far,” and gestures to what lies beyond.
“O’Toole’s visionary poems explore the boundaries between light and dark, past and present, life and death.” –Michael Simms, poet and publisher, Vox Populi and Autumn House Press