Courting the Mystery.

“My books really feel like a fragment of my soul.” Local, Jeremy Palmer has self-published a handful of collections of poetry in the past. His latest offering ‘Courting the Mystery’, was launched December 4th. “Like previous books, it’s a collection of free verse and prose poems, some of which are accompanied by reflections.

“The themes are very much around existential contemplation, life and death and our place within it, spirituality and the search for meaning. Much is inspired by my vocation, working in the Spiritual Care department at a local hospital, based in Cancer Services. The poems are fruits of over a decade of personal spiritual practise, contemplation and, frankly, obsession on these themes.

“My writing feels born of necessity, like a bodily function, to keep me something close to sane. It is a deep love of mine and something I have used therapeutically, to connect with the more hidden parts of myself; to heal, to learn and to explore. 

“I love sharing my work. There is a great intimacy when someone else tells me my words have touched something deep within their own experience. In that moment, it seems that we feel with the one heart, and aren’t each islands, unknowable to the other, but part of something much greater that lives through each of our experiences. That is priceless. 

“I think that is a big part of why I love my work at the hospital: being present to those raw places where my life intersects with the lives of strangers; the feeling of being part of something much bigger than me, more magic and mysterious…

“My training is in the realm of counselling, in active listening and facilitating reflection. We learn to offer very deliberate invitations and prompts, but the conversation is always led by the patient and moves with their own processes. We hold a space of gentle, non-judgemental listening and companionship, which the patient can use and unfold in, as much or as little as they please. The way I explain it to patients is that I’m there for the invisible parts of them, the parts that aren’t medical and don’t show up in a scan. This allows the conversations to unfold.

“There are a few sections in the new book where I go into more detail on what my work role is. There is a short essay included in the back of the book which explores what spirituality means to me, articulating it as best as I’m able to. It’s an essay exploring the three words ‘I’, ‘Death’ and ‘God’–the way that my life has always seemed to centre around these three essentials, nothing seeming nearly as important, and yet, I couldn’t tell you the first thing about what any one of them actually is, hence the title, ‘Courting the Mystery’.

“And so, in the spirit of that magic and intimacy, I would really love to give my work more of a chance to connect with others on a larger scale. I’ve just never known how to do it.”

Website, Instagram: @jeremypalmerpoetry. Photo: supplied.