Archive for the 'Books' Category

Dec 06 2012

Video: Real Thirst – by Ivan M. Granger

Published by under Books,Poetry,Videos

I am really pleased to announce the first poem video from my collection Real Thirst.

Actually, this is my first video ever. I had a delightful time figuring out how to do everything. I discovered, for example, the fascinating world of royalty-free audio clips and sound effects. Virtually any type of sound you can imagine is available; the challenge is to unleash the imagination, to hear the empty spaces and imagine which sound wants to fill that space. It is like creating a painting with sound.

I had fun putting it all together over a couple of afternoons… a handful of images, use of camera pans, sounds and music, text, voice, a few added effects, all layered and woven together to tell a story, or evoke a visionary dream.

I hope this short video inspires and brings a smile.

Let me know what you think. And please feel free to share this video around on the Internet.

A couple more videos to come, as time (and creativity) allow…

6 responses so far

Dec 04 2012

Holiday Book Recommendations 2012

Published by 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

==

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.

==

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.

==

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.

==

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…

==

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.

==

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.

==

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.

==

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.

==

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.

==

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.

==

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.

==

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.

==

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

Aug 27 2012

Real Thirst in India

After the US and the UK, the Poetry Chaikhana receives the most visits from India. That’s why I’m pleased to be able to announce that our first book, Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey, is finally available in India.

The print edition can now be ordered through Flipkart (www.flipkart.com).

Real Thirst is also available in electronic format for the Kindle and, coincidentally, Amazon has just announced that they have launched the India Kindle Store. In addition, their Kindle reader devices are being made available through Croma retail stores in India. (Of course, you don’t need to purchase a Kindle reader device to read Kindle files. Free Kindle reader apps are available for Mac, Windows, and smartphones here.)

To all my friends in India, Namaste!

No responses yet

Jul 27 2012

Real Thirst for Kindle

I’m pleased to announce that the Kindle edition of Real Thirst is now available for download!

I put quite a bit of extra attention into this electronic edition — formatting, figuring out some obscure technical details — and I hope you’ll agree that it makes the experience of reading the poems of Real Thirst on your Kindle a much more satisfying experience than with the typical ebook.

I know that we are an international community and many of you have not been able to purchase a copy of the printed book yet. While the book is available through Amazon’s North American and European sites, it is still not easily available to our many readers in India, Pakistan, and other parts of Asia. (Real Thirst is now on Flipkart.com, but it is listed as “out of stock” — I hope to change that soon.)

But this electronic Kindle version is easily downloaded from anywhere in the world.

And you don’t need to own a Kindle device to read the Kindle edition of Real Thirst. You can download free Kindle Reader software for your computer or smart phone. Once you have the necessary software installed, you can quickly and easily purchase and download the Kindle edition of Real Thirst from anywhere.

I hope this makes Real Thirst more easily available to everyone who has not yet been able to purchase a copy.

I should also mention that the iBook version will be coming soon, as well.

(Moving step-by-step through the publication process. The larger Poetry Chaikhana anthology is still in the works…)

No responses yet

Jul 04 2012

Poetry Chaikhana is back – with a few updates

I apologize that it’s been so many days without a Poetry Chaikhana email. I’ve received a few concerned notes asking if I was in danger from the Colorado wildfires. We are safe. The wildfires have been devastating to the state, and a couple of the fires have been close enough that we could occasionally see and smell the smoke, but where I live and work are not directly threatened.

Apollo

My absence for the past week has been due to a couple of other dramas. My wife and I recently brought a new puppy, named Apollo, into our family…

Last week the little fellow got extremely sick and we had to take him to an animal hospital. It looked bad. The veterinarians thought he wasn’t going to make it. He received some good care but he was not improving, and the tests were getting more expensive without revealing much. We decided to check him out of the hospital and take him on a visit to the nearby farm where he was born. Something about that visit reawakened his spirit. The little guy immediately perked up on that visit — he was playful again, eating again, showing all the vitality of a young puppy. Now that’s real medicine!

We spent a few more days nursing Apollo back to full health. At this point he’s got us running to keep up with all his energy. If you’re walking around without shoes on, watch out, he’s likely to pounce on your toes.

Email Challenges

Just as I was about to resume the Poetry Chaikhana emails, I had a problem with my internet service provider and my email was down for nearly two days. I guess a slightly longer rest was in order.

But I’m ready for some more poetry, aren’t you? I’ll resume the normal poetry emails on Friday.

28% Discount on Real Thirst through Amazon

I just found out that Amazon US is now offering a 28% discount on Real Thirst. This came as a surprise to me. I suspect that, because sales were good in the first few days after I announced the book (with thanks to the Poetry Chaikhana community), Amazon decided to view Real Thirst as a “legitimate” publication and they then applied their standard discount program. Their business logic must be that they trim their profit in the hopes of selling more copies.

Whatever Amazon’s logic is, I hope this new discount makes Real Thirst more affordable and available to more people. I don’t know how long Amazon will continue the discount, so now is an excellent time to purchase a copy. And remember that your purchase not only supports the Poetry Chaikhana, but it paves the way for a future full-length Poetry Chaikhana anthology… our next major publication goal.

The warbler knows
only dawn’s shaft
of light
on her breast.

Forgetting false future
suns, she sings

in no voice
but her own.

Real Thirst
Poetry of the Spiritual Journey

Poems & Translations by Ivan M. Granger

Available through
Amazon.com
   

Original poems by Ivan M. Granger 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.

Read More:Table of Contents + Sample Poetry + About the Author

And — happy Independence Day. (Colonizer, colonized — the sane strive to be neither.)

Now… let’s return to some poetry. Oof, and watch out for pouncing puppies!

Ivan

23 responses so far

Jun 15 2012

Enthusiastic Response to Real Thirst

I just want to send a thank you out to everyone who has already purchased a copy of Real Thirst. Because of your enthusiastic response, it is already ranked by Amazon as the 11th best selling book in the Inspirational Poetry category! I am stunned and humbled by these results — wow.

Beyond being a boost to the ego (or the nafs ;), these solid sales have a real and practical benefit. This will open doors as I begin to prepare a more complete collection of poems and commentaries for a Poetry Chaikhana anthology. The task of securing reprint permissions for the many poems and translations is a daunting one, and larger publishing houses are often inclined to only grant those permissions for their material to be included in books backed by established publishing houses. Being able to point to such solid sales in our first book should allow me to include more of the poems we all love in that future anthology.

But one step at a time. Right now, rest and a bit of celebration are in order, don’t you agree? I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

No responses yet

Jun 11 2012

Real Thirst – Poetry Chaikhana’s first book!

I am so pleased to announce our first publication…


Real Thirst, Poetry of the Spiritual Journey, Ivan M. Granger Real Thirst
Poetry of theSpiritual Journey

Poems & Translations by Ivan M. Granger

$14.95
PURCHASE

Also through
Amazon.com
Real Thirst US Real Thirst UK Real Thirst FR Real Thirst DER

Fall 2012:
Kindle & iBook

The poems in Real Thirst are an exploration of the spiritual journey viewed through the mystic’s eyes. This collection is a delightful blend of word and silence, presenting moments of contemplation punctuated with bursts of ecstatic insight.

Real Thirst combines original poems by Ivan M. Granger 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. The deep singularity present within each poem, evokes a kind of felt suchness, and that is a real gift. 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


Today I feel like a proud father! The Poetry Chaikhana has published its first book!

Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey is a collection of my own poems along with several translations of works by other visionary poets, from John of the Cross to Bulleh Shah.

This book wouldn’t have come into being without the encouragement and help of the Poetry Chaikhana community — so first and foremost, I want to thank all of you.

As satisfying as it is to have a book of my own poems and translations in print, my ultimate goal is to publish an anthology of sacred poetry, possibly a series of anthologies: a treasure trove of the great sacred poets, accompanied by commentaries. That’s always been the heart of the Poetry Chaikhana.

Before I could commit to such a large publishing project, however, I needed to learn the basics of the process. I had to educate myself step-by-step on every aspect of publishing: editing and proofreading (with the help of several excellent volunteers), page layout and formatting, cover design, print specifications, distribution channels, even marketing. It occurred to me early on that it would be best to go through the learning process with my own work first in order to be well prepared as I move into the bigger projects. Thus, Real Thirst was born.

And, I have to say, I’m very pleased with how this first book turned out.

I do hope you will buy a copy of Real Thirst… and I hope it’s a book you’ll love.

Not only does your purchase support the Poetry Chaikhana, you will also be encouraging future publications. Good sales of this first book makes future books possible. If you are eager to have an anthology of sacred poetry from the Poetry Chaikhana on your bookshelf, purchasing Real Thirst is the best way to help.

Purchasing Real Thirst

You can purchase Real Thirst directly, here. It is also available through Amazon.com.

Since the Poetry Chaikhana is a global community, I managed to also make Real Thirst available through some of Amazon’s international sites, including Amazon UK and Amazon Germany.

eBook Formats Coming in Fall

For those of you with a Kindle or iPad, Real Thirst will be available in both formats later this year. I’ll be sure to let everyone know when the ebook formats are available.

Reader Reviews

If you like Real Thirst, another wonderful way you can help is to post your own review of the book online at Amazon.com and Goodreads.com. People do read those online reviews — I know I do. It is a great way to expand interest outside the Poetry Chaikhana community.

Read More

If you’d like to read a few more samples from Real Thirst click here. You can also see a bit more of the book by clicking the “Look Inside” link on Amazon.com.

And please feel free to send me an email or post a note on the Poetry Chaikhana Blog to tell me what you think. I’d love to hear your responses. The publication of this book — the first of many, I hope — was made possible by the outpouring of love and encouragement from all of you.

Have a beautiful day!

Ivan


“Ivan M. Granger has thrown open the doors of his body, heart and mind to the Infinite’s expressions of Itself in this world… These poems touch all the heart-strings. I laughed, I shed tears, I fell into contemplative states, I felt awe and wonder, love and longing as I read his offerings… You’ll want to return to this wellspring to quench your thirst over and over again.”
     ~ LAWRENCE EDWARDS, Ph.D. author of The Soul’s Journey: Guidance From the Divine Within and Kali’s Bazaar



Sample Poetry

First dawn. Even the
birds in the tallest pines are
surprised by the sun.
Continue Reading »

5 responses so far

Feb 15 2012

New Projects, New Look – Books, Website, More

It all started a few weeks ago with an email. Someone mentioned how much they liked my poetry selections and commentary, and asked how to order a Poetry Chaikhana book. And then I received an email asking about a book of my own poetry. And then more emails started coming in, all asking about my books, if they exist, when they will exist.

I know how to take a hint. It’s time to get my long-term plans for the Poetry Chaikhana back on track. Sure I still have periodic struggles with chronic fatigue, and I still have a day job to maintain, but enough excuses – the Poetry Chaikhana community has spoken!

But, before I can announce new books through the Poetry Chaikhana, I realized that I need to first update the website. So, in addition to gathering together material for some books, I’ve also been secretly working on a redesign of the website. And, of course, the Poetry Chaikhana Blog needed some changes too.

So keep checking in. Over the next few months you’ll notice changes to the website, new books, and some other cool stuff.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to let you in on my behind-the-scenes activities recently. I’ve been busy, so there’s a lot to cover… Continue Reading »

19 responses so far

Nov 21 2011

Holiday Book Recommendations 2011

Published by under Books

It seems like each year I’m surprised at how quickly the holiday season has come upon us. (Is that a sign that I’m getting older?) I figured this is a good time to send out a reminder that books of sacred poetry make wonderful gifts (including gifts to yourself ;-).

Here are some special recommendations I’ve gathered together for you and your loved ones:

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.

==

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.

==

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.

==

For the seeker with an inner song…..

Music of the Sky: An Anthology of Spiritual Poetry
Edited by Patrick Laude & Barry McDonald

This anthology of world sacred poetry has several nice selections from Sufi, Buddhist, Hindu, and Christian traditions. And several beautiful Native American and African poems and songs. Not a big doorstop of a collection; it’s one you’ll actually read and enjoy… and perhaps hum to.

==

Sufi samplers to savor…

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.

Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi
Translations by Mahmood Jamal

Not all translations in this book are my favorite, but the English renderings here have a direct, modern fluidity that is inviting to the tongue and the quieting mind. A good source for an introduction to many of the great Muslim poets.

Quarreling with God: Mystic Rebel Poems of the Dervishes of Turkey
Translations by Jennifer Ferraro with Latif Bolat

How can you not like a collection with a title like this? Poems by Turkish Sufis, some you may have heard of, like Yunus Emre, other stunning works by names you may not know, such as Ummi Sinan, Kul Himmet, Seyh Ibrahim Efendi, and Niyazi Misri. I came across this book two years ago, and I keep returning to it.

==

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…

==

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.

==

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.

==

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.

==

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

4 responses so far

Oct 10 2011

Books: Exploring Spiritual Traditions

Published by under Books,Ivan's Story

This past weekend we got our first real taste of Autumn — brisk, gusty winds, rain-splashed pavement. Good days for well-bundled walks, then a return home for a cup of tea, with a four-legged friend curled at your feet… and, of course, a good book open in your lap.

For your cozy weather reading, I thought I’d update and resend the following note. I hope it inspires some good exploration and deepening insight…

==

Where did my interest in the world’s spiritual traditions come from? Which religious tradition was I raised in? I’m asked these questions all the time.

A bit of background about myself…

I was raised by single mother, an ex-Catholic hippie turned social worker and secret New Ager who told me I should choose my own religion when I was old enough, but who also couldn’t hide her distaste for most organized religion.

By college age, I had a strong interior life and my own motley spiritual practice, but virtually no understanding of what most people call “religion.” While formally studying history and biology, I started sneaking into Bible as Literature classes — that was when I read the Bible for the first time.

At eighteen, I became a voracious reader on religion and spirituality in my spare time, often jumping right to the source material without any context. I read the Quran. I read the Bhagavad Gita and Buddhist texts. I read books on shamanism. I was fascinated and lost amidst everything.

Those were dazzling, bumpy years of searching.

You know what would have saved me a lot of confusion? Discovering the following books. Each of these books is a good, highly readable introduction to the deeper spiritual dimensions of a particular religious tradition. Check them out…

Christian Mystics: Their Lives and Legacies throughout the Ages
by Ursula King

Highly recommended if you want a brief survey of important visionaries and trends within the sometimes hidden history of Christian mysticism. Francis of Assisi, Hildegard von Bingen, the Beguines, Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Brother Lawrence, Jacob Boehme, Symeon the New Theologian, and many others. The author of this book has done a nice job of balancing history with spirituality. This little book makes an excellent introduction to the depths of the Christian tradition that are too often overlooked in favor of creeds and rites. Even if you were raised within the Christian tradition, my guess is that much of your own spiritual history was not handed down to you. Here is a good place to start to regain that connection.

The Shambhala Guide to Sufism
by Carl W. Ernst PhD

I am currently re-reading this book. It as an intelligent, insightful look at the history, practices, philosophies, schools, and even politics of Sufism. It doesn’t get deeply into the more esoteric aspects of the Sufi world, but it gives a good overview. If you’ve loved the poetry of Rumi but only have a vague idea of how Sufism fits within the Islamic faith, this book is an excellent place to start.

The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice
by Georg Feuerstein

Unlike the other two books, which are relatively brief introductions to their subjects, The Yoga Tradition is truly encyclopedic. Dubbed “The Blue Phonebook” for its size and color, The Yoga Tradition completely dispells the misconception many have that yoga is just an elaborate form of stretching. It introduces us to ancient and modern yogic philosophies and practices. The many expressions of Hindu yoga, Jain yoga, Buddhist yoga, Sikh yoga, saints, philosophers, and reformers… This book helps us to get oriented amidst thousands of years of complex history with a surprisingly readable, coherent approach. Very highly recommended.

For even more book recommendations, click here.

I hope these books inspire some good exploration (minus the bumps)…

Ivan

15 responses so far

Jun 10 2011

Book: Poems of Awakening …and a poem by Ivan

A few weeks ago I received a book in the mail. People often send me their books of poetry, and I love to receive them. But this book particularly caught my eye, an anthology with the promising title of Poems of Awakening. As I leafed through it, I found a delightful collection of poems, ranging from Kabir to Li-Young Lee. I was eager to start exploring its pages, but other things required my attention, and so it sat on my desk unopened for several days.

Then I got an email from the book’s editor, Betsy Small, asking if I’d received the book yet. It was only after I sent a polite email back saying that, yes, I had received the book but hadn’t had a chance to read through it, that a light switched on in my memory. Betsy Small was the person who had asked me about one of my own poems several months back. I opened the book once again and read carefully through the table of contents. Sure enough, there was my haiku, “in love with the new sun”:

in love with the new sun
the cherry blossom forgets
the night’s frost

I had forgotten it was going to be published.

As I continue to read through Poems of Awakening, I rediscover favorite poems by other poets, and I’ve found more than a few that are entirely new to me. This is a book I’ll keep in easy reach on my bookshelf. I recommend it to anyone who wants a nice sampling of sacred and insightful poems that includes some unexpected surprises — including a poem by yours truly!

Poems of Awakening: An International Anthology of Spiritual Poetry
Edited by Betsy Small

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One other note about “in love with the new sun”… This continues to be one of my most popular short poems. I often get emails about it from people who’ve discovered it on the Web. In fact, a couple years ago, I got an email from a woman in San Francisco who asked my permission to tattoo it on her side. I can’t think of a more permanent form of appreciation that that!

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Nov 16 2010

Holiday Book Recommendations – 2010

Published by under Books

It seems like each year I’m surprised at how quickly the holiday season has come upon us. (Is that a sign that I’m getting older?) I figured this is a good time to send out a reminder that books of sacred poetry make wonderful gifts (including gifts to yourself ;-).

Here are some special recommendations I’ve gathered together for you and your loved ones:


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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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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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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Illuminated and Illustrated…

The Illuminated Rumi
Translated by Coleman Barks

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 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 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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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…

Diwali (early Nov)
Ramadan (Oct – Nov)
Birth of Bahaullah
Guru Nanak’s Birthday
Bodhi Day
Hanukkah
Winter Solstice
Christmas

… and may the new year bring you bright blessings!

Ivan

8 responses so far

May 31 2010

Book: Islamic Mystical Poetry

Published by under Books

Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi
Translated by Mahmood Jamal

I’m always hesitant when I find a collection of sacred poetry put out by a classics publisher like Penguin. They can be excellent references, but I expect their translations to be stiff and rather academic. So I was pleasantly surprised by Penguin’s Islamic Mystical Poetry — while some of Mahmood Jamal’s translations bring the mind to appreciative, stunned silence, most don’t read like masterpieces of the art. Even so, they have a direct, modern fluidity that is inviting to the tongue. His rhyme, in places, can sound too simple, occasionally evoking sing-song, rather than poetic revelation, but that’s a minor criticism, given how readable these poems are. These are not dusty translations only your great-grandfather could love.

Where this collection really shines is in the breadth of poets gathered together within its pages, those well-known in the West, and many less-well-known. Rabia, Hallaj, ibn ‘Arabi, Rumi, Iraqi, Shabistari, Kabir, Baba Bulleh Shah, Umar ibn al-Farid, Yunus Emre, and many more. This is an excellent sampling of Sufi poetry from Africa to Afghanistan.

Other general collections of Sufi poetry, like The Drunken Universe and Love’s Alchemy might have more arresting translations, but Penguin’s Islamic Mystical Poetry is highly recommended for its broad range of Sufi poets, some hard to find in English translation, as well as for it’s approachable translations.

This one belongs on your bookshelf.

I witnessed my Maker with my heart’s eye.
I asked, ‘Who are You?’ He answered, ‘You!’

For You one cannot ask, Where?
Because where is Where for You?

You do not pass through the imagination
Or else we’ll know where You are.

You are He who is everywhere
Yet You are nowhere. Where are You?

In my annihilation is my annihilation’s annihilation
And You are found in my annihilation.

— Mansur al-Hallaj

Continue Reading »

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Dec 06 2009

Holiday Book Recommendations

Published by under Books

This has been such a full year that I’m more than a little surprised to realize that the holidays are here. I thought I’d take a moment to remind you that books of sacred poetry make wonderful gifts (including gifts to yourself ;-).

Here are a few of my favorite general collections of sacred poetry — a holiday sampler. (And if you are looking for a Christmas gift, especially take a look at the first book listed, For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics, edited by Roger Housden. Not only is it one of the best collections of Christian mystical poetry out there, it also includes one of my own translations of a short poem by John of the Cross.)

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

Amazon.com


This has quickly become one of my favorite collections of sacred poetry within the many Christian traditions. John of the Cross, Thomas Merton, Hildegard von Bingen, Kahlil Gibran, Dante, Angelus Silesius, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Meister Eckhart, William Blake… and Roger Housden’s brief, thoughtful insights. Another excellent book by the editor of Ten Poems to Change Your Life.

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

Amazon.com

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

The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry, Translated by Peter Lamborn Wilson / Translated by Nasrollah Pourjavady

Amazon.com

One of my favorite collections of the Persian Sufi poets, some you may have heard of and others who may be new to you: Jami, Attar, Hamadani, Iraqi, Hafez, Ibn Arabi, Sanai, and many others. If you like Sufi poetry, this is a book you should have.

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

Amazon.com

This is a compact anthology, but a wonderful collection that includes Li Po, Wu-Men, Rumi, Kabir, Mirabai, Rilke… One of my personal favorites!

Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from the Sufi Wisdom, Edited by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut

Amazon.com

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.

To Touch the Sky: Poems of Mystical, Spiritual & Metaphysical Light, Translated by Willis Barnstone

Amazon.com

Willis Barnstone’s translations balance the scholarly with the poetic — a real treat! This anthology ranges from Sappho and early Biblical utterances, to Wang Wei, Rilke, and St. John of the Cross. I like to leaf through the pages until something catches my attention and I’m pleasantly lost in the page.

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

Amazon.com

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.

The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse, Edited by T. Carmi

Amazon.com

The most complete collection I’ve found of sacred Hebrew poetry, including Judah ha Levi, Solomon ibn Gabirol, Samuel Hanagid, the early Hekhalot Hymns, and many more. My only complaint: the translations are not versified, even though the Hebrew originals were. Still, worth reading.

Speaking of Siva, by A K Ramanujan

Amazon.com

This book became an immediate favorite of mine ever since I picked up a copy of it several years ago. Stunning poems from the Shiva bhakti tradition of India. Basavanna, Devara Dasimayya, Mahadevi, Allama Prabhu. The commentary in the book, though a little academic, is genuinely insightful. Enthusiastically recommended!

For even more 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 winter darkness. And may the new year bring you bright blessings!

3 responses so far

Dec 06 2009

Book Recommendation: For Lovers of God Everywhere

Published by under Books,Ivan's Story

I’ve been eager to mention this book on the Poetry Chaikhana since it was published at the beginning of November, but life has felt so full in recent months that I just haven’t gotten to it… until now.

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



For Lovers of God Everywhere has quickly become one of my favorite collections of sacred poetry within the many Christian traditions.

Surprisingly, I haven’t found many good collections of the poetry of Christian mystics, until this book. Certainly, there are many books focusing on the writings of individual poets and saints, but not much is available covering the many voices throughout the history of inspired Christian seeking. While this book is short, inviting one to open to any page at random, it still gives a nice flavor of many of the important Christian sacred poets: John of the Cross, Thomas Merton, Hildegard von Bingen, Kahlil Gibran, Dante, Angelus Silesius, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Meister Eckhart, William Blake… and Roger Housden’s brief, thoughtful insights. Another excellent book by the editor of Ten Poems to Change Your Life, Ten Poems to Open Your Heart, and Ten Poems to Set You Free.

And I’m pleased to be able to point to some of my own work in this book, my translation of “The Sum of Perfection” by John of the Cross.


Excerpt from the book:

The Sum of Perfection

Creation forgotten,
Creator only known,
Attention turned inward,
In love with the Beloved alone.

— Saint John of the Cross
(translation by Ivan M. Granger)

Love for John of the Cross is an interior condition of union, with no external object of reference in either the world or in the mind. All attachment to the things and thoughts of this world has fallen away. Imageless, wordless, there is nothing to say, nowhere to go and nothing to do when such a blessedness descends. This poem has all the brevity, clarity, and completeness of a Japanese haiku (though not the exact form of seventeen syllables in three lines) used by Zen practitioner-poets on the other side of the world to deliver their own pity wisdom. It’s chant-like quality is more apparent in the original Spanish:

Olvido de lo criado,
memoria del Criador,
atencion a lo interior
y estarse amando al Amado.


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Jan 25 2009

Two Book Recommendations: The Joyous Soul and Turkish Sufis

Published by under Books

Quarreling with God: Mystic Rebel Poems of the Dervishes of Turkey
Translated by Jennifer Ferraro / Translated by Latif Bolat

This is an excellent sampling of poetry of Turkish Sufis, most of whom haven’t been translated into English until now. You’ll find a few poems by well-known figures, like Yunus Emre, but many other stunning works by names you’re less likely to have heard of, such as Ummi Sinan, Kul Himmet, Seyh Ibrahim Efendi, and Niyazi Misri. Recommended.

They say the Sufi way
      is to give one’s life away.

The Sufi way is to become a sultan
      on the throne of the soul.

In the station of the Path,
      it is to destroy appearances.
In the station of Reality,
      it is to become a guest
in the innermost palace of the heart…

– from The Sufi Way, by Seyh Ibrahim Efendi

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The Soul is Here for its Own Joy: Sacred Poems from Many Cultures
Edited by Robert Bly

Another good, wide-ranging selection of sacred poetry gathered by Robert Bly. Continue Reading »

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Jan 11 2009

Book Recommendations: Getting Oriented

Published by under Books,Ivan's Story

Where did my interest in the world’s spiritual traditions come from? Which religious tradition was I raised in? I’m asked these questions all the time.

Well, I’ll let you in on a secret about myself…

I was raised by single mother, an ex-Catholic hippie turned social worker and secret New Ager who told me I should choose my own religion when I was old enough, but who also couldn’t hide her distaste for most organized religion.

By college age, I had a strong interior life and my own motley spiritual practice, but virtually no understanding of what most people call “religion.” While formally studying history and biology, I started sneaking into Bible as literature classes – that was when I read the Bible for the first time.

At eighteen, I became a voracious reader on religion and spirituality in my spare time, often jumping right to the source material without any context. I read the Quran. I read the Bhagavad Gita and Buddhist texts. I read books on shamanism. I was fascinated and lost amidst everything.

Those were dazzling, bumpy years of searching.

You know what would have saved me a lot of confusion? Discovering one of the following books. Each of these books is a good, highly readable introduction to the deeper spiritual dimensions of a particular religious tradition. Check them out…

Christian Mystics: Their Lives and Legacies throughout the Ages
by Ursula King

This is not a book of poetry, but highly recommended if you want a brief survey of important visionaries and trends within the sometimes hidden history of Christian mysticism. Francis of Assisi, Hildegard von Bingen, the Beguines, Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Brother Lawrence, Jacob Boehme, Symeon the New Theologian, and many others. The author of this book has done a nice job of balancing history with spirituality. This little book makes an excellent introduction to depths of the Christian tradition that are too often overlooked. Even if you were raised within the Christian tradition, my guess is that much of your own spiritual history was not handed down to you. Here is a good place to start to regain that connection.

Continue Reading »

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