Remembering Robert Bly- Michael Meade, Stephen Jenkinson , Rev. Douglas Wilson et. al



Revisiting Iron John: A Six Part Online Exploration of Mythic Masculinity for Today

In 1990, Robert Bly’s book Iron John: A Book About Men ignited a generation of men towards what would become known as the mythopoetic men’s movement. What might Iron John offer in the era of COVID, the #metoo movement, AI, post-truth, multi-generational trauma, and biospheric breakdown?

Poet Robert Bly, anti-war activist and 'men's movement' leader, dies at 94

This obituary published on: NPR

Robert Bly: A Thousand Years of Joy

A moving portrait produced by Minnesota Public Television of one of America’s most celebrated and revolutionary poets of the last half-century. The film showcases Bly’s development as a writer with an unswerving belief in the importance of poetry both to his own life and to American culture in general.

This video published on: PBS

Robert Bly at Rowe- Doug Wilson

I worked setting up programs at the Rowe Conference Center for 39 years and I even considered seeing if I could get into the Guinness Book of Records for the most workshops attended by anyone on earth. When I look back on all those workshops, I am especially proud of having brought Robert Bly and James Hillman. Robert Bly came to Rowe five times. In 1994 he did a workshop on Where Are Men Now. In 1998, together with Gioia Timpanelli, he offered one called Stories, Myths & Poems. In 2003, he returned to offer Old and New Stories for Men, and a year later 2004, he led one called The Joy of Spirit, together with Coleman Barks. His last workshop with us was called Leaping Poetry, which he taught together with the late Tony Hoagland.

It was exciting to have such a notable human being leading a workshop for us. He liked it here and we are honored to have him on our roster of great workshop leaders.

Rev. Doug Wilson was executive director of the Rowe Center for 39 years, retiring in 2012.

The Cultivated Heart: In Loving Memory of Robert Bly

By Michael Meade

Michael Meade, D.H.L., is a renowned storyteller, author, and scholar of mythology, anthropology, and psychology.

This podcast published on: Mosaic Voices

Robert Bly: A Memory- Stephen Jenkinson

Robert Bly has died. Another old tree is gone from the canopy. The light that’s let in is harsh, more revelatory than illuminating.

I knew him for a time, corresponded for maybe a year or two. I found him remarkably kind and generous in person. He torpedoed Money and the Soul’s Desires in its early iteration, drawing my attention to the fact – clear enough to him – that, as he put it, I was in over my head.

He was titanic, in every decent sense of the term, and hardest perhaps on people who drew close to the calling he held dear. He defended the writerly citadel against pretenders, or malpractitioners, I guess. I’m glad someone did. The first thing I heard him say: he walked onto a soundstage where maybe thirty of us awaited him and Marian Woodman, looked around the place, and pronounced with thunderous satisfaction: “Ah. Humans!” It was an anointment of a kind, a call to arms of a kind, a summons to alertness.

He also seemed to stand still for long periods of time while a generation or two of people – men and women – fashioned a looming, perfected father surrogate from his imperfect, tiradel and epic skald’s example. I don’t know that he meant to. I don’t know that he’d agree to the description. I don’t know that it’s a condition of doing one’s culture work, of having a public life. It happens, though.

One etymological dictionary suggests that ‘tirade’ comes from the Old French ‘to endure martyrdom’. I’ve often wondered about this part of his public life, what it did to him to be on the receiving end of that much expectation, that much projection. As the decades passed and drew me in other directions, I found myself worried after his psychic health. I wondered whether he crafted some defense for himself. I hope he did. Neurodegenerative disease was his disheveling companion for the last ten or fifteen years of his life. I have no way of knowing whether these things are related, in his life or elsewhere. I’m inclined to think so.

Father surrogates – mother surrogates, for that matter – aren’t elders. The general populace doesn’t tolerate elderhood weeping out from under the tired parentifying pall. So it isn’t clear that this surrogacy worked out too well for those who engaged in it.

Linked here is a newsletter I wrote for the Orphan Wisdom site eight years ago, just as my thoughts about elderhood were coalescing. I see that Robert Bly figured in those early wranglings, as he often did in the years since we went our ways. His death prompts me to air it out again. He and his kind are our fortune. Their example should shadow our days.

Stephen Jenkinson, activist, teacher, author, and farmer, is the founder of the Orphan Wisdom School in Tramore, Canada.