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You Come Too: Poetry, Philosophy, and the Sacred

Posted 11/07/2017
Submitted by Brian Skelly
Category: Campus Announcements

Come join us at this week’s Philosophy Club meeting Thursday, November 9th from 12:15 to 1:45 in 421 Auerbach Hall at the University of Hartford as Dr. Brian Skelly discusses the relationship between poetry, Philosophy, and the sacred, while sharing some of his poems. See attached documents for full text and select poems for discussion. 

We have long mused over the relationship between poetry and philosophy. Roughly, it can be said that they have the same subject matter, but startlingly different approaches to it. While they both peer into and probe all of the various quizzical or enigmatic aspects of life they can get their hands on, some more flippant and others more profound, philosophy (at best) proceeds by taking positions for the sake of argument and developing them through in a self-critical manner, thus proceeding to ever more fine-grained detail at the risk of losing the big picture. Poetry, in contrast, has an uncanny way of keeping the big picture in focus while eliciting questions and insights in us about it.

Not all philosophy, and not all poetry, is about sacred things. Yet there is something sacred about both philosophy and poetry, regardless of the topic. In the Socratic dialogs, Socrates repeatedly characterizes the philosophy he does as a divine activity. Similarly, many pre-Socratic philosophers considered philosophy as a religious activity. Large tracts of the Upanishads of the Hindu religion are philosophical dialogs. Tao philosophy is considered a religion in China, and has a priesthood attached to it to this day.  Moreover, in most cases in which philosophy is treated as religious or quasi-religious, much, most, or all of it is written in poetic verse.

Anthropologists have noted that pre-literate cultures typically conserve oral philosophical traditions in verse.

The sacredness of poetry is especially noted by the poet, who has to be inspired to write it. Until recent times, this was typically regarded as involving divine intervention, and many poets today would still vouch for this being the case. Inspiration, it seems, cannot be captured in any mechanical method, nor bottled or taught. Poetry can be thought of as sacred scripture, at least in a private sense....  

Professor Skelly has been teaching Philosophy locally for 28 years Starting with a Bachelors' Degree. in Anthropology at Michigan State University, he moved on to study Philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome Italy, and later returned to earn his doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Professor Skelly’s interests vary from religion, science, and music to world languages and culture. He teaches a wide range of courses, including Biomedical Ethics, Ethics in the Professions, Ethical Problems, History of Philosophy, Logic, Philosophy of Art, and Anthropology. He has two adult children and resides in Springfield with his wife, a Middle School teacher.

In 2008, Skelly received the Sustained Excellence in teaching Award for Part-Time Faculty. In 2017, he won the Gordon Clark Ramsey Award for Creative Excellence for Adjunct and Part-time Faculty.

His publications include Introduction to Philosophy - Themes for Classroom and Reflection, Second Edition, Cognella, 2017. ISBN: 978-1-5165-1006-1 (Expanded to forty-one original essays) and Religious Liberty According to the Conciliar Declaration “Dignitatis Humanae” in the Teaching of John Paul II Through 1983, by Rev. Andrzej Pogorzelski. Translation from Italian by Brian D. Skelly. Elk-Hartford, 2017. ISBN: 978-83-60737-56-9.

The University of Hartford Philosophy Club meets every Thursday during Fall and Spring Semesters - with the exception of the first Thursday of each semester - from 12:15 to 1:45 in 421 Auerbach Hall on the campus of the University of Hartford. The Club has an informal, jovial atmosphere. It is a place where students, professors, and people from the community at large meet as peers Sometimes presentations are given, followed by discussion. Other times, topics are hashed out by the whole group.

Presenters may be students, professors, or people from the community. Anyone can offer to present a topic. The mode of presentation may be as formal or informal as the presenter chooses. Bring friends. Suggest topics and activities. Take over the club! It belongs to you! Food and drink are served. Come and go as you wish.

For more information, contact Brian Skelly at or 413-642-0334


You Come Too: Poetry, Philosophy and the Sacred
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Four Poems
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Backstreet Mississippi Memoir
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