Wendy Jean MacLean
Wendy Jean MacLean’s everyday life is rimed with numinous light.
Her award-winning poetry explores the untold stories of ordinary objects like buttons and stones, and our deepest humanity. Her work is shaped by a lifelong engagement with mythology, gospel and literature. Published in Crosswinds, Gathering, Green Spirit, Ancient Paths, CASA, Boosey and Hawkes, GIA, Streetlight, Arborealis. Sheila-na-Gig, Collegeville Bearings Online, andcommissioned and sung internationally. Awards include: the Don Gutteridge Inaugural Poetry Prize; Big Pond Rumours Chapbook; Open Heart; Poetry Matters; the Drummond.Wendy is a retired minister of the United Church and a Spiritual Director.
Wendy has spent a lot of time in wonderland, blissfully free to follow the Spirit wherever it leads. This has taken her in and out of conventional roles, from her birth in Toronto and childhood in the suburbs of Montreal, to a bachelor’s degree from Queen’s University in English and Classics and training in early childhood education at University of Ottawa.
After this traditional start, her adventures led her to a small white school in Chibougamau, and international schools in Saudi Arabia in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The forests of Chibougamau, the deserts of Saudi and the mountains of Addis continue to ferment in her poetry.
Living in Athens, a small village in Ontario, with her two sons, Angus and Chester, she spent hours reading and writing storybooks and silly poems. At some point, she recognized that the restlessness in her soul was a call, and she went back to school to prepare for ministry in the United Church of Canada, earning her Masters in Divinity from Queen’s Theological College. This began another adventure, which tuned her ears through the ancient words of prophets and poets in scripture, and the writings of mystics and feminist theology. After serving in Kingston, Cowansville, Montreal and Lyn, Ontario, she transitioned to a ministry of Spiritual Direction. This is an ancient tradition of “soul friends” and spiritual accompaniment.
Writing poetry has been part of Wendy’s life since she was a child. She remembers learning that poetry doesn’t have to rhyme about the same time she began questioning the existence of God. Both had huge impacts on how she lives and loves life.
Over the years she has published many prayers for liturgy, but with the encouragement of her writers’ group in the Eastern Townships, she had two books published by Borealis Press: Rough Angel, Ange Ecru, with translations by Michel Gadoury (2006) and Spirit Song in Ancient Boughs (2008).
Every year for as long as she can remember, “Get my poetry out there,” has been one of the resolutions pushing Wendy to take the words out of her journals and submit them to be published. In 2016 she began entering poetry contests. This has been an exciting way to share her work.
Hearing her poetry sung has been a great joy to Wendy. Commissioned by over ten composers, she entrusts their music with her words’ messages of beauty, justice and wonder. In 2021 her poetry was commissioned for the National Unison Choirs commemoration of the LGBTQ+ Purge, and by the Vancouver Men’s Choir. In words that connect the diversity of nature with the magnificent gifts of human creativity, Wendy echoes the call that has stirred her since childhood: to wonder, spirit and grace.
Wendy lives in Brockville near the St. Lawrence River with her husband, Michel, and a rowdy puppy named Joy.
Find “On Small Wings” at: (click image)