Events & Workshops

Sponsored by the Gerlind Institute for Cultural Studies

April 2, 2016
7:30 p.m.
Journeys with Rilke
Dr. Daniel Joseph Polikoff

Excelsior German Center at the Altenheim, 1699 Excelsior Ave., Oakland (entrance on Excelsior Avenue) • RSVP by March 30
“Over the course of twenty-five years, Rainer Maria Rilke has been for me both a spiritual guide and poetic mentor. I’ll share various aspects of my life and work with modernity’s Orphic poet. I’ll read excerpts of Rue Rilke, the creative non-fiction account of my formative Rilke pilgrimage in the summer of 1993, and speak about the following decades I spent as a Rilke scholar and translator. I’ll share poems from my rendition of Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus (2015) and a few of my own that owe a clear debt to the master’s shining example.”

Thursday, May 5 at 7PM
Larkspur Library Book Launch
400 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur, CA


Field Notes from the Soul Behind the Bars

Poets and writers—whether they be masters, like the European poet Rilke; or less experienced craftsmen, like the inmates of state prisons—practice an art of liberation. This event, featuring readings of both poetry and prose from the authors’ new publications, focuses upon humanity in confinement—literal as well as spiritual—and the poetic means by which we seek to see through the the bars, and break out.

Rose Black lives and works at Renaissance Stone, in East Oakland. She is the author of three collections of poetry: Clearing, Winter Light, and Green Field. Rose currently teaches poetry at Salinas Valley State Prison, and her article about her experience there is featured in Red Wheelbarrow Literary Magazine 2015. Rose will read her own poems and also poems written by the inmates in the prison writing workshop.

Daniel Polikoff will read from his new creative non-fiction work Rue Rilke.


MARCH 21, 2015, 9:30 am—1:30 pm

Lecture: SF Jung Institute
2040 Gough Street, San Francisco, CA

Rilke and Hermetic Tradition

 Two late masterpieces—The Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus—crown Rilke’s remarkable literary career. The two cycles—completed in one and the same flood of inspiration in February of 1922—are deeply kindred works which nonetheless display dramatic contrasts in form and tenor. This talk aims to articulate something of the gist of Rilke’s poetic vision by staging a hermeneutic encounter with salient passages of the Elegies and Sonnets. Correlatively, we’ll endeavor to place Rilke within the broader context of western esotericism, particularly the hermetic tradition. We’ll draw upon some of hermeticism’s founding tenets (the famous dictum “as above so below”; the idea of the individual as microcosm; the centrality of imagination) as well as Jung’s own ideas of the Self and its transcendent function to help construe Rilke’s vision of the mission of the human being, what in his Elegies the poet calls “the task of transformation.”



Fall 2014
Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness Program
California Institute of Integral Studies
PARP 6256-01, 1 Unit
RILKE: A Poetic Introduction

Instructor: Daniel Polikoff
Monday through Friday, June 11-15, 10:15 am-1:15 pm
Room 306 (Mission)
Course Description

Sonoma State University, APRIL 5, 2014
Public Programs in Depth Psychology

Place: Sonoma State, Art 108
CE credits for therapists available
For detailed info:

Like his eminent contemporary Carl Jung (born the same year as the poet), Rainer Maria Rilke unfolded a compelling vision of the nature and destiny of the human soul. He did so, moreover, after the unqiue form and fashion dictated by his his poetic calling. Rilke’s passionate lyrics—full of grief and yearning, desolation and profound joy—promise answers to the deepest riddles of the soul, yet his Orphic speech itself often remains riddling. How are we to construe the lineaments of Rilke’s vision, and how understand its poetic making?

In this session, we will focus upon understanding Rilke’s poetry as a vehicle for his soul-development. Interweaving salient features of Rilke’s biography, close reading of major poems, and critical attention to ideas and motifs central to depth psychology (individuation, anima, the nigredo, hieros gamos), we’ll attempt to gain a sense of the deep wisdom inscribed in Rilke’s poetic oeuvre, and the creative processes—inseparably poetical and psychological—through which the poet’s life and art were forged.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Hear local poets read their poems.
Mill Valley Library, 375 Throckmorton, Mill Valley, CA
Host: Rebecca Foust
Readers: Claire J. Baker, Charles Glaser, Cesar Love, Ida VSW Red, Daniel Polikoff, Kathleen Winter

Saturday Nov. 9, 2013
SF Jung Institute, 2040 Gough Street, San Francisco, CA


A rich soul treasure lies buried in Rainer Maria Rilke’s remarkable poetic opus. This workshop aims to help participants (re)discover and begin to mine that treasure. In particular, we’ll attempt to deepen our understanding of crucial alchemical-psychological processes by way of close encounter with the poetic enactments of those processes inscribed in Rilke’s oeuvre.

Highlighting salient features of the poet’s biography (including his crucial relationship to the emerging field of psychology), we’ll endeavor to develop a picture of the overall shape of Rilke’s life—its inner lineaments as well as its outward form. Positing a correlation between the four major works of Rilke’s maturity (New Poems, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, Duino Elegies, Sonnets to Orpheus), and four basic alchemical processes often associated with the four elements (earth/coagulatio; water/solutio; air/sublimatio; fire/calcinatio), we’ll look closely at select passages of the major works in conjunction with discussion of the related alchemical processes. The poetry will illuminate understanding of the relevant alchemy and vice versa as we entertain questions pertaining to the intimate relationship binding poetic language and psychology, the dynamic interaction of soul and spirit, and—finally—the nature and destiny of the soul and its (re)making in light of what Rilke calls “the task of transformation.”

Friday, February 8, 2013

Daniel Polikoff will be speaking at the CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF INTEGRAL STUDIES

@ CIIS, 1453 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA


Rainer Maria Rilke lived and worked during a pivotal time in our spiritual history, the late nineteenth and early twentieth century period that marks the coming of age of the modern world. Like his eminent contemporaries Carl Jung (born the same year as Rilke) and Rudolf Steiner, Rilke unfolded a compelling vision of the nature and destiny of the human soul responsive to the enormous challenge and promise of his time. He did so, moreover, after the unqiue form and fashion dictated by his his poetic calling. Rilke’s passionate lyrics—full of grief and yearning, desolation and profound joy—promise answers to the deepest riddles of the soul, yet his Orphic speech itself often remains riddling. How are we to construe the lineaments of Rilke’s larger vision; how understand the message and mission of his art with our minds as well as our hearts?

A kindred genius informs Rilke’s poetry and that school of psychology famously founded upon the “centrality of the soul” and the “poetic basis of mind.” James Hillman’s archetypal psychology can help us grasp root and branch of Rilke’s Orphic vision even as deep reading of the poet’s life and writing can reveal hidden dimensions of the archetypal world view. Positing suggestive correlations between Hillman’s four modes of soul-making, the four labors of Psyche, and the poetics underlying Rilke’s four major works, Daniel Polikoff will explore the imaginative confluence of poetry and archetypal psychology, opening windows on Rilke’s—and Hillman’s—worlds of soul, the transformative power of art, and (perhaps!) essential elements of any new mythos that might help guide us on our path towards the future.

May 22, 2012 Tuesday
Rebound Bookstore
1611 4th Street San Rafael, CA 94901
Daniel Polikoff and several other poets read their poetry for the Marin Poetry Center traveling show.

May 24, 2012 Thursday
10 am-2 pm (bring brown bag lunch)
RILKE WORKSHOPS with Daniel Polikoff
$65/session/Workshop to be held at Richard Brown’s house in Kentfield.
Inquiries and registration: contact Rose Black: 510.633.1888
or email:
More Information

November 15, 2012
A talk at the Marin Poetry Center
The Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva considered Rilke, “the embodiment of poetry,”and his work continues to draw and inspire countless readers. In his recent book, In the Image of Orpheus: Rilke—A Soul History, Daniel Polikoff explores in depth and in detail the psychological and literary ground of Rilke’s remarkable achievement. In this related presentation, he will take us on a brief tour of Rilke’s life and work, blending rehearsal of pivotal elements of the poet’s dramatic biography with readings—often in Daniel’s own translation—of some of Rilke’s most compelling poems. Along the way, we will explore crucial aspects of both the poet’s craft and his philosophic vision.
Falkirk Cultural Center
1408 Mission Avenue
San Rafael, CA 94901

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