Defining Moments: Poetry and Presence

Defining Moments

Project overview

Dr Mary Ann Lund’s project explores the relationship between poetry, place, and spiritual exploration. It focuses on poetry’s attentiveness to the here and now, to moments of ‘thisness’. A touring exhibition, Defining Moments: Poetry and Presence, features poems by Seamus Heaney, John Donne, Wendy Cope, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and others, alongside images from Tom Denny’s Redemption Windows at Leicester Cathedral. In a series of interactive workshops, quiet days, and retreats, the project explores ways of responding to poetry imaginatively through creative writing, art, and music, and through meditation, prayer, and silence.

The project has developed from Mary Ann’s research on John Donne’s sermons at St Paul’s Cathedral, and in particular Donne’s own interest in the meaning of sacred space. The exhibition was supported by her Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellowship, 2015-17, and by the School of Arts. Collaboration is an important part of this project. In particular, Mary Ann has worked in partnership with the Canon Chancellor of Leicester Cathedral, the Revd Canon Rosy Fairhurst; and with Dr Scott Freer.

If you are interested in booking the exhibition and/or requesting workshops for your school, community group, faith venue, or other organisation, please contact



Poetry lunchtime and evening workshops


Poetry and Presence Retreat

With Revd Canon Rosy Fairhurst

St George's Church, Tufnell Park, London

Launde Abbey, Leicestershire

13 May 2019


9 to 11 Nov 2018

Flinging Gravel: Poets Speak to God

A free lunchtime workshop with poems from George Herbert, R. S. Thomas, and Elizabeth Jennings

Leicester Cathedral 11 June 2018

‘Poetry and Presence and Lectio Poetica
Paper given at Bible and Poetry Study Day

Magdalen College, Oxford 18 May 2018

Defining Moments
Poetry exhibition

Magdalen College Chapel, Oxford 11 to 18 May 2018

Soul Space: Gerard Manley Hopkins
With Dr Quentin Appleton
A reflective service of poetry and music

St Peter and St Paul Church, Great Bowden

6 May 2018

Exploring with T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets
With Dr Scott Freer
Four free workshops on time, place, and spiritual journeys, held in four faith venues across Leicester

'Burnt Norton': Great Meeting Unitarian Chapel
'East Coker': Bishop Street Methodist Church
'The Dry Salvages': Chaplaincy to the University of Leicester
'Little Gidding': Church of St James the Greater

12 April, 19 April, 26 April, 3 May 2018

Home by Another Way: Creative Reflections for the Epiphany Season
With Dr Scott Freer
Free talk, creative reflection, and group discussion of T. S. Eliot’s ‘Journey of the Magi’
A report on this event can be found in the Journal of the T. S. Eliot Society, 2018

Leicester Cathedral

23 Jan 2018

Poetry Quiet Day
With Revd Canon Rosy Fairhurst

Launde Abbey, Leicestershire 4 Sept 2017

Incense, Votive, Vanishing: An Evening of Reflection
With Revd Canon Rosy Fairhurst
Free talk, creative reflections, and group discussion of poetry including Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Richard’

Leicester Cathedral

2 June 2017

Defining Moments
Poetry exhibition, supported by the AHRC

Leicester Cathedral 25 May to 10 June 2017

Cathedral Stories
With Hannah Stevens and Dr Jonathan Taylor
Creative writing flash fiction workshop for over 100 children from primary schools in Leicester, as part of the BBC Storytelling Festival 2017
Supported by the AHRC

Leicester Cathedral 3 March 2017

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