Mar 30 2017

Springtime and Support for the Poetry Chaikhana

Published by at 10:26 am under Poetry,Poetry Chaikhana Misc.

Spring and all its flowers
      now joyously break their vow of silence.
It is time for celebration, not for lying low;
You too — weed out those roots of sadness from your heart.

The Sabaa wind arrives;
      and in deep resonance, the flower
      passionately rips open its garments,
      thrusting itself from itself.

The Way of Truth, learn from the clarity of water,
Learn freedom from the spreading grass.

~ Hafiz
tr. Homayun Taba & Marguerite Theophil

/ Image by rkramer62 /

Spring has come! Daffodils are popping up in forgotten corners of neighbors’ yards. White blossoms spangle once bare branches. Winter brown grasses have found their green again. Light rainfall in the morning, followed by impossibly blue skies. The world is once again waking up…


I don’t say it often enough, but I want to thank you for the many wonderful, wise, touching, playful emails and blog comments I receive from you all each week. Although I can’t respond to them all individually, I read every one, and they make up an important part of my day. Your notes remind me why the Poetry Chaikhana is so important. And I am so grateful to be able to share my love of this poetry with such an engaged community.

Over the past year many of you have sent generous donations, either single donations or steady monthly donations, and it is such a great help. Your contributions help me to cover my regular expenses as I dedicate much of my week to the Poetry Chaikhana.

I want to let you know that your donations mean more to me than their strictly financial value. Beyond the money you have sent in, I know that each donation came from a moment when you decided to change the path of your day, when you stopped whatever you might have been doing to create an online payment account or to sit down and write out and mail in a check. And, of course, access to the Poetry Chaikhana is free. You didn’t have to make a donation at all. You could have chosen to go on with your day instead, but instead you went to the effort to send a donation and possibly even write a personal note of thanks.

spring rain–
all things on earth
become beautiful

~ Fukuda Chiyo-ni

What your donation tells me is that the Poetry Chaikhana means something to you, that it has touched you or inspired you or helped you through a particularly difficult day, so much so that you wanted to reach out personally. It’s not just that you want the Poetry Chaikhana to continue, it is that you want to share your own personal, direct support, that you want to be a part of the Poetry Chaikhana’s support.

I don’t take that for granted. I am humbled and honored by every single donation, whether it is $2 or $200, because I know what it represents to you. I feel the message of support behind it.

spring rain–
pond and river
are one

~ Buson

Even with that wonderful support from several of you, I have to admit that I am struggling to make ends meet right now…

I like the ideal of the Poetry Chaikhana as a free offering, and I have no intention of changing that. But the truth is that the Poetry Chaikhana is not free. I put significant amounts of my time and energy into gathering the poems and translations, writing up commentary, maintaining the website, and now editing and publishing books.

I try, through sheer love for the work, to accomplish all of that in the mornings and on weekends without disrupting my regular job, but because of my chronic fatigue/ME I can’t maintain that pace for long periods without health consequences. Increasingly I am having to choose between paid work hours and the Poetry Chaikhana, and that balance doesn’t always work perfectly.

I need your help, the help of the Poetry Chaikhana community, to create a more sustainable balance over the long term.

If the Poetry Chaikhana is important to you, please consider making a donation.
Now is an especially helpful time to do so.

With several thousand people receiving this email, and many more who regularly visit the Poetry Chaikhana website and Facebook page, we should be able to collectively support my work.

Behind the Scenes

You may wonder what I’m actually doing here on the other end of these poetry emails. Here is a sketch of what my work with the Poetry Chaikhana looks like each morning.

I often start my morning 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 may spend some time researching the life of the poet so I can pass along a few biographical 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.

If I feel I’ve said too much in recent commentaries, I may choose to send the poem with just a short, friendly note. And sometimes I come across a poem with a comment I wrote a few years previously, and I think, “I have to share that with everyone again!”

Then I spend a while searching through photos and art among the Flickr or Deviantart “Creative Commons” libraries and look for one that somehow expresses an image or supports the feeling of the poem.

I also select a “Thought for the Day” from among a list I’ve written out over the years. And I also decide which Poetry Chaikhana books to feature in the email for the day.

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 goes out to about 9,000 people!

Many days I also select a short poem or excerpt to post on the Poetry Chaikhana Facebook page. I often post accompanying artwork, as well. We have another 5,000 fans there.

I spend time each month looking for new voices of wisdom in books and on the internet. When I have the time, I try to add new poems and poets to the website.

Some weeks I also have to maintain and troubleshoot 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 — which I love! I read every email and, when I can, I send responses. I would love to engage in more email correspondence with all of you, but I just run out of time.

And I also try to find a few hours every week to work on the next book project.

…Then I start my day job!

A few links about me that you might find interesting–

Blog posts that touch on my story
14 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me
Health, Suffering & Meaning
An audio interview recorded several years ago

Spring has come.
White hallelujahs
from the brambles in flower!

~ Antonio Machado

Ways you can help:

You can make a secure online donation in any amount through PayPal by clicking the “Donate” button on the Poetry Chaikhana home page at

You can sign up for a voluntary monthly donation of $2/month or $10/month by clicking either the “Subscribe” or “Support” PayPal button.

You can send a check or money order in US funds, addressed to:

Poetry Chaikhana
PO Box 2320
Boulder, CO 80306

Other ways you can help: Tell friends about the Poetry Chaikhana and encourage them to sign up for the poetry emails, purchase Poetry Chaikhana books, encourage local bookstores to carry Poetry Chaikhana publications, and purchase other poetry books through the links on the Poetry Chaikhana website. All of these help to expand the Poetry Chaikhana, strengthening both its community and its financial foundations.

I am also grateful for your help through supportive thoughts and prayers. Every contribution, financial and energetic, is sincerely appreciated.

Thank you so much!

And may you have a wonderful spring day!


To goslings
just hatched, the entire world
is a spring day

~ Ivan M. Granger

One response so far

One Response to “Springtime and Support for the Poetry Chaikhana”

  1. Brenda Pikeon 30 Mar 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Dear Ivan,
    You have over the years opened my horizons to include such inspiring poets,Rumi,Hafiz,Kabir etc, but your quotes and commentaries are to me ,more nourishing than all the spiritual classics I’ve been privileged to read and the writers of today,saints,mystics etc. Cannot tell you how this old lady resonates with your words.
    I thank God for you and remember you every day when ‘sitting’. I know much about the effects of ME.
    I will ,when daughter visits ( for am a bit technologically challenged) up my D D with Pay pal.
    May your every moment be blessed,as you bless others. Brenda .

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