Jul 29 2010

Behind the Scenes with Ivan

Published by at 9:38 am under Ivan's Story,Poetry Chaikhana Misc.

Do you wonder what my work with the Poetry Chaikhana looks like?

I normally start my morning off with a meditation, and then I see which poem seems eager to speak that day. I let my computer suggest a poem at random, and then I try to sense if the poem is “right” for the day. Some mornings I select the first poem that comes up. Other days I’ll spend an hour sorting through possibilities. I try to make sure I have a good balance of spiritual traditions represented over the month. I also make a point of including women’s voices regularly. Occasionally I look for a series of poems that follow a sacred theme or metaphor.

Once I’ve selected the daily poem, I often spend a little time researching the life of the poet so I can pass along a few notes with the poem.

Then I sit with the poem, contemplate it, speak it aloud, let it dance in my mind, and I watch the ideas rise for my commentary. Occasionally I slip back into meditation and when I emerge the commentary is just waiting to be written out.

Some mornings I feel I’ve said too much in recent commentaries, and I just send the poem with a short, friendly note. And sometimes I come across a poem with a comment I wrote a couple of year ago, and I think, “I have to share that with everyone again!”

Then I spend a while searching through photos among Flickr’s “Creative Commons” library and look for one that somehow expresses an image or feeling from the poem.

I select a “Thought for the Day” from among the many I’ve written over the years, and I find a music CD.

Then I update the Poetry Chaikhana home page and post the poem and commentary to the Poetry Chaikhana blog. I spend a while adding new sign-ups and removing cancellations from the email list. Finally, I format everything and send out the poem email.

The Poetry Chaikhana poem email now goes out to nearly 7,000 people! It takes my computer 3 – 4 hours to send the poem email out each day.

I also spend time each month looking for new voices of wisdom in books and on the Internet. I try to add new poems and poets regularly. I’ve become quite a speedy typist!

Some weeks I also have to spend time maintaining and troubleshooting the Poetry Chaikhana database and website. Occasionally, I have to wrangle with spam-blocker sites to convince them that the Poetry Chaikhana emails are not spam.

I get dozens of emails each week, sometimes hundreds – which I love! I read every email and, when I can, I send responses.

…And then I start my day job. Whew!


The Politics of Poetry

In addition to the spiritual importance of this sacred poetry, there is also a cultural, even a political motivation behind the Poetry Chaikhana. Here’s how I described it in a interview a few years ago:

“Sacred poetry has the unique benefit of being a deeply personal expression of spiritual truth while, at the same time, being largely free from dogma. In the United States, for example, there is an increasing prejudice and fear about the Muslim world. But who can read Jelaluddin Rumi without immediately recognizing the deep truth that Islam can express? The same is true for a non-Hindu reading Lal Ded or a non-Christian reading St. John of the Cross. Sacred poetry is the natural goodwill ambassador for the world’s religions. Poetry can reach across cultural divides, soften prejudices, and shed light on misunderstandings. I hope the Poetry Chaikhana can help to facilitate that process.”

Sacred poetry is transformative on both a personal and a global level.

The Poetry Chaikhana has become a community that reaches across the globe. We have visitors from every continent and more than 220 countries and territories! (See Poetry Chaikhana Around the World.)

The Poetry Chaikhana is an important resource for people all over the world seeking to more deeply understand their own wisdom traditions as well as the spirituality of other cultures in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

/ Photo by woodleywonderworks /


Your Support as a Community

It is still a struggle to find a workable balance in time and money to bring you the Poetry Chaikhana on a regular basis. I support myself and my family by working part-time as a computer programmer. My computer work is flexible enough to allow me to spend a lot of time with the Poetry Chaikhana, but that also means it’s flexible enough to allow me to earn very little income 😉

To continue this work, the Poetry Chaikhana needs community support.

If you feel a connection to the Poetry Chaikhana, please consider making a donation.

(I want to be clear, though, that I am not asking you to contribute more than you can comfortably afford. Even a small amount – from many people – is immensely helpful. Many contributions from many people makes the Poetry Chaikhana a stronger community project, maintained by many helping hands.)


Ways you can contribute:

  • You can send a check or money order in US funds made out to “Poetry Chaikhana”, addressed to:

    Poetry Chaikhana
    PO Box 2320
    Boulder, CO 80306

  • You can make a secure online donation in any amount through PayPal by clicking the “Donate” button on the Poetry Chaikhana home page – http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com
  • You can sign up for a voluntary subscription of $2/month or $10/month by clicking either the “Subscribe” or “Support” PayPal button, also at http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com. (A regular monthly amount is often easier on your pocketbook and allows the Poetry Chaikhana to plan finances over the long term.)


Many of you have been generous with your contributions to the Poetry Chaikhana in the past, through donations, through notes of thanks, through supportive thoughts and prayers. Every contribution, whether financial or energetic, is sincerely appreciated.

A warm thank you to everyone!


17 responses so far

17 Responses to “Behind the Scenes with Ivan”

  1. sally hannaon 29 Jul 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Hello Ivan – thanks so much for sharing your “typical day” with us. It is a real inspiration to learn how things progress for you. You have an incredible yoga spirit weaving in your life. In case you are not familir with Max Strom and his new book “A Life Worth Breathing” – just out in April this year and already in the second printing. Even though it is not a poetry book, I feel it is a very important book and wanted you to know reading it can make our life excel.

    Peace, Sally

  2. Kevin Murphyon 29 Jul 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Dear Ivan:
    I’m so glad to have this opportunity to tell you what Poetry Chaikana has meant to me for several years now. It is spiritual refreshment. Seeing these poems arrive in my email is akin to spotting an oasis amid the aridity of daily concerns. And the fact that they come from many traditions heightens my universalist view that we humans are one despite disparate voices. You provide a wonderful service for we lucky 7,000; more if you count the other people in our lives we forward them to. (And I will pass on today’s message as well.) You’re doing a good, healing thing in a world filled with discord.
    So, although I have been laid off for five months, your work is well worth what I am able to send; a check will be along presently. And thanks for the insights into what it takes to present the poems!

  3. Sylviaon 29 Jul 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Thanks Ivan, that was so interesting!

    And thanks again for creating /maintaining / growing this wonderful site.

  4. George Readingon 29 Jul 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Thanks Ivan for sharing your day, your insights and visions. Receiving your daily poetry is like receiving a fresh
    painting of life which you have harvested and framed with feeling and understanding.
    It is a pleasure to contribute in a small way by making a monthly pledge.

  5. Patricia McCaronon 29 Jul 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Hi Ivan, Wow, what a day. How do you do it all?
    It was really great. Thanks so
    much for sending
    me all the poetry.
    Love, Patricia xxx

  6. parwatisingarion 29 Jul 2010 at 4:59 pm

    hi Ivan,
    you are doing great work, I have worked a way through my brother in the US i think he sent some contributions
    thanks for sharing these wonderful thoughts.

  7. Jstockbridgeon 29 Jul 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Dear Ivan,

    I am a new subscriber but have already treasured the poems you’ve sent and the commentaries and bios too. I copied Miracle Fair into my journal of poems. I have written a check and will put it in the mail tomorrow. I agree about the incredible possibilities sacred poetry offers to transcend religious differences while also honoring the depth of individual religious feeling and experience.

  8. carolineon 29 Jul 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Dear Ivan,
    I so appreciate this website and all your work and dedication. It is a wonderful resource and inspires me daily. Thank you so much!

  9. Harveyon 30 Jul 2010 at 12:09 am

    Dear Ivan,

    I want to tell you how much I appreciate your mailings. I am often inspired by them and sometimes use the poems in my workshops. I should like to make a donation from England, what is the best way of doing this? I shall be in San Francisco in October. If you give me a postal address perhaps I could send something from there?

    My warmest greetings, Harvey

  10. Somaiyahon 30 Jul 2010 at 1:31 am

    Dear Ivan
    Thanks for continuing your work.you truly are a voice of sanity and peace which is so badly needed in these times.
    Keep spreading the light:)

  11. Ivan M. Grangeron 30 Jul 2010 at 7:13 am

    Thank you, everyone, for the warm-hearted notes. Your messages mean a lot to me.


    About making a donation from England–

    There are several ways to make a donation. For many people outside the US, making an online donation via PayPal is easiest, since they automatically handle currency conversion. You can click one of donation button links on the Poetry Chaikhana home page – http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com . You can also send a check or money order to:

    Poetry Chaikhana
    PO Box 2320
    Boulder, CO 80306

    If neither of those options works for you, I also sometimes suggest that you make a contribution to a local charity in my name instead. The good still circulates.

    Thanks so much!


  12. Ivan M. Grangeron 30 Jul 2010 at 7:24 am


    I really appreciate your support. Please don’t feel you need to strain your finances to make a contribution, though. The heart behind the donation is much more important. And messages like yours mean a lot to me.

    I hope all goes well with finding new work soon…


  13. David Messineoon 30 Jul 2010 at 7:29 am

    I am attempting to reconnect with Israeli poet Rena Navon, who had published poems in past issues of my publication, Sensations Magazine, in the United States. She lived on a kibbutz in Israel, I have not heard from her in about 10 years, and mail sent to her has been returned with no forwarding address.

    If she has died, please send me any known information (date of death, etc.). We are having a “remembrance reading” of works by poets who we’ve published and who have died this September, and would include her poems in that memorial reading in the U.S., if we are certain that happened.

    If she is living – certainly preferred! – please let her know that we would welcome hearing from her again, and that she may send a current email address or mailing address so we can reconnect, if she is so inclined. She may find us online at http://www.sensationsmag.com, and fill out the form under the “Contact” button, or write us at P.O. Box 132, Lafayette, NJ 07848. Sensations Magazine is an award-winning publisher of poetry and fiction in the U.S., which will shut down operation after 50 issues across 25 years, in 2012.

    I am posting this information here, because plugging “Rena Navon” into Google or an Internet search engine pulls up a direct association with the Poetry Chaikhana blog.

    Thank you for any help you can provide. – David Messineo, Publisher/Poetry Editor, Sensations Magazine

  14. Gerryon 31 Jul 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Thank you, dear Ivan, for sharing the mechanics of the gift you give to us. Your words are always inspired and learning how you spend time in contemplation explains why that is true. The site is a glorious gift and I am always grateful to find an offering from you in my email box.

  15. nasihaon 01 Aug 2010 at 12:23 am

    thank you Ivan,
    It has been a wonderful experience being around here and reading each verse and rhyme that you have carefully selected and it has been a pleasure knowing how you work it out. May you find more to share because i will be looking forward to each poem each day cos words are magical and they can soften a rock!
    “Poetry can reach across cultural divides, soften prejudices, and shed light on misunderstandings.” – yes Ivan, they travel far…
    best wishes:)

  16. Mariaon 06 Aug 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I’ve wondered sometimes how you do your day in order to put out PC. Thanks for sharing! I’m trying to get my own work out there, so I appreciate hearing how others doing what they love make it work!

  17. Kylaon 05 Sep 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Hi ~~ just found this blog, though I had found the website itself a day or so ago, and just subscribed at the $2/month rate, will increase that when I can or at least donate. Thank you; this place is full of delights.

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