Feb 01 2015
I was going through some old files on my computer, and I found this art project I worked on several years ago. I thought I’d share it with you…
Feb 01 2015
I was going through some old files on my computer, and I found this art project I worked on several years ago. I thought I’d share it with you…
Jan 08 2015
I recently spoke with Jerry Katz of Nonduality Talk Radio about sacred poetry, The Longing in Between, and the relationship between poetry, language, and nondual awareness. I read a few poems, of course, and share my thoughts on the alchemical nature of sacred poetry, and also explain my personal approach as to why I comment on sacred poetry in the unusual ways that I do. The interview officially aired on January 7.
You can listen to the full one hour interview online at:
00:00 – 5:10 Introduction. Purpose and nature of Poetry Chaikhana. Ivan’s perspective on sacred poetry as personal, conversational, and mystically inclined.
5:10 – 7:56 Ivan’s view of sacred poetry as alchemical more than intellectual.
7:56 – 16:52 What is sacred poetry? Ivan reads a poem and comments.
16:52 – 20:28 Coleman Barks discussed. Ivan’s desire to introduce the public to great sacred poetry besides the few that are well known such as those by Rumi. How Ivan started the Poetry Chaikhana project.
20:28 – 24:58 Ivan talks about his own poetry and writing journey, especially the nature of metaphors in sacred poetry.
24:58 – 30:24 Ivan reads and discusses a haiku.
30:24 – 38:03 Poet Gabriel Rosenstock discussed and his haiku read and discussed. The centrality of longing within the spiritual journey.
38:03 – 44:45 Poets Dorothy Walters and Elizabeth Reninger discussed. Ivan reads one of Elizabeth’s poems, Bird Bath.
44:45 – 45:40 Ivan talks about doing poetry readings.
45:40 – 49:42 Ivan reads a poem from Lalla and discusses it in relation to his own searching. Longing recognizing itself.
49:42 – 52:41 Ivan reads one of his poems, Parched, and talks about it. He also reads his poem Holy Ground and expands on its meaning in relation to the experience of emptiness rather than a structure of some sort.
52:41 – Ivan talks about sacred poetry as culturally important, especially with regard to religion, as it lets one see the mystic heart of all religions. Closing words and music.
Dec 03 2014
I have received so many wonderful and warm-hearted responses to The Longing in Between via email — which have touched me deeply. I would love to introduce this anthology to a wider readership, to people who may have never heard of the Poetry Chaikhana. One of the best ways to do that is through reader reviews posted to key book sites online. If you already have a copy of The Longing in Between and want to encourage more people to discover it, consider going to one of these sites and sharing your thoughts about the book:
Mostly, I hope the book speaks to you in some important way!
Dec 03 2014
Several of you asked when The Longing in Between would be available in ebook form for the Kindle. Well, the answer is today! Here is the link.
Depending on interest, I may also release the new anthology in other ebook formats, like iBook, Nook, and Kobo. If you would like to read The Longing in Between in one of these formats, please let me know.
Dec 03 2014
If you are in the Boulder/Longmont area of Colorado this weekend, I invite you to come by for a poetry reading and book signing I will be doing in celebration of the publication of The Longing in Between.
It will be held on Saturday at 2:00 pm at a cozy community coffee shop called La Vita Bella at 475 Main St. in downtown Longmont. Come by and say hello in person. Here are more event details: https://www.facebook.com/events/656145737831417/
See you there!
Dec 01 2014
I realized this weekend that Thanksgiving has already come and gone and I haven’t yet sent out my annual list of poetry book recommendations for the holidays. It’s time I got on the ball, don’t you agree?
I put together this list of book recommendations for the holidays as a reminder that books of sacred poetry make wonderful gifts of the heart.
Here is a a holiday sampler to consider as gifts for you and your loved ones:
To satisfy that longing (or awaken it)…
|Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey
Sacred Poetry from Around the World
(A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology)
Edited with Commentary by Ivan M. Granger
We have to celebrate the publication of The Longing in Between by listing it first!
This is a delightful collection of soul-inspiring poems from the world’s great religious and spiritual traditions, accompanied by Ivan M. Granger’s meditative thoughts and commentary. Rumi, Whitman, Issa, Teresa of Avila, Dickinson, Blake, Lalla, and many others. These are poems of seeking and awakening… and the longing in between.
“The Longing in Between… presents some of the choicest fruit from the flowering of mystics across time, across traditions and from around the world. After each of the poems in this anthology Ivan M. Granger shares his reflections and contemplations, inviting the reader to new and deeper views of the Divine Presence. This is a grace-filled collection which the reader will gladly return to over and over again.”
~ LAWRENCE EDWARDS, Ph.D. author of Awakening Kundalini and Kali’s Bazaar
For the modern mystic…
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.”
|For the poetic cryptozoologist…
It sounds strange, I know, but this collection of short poems, told from the perspective of a solitary sasquatch, gives us a truly profound meditation on nature and humanity, isolation and connection, perception and mind… with moments of stunning beauty and occasional laughter. You can never go wrong with Gabriel Rosenstock.
For the eclectic seeker…
|The Essential Mystics: Selections from the World’s Great Wisdom Traditions
Edited by Andrew Harvey
An excellent anthology from Andrew Harvey. Poetry and brief excerpts from sacred writings among many world traditions: primal cultures, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Ancient Greece, Christianity, and Islam. Open to any random page and you’ll find an uplifting verse, saying, explanation, or wisdom story.
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.
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.
A lovely, insightful meditation of the poetry of Rilke and why it speaks so powerfully to us today. Recommended for any fan of Rilke.
|Soul Food: Nourishing Poems for Starved Minds
Edited by Neil Astley and Pamela Robertson-Pearce
I came across this collection by accident, through a random recommendation on the Internet — and it has quickly become a favorite! A rich, tasty mixture of poetry by ancient and modern visionaries, from Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry to Kabir and Dogen, and several you may not have heard of before. Open to any page and discover a new treasure.
A little Zen in your pocket…
|The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhalla Library)
Edited by Sam Hamill and 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 Jewish mystic…
|The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition
Translated and Annotated by Peter Cole
Finally we have a truly excellent collection of sacred Jewish poetry. While T. Carmi’s Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse is more comprehensive, Cole’s The Poetry of Kabbalah has more of a poet’s sense of language and even catches of few sparks from the mystic’s fire. This is poetry that startles and transports. The Poetry of Kabbalah has become my favorite source for Jewish mystical poetry in English. Very highly recommended.
For the Christian contemplative…
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.
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…
I read this book early in my exploration of Sufi poetry — and I was hooked! Abu Said Abil-Kheir’s poetry ranges from the ecstatic and celestial, to struggles with abandonment. His poetry has an immediacy and even a sort of devoutly wry petulance. This book remains a personal favorite of mine.
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.
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.
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 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!
Nov 13 2014
Hi All –
Several large boxes of The Longing in Between arrived on my doorstep yesterday afternoon. And the book is now officially available and ready to order, either direct from the printer or through Amazon (including Amazon UK and other international Amazon sites).
I’m really pleased with how well this book has come together. It has a beautiful cover with inspired artwork by Alice Popkorn. The book just feels good in my hands. I may be a bit biased, though. 🙂
It is my sincere hope that this new anthology carries with it a sense of blessing, peace, and inspiration for everyone who reads it.
For everyone who pre-ordered a copy of the new anthology, I will be signing them and mailing them out over the next few days. You should be receiving them soon!
“The Longing in Between is a work of sheer beauty. Many of the selected poems are not widely known, and Ivan M. Granger has done a great service, not only by bringing them to public attention, but by opening their deeper meaning with his own rare poetic and mystic sensibility.”
~ ROGER HOUSDEN, author of the best-selling Ten Poems to Change Your Life series
Without even formulating a complete sentence, Irish poet Gabriel Rosenstock gives us the whole spiritual endeavor–rootedness and aspiration, life, light, a terrible void, and the aching heart that impels us onward.
The longing in between…
Each poem in this collection is born of that same longing–the crisis of longing and its resolution.
If longing poses the question, then union is the answer.
This vibrant tension between longing and union reminds me of a story told by the 10th century Persian Sufi master Junayd. When asked why spiritually realized masters weep, he responded by telling of two brothers who had been apart for years. Upon their reunion, they embraced and were filled with tears. The first brother declared, “What longing!” to which the second brother replied, “What joy!” Longing and fulfillment, the one is not separate from the other.
The mystic maps the territory between the soul and God, between lover and Beloved, between the little self and the true Self, between the transitory and the Eternal. The road connecting these is the road of longing. Mysticism is the science of longing.
The poems gathered in these pages speak to us of seeking and awakening… and the longing in between…
“Ivan M. Granger has woven these poems into a tapestry of great wisdom with his reflection on each poem. I can imagine each poem and commentary furnishing the basis for a daily meditation. I would recommend this anthology to lovers of poetry, to mystics, and to explorers of the spiritual life.”
~ HARVEY GILMAN, author of Consider the Blackbird and A Light that is Shining: An Introduction to Quakers
Additional Ways to Support this Anthology
If you have already purchased a copy and want to support the book in other ways, here are a few suggestions:
Give The Longing in Between as a gift
My wife knows me pretty well… most of the time she gives me books as gifts. The Longing in Between makes a wonderful gift for the book-lovers in your life. (The recent snow in our area remind me that the holidays are coming quickly.)
Ask your local bookstore to carry The Longing in Between
I think The Longing in Between will have great appeal to people who have never heard of me or the Poetry Chaikhana before. I’d love to have this collection of poems on local bookstore shelves, just waiting to be discovered by the right browsers.
I am only just beginning to explore what a publisher must do to get books carried in bookstores, and with my available time an energy I can’t rush through the process. But you can help. Consider asking your favorite local bookstore to carry The Longing in Between among their books. Customer demand always gets their attention. This anthology has a natural appeal to metaphysical bookstores, poetry bookstores, and open-minded church/ashram/mosque/temple bookstores. If the folks at your bookstore ask, The Longing in Between is available for wholesale distribution through Ingram.
Poetry Reading and Book Signing Event
On the afternoon of Saturday, December 6, I will be doing a reading and book signing event at a cozy little coffee shop in Longmont, Colorado. If you happen to be in the area, please come by and say hello! I feel I know so many of you through the emails we share, but I have only met a handful of you in person. This is a perfect opportunity to see who this Ivan fellow is face-to-face.
Date & Time
Saturday, Dec. 6
La Vita Bella Coffee Shop
475 Main St.
Longmont, CO 80501
If my energies allow it, I hope to schedule more readings in the future. Let me know if you have any suggestions for locations.
Once again, thank you, everyone, for all of your support and encouragement in bringing this book into being!
Oct 14 2014
I am expecting to receive a print proof copy of The Longing in Between any day now, and I am so pleased. The cover is beautiful, with artwork by AlicePopkorn. Even the way the text is laid out on the page is lovely and meditative. Most of all, I hope you will find the poems and commentary to carry the same sense of inspiration and exploration you expect from these emails and blog posts. The Longing in Between is something I have been working toward since I created the Poetry Chaikhana more than ten years ago. This has only been made possible through the encouragement and long-term support of all of you. I offer my heartfelt thanks! Time to celebrate!
While I was proud of Real Thirst, which I published a few years back, in many ways I saw it as a preliminary run for this and future Poetry Chaikhana anthologies. Unlike Real Thirst, The Longing in Between is not a collection of my own poems. This new book is an anthology of the amazing sacred poetry, classical and contemporary, that you receive in the Poetry Chaikhana emails each week. And each poem is accompanied by my own thoughts and commentary — something people kept telling me they missed in Real Thirst. In other words, The Longing in Between is a collection of favorites from past Poetry Chaikhana emails and blog posts, but edited, refined, and expanded for this new book. And The Longing in Between has twice as many pages as Real Thirst! There is plenty to savor and contemplate in this new anthology.
If you would like to find out more, I just posted further information about The Longing in Between, including the table of contents and some excerpts from the book. Click here to read more…
Pre-Order through Oct. 15 (or thereabout)
I want to remind everyone that tomorrow is the last official day to pre-order your copy of The Longing in Between. I say it is the last “official” date because, unofficially, I can accept pre-orders through the end of Saturday, October 18.
Why pre-order the book? Well, you get a discounted price. I will also hand sign your copy before mailing it out. Most of all, your pre-order helps to cover the initial publishing expenses, which is a big help. Of course, The Longing in Between will be available through normal channels after its publication date in early November.
Again, thank you, everyone, for all of your help and encouragement along the way. I consider this book to be a real community accomplishment!
Sep 24 2014
I am so pleased to announce the upcoming publication of the new Poetry Chaikhana anthology, The Longing In Between. The final touches are being added now, and we have a publication date of early November.
The Longing In Between is a new collection poems by beloved classical sacred poets and a few modern visionaries — accompanied by my own thoughts, meditations, personal stories, and commentary.
As much as I love the immediacy of emails and the personal connection they allow, emails are fleeting. Particularly loved emails may get saved for a while, but inevitably they fade into the ethers. The Longing In Between gathers together poems and commentary from favorite Poetry Chaikhana emails, expanded and refined — in book form. For me, nothing can compare with the satisfaction of leaning back in a chair while leisurely turning the pages of a beloved book. I build relationships with books in ways that no email or website can approach. I really hope The Longing In Between will invite you into that sort of literary friendship.
I am announcing The Longing In Between early because the Poetry Chaikhana is offering a special pre-order deal. If your purchase a copy before October 15th–
To purchase a special pre-order copy of The Longing In Between 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:
PO Box 2320
Boulder, CO 80306
(Payments should be made to “Poetry Chaikhana.” US funds, please!
And please don’t forget to include your mailing address.)
“Ivan M. Granger has woven these poems into a tapestry of great wisdom with his reflection on each poem. I can imagine each poem and commentary furnishing the basis for a daily meditation.”
author of Consider the Blackbird and A Light that is Shining
Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt–blessed vision!–
that a fountain flowed
here in my heart.
I said: Why, O water, have you come
along this secret waterway,
spring of new life,
which I have never tasted?
Last night, as I was sleeping,
Last night, as I was sleeping,
Last night, as I was sleeping,
This is my favorite poem by the Spanish poet Antonio Machado. Actually, it is one of my favorite poems, period.
The repeated line, which I have translated as “blessed vision,” has elsewhere been rendered as “marvelous error.” Machado’s actual phrase in Spanish is “bendita ilusión,” but this “illusion” is not an erroneous delusion; it is an illusion in the same sense that a dream or vision is an illusion. It is something intangible, seen and felt but not physically there. I have the feeling that Machado is teasing us by calling the experience a dream, seeing if we are foolish enough to ignore it. Perhaps the poet can’t quite believe the beauty of his vision.
Let’s take just a moment to explore how this poem parallels the mystic’s ecstatic experience…
“The Longing In Between… presents some of the choicest fruit from the flowering of mystics across time, across traditions and from around the world. After each of the poems in this anthology Ivan M. Granger shares his reflections and contemplations, inviting the reader to new and deeper views of the Divine Presence. This is a grace-filled collection which the reader will gladly return to over and over again.”
|LAWRENCE EDWARDS, PH.D.
author of Awakening Kundalini: The Path To Radical Freedom and Kali’s Bazaar
|Consider purchasing a pre-order copy of The Longing In Between and support the Poetry Chaikhana!
And thank you to everyone for all of the encouragement and support along the way!
PS- Happy Equinox and happy New Moon!
May 05 2014
First dawn. Even the
birds in the tallest pines are
surprised by the sun.
~ Ivan M. Granger
I woke up this morning, and thought, Why not do something different to start the week off? Some miscellaneous things for you today…
14 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me
Here are several things about me that may not be very important, but some of you might find interesting —
1. I was born with a caul over my face and torticollis (neck atrophy). My parents were advised by doctors to surgically sever the muscles of my neck. They refused, thankfully. Thanks to my parents’ instincts, I have full mobility in my neck today.
2. I was named after Ivan Karamazov, from Dostoyevski’s Brothers Karmazov. I finally read the book when I was 18. I asked my mother why she named me after that particular brother. She said she always imagined him to be an interesting, deep-thinking intellectual. I said, yes, but you know he goes crazy, right? I mean, I could have been named after the good-hearted, naive mystic, instead.
3. I was once under suspicion for murder. (Why are you looking at me that way? No, I didn’t do it.) The crime took place in a state I’ve never visited. But the suspect did look a lot like me. I spent a very long 30 minutes being grilled by detectives before they released me.
4. When I was in high school, I wrote a short horror story and sent it to Stephen King. He sent back a typed index card saying that he liked the story and made a few friendly suggestions. I also wrote a science fiction novel when I was in my 20s. Never got it published. It’s sitting in the back of one of my closets, somewhere.
5. I got very skinny in my 30s, under 130 lbs (for a someone who stands 5′ 11″ tall). Several years ago I decided to radically alter my energies and I intentionally put on weight in order to be more physically present in the world. I had to train myself to eat more. I even lifted weights. In the space of 8 months, I added nearly 50 lbs to my body.
6. I am the son of hippie parents, yet I have never smoked pot… or drunk alcohol. Not once. (OK, I have had a sip of red wine and I think champagne, and maybe two other drinks — I wanted to know what they tasted like.) It’s not a weird religious thing, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with those things in moderation. For some reason that I don’t understand myself, I made a personal vow not to drink at age 13, and I’ve always stuck with it. On my 21st birthday, I did go to a bar, but mainly because I wanted to finally hear some good live music. A friend met me there and surprised me with a pitcher of beer. I spent all night pretending to drink the beer, but that glass of beer oddly never went down in level. The music was great, though.
7. I went to three universities in three years and graduated from none of them. In my freshman year, I was wait-listed for USC’s school of film. I thought of becoming a movie director, the next Kubrick.
8. I wanted to be Spider-Man as a child.
9. My father lived in Tehran, Iran in the 70s. He was a university professor there, and he left just before the Islamic Revolution kicked into full gear.
10. The only country outside the US I have visited (so far) is Canada. I have not yet been to Europe or India or South America. In all my teenage years in LA, I never crossed the border into Mexico. I have, however, lived in Oregon, California, Hawaii, Washington, and now Colorado. I’ve primarily been an internal traveler. We’ll see if I someday have the opportunity for international travel.
11. I attended a Montessori school as a young child.
12. My wife, Michele, and I lived a few houses away from each other as children in Eugene, Oregon — though we didn’t meet until I was in my 20s. Her family moved out a few months before mine moved in. When we met and started dating as adults, we discovered we have shared childhood memories of all the same places.
13. I can name most of the obscure border crossings throughout Europe. I worked for Rail Europe (in the US) for several years. I eventually moved to the Russian desk; since I could read and write a bit of Russian, part of my job was to fax ticket requests to Moscow.
14. The Greek side of my family can be traced to the island of Chios, near the coast of Turkey. Apparently, I still have distant cousins living on the island.
Some further thoughts on education…
My comments on knowledge and education accompanying Friday’s poem made a few people uncomfortable. To some it sounded as if I was negating the value of education and academic learning, which I really wasn’t trying to do.
I used strong language to make a point about our cultural assumptions. But I should be clear that I am by no means anti-intellectual or blind to the huge value of a good education. In my day job I work as a computer programmer and database designer. I definitely acknowledge the power of a well-exercised intellect that has the ability to think logically and can utilize information effectively. None of that would be possible without a solid education, a few special teachers along the way, and access to good information resources.
When I have a few extra dollars, I tend to buy books. I have shelves filled with books of poetry, history, novels, natural health, and, of course, religion and spirituality.
But– that is still not knowledge in the deep sense.
My real point is that education, books, and the skills of critical thinking can open a life up in profound ways: intellectually, yes, spiritually, professionally, socially, in so many ways. I think it’s hugely important and sometimes undervalued in general American culture and in government priorities. At the same time, we idolize this form of cognition and forget that, for all of its potential, it has significant limitations which causes blind spots within both the individual and in society. Real knowledge, full knowledge, comes from a deeper place within the awareness.
Having a good education with a keen intellect is like having the most powerful computer in the office. You can do amazing things with it. Creative things. Productive things. Or pointless things. Or even destructive things. It all depends on the operator. There are lots of reasons to acquire a capable computer, but we tend to forget that much more important is real knowledge of how — and why — to use it at all.
I strongly support education, intellect, and critical thinking, just not becoming lost within them. I value the intellect but, personally, I tend to value wisdom more and the knowing heart most of all. The question is not which to choose and which to reject, but how to develop them all in proportion and balance.
Once more, thank you so much for the many generous donations sent in support of the Poetry Chaikhana. I’ll have a few more names to thank in upcoming emails.
To everyone who has sent a donation so far, your help makes a huge difference!
The warbler knows
only dawn’s shaft
on her breast.
Forgetting false future
suns, she sings
in no voice
but her own.
~ Ivan M. Granger
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 »
Mar 24 2014
The book lovers on the Poetry Chaikhana may have noticed over the past couple of weeks that book links in the poem emails and on the Poetry Chaikhana website now usually go to Abe Books rather than Amazon.
Amazon is in a fight with several state governments over sales taxes. One of those states is Colorado, where I live. Amazon has decided to fight back by revoking all sales commissions earned by the Poetry Chaikhana because of that Colorado residency. Amazon book sales no longer benefit the Poetry Chaikhana.
For that reason, I have switched the Poetry Chaikhana book links to work with Abe Books. The site may seem unfamiliar at first, but in many ways it is much better. Abe is a network of independent booksellers from all around the world. Each time you click on a Poetry Chaikhana book link, you will find a listing of the best prices available in both new and used editions — and you are supporting small booksellers in the process. And because some of the poetry books I feature are obscure and hard-to-find, Abe’s independent bookseller network is more likely to have copies available.
One significant exception: I am still listing the Poetry Chaikhana’s publications, like Real Thirst, through Amazon, however. I know that sounds contradictory, but there are technical benefits for doing so.
The next time you come across an amazing poem that just sings to you and you want to purchase the book it was published in, please try the Poetry Chaikhana link, and buy a copy from the Abe Books list. You will be supporting the Poetry Chaikhana, poetry publishers, and independent booksellers.
Jan 06 2014
I’ve dropped hints for quite I while that I am working on a Poetry Chaikhana anthology — and it is finally at a point that I think I can say a little more about it…
Balancing my available time and energies has meant a patient approach, but the anthology is beginning to take shape. I now have many of the necessary reprint permissions, and I expect to receive approval soon for several others.
(Why are permissions even necessary? While most of the original poetry selections are in many cases hundreds of years old and in the public domain, the English translations are recent. Those translations are creative works in their own right, which are copyrighted and require reprint permission from the poem’s translator or publisher.)
As the final permissions come in, the anthology is beginning to take its final form.
The next step will then be editing. Since the anthology will include a number of my commentaries. For those of you who have been reading my commentaries for a while, you know that I sometimes leap from idea to idea rather abruptly. And I include a generous seasoning of grammatical errors and misspellings for flavor. So I’m not planning to rush through the editing process.
Then comes final proofreading. When I get to that stage, I may ask for a handful of volunteers to help with the proofreading. The proofreaders for Real Thirst were such a big help a couple years ago.
At that point, I make final layout choices, design the books cover, and handle all of the necessary publishing details, like assign an ISBN number.
The last step sending it off to the printer.
And then we have our book!
I’m aiming for a Spring publication date. Summer at the latest. So mark your calendars!
I genuinely hope everyone will find something special in this upcoming anthology!
Dec 18 2013
The initial printing of this card set sold out quickly at the beginning of the month, but we now have more. With such an enthusiastic response, there is a chance that they will sell out a second time — so place your order soon if you want to make sure to receive a set.
Dec 04 2013
Fierce Eye, Gentle Heart – Card Sales!
Wow! The interest in the Fierce Eye, Gentle Heart Card Set has been fantastic! In less than 2 days we’ve already sold out of our initial printing!
But don’t worry — if you have placed an order or want to place an order, I am working with the printer to have more cards ready as soon as possible. They should be available in one to two weeks. Since this card set is a new item, I didn’t anticipate how hugely popular it would be, and so I ordered too few cards initially. But more are coming soon!
If you are interested in receiving a set of these cards in December, place your order soon, and I will do everything I can to get them to you on time.
Several of you have asked about shipping outside the US. As of yesterday, the PayPal order form has been updated to with international shipping prices. So please feel free to order from the UK, Australia, India, Pakistan… I can’t absolutely guarantee that international deliveries will arrive before the end of the year, but I’ll do my best to make it possible.
I have received a few questions from people who would like to order but prefer not to use PayPal. You can always send a check or money order (in USD, please) to:
PO Box 2320
Boulder, CO 80306
If you mail in payment, I will do my best to get shipments out for the earliest possible delivery.
I do not yet have a merchant credit card account set up. That means I do not have the ability to process credit card numbers directly — sorry.
Thank you, everyone, for your enthusiastic response!
Dec 02 2013
I hope you had a joyful Thanksgiving (if you’re in the Thanksgiving part of the world). My wife and I played tabletop games with friends. It is also Hanukkah. And the Winter Solstice, Christmas, and the New Year are all quickly coming up. May this be a blessed time of light and renewal for all!
And I have some news…
I am so pleased to announce that the Poetry Chaikhana is offering a beautiful new card set of sayings and short poems. It is a collection of several of my “thought for the day” sayings and a few short poems, with artwork Rashani Réa of Dharma Gaia Cards.
This collection of cards came together in a surprising way: During the past few months I’ve been quietly working on a Poetry Chaikhana anthology, a selection of the amazing poetry we share each week, accompanied by my commentary and spiritual ramblings. (I know I’ve been promising this anthology for some time, but it is coming together nicely and should be available next year.) In the midst of that work, a half-formed but strong spark of an idea popped into my head: do something with cards. I casually emailed Rashani Réa, an artist I know in Hawaii who does stunning, collage-like artwork imbued with a strong spiritual element, and I suggested we think of doing something together. She surprised me several days later, saying that creative inspiration had taken over and she was already immersed in the design of the cards. A few weeks later — here they are!
Rashani also waived her normal design fee to support the work of the Poetry Chaikhana. Thanks to her generosity, your purchase of these cards doubly benefits for the Poetry Chaikhana — and you get this wonderful card set!
And, if these sell well, we may put together a series of “Poetry Chaikhana Cards” — Lalla, Rumi, Basho, St. John of the Cross… Is that something you’d like? Let us know.
Here are a few examples from the card set:
the wild places
with a fierce eye
and a gentle heart.
is experienced in the heart.
The intellect, at best,
|Beloved, they want to know:
Did I reach up to You,
or did You reach out to me?
And they want to know:
How can I explain
— we pour
~ Ivan M. Granger
Purchasing these cards is a wonderful way to support the Poetry Chaikhana. They also can be given as gifts of inspiration this holiday season.
You can order through PayPal by clicking the ‘Purchase’ link above or on the Poetry Chaikhana website. Or, if you prefer, you can send a check or money order to:
PO Box 2320
Boulder, CO 80306
Please be sure to include your delivery address.
I should mention that, because these cards are a new and we don’t yet know how popular they will be, our initial printing is limited — so if you want a set right away, make sure to place your order soon. If they sell out quickly, more cards will be available after mid-December.
Have a beautiful day!
Nov 13 2013
I am often asked how I came to the world of sacred poetry. What set me on this path? Was there a particular poet who opened the doorway or a line that hooked me? What was my inspiration for starting the Poetry Chaikhana?
My father, Steven Granger, was a poet, so I heard poetry from a young age. Like many young people, I wrote a bit of poetry as I grew up, but I didn’t take it too seriously. Most of the poetry I was exposed to was, well, boring to me. I thought of poetry as belonging my father’s world. To me it was mostly an intellectual game of words.
In the year 2000, I moved with my wife Michele to Maui. A friend from the mainland sent me a series of talks by the poet David Whyte on cassette tapes. I went for long drives along Maui’s country roads, through the tall sugar cane fields, among the rows of spiky pineapple plants, listening to David Whyte’s molasses accent, as he told stories and recited poetry by poets I hadn’t heard of before: Antonio Machado, Anna Akhmatova.
Maui’s natural beauty and quiet rhythms of land and sea and sky inspired me to go deeper into my spiritual practices. I was meditating deeply, praying, fasting, going for long walks in the eucalyptus forests that grew along the slopes of Haleakala Volcano. It was idyllic, yet I was going through a personal crisis.
/ Photo by alierturk /
I had just broken with a spiritual group I had been practicing with for nearly ten years. So, while I was engaged in intensive spiritual practice, it had lost its context. Should I still be following the same form of prayer, the same focus in meditation? I was flailing about.
Christmas came, and the sense of crisis deepened. The holidays just seemed to emphasize my disorientation. I was in my early 30s by that point and had no career to speak of. I was just doing work to get by. I was largely cut off from friends and family, cut off even from the American mainland. My one driving goal was spiritual growth. That was my only identity. And it was in disarray.
I came to a profound personal confrontation. For the first time I really saw myself. And that was a terrifying thing. I dropped all pretense and projection, all the fantasies of who I thought I was or who I might become. I just looked at myself plainly, as I was. What I saw wasn’t terribly impressive. I felt I was a mostly good-hearted person, but largely ineffectual. I had the ironic recognition that I was basically a likable flake. What truly surprised me, though, was the thought that followed, which was that it was okay.
New Years came and went, while I hovered in that limbo state.
The combination began to ferment in my mind – the poetry and the personal crisis. Continue Reading »