Camino Poems by Newton Smith
This book is a collection of poems written as Newton Smith walked the 500-mile Camino de Santiago Frances in 2014. They represent a poetic travelogue of his pilgrimage along the Way. The poems are a spiritual inquiry into the nature of being human, walking with others on a pilgrimage, and experiencing the abundance and expansiveness of this life. Buddhist teachings on mindfulness, silence, and interconnectedness with the natural world are recurring themes in the poems.
Writing these poems became a spiritual and physical pilgrimage. Because the walk was 500 miles across northern Spain, Smith decided to closely observe the physical world around him and become much more attentive to the physical and mental patterns as they occurred. This led him to record his experiences in poems rather than as journal entries. He committed to writing at least one poem a day, but because much of the day was spent in solitary walking and silence, he often wrote more than one a day.
There are wonderful people from all over the world who are walking the Camino, and one quickly makes deep friendships even for a day or two as the paces soon diverge. Each is feeling the pains and aches of walking twelve to eighteen miles a day, carrying only one change of clothes, and looking for places to stop to eat or have a beer. Each has their own reasons for walking, some still looking for a way to put their reasons. No matter your religious or lack of religious persuasion, the walk becomes a pilgrimage, taking you deeper into yourself, revealing how small you are in the scope of things, immersing you in the wonder of the natural world, and opening you to gratitude to be able to experience this Pilgrimage.
At the beginning of the book, Smith has included a map tracing the journey. The title of each poem is followed by a line indicating where the poem was written. This book is travelogue that give the reader the experience of following along the Pilgrimage themselves. Smith also includes a few black and white photos at the end of poems that heighten the experience, as well as some of the stamps one collects along the way as a demonstration that indeed one has walked the whole way. As a result, the book is a collection of poems and images that encourage the reader to walk with him on his pilgrimage
Poetry has been an essential part of Newton Smith’s life for more than fifty years. He has published widely in literary magazines beginning in the 1970s, including Southern Poetry Review, Carolina Quarterly, Ann Arbor Review, and others. His most recent poetry publications are in the Asheville Poetry Review, Rivendale, Main Street Rag, Pisgah Review, and Jonah. During his 2014 pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, he wrote a poem every day reflecting on the physical body, nature, and the spiritual as he walked along the Way.