Artist's Statement

Mark Nepo Mark Nepo with Oprah on Tour

Welcome.  I hope this finds you well as you enter the new year.  Over the past few years, I have found that the line between my writing and teaching is wonderfully blurring.  As I get older, the line between the life of poetry and the poetry of life keeps vanishing.  Even more humbling is the fact that writing and teaching are mostly about listening.  This feels even more important in our current age.  How do we reclaim our ability to listen to experience other than our own? How do we ask for the stories beneath our convictions and opinions? I think our timeless bond waits there, in the fabric of our stories, if we can relearn how to ask and listen to each other.

My next book explores what we can learn about how we can live together.  It's called More Together Than Alone: Discovering the Power and Spirit of Community in Our Lives and in the World.  This book, my twentieth, will be published by Atria in July 2018.  After twelve years of research, I've gathered stories and lessons of community from across cultures and history, with the aim of affirming that, despite the hardships always present, we are more together than alone.  I'm now shaping reading, talks, and workshops from the book to explore with you in the coming year, as I travel around the country teaching and speaking.  I hope to see you somewhere along the way.  In the meantime, many blessings to you in whatever you're facing and whatever you're called to.

Mark will be in Portland, OR, New York City, Southern CA, Seattle, Charleston, Santa Cruz, Hartford, CT, and London during the Winter, Spring, and Summer of 2018.

I will be offering workshops and retreats around the country and abroad, focusing on my latest books, Things That Join the Sea and the Sky: Field Notes on Living, and More Together Than Alone: Discovering the Power and Spirit of Community in Our Lives and in the World.  I hope you can join me.  many blessings,

  FEB 16-17: New Thought Center for Spiritual Living, Lake Oswego, OR, Friday evening Reading and Talk, Saturday Workshop, Fri 7-10:00PM and Sat 10-5PM, (reading web link and workshop web link)

  APRIL 6-7: ABC Carpet & Home, Weekend Workshop, The One Life We're Given: Loving What You Do, Fri 7-9PM & Sat 10:30AM-6:30PM, 888 Broadway and 19th north of Union Square, New York City, (web link)

  APRIL 13-15: Pine Manor Retreat Center, The Gift of Deepening and The Radiance in All Things, Weekend Retreat 1, register at Pine Manor, (web link), or contact Gail Warner at, 949-552-1633

  APRIL 26: Publication Reading, Things That Join the Sea and the Sky, Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA, 415-927-0960, (web link)

  APRIL 28: Keynote, Heartwork: Being a Spirit in the World, The New Living Expo, San Mateo Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Dr, San Mateo, CA 94403, (web link)

  MAY 5-6: Chorale Arts NW Festival, Featured Poet-in-Residence, debut of Chorale Cycle set to Mark's poetry, Sat May 5, 3PM, Seattle, WA, and Sun May 6, 8PM, Tacoma, WA, (web link)

  MAY 7-8: Harmony Hill Cancer Center, 2-day retreat for patients and loved ones, Union, WA, (web link)

  MAY 18-20: Friday Night Reading-Conversation and Weekend Retreat (Sat and Sun), The Gift of Deepening and The Radiance in All Things, The Sophia Institute, Charleston, SC, or call 843-720-8528 (web link)

  JUNE 1-3: 1440 Multiversity, Scotts Valley, CA, Weekend Workshop, The One Life We're Given, Fri-Sun, (web link)

  JUNE 8-10: Copper Beech Institute for Mindfulness and Contemplative Practice, Hartford, CT, Weekend Retreat, (web link)

  JULY 8-9: in London, UK.  Sunday workshop, The One Life We're Given, 11AM-4PM, and Monday night Lecture, publication event for More Together Than Alone, at St.  James Church, 7-9:30PM, (web link)


Registration will be live in February or March 2018.
If you like, please add your name to the wait list by EMAILING BROOKE WARNER

Thanks for your kind notes and interest in my yearlong courses.  I'm excited to be offering a new course for 2018-2019.  Logistics are still being finalized, but this journey will take place over four weekends starting in October 2018, weaving themes from several of my books including, More Together Than Alone, Things That Join the Sea and the Sky, The One Life We're Given, and The Book of Awakening.  Class size is limited to 30 participants.

To see details from the current yearlong course, please visit, web link



In Things That Join the Sea and the Sky, Mark shares bare and honest reflections drawn from over fifty years of journals.  This thematic non-fiction reader is comprised of 145 entries gathered and shaped over the last fifteen years.  The book takes the reader through seventeen sections organized around archetypal thresholds we all face, including "Stopping the Noise," "Unraveling Our Fear," "The Gift of Deepening," The Practice of Relationship, The Reach of Kindness, and "The Radiance in All Things."

Of the book, Mark says, "These pages are field notes on living, a travelogue of my conversation with the Universe, a mix of inner reflections, questions, and stories that have come to teach me how to be here.  They contain raw moments of sinking and being lifted, intimate accounts of being thrust into feeling and depth, my stretching and wondering about my life and the lives of others in this ongoing push and pull with a Universe that holds us, then tosses us about, only to hold us again.  Under every piece, I hope you feel the common song we're born to sing in our unique and very human way."

At the end of the book, Mark shares an essay about the nature and gift of journaling, followed by journaling guidelines, and 100 journal questions to work with.  All to encourage the reader to engage in their own conversation with the Universe through the art of journaling.


Open this book.  Read the table of contents.  And let the magic and promise of this offering invite you into the depths of your own humanity.  Allow the poetic soul of Mark Nepo to guide you.  And then keep this guide on your nightstand as an oracle and a roadmap for living well.  This book is pure gold.
Christiane Northrup, M.D., ob-gyn physician and author of the New York Times bestsellers: Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription for Radiance, Vitality, and Wellbeing, Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause

This book offers itself to you like an intimate conversation with a dear friend.  Enjoy the beauty and the deep dives into life's varied meanings and mysteries.
Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Love

Mark Nepo's vulnerable and generous-hearted sharing from the depths of his inner explorations is irresistibly readable, reminding us of the importance of staying with ourselves unconditionally, trusting the moment-by-moment experiences that lead us to our awakening.
Michael Bernard Beckwith, author of Life Visioning

A rich source of comfort and courage for anyone who opens it.
Publishers Weekly

Written with the simplicity of a Koan, Nepo's short writings say everything there is to say about recording the hidden wonders of the world around us.
Retailing Insight


Over the last year, I've been working with Sounds True to create a video course called Flames That Light the Heart: Ten Lessons on Living with Meaning, Truth, and Kindness. I'm excited to have gathered many stories, metaphors, and paradoxes from my years of teaching into this in-depth exploration of the life of transformation and the heartwork that is required to be a spirit in the world.  My intention, here, is to help you live with meaning, truth, and kindness in your own personal way.  The course is now offered through Udemy, the online learning center.  You can preview the introduction to the course here, as well as the first session.  The sessions offer a long and intimate conversation on the growing pains of transformation and the art of living as an awakened part in an awakened whole.  I hope you'll take a look.  Many blessings,



I'm humbled and excited that The One Life We're Given was a finalist for the 2017 Books for a Better Life Award.  This is the fourth time I've been blessed to be a finalist: with The Book of Awakening in 2001, Inside the Miracle in 2016, and winning with Seven Thousand Ways to Listen in 2013.  BBLA is such a fine group of giving people that this means all the more.  Also, my good friend Elizabeth Lesser won with her moving memoir, Marrow.  (web link)


"The wisdom presented on the shining pages of this holy book (The One Life We're Given) is another luminous gift from a gallant, grateful and imaginative spiritual master."
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Practice (see full review)

"A spiritual teacher's conversation with the Universe through tough and tender poems, The Way Under The Way is the first large collection of Mark Nepo's poetry.  It is a robust and spiritually revelatory volume of 217 poems.  What touches us most about these poems is the way they testify simply and humbly to Nepo's experience of the Divine."
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Practice (see full review)


The wisdom presented on the shining pages of this holy book is another luminous gift from a gallant, grateful and imaginative spiritual master.
Spirituality & Practice (read full review)

This new book affirms how precious this one life is and opens the chance we have to be fully alive and to be of use to each other and the world.  Through personal stories of joy and grief, friendships and challenges, I try to illuminate how the life of the soul is shaped and crafted every day.  I offer reflective questions and meditations to help make sense of our own experience and appreciate each moment.  In truth, we learn to shape our perspective as a woodworker might carefully shave a piece of wood to reveal its inner grain.  And throwing ourselves wholeheartedly into what we're given brings us alive—whether we must deal with suffering, pain, fear, and loss, or surprise, beauty, love, and wonder.  Each becomes an opportunity to listen more deeply to our feelings, to deepen our connection with others, and to sense the sacred nature of ordinary things.

As we discover for ourselves the lessons of our journey, we are led to the wisdom that waits in our heart, the inner knowing of what truly sustains us—feeling, loving, and connecting—which allows us to fully live the one life we're given.

I confess that working with you as readers and students is a path I am devoted to.  This path is a continuous inquiry into what it means to be human, to be here, and to care for each other.  My hope is that you will deepen your conversation with life.  That through your own path of obstacle and surprise, you will be opened to your gifts and become somewhat freed of all you carry.  My hope is that this book will support you in becoming skilled at living with both effort and grace.

Mark Nepo is someone who walks through this confusing and sometimes dark world holding up a lantern and lighting the way.  I can say with all certainty that I would follow this man anywhere his words want to take us.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic

Mark Nepo is one of our national treasures.
Rev. Ed Bacon

This book is a powerful guide to being in the world.
Arianna Huffington

Please check out this short video in which I describe the book


This collection contains three separate books of poetry, gathering 217 poems retrieved and shaped over the past twenty years.  The first two books in this collection, Suite for the Living and Inhabiting Wonder, bear witness to the messy and magnificent journey of being human.  First published in 2004, they were wonderfully received and sold out of their first editions.  Evolving these books further, Nepo has integrated fifty-eight new poems.  The third book in this collection, The Way Under the Way, gathers eighty-three of his most recent poems.  It centers on the place of true meeting that is always near, where we chance to discover our shared humanity and common thread of Spirit.

About poetry, Mark says, "The poems are the teachers.  They arrive with their wisdom and become my guides.  What they surface becomes my inner curriculum and by staying in conversation with them, I grow.  We're all drawn to what we need to learn, which if engaged with honesty reveals insights common to us all." Of the books, he says, "My hope is that the arc of these poems will be aids in living, listening, and beholding each other.  I offer them as small wonders found and cared for through the years."

Mark Nepo's poems are like rare wine that directly nourish the soul.  These are stories of the heart, of brokenness that heals, of grief that awakens us to joy.
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Ph.D., Sufi teacher and author

en I read Mark Nepo's luminous, meditative poems, one word stands tall in the mind and silence that follows—BEFRIEND.  He does not avert his eyes from the difficult moment or the lost hour.  He stays steady to feel the magnificence again.
Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Words Under the Words

In this magical book, Mark Nepo ushers us to the depth of who we are and where we truly live.  His words, like pearls for the Human soul, awaken us and transform the ordinary into the mystery of our being.
Agapi Stassinopoulos, author of Unbinding The Heart


Watch Mark on Super Soul Sunday

In November 2013, Mark's Two-Part Interview with Oprah appeared on Super Soul Sunday on OWNTV.  In these interviews with Oprah, Mark discussed the lifelong lessons from his cancer journey twenty-six years ago, and why he believes listening with a full heart is the key to living a vibrant and meaningful life.  Mark explains how modern-day distractions can keep us from establishing deep connections with one another; he offers practical insights on how to cultivate our listening skills, deepening relationships with ourselves and others.

Watch these clips and more at Super Soul TV

First Look: Mark Nepo and Oprah Continue Their Conversation

Oprah's conversation with New York Times best-selling author Mark Nepo continues at her home in Hawaii. Mark discusses his book Seven Thousand Ways to Listen and shares why he believes listening with an open heart is the key to living a vibrant and meaningful life.

First Look: Why Poet Mark Nepo Says There Are 7,000 Ways to Listen

Poet and best-selling author Mark Nepo's latest book is called Seven Thousand Ways to Listen. Watch as Mark reveals the inspiration for the title.

Mark Nepo: "Everyone Is a Poet"

Poet and best-selling author Mark Nepo says poetry is the "unexpected utterance of the soul." Find out why he says a poem is more than just words on a page. Plus, hear why he thinks we all have a poet inside of us.

Mark's most moving quotes from his two-part interview with Oprah

In a two-part interview with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday, Mark Nepo shares his thoughts on embracing the moment, the power of listening and more. Read 9 of his most moving quotes.

Oprah Reads Mark's Poem in This Beautiful Video

On my way to Maui to meet Oprah, I wrote this poem about our meeting on an island with such an ancient and beautiful bamboo forest. Oprah and the Super Soul Sunday crew created this amazing video of the bamboo forest with Oprah reading the poem. This formed the close of part 2 of my interview with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday. Oprah reads Mark's poem in this beautiful video      Read Mark's poem

The Bigger Picture—Super Soul Sunday (web link)

In May 2013, Mark was also featured on Super Soul Sunday alongside Reverend Ed Bacon and Elizabeth Lesser, with Oprah moderating. The show explored contemporary issues from a spiritual perspective.

Also read Mark's blog post, "The Life of Obstacles," on

Praise for Mark's Book of Poems, Reduced to Joy


In 2013, Viva Editions published Mark's seventh book of poems, Reduced to Joy, a book of seventy-three poems, retrieved and shaped over the last thirteen years, about the nature of working with what we're given till it wears us through to joy.

"Reduced to Joy has many different kinds of poems, all of them clear, wise, beautifully put, spare.  Mark Nepo has a great heart.  His poems are good company."
Coleman Barks, translator of The Essential Rumi

"Mark Nepo's poems in his new book, Reduced to Joy, reduce me first to grateful silence, and then to tears, and then to laughter, and then to praise.  He joins a long tradition of truth-seeking, wild-hearted poets—Rumi, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver—and deserves a place in the center of the circle with them."
Elizabeth Lesser, Cofounder, Omega Institute, author of Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow


Better Life Award

Praise for Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

A consummate master of telling stories and parables about people's hopes, dreams, yearnings, fears, sorrows and triumphs… Nepo has written a masterwork on the spiritual practice of listening which plays such a predominant role in our private and public lives.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Practice (full review)

This masterpiece on listening comes at a vital time when divisions in American run rampant around politics, race, and religion.
Debra Moffitt, BeliefNet, author of Awake in the World (full review)

Mark discusses his book, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

Oprah Shares a Favorite Passage from The Book of Awakening

Oprah shares one of her favorite passages from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. Plus, Mark gives an example of how he used the wisdom of the passage in his own life.

Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening is one of
Oprah’s Ultimate Favorite Things!
(web link)

The Book of Awakening The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo is a year’s supply of inspirational stories and beautifully written essays that the reader can reflect on in daily doses. “Mark Nepo is a poet,” Oprah says. “He’s an author and a philosopher and has been through two different cancers. So when he writes, he writes purely from the heart.”

Oprah was given The Book of Awakening as a birthday gift and says she does one lesson from the book every morning. “If we all do it together, we can begin to open our hearts, change the world and begin to have the life you want by being present to the life you have now,” Oprah says.

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Listen to Mark Nepo in conversation with Oprah on her Soul Series radio program.

For years, I’ve been trying to explore and understand: How can we, being forgetfully human, remember we are of one human family? How can we stay awake and authentic when our wounds make us numb and hidden? How can we minimize what stands between us and our experience of life? How can we make a practice of wearing down what thickens around our mind and heart? How can this practice of staying authentic serve and draw strength from the Universal Whole while we are ever immersed and entangled in the moment of our lives?

As a cancer survivor, I have found myself like Lazarus, awake again, in the same earthly place but different. Everything has changed and nothing has changed. This wakefulness has led me to be a student of that vibrant edge where our inner life meets the world. Being a poet and philosopher, I find myself there with a particular set of tools to search with.

But we all live on this shore between the depths of being and the dangers of experience. My work has become a journal of the challenges and gifts of being a spirit in the world. And now, after dying and coming back, it’s really not about my books, but about the voice beneath my name keeping the song going. These books and the voices that inhabit them remain teachers and intimates. They’ve helped to uncover sketchy maps into the quandaries of being alive. When struggling through my illness, I was bereft at how many of the books I owned were useless. Ever since, I have been committed to finding and creating books that can help us live. It is my devout hope that the work you find here can be of use, can help.

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