Apr 25 2014
and though we seem
to be sleeping
there is an inner wakefulness
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.
During the past year, many of you have sent generous donations, either single donations or steady monthly donations, and it is such a great help — but I need to ask more of you to join in and support the Poetry Chaikhana. It is still challenging to dedicate as much time and energy as I do each week and still meet my family’s basic financial needs. As amazing as it sounds, more than 9,000 people are receiving this email! Together we can cover the expenses of one person (me) dedicating part of each day to sharing this amazing poetry.
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 thought you might find it interesting…
I often start my morning off with a meditation, and then I see which poem seems eager to speak that day. I let my computer suggest a poem at random, and then I try to sense if the poem is “right” for the day. Some mornings I select the first poem that comes up. Other days I’ll spend an hour sorting through possibilities. I try to make sure I have a good balance of spiritual traditions represented over the month. I also make a point of including women’s voices regularly. Occasionally I look for a series of poems that follow a sacred theme or metaphor.
Once I’ve selected the daily poem, I 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 find a music CD. And I select a card from the Dharma Gaia Card folks.
Then I update the Poetry Chaikhana home page and post the poem and commentary to the Poetry Chaikhana blog. I spend a while adding new sign-ups and removing cancellations from the email list. Finally, I format everything and send out the poem email.
The Poetry Chaikhana poem email now goes out to more than 9,000 people! It takes my computer more than 4 hours to send the poem email out each day.
Most days I also select a short poem or excerpt to post on the Poetry Chaikhana Facebook page. Sometimes two posts. I often post accompanying artwork, as well. We’ve got another 5,000 fans there.
I spend time each month looking for new voices of wisdom in books and on the Internet. I try to add new poems and poets regularly. I’ve become quite a speedy typist!
Some weeks I also have to spend time maintaining and troubleshooting the Poetry Chaikhana database and website. Occasionally, I have to wrangle with spam-blocker sites to convince them that the Poetry Chaikhana emails are not spam.
I get dozens of emails each week, sometimes hundreds — which I love! I read every email and, when I can, I send responses.
…And then I start my day job. Whew!
/ Photo by woodleywonderworks /
Around the World
The results of that work is amazing to me. The Poetry Chaikhana has become a community that reaches across the globe.
Since the beginning of 2008 (when I first started tracking web statistics), the Poetry Chaikhana has had visits from more than 220 different countries and territories! Continue Reading »