Poetry and the Theological Imagination

by Malcolm Guite, Steve Bell & Todd Pickett

Dr. Todd Pickett speaks with Malcolm Guite and Steve Bell about the role of poetry, creativity, and repitition in the Christian life. They discuss the practice of liturgy and how a re-vamped understanding of liturgy could benefit modern culture.

Malcolm Guite, known to many as the “Rockin’ Rev,” serves as Bye-Fellow and chaplain at Girton College at the University of Cambridge, while supervising in English and theology. He is a poet and singer-songwriter, and front man of the R&B band Mystery Train. His albums include The Green Man and Dancing through the Fire. Malcolm has published four collections of poetry: Saying the Names (2002), The Magic Apple Tree (2004), Sounding the Seasons: Poetry for the Christian Year (2012), and most recently, The Singing Bowl (2013). His theological works include What Do Christians Believe?  and Faith, Hope and Poetry: Theology and the Poetic Imagination. His essay on literature and incarnation is included in Beholding the Glory: Incarnation Through the Arts. He is a devout reader and scholar of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and British poets, and finds inspiration in the oeuvres of The Band, Neil Young, Van Morrison, Gram Parsons, Steve Earle, and Bob Dylan.
“I research and write about the interface between theology and the arts, more specifically theology and literature, and have published books on both subjects, separately and together. I also have special interests in Coleridge and CS Lewis.” – Malcolm Guite

Born into a musical family, Steve Bell has been performing and touring since he was eight years old. Steve’s father was a prison chaplain, and federal prisoners in Drumheller Penitentiary taught the young Bell to play guitar at an early age. Bell recounts fondly, “I now perform world over because Canada’s most unwanted men invested in me when I was a boy.”

In the early eighties Bell began to make his mark with the acclaimed folk trio Elias, Schritt and Bell. Since his first solo release in 1989, Comfort My People, Bell has released 16 CDs, three concert videos, and performed over 1,500 concerts across Canada, the U.S., India, Thailand, the Philippines, Poland, Bulgaria, Ireland, and throughout the Caribbean. More recently, Bell has performed in 26 concerts with orchestras across Canada and the U.S., including a 2011 concert with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Massey Hall. In 1997, he was awarded a JUNO Award for Best Gospel Album. He received a second JUNO in 2000 as well as multiple Prairie Music, Western Canada Music, and Covenant Awards.

With the 2012 release of his 17th career CD, Keening for the Dawn – Christmastide, Bell displays a rare longevity and commitment to his vocation. For this commitment, along with his advocacy work for the less fortunate, he has been awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. His most recent album is entitled Pilgrimage.

A native Californian, Todd Pickett has been an English professor for many years and is now Dean of Spiritual Development at Biola University. He has degrees in Classical languages and literature from Stanford University and from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, an M.A. in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care from Biola University, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of California (Irvine). He leads retreats, undertakes group and individual spiritual direction, preaches regularly and speaks frequently to groups on Christian spiritual formation from an evangelical perspective. He lives in Costa Mesa, CA, and is married to Dottie Cox Pickett, a marriage and family therapist.



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