Victoria Bennett
In 2006, Victoria Bennett undertook the challenge of giving up her usual Wild life to spend 40 days and 40 nights in an enclosed Franciscan monastery, as part of the BBC2 documentary The Convent. During her stay at the Convent of the Poor Clares, Arundel, she wrote a poem each day. Fragments collects together these 40 poems, or word-sketches, to offer us an intimate sharing of her moving spiritual journey, one that unfolds with each turning page.
‘These poems - the daily record of forty exceptional days at a remove from modern life - have a direct reflective honesty.  They capture in motion a questioning and a questing mind as it 'labours to be beautiful'.  As such, they remind us of what, ideally, the poet's life should be.’  
(Maurice Riordan)
July 2006 48pp
ISBN 0-9536989-7-1
UK £5
A Journey to Love:
Reading Victoria Bennett
By Murray Bodo, OFM
What happens to a married woman who spends forty days with a community of Sisters in a cloistered Franciscan monastery -- a woman searching, not sure what to expect?  What happens is a matter of the heart, and it happens in these poems written one poem a day at the Convent of the Poor Clares, Crossbush, Arundel.
The poems chronicle a journey of love, at first tentative and fragile, opening poem by poem to Love.  The final lines of poem, Day 1, sets the tone for the whole sequence:
                            Something, something beckons,
                                whispers yes, nudges doubt along
                                until I find myself saying
come in, come in
and enter my house,
even if your ways will break
the careful order of my rooms.
And it does break her ordered rooms, shatters, until something happens to elicit on Day 37 these ecstatic words:
My feet lift from the ground
and I dance to the music
                                across the clouds.
Love -
how my heart laughs;
how giddy I grow at this altitude.
The journey from Day 1 to this epiphany on Day 37 is a journey from caution to surrender, from faltering hesitation to embrace, from fear to ecstatic joy.  Each poem beckons the reader to enter, to make her or his own vicarious journey to Love.  
What happens in these pages invites the reader to let go and make a like journey of the heart.   It is as initially frightening, and yet liberating, as the commitment made to live for forty days within the monastery; it is a journey that continues after the author leaves and after the reader leaves the pages of this inspiring collection of poems.
(Murray Bodo)
Murray Bodo is a Franciscan priest.  He is the author of the best-selling, “Francis: the Journey and the Dream”, and his poems have appeared in numerous journals, including The Paris Review.  His latest collection of poems, “The Earth Moves at Midnight”, was a finalist in the ForeWords Book of the Year Awards.
the book