Artist's Statement

Mark Nepo Mark Nepo with Oprah on Tour

Welcome.  I hope this finds you well.  One of the things I continue to learn is that all things are true.  All things are not fair, but all things contain truth and our challenge, while seeking justice with compassion, is to absorb the totality of the mysterious, dynamic Universe we swim in.  And only the heart can absorb and integrate in a way that renews us.  So I keep being knocked about, as we all are, by the tides of life, only to keep absorbing, integrating, and renewing.

This informs the books I'm exploring and finishing, from which I'm growing tremendously.  In November 2017, Sounds True will publish Things That Join the Sea and the Sky: Field Notes on Living.  This book shares bare and honest reflections drawn from my lifelong journals, gathering 145 entries written 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." At the end of the book, I share an essay about the nature and gift of journaling, followed by journaling guidelines, and 100 journal questions to work with.

The other book I'm finishing is More Together Than Alone: Moments of Community and How They Work.  This book 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.  In each generation, we're asked to discover, through love and suffering, that we are at heart the same.  How do we come to this knowledge in our own lives, in our own families, in our own communities? What brings us together and what throws us apart? How do we inhabit what we have in common as well as what makes us unique in ways that deepen our daily practice of service and compassion? To honor the timeless process that enlivens these questions, this book is focused on moments of community and how they work.

And happily, I continue to travel around the country teaching and speaking, a joy to meet and work with so many of you.  I'm blessed to convene circles in which we open a heart space where my job is to help introduce good people to their own gifts and wisdom.  I hope to see you somewhere along the way.



Many Thanks. The course is now full.
Please add your name to the wait list by EMAILING BROOKE WARNER


Mark Nepo Yearlong Course 2017-18

JUNE 9-11, 2017, OCT 27-29, 2017, MARCH 9-11, 2018, JUNE 22-24, 2018

Meeting at Peoples Church, 1758 10th St N, Kalamazoo, MI, 49009

Thanks for your kind notes and interest in my yearlong courses.  I'm excited to be offering this one, which will take place over four weekends, weaving themes from my new book, The One Life We're Given, and The Book of Awakening.  Class size is limited to 30 participants.

It is my hope that through our time together, you will personalize the practice of being human, so you can live closer to your core.  It is my aim, through our company, that you will discover the inner resources and outer skills to stand more deeply in your life and better know your heart.  It is my commitment that this journey into authenticity and listening will enhance your ability to integrate who you are with what you do in the world.  My goal is that you will leave more whole, with a more enlivened sense of what it means to be a spirit in the world.

To see more details and to register: web link


I'm humbled and excited that The One Life We're Given is 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 is also a finalist 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)

Mark will be in New York City, Albuquerque, Vancouver, Southern CA, Chicago, and Charleston in March-May 2017.

I'm looking forward to teaching again in the spring, and will be offering workshops and retreats around the country and in Canada, focusing on my latest books, The One Life We're Given, and my collection of poems, The Way Under the Way: The Place of True Meeting.  I hope you can join me.  many blessings,

  March 3-4: ABC Carpet & Home, Weekend Workshop, The One Life We're Given: Finding the Wisdom That Waits in Your Heart, Fri 7-9PM & Sat 10:30AM-6:30PM, 888 Broadway and 19th north of Union Square, New York City, (web link)

  MARCH 10-11: Albuquerque Center for Spiritual Living, Fri Night, 7-9:30PM, Reading & Conversation, The Way Under the Way: The Place of True Meeting; Sat Workshop, 9:00AM-5:00PM, The One Life We're Given: Finding the Wisdom That Waits in Your Heart, 2801 Louisiana Blvd NE, Albuquerque NM 87106, (web link), or call 505-881-4311

  MARCH 24-26: Unity Spiritual Center, Vancouver, BC, Friday Reading and Conversation, The Way Under The Way, 7:30-9:30PM, and Saturday Workshop, The One Life We're Given: Finding the Wisdom That Waits in Your Heart, 9:30AM-5:30PM, accompanied by storyteller Margo McLoughlin, Unity Spiritual Center, 5840 Oak St, Vancouver British Columbia, (web link)

  APRIL 7-9: Pine Manor Retreat Center, The One Life We're Given: Finding the Wisdom That Waits in Your Heart, Weekend Retreat 1, register at Pine Manor, (web link), or contact Gail Warner at 949-552-1633

  APRIL 20: Wellness House, Chicago, The One Life We're Given, Keynote and Conversation, 131 N. County Line Rd, Hinsdale, IL, 630-323-5150, (web link), or contact 630-323-5150

  MAY 5: NY Open Center, As Far As the Heart Can See: The Gift and Power of Story, A Reading-Workshop, 7:00-9:30PM, 22 E 30 St, New York City, (web link)

  MAY 6: NY Open Center, Journey With No End: Writing and Spiritual Growth, A daylong Workshop, 10:00AM-5:30PM, 22 E 30 St, New York City, (web link)

  MAY 19-21: Friday Night, Publication Reading for The Way Under the Way, and Weekend Retreat (Sat and Sun), The Way Under the Way: The Place of True Meeting, The Sophia Institute, Charleston, SC, (web link), or call 843-720-8528


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.

Loading the player ...

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.

Join Mark's email list!
Follow Mark on Facebook

Follow Mark on Twitter

Follow Mark on Huffington Post

Follow Mark on

Site Design: Site Updates: