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Merton Seasonal Review, Spring 2018: “True North”, Review of
We Are All Poets Here:
Thomas Merton’s 1968 Journey to Alaska.

– Ron Dart, National Executive, The Thomas Merton Society of Canada

“Kathleen has cut a many-faceted jewel of a memoir…
An expansive, multi-hued gem of a story, her remarkable and shining debut entertains, instructs and fascinates.”

– Jonathan Montaldo, Editor,
We Are Already One: Thomas Merton’s Message of Hope and
The Intimate Merton

Thomas Merton Photo © Thomas Merton Research Center, Bellarmine University


We Are All Poets Here speaks to the spiritual confusion of our times—an authentic and compelling portrayal of the quest for an interior life in a chaotic, fragmented world.

Part memoir, part biography, it tells the powerful story of a non-religious woman’s spiritual journey and her unexpected, imaginary friendship with the Trappist monk Thomas Merton–one of the 20th Century’s most important and revered religious writers, teachers, and thinkers.

Kathleen W. Tarr takes a fresh and original approach to Merton’s intriguing life by interpreting and contextualizing the lesser-known story of Merton’s surprise sojourn to Alaska in the turbulent and heart-wrenching year of 1968. (NOTE: This year marks the 50th anniversary of Merton’s death and his 17-day visit to Alaska.)

For the first time, We Are All Poets Here describes in intimate details what Merton might have seen, felt, and experienced about wilderness Alaska and the people and dramatic landscapes he encountered a few short months before his tragic death.

In her struggle for inner grounding, Tarr poignantly blends Alaskan history and Russian culture with Merton’s spiritual reflections.

As a spiritual road story, the book includes a cast of eccentric characters. It’s primarily set in the isolated north Pacific coast under its grandest coastal mountains. But it also traverses other intriguing locales—from Boris Pasternak’s village home outside of Moscow in Peredelkino, to the rolling hills of rural Kentucky where Merton lived for 27 years within the confines of his strict Cistercian monastery, The Abbey of Our Lady of  Gethsemani.