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meet mark s. burrows

 . . .writer, scholar, poet & teacher. . . 

When you read anything worth remembering, you liberate a human voice; you release into the world again a companion spirit."                        Louise Glück

I currently am a faculty member at the Protestant University of Applied Sciences in Bochum, Germany, having moved here after a career of almost a quarter-century teaching at several graduate theological schools in the US and in Europe.  My work spans a range of interests, focusing on the abiding voice of medieval literature--and above all that of those we have come to call "mystics." As an historian of medieval Christianity, my research and writing have focused on those creative minds among the mystics, visionaries, and poets who often found themselves living and working at the margins of Christianity.  Theirs was an adventurous and daring exploration of spirit, a journey both inward and outward that offers radical insights into the nature of love, the quest for the sacred, the boundlessness of human experience, and alternate voicings of tradition and experience.

Alongside this work, I frequently lecture and offer workshops and retreats in Germany, Great Britain, the United States, and Australia. My long-standing interest in the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke has given birth to a new translation of his early work entitled Prayers of a Young Poet, now available in a revised paperback edition (Paraclete Press); this is the first published edition of these poems, in English, in their original form. Another volume of my translations, a collection of poems entitled 99 Psalms by the well-known Iranian-German poet SAID, appeared in September, 2013. My renditions of poems by other German writers--Hilde Domin, Rosa Ausländer, Nelly Sachs and others--have been published in a variety of literary journals.

During the summer of 2013, I was the recipient of a fellowship from the Witter Bynner Poetry Foundation, for a sponsored artist's residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute.  During that period, I completed work on a forthcoming volume, in translation, of the poems of the German Jewish poet Hilde Domin (1909-2006).  Selected poems from this collection have appeared in Metamorphoses, Reunion, and other international journals. 

My teaching and writing interests focus on the intersection of literature, and above all poetry, and the spiritual quest.  In particular, I am drawn to the way mystics' writings engage modern readers with enduring questions related to human "being."  Poetry is a steady part of my own imaginative and creative life, and writing poems remains a vital dimension of my life and work.  This practice nourishes my capacities to be present to the wildness and beauty of the world, its unpredictability, its capacity to startle us.  Writing keeps me open to the flow of life all around me.  I currently serve as Poetry Editor for the journal Spiritus:  A Journal for Christian Spirituality (Johns Hopkins University Press), and as Associate Editor for Poetry for the journal ARTS:  The Arts in Religious and Theological Studies.  I also edit Paraclete Poetry and the Mt. Tabor Books on the Arts and Aesthetics for Paraclete Press (Brewster, MA).

Poetry is central to my writing and my work as a speaker and retreat leader; I find it a medium of vital engagement of heart and mind, since the texture and energy of poems carry us into the deep and revelatory places we come to know as human creatures. My poems and translations of poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Southern Quarterly, The Cortland Review, Eremus, Christian Century, 91st Meridian, Seminary Ridge Review, The Anglican Theological Review, and Almost Island, among others.  A volume of my recent poems, The Chance of Home, will be published in 2018.

Several years ago I published together with co-editor Elizabeth Dreyer, Minding the Spirit.  The Study of Christian Spirituality (Johns Hopkins University Press), a ground-breaking volume of essays by key voices shaping this emerging field of study. Other recent academic publications include Breaking the Silence.  Poetry and the Kenotic Word, co-edited with Jean Ward and Malgorzata Grzegorzewska (Frankfurt a.M., 2015) as well as Poetic Revelations, also coedited with Ward and Grzegorzewska (Routledge, 2016).  I also edited and translated into German many of the songs included in the new German publication of songs from the Iona Community (Glasgow and Iona), Freut euch und singt (Strube Verlag, 2015; revised second edition, 2018).