Pádraig Ó Tuama

Distinguished Irish Poet
Theologian and Mediator
Podcast Host: Poetry Unbound

Readings &
Lecture Topics
  • Poetry and Conflict Resolution
  • The Borders of Belonging
  • Emily Dickinson and Time: the Past, Present, and Future Collide
  • Exorcisms, Demonisation and Reparative Therapy
  • In Praise of the Secular
  • Poetry and Form: From the Sonnet to Free Verse
  • An Evening with Pádraig Ó Tuama

Biography

“Pádraig Ó Tuama is an extraordinary person, whose influence extends quietly and gracefully across the world. His poetry bears these same qualities and brings him close. It is a gift to us all.” —Krista Tippett, Creator of On Being

 “Ó Tuama has become a shepherd in the shambolic tradition of contemporary spirituality, treating poetry as a form of agnostic prayer. Poetry, for him, is the language the heart speaks not when it reaches for some externalized divinity but when it seeks to understand itself.” —The New Yorker

“Putting to work poetry and gospel, side by side with story and Celtic spirituality, Ó Tuama explores ideas of shelter along life’s journey, opening up gentle ways of living well in a troubled world. The reader can’t help but be drawn in, slip-sliding into the harbor of the author’s soulful words.” —Chicago Tribune

Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet, theologian, conflict resolution mediator, and the author of Poetry Unbound (2022), Feed the Beast (2022), Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community (2017), In the Shelter (2015), Sorry for your Troubles (2013), and Readings from the Books of Exile (2012), which was longlisted for the 2013 Polari First Book Prize.

About his forthcoming collection, Feed the Beast, Jericho Brown says, “This book is unashamed about poetry’s relationship to the spirit. I would go as far as saying this book is one way we know poetry is prayer.” His memoir, In the Shelter, interweaves everyday stories with narrative theology, gospel reflections with mindfulness, and Celtic spirituality with poetry for a memoir that relates ideas of shelter and welcome to journeys of life.

Reginald Dwayne Betts observes of Ó Tuama’s most recent project, “Poetry Unbound is fifty poems and 300 pages of commentary revealing and confessing why a line of verse might make you weep. But more than that, it is a collection of moments and meditations and a turning toward the ways that some memories, of sorrow and joy, might make us hold on a little while longer, long enough in fact.” The book expands on the popular podcast of the same name from On Being and offers immersive reflections on fifty powerful poems. Ó Tuama began the podcast in January, 2020, hoping, at the time, that it would garner as many as thirty thousand downloads. Now that number has surpassed ten million, and Poetry Unbound has become one of the most popular poetry programs in recent history.

His poetry collection Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community draws on the spiritual practices of Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation community Corrymela—of which Ó Tuama was a leader from 2014-2019. Described by Canterbury’s Poetry Laureate Patience Agbabi as “compassionate, contemporary and formally innovative,” this prayer book was structured over 31 days, offering a daily Bible reading with accompanying prayer. Network Magazine praised it as being remindful of Augustine’s Confessions and Newman’s Apologia: “It comes from the heart, it recognizes the hurts and the triumphs, and it encourages us to say ‘hello’ to new things.”

For Ó Tuama, religion, conflict, power and poetry all circle around language, that original sacrament. Working fluently on the page and in public, Ó Tuama is a compelling poet, teacher, and group worker, and a profoundly engaging public speaker. He has worked with groups to explore story, conflict, their relationship with religion and argument, and violence. Using poetry, group discussion, and lectures, his work is marked both by lyricism and pragmatism, and includes a practice of evoking stories and participation from attendees at his always-popular lectures, retreats, and events. In 2011, with Paul Doran, Pádraig co-founded the storytelling event Tenx9 where nine people have up to ten minutes each to tell a true story from their lives.

His poems have been published at Poetry Ireland Review, Academy of American Poets, Post Road, cream city review, Holden Village Voice, Proximity Magazine, On Being, Gutter, America, and Seminary Ridge Review.

Pádraig Ó Tuama holds a BA Div validated by the Pontifical College of Maynooth, an MTh from Queen’s University Belfast and is currently engaged in a PhD in Theology through Creative Practice at the University of Glasgow exploring poetry, Irishness and religion.

He is based in Belfast, Ireland.

Short Bio

Irish poet and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama’s work centers around themes of language, power, conflict and religion. He is the author of several books of poetry and prose: Feed the Beast, Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community, In the Shelter, Sorry for your Troubles, and Readings from the Books of Exile. Ó Tuama is also the host of the popular podcast Poetry Unbound, which immerses the listener into one poem every week, and the author of the collection, Poetry Unbound, an expansion on the podcast that offers reflections on fifty powerful poems. He is based in Ireland.

Visit Author Website

Videos

Publications

Articles & Audio

Selected Writings

Download Assets

Let’s get started

If you’re interested in this speaker, complete this form to begin the conversation.