Archive for the 'Poetry Chaikhana Misc.' Category

Sep 19 2018

Alternatives to Amazon

As a follow-up to my note raising concerns about Amazon’s business practices, several of you contacted me with some promising sites worth exploring. Two sites in particular caught my attention: Wordery and Better World Books. Both are online booksellers and both offer free shipping *worldwide*. Both also contribute a certain amount of their profits and book stock to charities and literacy programs.

They seem to take a little while to add new books to their online catalogs, however. This Dance of Bliss is not yet listed with their sites, but other Poetry Chaikhana publications are listed. I am in contact with them to see if I can facilitate the process of adding the new anthology.

If all continues to look promising, I may soon change the Poetry Chaikhana book links to favor one of these sites (though Poetry Chaikhana books will still remain available through Amazon and other online book sources).

In the meantime, I encourage you to explore these sites yourself. And if you have any feedback about them, please let me know:

Wordery
www.wordery.com

Better World Books
www.betterworldbooks.com

* Also, I should mention that someone sent me information about how, in response to the rising criticism, Amazon’s CEO just donated a very large sum of money to help with homelessness. While the action with most integrity would be to improve his company’s business practices and wage policies, a donation like that is not insignificant. How does that affect your perception of the company?

No responses yet

Sep 12 2018

This Dance of Bliss Now Available Everywhere!

THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT:

It’s here! This Dance of Bliss is now publicly available to everyone online through sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For readers outside the US, This Dance of Bliss is now available through international online book sites.

You can also purchase This Dance of Bliss by requesting it through your local independent bookstore.

This Dance of Bliss, Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology, Ivan M. Granger
This Dance of Bliss

Ecstatic Poetry From Around the World

A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

Edited with Commentary by Ivan M. Granger


$16.95
PURCHASE

Barnes & Noble and Amazon
This Dance of Bliss US
 This Dance of Bliss UK This Dance of Bliss CAN This Dance of Bliss IND
or ask at your local independent book store
This Dance of Bliss is an inspiring collection of poems and wisdom stories from the world’s great sacred traditions. Rumi, St. John of the Cross, Lalla, Goethe, Hildegard von Bingen, Dogen, Khayyam, and many others gather together within these pages to sing their ecstatic songs.

Ivan M. Granger accompanies each poem with his own reflections and meditative commentaries, inviting us to explore the insights and private raptures of these mystics, seers, and saints-until we too are swept up in this dance of bliss!

This book is a treasure, a feast, an oasis. Ivan M. Granger’s profound gift for selecting the kind of poetry that lights up the cave of the heart and melts the boundaries between the soul and the Divine is fully met by his lucid reflections on the soul-transfiguring power of each piece in this magnificent collection.

MIRABAI STARR
author of God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity & Islam


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

No responses yet

Sep 12 2018

Statement about Amazon

Amazon has been in the news lately and rightly criticized for the absurd sums of money claimed by the CEO while many of its employees earn poverty wages and lack basic job security. Amazon is just one of the more notable companies among far too many that have come to embody a brutal and predatory corporate mindset.

But given how ubiquitous Amazon is in the world of online book sales, I have not yet come up with an entirely satisfying alternative that will work for everyone.

I regularly point out that Poetry Chaikhana books are available through other online sources, like Barnes & Noble, but they don’t cater to as many countries around the globe, and the Poetry Chaikhana is a global community.

There is also the more direct approach: I can take orders and ship the books myself, as I have been doing with the recent pre-orders for This Dance of Bliss. That is something I have generally done only for limited periods of time, when I want to offer personally inscribed books. My hesitation to do that on a more regular basis is primarily because I do my Poetry Chaikhana work in my spare time. Poetry Chaikhana publications provide some welcome income, but it is not yet enough to allow me to lessen my commitments to my day job. As many of you are aware, I need to be especially careful with my time and energy because of the chronic fatigue patterns I deal with, so I can’t casually add to my weekly workload. Even so, I am giving this option some serious thought.

One of the most positive ways to purchase Poetry Chaikhana books, in my opinion, is to request them through your local independent bookstore. I receive less of a sales royalty that way, but when you purchase through a neighborhood brick-and-mortar bookstore, you are supporting a local business, you get to chat with interesting people who love books, and it’s an excuse to browse their shelves for other hidden treasures. Bookstores build communities.

If you have other good recommendations, please share them with me. I welcome your suggestions.

2 responses so far

Sep 10 2018

Pre-ordered books on their way…

I have been delightfully overwhelmed by the pre-order response for this latest Poetry Chaikhana anthology. To meet all of your orders, I have been busy for the past two weeks inscribing books, packaging them, and carrying them by the armload to the local post office.

I am pausing for a couple of days to rest and focus on my day job as I wait on a new delivery from the printer before I can send the last few pre-ordered copies out. After that, I will be sending copies to the several people around the globe who generously gave of their time to help with proofreading.

If you pre-ordered an autographed copy of This Dance of Bliss it is on its way to you, or will be very shortly. Thank you, everyone, for your enthusiastic response!

No responses yet

Aug 23 2018

Book Pre-Orders Update

I want to send out a big thank you to everyone for the enthusiastic response to my announcement of the new anthology. Pre-orders for This Dance of Bliss have been coming in from all over the US and the world. I will soon be shipping autographed copies to India, the UK, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Ireland, The Netherlands, Italy, and several other countries.

Your response has been overwhelming, and your many notes of support have touched me deeply. Thank you

The pre-order offer remains available until Sept. 1st. You can purchase and autographed copy of This Dance of Bliss at a discounted rate, while supporting the Poetry Chaikhana and future publications.

To read more and purchase a copy, click here–

This Dance of Bliss, Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology, Ivan M. Granger


This Dance of Bliss

Ecstatic Poetry From Around the World
A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

 

A Note about Shipping Outside the US

Because I am personally inscribing these pre-order copies and mailing them out myself, international shipping rates and times apply.

If the international shipping rates feel prohibitive to you, This Dance of Bliss will also be available in late September through international book sites, like Amazon. The shipping costs from these sites may be less, if they have a location in your area — though the discount will not apply, and you’d be missing out on my lovely autograph!

Kindle Edition

A Kindle ebook version of This Dance of Bliss will be available soon, as well.

No responses yet

Aug 20 2018

Book Announcement: This Dance of Bliss

It’s ready! I am so happy to announce the publication of the latest Poetry Chaikhana anthology:

This Dance of Bliss, Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology, Ivan M. Granger


This Dance of Bliss

Ecstatic Poetry From Around the World
A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

 

This Dance of Bliss is a new collection poems by beloved classical sacred poets along with a few modern visionaries — accompanied by my own thoughts, meditations, personal stories, and commentary.

The new anthology will officially be available in late September through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as by request through your local independent bookstore.

But I wasn’t planning on making you wait that long.

For the Poetry Chaikhana community, I am offering a special pre-order deal on This Dance of Bliss. If your purchase a copy directly through the Poetry Chaikhana before September 1st–

  • You will receive a discounted price of $12.95 (rather than the regular retail price of $16.95 USD)
  • I will personally autograph your copy
  • You will receive a special extra or two, like a Poetry Chaikhana bookmark
  • Most importantly, you will be helping me greatly by making sure we cover initial publication expenses
This Dance of Bliss, Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology, Ivan M. Granger This Dance of Bliss
Ecstatic Poetry From Around the World

A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

Edited with Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Pre-Order
before Sept. 1

$12.95
$16.95


PURCHASE
This Dance of Bliss is an inspiring collection of poems and wisdom stories from the world’s great sacred traditions. Rumi, St. John of the Cross, Lalla, Goethe, Hildegard von Bingen, Dogen, Khayyam, and many others gather together within these pages to sing their ecstatic songs.

Ivan M. Granger accompanies each poem with his own reflections and meditative commentaries, inviting us to explore the insights and private raptures of these mystics, seers, and saints-until we too are swept up in this dance of bliss!


Available soon through Amazon, Barnes & Noble,
and by request through your local bookseller

 

This book is a treasure, a feast, an oasis. Ivan M. Granger’s profound gift for selecting the kind of poetry that lights up the cave of the heart and melts the boundaries between the soul and the Divine is fully met by his lucid reflections on the soul-transfiguring power of each piece in this magnificent collection.
     ~ MIRABAI STARR, author of God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity & Islam


To purchase a special pre-order copy of This Dance of Bliss click here or the ‘Purchase’ link above for payment through PayPal.

     If you prefer to pay by check or money order, you can mail it to:

     Poetry Chaikhana
     PO Box 2320
     Boulder, CO 80306

Shipping and handling: $4.50 US, $7.50 Canada, $12.00 International.
(Payments should be made in US funds to “Poetry Chaikhana.”
And please don’t forget to include your mailing address.)

All pre-order copies will be shipped as soon as they are available, which will be at the beginning of September.

This Dance of Bliss, Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology, Ivan M. Granger


This Dance of Bliss

Ecstatic Poetry From Around the World
A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

 

Here is a small sampling from This Dance of Bliss.

You can read more by clicking here: Read More:
Table of Contents + Introduction + Sample Poems




A hundred flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
the breeze in summer, in winter snow.
When the mind is unclouded,
this is the best season of life.


Wu Men

IMG


A hundred flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
the breeze in summer, in winter snow.

The shifting seasons against the living canvas of the world invite us to notice the cycles of life, how everything flows and changes and returns again. Because the world is filled with life, nothing remains the same. Everything grows and changes and comes around again renewed.

When the mind is unclouded…

Watching that flow, we witness such beauty. But we can only truly see it we let the mind quiet and become clear.

In such moments, a fullness of the soul overwhelms us. We become creatures of silent delight, content and complete in ourselves as we watch the parade of life’s seasons move past, leaving us fully alive in this very moment.

…this is the best season of life.



The sum total of our life is a breath
spent in the company of the Beloved.

Abu-Said Abil-Kheir
English version by Vraje Abramian




I find it intriguing that “breath” and “life” and “spirit” are synonyms in many languages. When you read sacred writings and the word “spirit” is used, substitute the word “breath” and see how the meaning changes and expands.

The relationship between breath, life, and spirit is more profound than the observation that the living breathe and the dead do not.

We think in terms of borders and boundaries, constantly noting what separates ourselves, mentally and physically, from everything else. But the reality is that there is a constant flow of awareness across those borders. Every one of us has the unseen movement of the breath. Through the breath, what is outside comes inside. What is non-self becomes self. And what was self is released again out into the world. This is communion, nothing less.

That inbreath of yours is the outbreath of another. The air we breathe is the breath of all.

A deep breath opens the chest and expands the heart. A full breath requires us to feel. We feel ourselves, and we feel others. Feeling, too, is communion. When feeling is shut down, the breath is shut down, and life has become limited.

The current of the breath continuously teaches us that the boundaries of self exist only in the mental map. In reality, we flow out into the universe, and the universe flows back in. The only way to secure our borders is to stop breathing, which is, of course, death. Life requires breath, and we live in each other, within the same shared breath.

When we really breathe, we might just come to the same conclusion as the poet: An individual’s lifetime may be brief or long, the experiences of life may be lasting or fleeting, but this communal breath-life-spirit in which we participate is the very breath of the Beloved.




Whoever finds love
beneath hurt and grief
disappears into emptiness
with a thousand new disguises

Rumi
English version by Coleman Barks

 


Ivan M. Granger writes as though God is looking over his shoulder. He inspires appreciation of the literature of awakening as he inspires the reader’s own heart awakening. This anthology features poetic masterpieces from around the world, each one revealing the profound interconnectedness of all things. The comments accompanying each selection are direct and engaging, unfolding layers of meaning, further enhancing the themes of union, interconnection, and non-separation.”
     ~ JERRY KATZ, editor of One: Essential Writings on Nonduality


This Dance of Bliss, Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology, Ivan M. Granger


This Dance of Bliss

Ecstatic Poetry From Around the World
A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

Ivan M. Granger Consider purchasing a pre-order copy of This Dance of Bliss in support of the Poetry Chaikhana!

And thank you to everyone for all of the encouragement and support along the way!

Ivan

2 responses so far

Aug 20 2018

Adventures in Book Publishing

Preparing this book has been a journey. The editing and proofreading of a book always requires more than I anticipate. When I send out the Poetry Chaikhana poem emails, I regularly have a few type-os and misspelled or even missing words. You all know that. That’s frustrating to me when I notice mistakes only after I’ve sent the emails out. I like to tell myself those imperfections add to the charm of the emails, letting you know that it’s a real person sending out these emails, a person who is sometimes so enthusiastic for the material that he doesn’t always reread his own notes carefully before hitting the Send button. But I don’t think I can make the same argument when expanding and preparing that material of publication in a book. Taking that original material and preparing it for book form requires extensive work to edit and proofread the material. (Several volunteers from the Poetry Chaikhana community helped greatly with the final stages of the proofreading – thank you!)

I also have to go through the patient process of acquiring all of the necessary reprint permissions. Yes, it’s true that most of the poems I feature are several centuries old, but the translations are usually recent, and those translations are still under copyright. Many publishers charge a fee to grant reprint permissions, which add up in expense when we are talking about a few dozen poems. When I cannot get the reprint permissions for free, I have to decide if I should no longer include a poem in the collection, after all. In other cases, I create my own translation, tracking down the poem in its original language, and spending days or weeks with the poem. (While frustrating to my planned schedule, this often ends up being the most satisfying path. Translating the poem myself allows me to spend time with it, noticing its subtleties and wordplay that are not always apparent to me in other translations.)

It is not small concern to decide on poem order for the book. I look for a sense of related theme and flow as I turn the pages and move from poem to poem. I found myself spending weeks arranging and rearranging the poems, grouping them one way and then another until they all seemed happy with their immediate neighbors in the book.

I had an adventure tracking down the wonderful cover photo of the Mevlana Sufi dancer dissolving into water as he spins. I found the image online early in the process of designing the cover, but the photographer’s web page was out of date and his contact information was no longer valid. I researched him online and discovered that he was a Turkish photographer who lived and worked in Istanbul, but I couldn’t find recent contact information. Eventually I began to talk with a friend who has designed book covers for other authors to see if he could help with my book cover, since my primary design idea had reached a wall. The price he quoted me for his work, while reasonable, was still beyond my range, however. He then said that maybe he could help with the cover image I had been seeking. I gave him the information I had about the image and the photographer. A few days later he said that the same image was available through a photography clearinghouse website. All I needed to do was to pay a small fee, and I could have commercial reprint permissions for the image, which I gladly did. I never managed to connect with the photographer directly, but his lovely image – both dynamic and meditative – now adorns the cover of This Dance of Bliss. Thank you, wherever you are!

Of course, the cover wasn’t done. I designed the rest of the cover around the image of the Sufi dancer. I had to decide on patterns and framing and colors. Fonts and font sizes had to be selected for the cover. All of the elements had to be placed and repositioning them countless times, until I felt I had a pleasing balance of everything.

Within the manuscript itself, I also had to decide on fonts and formatting. I wanted the fonts to be legible and pleasing to the eye. I also wanted the poems to stand out visually from the commentary text, but not contrast in a way that creates visual harmony. I tried to avoid a regimented placement of the poem on the page. Some poems are short and have room to find the right location on the blank page. A few are mischievous and want align to the right or hide at the bottom. Others are meditative and sit at the center of the page. With the few longer poems, I don’t want to have the page break in the middle of a verse, yet it needs to be visually clear that it is still the same poem that has leisurely taken up residence on several pages. Each poem has a personality and its placement should reflect that.

As the book nears completion, there are several further details necessary for publication. I have to purchase and register the ISBN number, so bookstores can carry it and the new book is recognized by the mainstream world of publishing and book distribution. That ISBN barcode has to be incorporated into the back cover of the book, as well. I have to confirm that the book’s formatting meets the printer’s requirements. After sending the files to the printer, I went through a couple of rounds of having them send me printed proof copies before the last minor issues were resolved.

And here we are! The challenges, unplanned delays, and extra work were all worth it. We now have a new book which I hope will inspire and delight. I am pleased to welcome it into the world!

This Dance of Bliss

This Dance of Bliss, Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology, Ivan M. Granger


This Dance of Bliss

Ecstatic Poetry From Around the World
A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

Ivan M. Granger Consider purchasing a pre-order copy of This Dance of Bliss in support of the Poetry Chaikhana!

And thank you to everyone for all of the encouragement and support along the way!

Ivan

No responses yet

Aug 15 2018

New Anthology Almost Ready

I know, I haven’t sent a poem out for the last couple of weeks. The reason is that I have been deep into the final edits on the printed proof of the new Poetry Chaikhana anthology.

The new book will be called This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World. Here’s an advanced glimpse at the cover:

I’m so pleased with how it is coming together. I hope you will be too. Like the previous Poetry Chaikhana anthology, This Dance of Bliss will feature historical sacred poets along with a few contemporary voices. Rumi, St. John of the Cross, Lalla, Goethe, Hildegard von Bingen, Dogen, Khayyam, and many other favorites. Each poem is accompanied by the same sort of short meditations, musings, and commentaries you know so well from these emails. I will share more of a sampling from the book soon.

Several of you have already asked about pre-ordering copies of the book and, yes, I will be making this new anthology available for pre-orders very soon. Pre-ordered copies will come with a discount and a few other extras. Stay tuned!

As I bring this new anthology to publication, I may not be able maintain my normal weekly pattern with these poem emails. I am also trying to keep my work hours up at my day job, which is not always an easy balance, so sometimes these poem emails have had to wait. But the new book is very nearly ready — and then we call all join in on this dance of bliss!

One response so far

Aug 08 2018

New Anthology Book Cover

Last week I received the printed proof copy of the new Poetry Chaikhana anthology, and I am now deep into reading it and making final edits to the text.

Here’s an advanced peek at the cover–

3 responses so far

Jul 31 2018

Book Update

I have been very focused on completing the new Poetry Chaikhana anthology. I recently registered the ISBN number for the new book. That’s probably a detail only a publisher finds satisfaction in, but that is one of the last few steps to having a final “official” publication. Printed proof copies are on the way for final review and any last changes. Stay tuned for an official announcement soon!

No responses yet

Jul 05 2018

Poems Once a Week (for now)

I have shifted to a rhythm of sending out poems once a week. Partly this is because I am dedicating more of my available time to completion of the new anthology. The other reason is purely financial. Recently, I shifted over to a new emailing service for these poetry emails. All seems to be going well, and they solved several technical issues that I had dealing with for some time. While their price is reasonable for higher volume of emails, they have an offer that saves considerable expense if I send out these emails once a week.

For both reasons, one email a week makes sense for now. Let me know what you think. Is one poem email per week enough? Or is it worth a bit of extra expense to switch back to several emails per week, once the new anthology is available?

5 responses so far

Jun 27 2018

New Anthology Update & Request for Help with Proofreading

The new Poetry Chaikhana anthology is now at a point that I can tell you a bit more about it. The manuscript is complete and I have all of the necessary poem permissions. It is now in the final stages of editing. I now am putting the final touches on the book cover design.

It is taking its final form.

The next step is to do a final proofreading. Since the anthology includes my commentary and poet biographies, as well as the poems themselves, there is a plenty to review (and plenty to enjoy as a reader!). Volunteer proofreaders were a great help with the previous anthology-I’d love to ask once again for your help. Ideally, I would like half a dozen or more people, and I will send each person a small section of pages to look over. You don’t need to be a professional proofreader, but it helps to have a keen eye, a solid sense of English grammar, and maybe just a drop of OCD.

I will gladly send a copy of the new anthology as a thank you for your help when it is published.

If you’d like to help with the proofreading, please let me know by sending me a note at ivan@poetry-chaikhana.com. Thank you so much!

Once the proofreading is done, I still have some marketing and publishing details to take care of, and then the book goes to the printers-and we have our new book!

2 responses so far

Jun 27 2018

The Story of Tea

I often get asked what a “chaikhana” is. The short answer is that it is a tea house. (Chai = tea). The inevitable second question is, why a “poetry chaikhana”? What does poetry, especially sacred poetry, have to do with tea? The act of sipping tea naturally has a contemplative quality to it, but there’s a deeper reason why I chose the name Poetry Chaikhana all those years ago. It was inspired by a Sufi story–


/ Photo by Doubtful-Della /

The Story of Tea

In ancient times, tea was not known outside China. Rumours of its existence had reached the wise and the unwise of other countries, and each tried to find out what it was in accordance with what he wanted or what he thought it should be.

The King of Inja (‘here’) sent an embassy to China, and they were given tea by the Chinese Emperor. But, since they saw that the peasants drank it too, they concluded that it was not fit for their royal master: and, furthermore, that the Chinese Emperor was trying to deceive them, passing off some other substance for the celestial drink.

The greatest philosopher of Anja (‘there’) collected all the information he could about tea, and concluded that it must be a substance which existed but rarely, and was of another order than anything then known. For was it not referred to as being an herb, a water, green, black, sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet?

In the countries of Koshish and Bebinem, for centuries the people tested all the herbs they could find. Many were poisoned, all were disappointed. For nobody had brought the tea-plant to their lands, and thus they could not find it. They also drank all the liquids which they could find, but to no avail.

In the territory of Mazhab (‘Sectarianism’) a small bag of tea was carried in procession before the people as they went on their religious observances. Nobody thought of tasting it: indeed, nobody knew how. All were convinced that the tea itself had a magical quality. A wise man said: ‘Pour upon it boiling water, ye ignorant ones!’ They hanged him and nailed him up, because to do this, according to their belief, would mean the destruction of their tea. This showed that he was an enemy of their religion.

Before he died, he had told his secret to a few, and they managed to obtain some tea and drink it secretly. When anyone said: ‘What are you doing?’ they answered: ‘It is but medicine which we take for a certain disease.’

And so it was throughout the world. Tea had actually been seen growing by some, who did not recognize it. It had been given to others to drink, but they thought it the beverage of the common people. It had been in the possession of others, and they worshipped it. Outside China, only a few people actually drank it, and those covertly.

Then came a man of knowledge, who said to the merchants of tea, and the drinkers of tea, and to others: ‘He who tastes, knows. He who tastes not, knows not. Instead of talking about the celestial beverage, say nothing, but offer it at your banquets. Those who like it will ask for more. Those who do not, will show that they are not fitted to be tea-drinkers. Close the shop of argument and mystery. Open the teahouse of experience.’

The tea was brought from one stage to another along the Silk Road, and whenever a merchant carrying jade or gems or silk would pause to rest, he would make tea, and offer it to such people as were near him, whether they were aware of the repute of tea or not. This was the beginning of the Chaikhanas, the teahouses which were established all the way from Peking to Bokhara and Samarkand. And those who tasted, knew.

At first, mark well, it was only the great and the pretended men of wisdom who sought the celestial drink and who also exclaimed: ‘But this is only dried leaves!’ or: ‘Why do you boil water, stranger, when all I want is the celestial drink?’, or yet again: ‘How do I know that this is? Prove it to me. Besides the colour of the liquid is not golden, but ochre!’

When the truth was known, and when the tea was brought for all who would taste, the roles were reversed, and the only people who said things like the great and intelligent had said were the absolute fools. And such is the case to this day.

– Ayn al-Qozat Hamadani (1098 – 1131)

Tales of the Dervishes: Teaching Stories of the Sufi Masters over the Past Thousand Years
by Idries Shah

In this way, I hope the poems and thoughts I share through the Poetry Chaikhana bring a hint of that celestial drink to your lips. These are poems not to be praised for mere artistry, not to be worshipped from afar, not to be exclusively studied or analyzed. These are poems to be tasted. They are meant to be imbibed until we feel warmth in the belly and sweetness in the heart.

‘He who tastes, knows. He who tastes not, knows not… Close the shop of argument and mystery. Open the teahouse of experience.’

Have a beautiful day! I think I’m going to go to the local teahouse and order a tall glass of tea!

2 responses so far

May 30 2018

Upcoming Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

I know I have been mentioning it for quite some time, but I have been making some small but steady steps of progress with the next Poetry Chaikhana anthology, to be called This Dance of Bliss. I am entering the final phase of editing. I hope to be able to announce its availability later this summer or early autumn. I’ll give you more updates soon.

No responses yet

May 30 2018

Hiatus and Health

My apologies for the unannounced hiatus in posting these poems. I went through a rather challenging bout of chronic fatigue/ME and I needed to gather my energies together to keep basic hours with my day job as a computer programmer. But I seem to be on the rebound now and I hope these posts will be more regular again.

One response so far

Apr 04 2018

birthday wishes

Thank you for the many birthday emails and Facebook messages I received. It is my forty-ninth year to heaven, to paraphrase Dylan Thomas. Hopefully, that means I am a year wiser and a year kinder, as well. Certainly, I am a year richer in companionship, since I count all of you as friends and fellow-travellers. And I hope we are all growing in timelessness, which is the real yardstick.

2 responses so far

Feb 23 2018

Spirituality, Poetry, and the Florida Shootings

I have intentionally waited to share any new poetry following the terrible mass shooting in Florida. I wanted to give everyone time to recover from the shock (though, sadly, these experiences have become so frequent in the US that they are a little less shocking each time they happen), and to allow your thoughts and responses to this latest massacre to take shape.

I can’t ignore horrifying events like the Florida shooting. I feel the need to address them directly in these emails and blog posts. If don’t, it feels strangely disconnected, as if I am pretending that everything is just fine.

In moments like this, I am not a fan of the “all is light” school of spirituality. While that is definitely a foundational truth — all of existence is an expression of the universal light, and this can be witnessed directly — there is a tendency to use these ideas superficially as a way to dismiss our discomforts and to not engage with our lives.

I believe that spirituality, and art, for that matter, must directly address the whole of human experience, including the horrifying and the traumatic, in order to be fit food for the spirit. Just as much as we need our eyes turned toward the stars, we need our feet on the ground, with our hands reaching out to help. We are not meant to float off to heaven. We are meant to bridge heaven and earth within ourselves. Perceptions and beliefs and the conscience want expression through us, through our lives, our words, our actions.

It is not fulfilling to turn to our spirituality or religion as a place to get away and get godly, or to get another “hit of bliss.” Real spirituality is about truth, reality, life. It encompasses everything, helping us to encounter life with a fullness of awareness and a true sense of who we really are and what we are capable of. Real spirituality is not about escape, it is about being present. It teaches us to drop our comfortable illusions and see clearly. It invites us to open our minds and our hearts. It challenges us to be the full beings we are, not the limited survivors we imagine ourselves to be.

And, when society is not embodying its highest ideals, real spirituality demands that we embody our own divine nature even more brightly, knowing that through interaction, communication, and the resonance of one’s being, society must respond and integrate each of us within the whole. What else is spirituality but finding that divine spark within ourselves, recognizing the same spark in everyone else, and then living by that truth courageously?

2 responses so far

Next »