Defining Moments: Poetry and Presence

Project overview

Intricate wood carving of Jesus 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 Mary Ann Lund.

Past events

13 May 2019, St George's Church, Tufnell Park, London

Poetry lunchtime and evening workshops.


9 - 11 November 2018, Launde Abbey, Leicestershire

Poetry and Presence Retreat

With Revd Canon Rosy Fairhurst.


11 June 2018, Leicester Cathedral

Flinging Gravel: Poets Speak to God

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


18 May 2018, Magdalen College, Oxford

‘Poetry and Presence and Lectio Poetica’

Paper given at Bible and Poetry Study Day.


11 - 18 May 2018, Magdalen College Chapel, Oxford

Defining Moments

Poetry exhibition.


6 May 2018, St Peter and St Paul Church, Great Bowden 

Soul Space: Gerard Manley Hopkins

With Dr Quentin Appleton. A reflective service of poetry and music.


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

Exploring with T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets

Four free workshops on time, place, and spiritual journeys, held in four faith venues across Leicester. With Dr Scott Freer.


23 January 2018, Leicester Cathedral 

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.


4 September 2017, Launde Abbey, Leicestershire

Poetry Quiet Day

With Revd Canon Rosy Fairhurst.


2 June 2017, Leicester Cathedral 

Incense, Votive, Vanishing: An Evening of Reflection

Free talk, creative reflections, and group discussion of poetry including Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Richard’. With Revd Canon Rosy Fairhurst.


25 May to 10 June 2017, Leicester Cathedral

Defining Moments

Poetry exhibition, supported by the AHRC.


3 March 2017, Leicester Cathedral

Cathedral Stories

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

Supported by the AHRC.