Our story

I founded Invisible College while I was a Divinity student at Harvard in the Spring of 2020.  

I had an intuition that reading Rilke’s Duino Elegies with people would unlock something that would help me– and possibly one or two other people– navigate those treacherous times with heart and soul intact.

It was an experiment in study and love.

There was a lot of idealism at the start of the pandemic.  I’ve come to understand that times of illness, personal upheaval, and social chaos are excellent times for learning.  Necessity really is the mother of invention.

Having relied my entire life upon poetry’s power to redeem even the most miserable and wretched of human circumstances, I decided to share my personal poetic pharmacopeia– the most treasured, potent, and transformative experiences of the artform that I know.

Ancient medicine always involved language and incantation, and I have always preferred to teach poetry as magic than as literature.

A totally personal and from-the-heart course of study followed, timed with the moon and tuned precisely to social and political events.

Invisible College didn’t have a name at the start. I’m not even sure I remember how or when it became necessary to name it.  It was just me, sitting on the floor next to an orchid in my hovel on Mount Auburn Street, learning how to talk into my phone.  I didn’t even know what zoom was.  But I’ve always been inspired by the rumors and stories about the Rosicrucian manifestos, and I like the idea of a quiet fellowship of colleague-initiates dedicated to love and the redemption of the human soul.

We grew to become a community of about a thousand people– not gigantic, not miniscule.  But what people!  Artists, musicians, curators, diplomats, journalists, farmers, MFA students, undergraduates, astrologers, composers, grandmothers, booksellers, and rock stars & celebrities too.  The brilliance in one single chat log of one single session put whole years at university to shame.  I’ve read that high IQs tend not to correlate with empathy and kindness, but the people I’ve met in Invisible College, hand on my heart, are extraordinarily bright AND kind beyond compare.

There’s been a lot of living since the easing of lockdown.  I said yes to IRL old-fashioned teaching gigs– I was Mary Routt Chair at Scripps College in the Fall of 2022, and took on visiting appointments at Naropa and Wichita State, along with a 25-hour durational performance based on Medea at Performance Space NY & much more–

& then, following my mother’s death, I wondered whether it was time to leave this project behind.  I don’t want to go back to living through screens, but the world at large is still very much in flux. I had never intended to found a business, much less a media company.

One thing I have always wanted to do though– in fact this is why I went to Divinity School– is to learn how to cultivate, care for, and nurture a community.  I didn’t realize how much nurturance & care I’d also receive as I learned to navigate this new way of making culture & creating space.  If you start scrolling through our testimonials you’ll see how deeply people respond to what, ultimately, we created together– and what, miraculously, is still very much alive.

I’m so excited to welcome you into our new more navigable internet presence.  If you’re going through a time, please avail yourself of the hundreds of hours of music, poetry, sacred texts, art, and conversation available to you here.  This is not a curriculum so much as it is my passionate effort to share with others some of the things that have most nourished my heart and soul, through thick and thin.  There is much much more where this came from.

For more, join us on Patreon, add your name to our mailing list (I hate writing emails so don’t worry, you’re not going to get too many), or support the wild chutzpah of this endeavor with a gift or donation.

I’m so grateful to Margarita Popova for creating this site as a gift to the community, to Jessica Dillon and Phoebe Kaufman for assisting me with so much love and brilliance during the first years of this project.  

Thank you Alison Katz, Joni Murphy, Tanner Menard, and Shane Omar Slattery-Quintanilla for fantasizing and conversating me into the next life of Invisible College.

Thank you finally to the extraordinary artists and poets who found inspiration in this space to create what is yours.  You make my heart sing.