Dec 04 2012

Holiday Book Recommendations 2012

Published by at 9:01 am under Books

December already — wow! It seems as if each year I am surprised to realize that the holidays are here again. My internal clock follows its own seasons.

With the holidays coming up, I thought I’d take a moment to remind you that books of sacred poetry make wonderful gifts (including gifts to yourself ;-) .

I’ve gathered together a few of my favorite collections of sacred poetry — a holiday sampler for you and your loved ones:

To slake that thirst (or awaken it)…

Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey
Poems & Translations by Ivan M. Granger

We have to celebrate the publication of the Poetry Chaikhana’s first book! Original poems by Ivan M. Granger (yours truly) with new translations of works by visionaries from both East and West: John of the Cross, Francis of Assisi, Symeon the New Theologian, Hakim Sanai, Tukaram, Sarmad, Bulleh Shah, Sachal Sarmast, Vladimir Solovyov, Tulsi Sahib, and Antonio Machado.

“I found Real Thirst to be a slow, cool and refreshing drink. I believe you will find these poems an antidote to the rush of your days.” ~ JOHN FOX author of Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making

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For the modern mystic…

The Ley Lines of the Soul: Poems of Ecstasy and Ascension
by Dorothy Walters

Every time I feature a poem by Dorothy Walters on the Poetry Chaikhana, I receive a flood of enthusiastic emails. Andrew Harvey praises her poetry as a “…record shameless but unhysterical of an extreme love affair with the Divine.”

Breaking the Drought: Visions of Grace
by Stephen Levine

The author of several classic books in the field of conscious living and dying — including A Gradual Awakening, Who Dies?, Healing into Life and Death, and A Year to Live. This collection reveals he is also a poet of clear vision and grace.

Where Many Rivers Meet
by David Whyte

The poetry of David Whyte continues to be a deep well of inspiration. Beneath his craft of words, he reveals a rich silence and a patient eye. This collection is one to spend time with.

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For the eclectic…

The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry
by Stephen Mitchell

This is a compact anthology, but a wonderful collection that includes Li Po, Wu-Men, Rumi, Kabir, Mirabai, Rilke… And the added bonus of Stephen Mitchell’s way with words. One of my personal favorites.

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For the wise woman…..

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women
Edited by Jane Hirshfield

This is the first anthology I got years ago that made me say, Wow! Includes Sappho, Rabia, Yeshe Tsogyel, Hildegard von Bingen, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Hadewijch of Antwerp, Lalla, Mirabai, Bibi Hayati, Marina Tsvetaeva. The best collection I’ve found of women’s voices in sacred poetry.

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Illuminated and Illustrated…

One Song: A New Illuminated Rumi
Translated by Coleman Barks

A follow-up to the excellent Illuminated Rumi — excerpts of Rumi’s poetry accompanied by digital collage artwork that draws you deeply into each page. This book entrances on several levels. An excellent gift book.

Wine of the Mystic: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyan: A Spiritual Interpretation
by Omar Khayyam / Paramahansa Yogananda

A 20th century Indian Yogi commenting on the spiritual meaning of an 11th century Persian Sufi’s poetry. That combination yields both perfume and controversy — but plenty to contemplate. Lovely artwork and border scrollwork. And Fitzgerald’s delightful translation of this classic. Recommended.

Perfect Harmony: (Calligrapher’s Notebooks)
by Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi

Brief selections from Ibn Arabi’s metaphysical love poem “The Interpreter of Desires” combined with the amazing Arabic calligraphy of Hassan Massoudy. If you didn’t think calligraphy could be fine art, you have to look at this book. Find a quiet place, open this book, and lose yourself in any page…

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A Sufi sampler…

Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from the Sufi Wisdom
by Andrew Harvey / Eryk Hanut

Something about Andrew Harvey’s selections and translations always strike a pure note. This book is a delightful collection of poetry and Sufi wisdom stories. Rumi, Kabir, al-Hallaj, Shabistari, Ansari… This is one I return to again and again.

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A little Zen in your pocket…

The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhalla Library)
Edited by Sam Hamill / Edited by J. P. Seaton

A very nice sampler of Japanese and Chinese Zen poetry. Han Shan, Li Po, Wang Wei, Basho, Soseki, Ryokan, Issa… The book fits well in your hand when you’re walking to the riverside or the local coffee shop.

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For the Christian contemplative…

For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics
by Roger Housden

This has quickly become one of my favorite collections of sacred poetry within the many Christian traditions. John of the Cross, Merton, Hildegard von Bingen, Gibran, Dante, Meister Eckhart, Blake… and Roger Housden’s brief, thoughtful insights.

The Book of Mystical Chapters: Meditations on the Soul’s Ascent
Translated by John Anthony McGuckin

This is the book that, years ago, introduced me to the stunning poetry of Symeon the New Theologian, igniting my passion for his visionary poetry of light and transformation. You’ll also find poems and poetic renditions of writings from many other saints and mystics of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Still a favorite of mine.

Selected Poems of Thomas Merton
by Thomas Merton

I can’t recommend this collection highly enough. Merton, in addition to being a deep mystic, was a truly excellent contemporary poet. His poems feel entirely modern, yet touch on the eternal. While drawing on Catholic imagery, one can hear whispers of Eastern philosophy and insight in his words. Poems to reread and meditate deeply upon.

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For the contemplative activist…

Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh
by Thich Nhat Hanh

Poetry by the beloved modern master Thich Nhat Hanh, exploring service and suffering, humanity and interbeing, breath and stillness, beauty and bliss.

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Lovers and the Beloved…

The Lover of God
by Rabindranath Tagore

Bhakti love poems from Radha to Krishna, originally written by a 14-year-old Rabindranath Tagore – as a hoax! That teenage boy became one of the great poets of the early 20th century, and these poems touch the lover’s heart on so many levels.

I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded
Translated by Ranjit Hoskote

This has become my favorite translation of poems by the great Kashmiri mystic poet, Lal Ded. Sharp insight, flashes of humor, and vast timeless spaces.

The Gift: Poems by Hafiz the Great Sufi Master
by Daniel Ladinsky

Despite the book’s title, these are not poems by the historic Sufi poet Hafiz; instead, it is a delightful collection of contemporary poems infused with the spirit of Hafiz. These poems tease and wink, and lead us chuckling to surprising moments of insight.

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Poetic keys to the journey…

Saved by a Poem: The Transformative Power of Words
by Kim Rosen

What can I say? Read the first few pages and you won’t want to stop. An exploration of the power of poetry to open our lives in surprising, healing ways and, at the same time, an engaging personal memoir. Highly recommended.

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For those early mornings…

Why I Wake Early
by Mary Oliver

You can’t go wrong with anything by Mary Oliver, but if you’re looking for a good introduction to her poetry, Why I Wake Early is a nice place to start. This collection is one to enjoy, one poem at a time, in those quiet moments before the busyness of the day starts.

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And for blessings…

To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings
by John O’Donohue

I keep being told by people how much they love this book of poetic blessings from the Irish philosopher, poet, and mystic, John O’Donohue. These poetically crafted blessings and meditations on the passages of life manage to elevate the spirit, warm the heart, and, on occasion, bring a tear to the eye.

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For even more excellent book recommendations, click here.

May you and your loved ones have a special holiday season during this time when the sacred light renews itself in the midst of darkness –

– and may the new year bring you bright blessings!

Ivan

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Holiday Book Recommendations 2012”

  1. Kimberlyon 04 Dec 2012 at 11:36 am

    Ivan, thank you so much for another amazing year of poetry. I’m deeply blessed by your reflections as well. I plan to give myself the Christmas gift of Poetry Chaikhana’s “Real Thirst.” Thanks again for including John O’Donohue’s “To Bless the Space Between Us” in the above collection; it has given me comfort and taught me how the practice of blessing can invoke healing, connection, mindfulness and the rich sweeping power of elemental forces.
    Gratefully, K.

  2. amritananda sandyon 04 Dec 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Dear one,
    Thank you very much for your divine-help to help mankind on this Ball of Earth.
    yours – amritananda sandy

  3. marrobon 05 Dec 2012 at 7:06 am

    Thanks Ivan for some great gift ideas for the holidays.

    These are chocolate truffles for the soul……yunnnnnn

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