Archive for the 'Poetry Chaikhana Misc.' Category

Dec 04 2013

Card Set Updates

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.

International Shipment

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.

Non-PayPal Orders

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:

Poetry Chaikhana
PO Box 2320
Boulder, CO 80306
USA

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!

No responses yet

Dec 02 2013

Announcement: Fierce Eye, Gentle Heart – Card Set

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.

Fierce Eye, Gentle Heart, card set, sayings, short poems, Ivan M. Granger, Rashani Rea Fierce Eye, Gentle Heart
Card Set – 12 full-color cards

Sayings and Short Poems by Ivan M. Granger
Art & Design by Rashani Réa

$12.95
+ $2 Shipping

PURCHASE


A beautiful collection of meditative sayings, thought-provoking statements, and short poems accompanied by the colorful, collage-like artwork of Rashani Réa.

  • Keep a set of these cards by your bed, in your place of meditation or prayer, or at your desk.
  • Select a card each time you seek a new perspective, a spark of creativity, a moment of clarity, or renewed focus in your spiritual practice.
  • Frame your favorite and display it on a wall or bookshelf.

This lovely card set also makes a wonderful gift!

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:

Fierce Eye, Gentle Heart, card set, sayings, short poems, Ivan M. Granger, Rashani Rea Fierce Eye, Gentle Heart, card set, sayings, short poems, Ivan M. Granger, Rashani Rea Fierce Eye, Gentle Heart, card set, sayings, short poems, Ivan M. Granger, Rashani Rea Fierce Eye, Gentle Heart, card set, sayings, short poems, Ivan M. Granger, Rashani Rea
Protect
the wild places
in yourself
See everything
with a fierce eye
and a gentle heart.
The divine
is experienced in the heart.

The intellect, at best,
can only trail behind and take notes.

Beloved, they want to know:
Did I reach up to You,
or did You reach out to me?

And they want to know:
What is real
touch?

How can I explain

— we pour
into each other.

~ 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:

Poetry Chaikhana
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!

Ivan

11 responses so far

Nov 13 2013

My Introduction to Sacred Poetry

Ivan M. Granger

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 »

40 responses so far

Jul 26 2013

New Home for the Website

It’s official: The Poetry Chaikhana website www.poetry-chaikhana.com is now up on our new web host. I knew the site migration would take a while, but it took even longer than I expected. And I am so pleased to announce the completion of the process.

I’m very happy to be working with our new web host, Canvas Dreams. (Thank you, Suzin, for the recommendation.) Canvas Dreams is based in Portland, Oregon (not far from my hometown of Eugene, Oregon). I like their strong environmental ethic, and the fact that they power their business, including their servers, with wind power. They are also less expensive than the previous web host, which helps.

Another big ‘thank you’ to everyone who has made a donation in recent weeks, freeing up enough of my time to complete this project. The Poetry Chaikhana can now move forward, and with better energy too!

Ivan

No responses yet

Jul 22 2013

Chaikhana and 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!

11 responses so far

Jul 08 2013

Gratitude and Update

Thank you once again to everyone who has donated in response to my request for help a few weeks ago. New people to thank include–

– Kathryn (NY), Dirk (CO), Shantidasi (HI), Kathy (CA), Kathleen (NY), Lizabeth (subscriber), D Scott (AZ)

Web Migration Update

I have been busily working behind the scenes on migrating the extensive Poetry Chaikhana website to a new web host. After three weeks, we’re about 2/3 done. First, there were bureaucratic issues (with the old host provider and domain name server). Then there was the busywork of transferring lots of files. Then the blogs required exports, imports, database setup and configuration (with special thanks to Mark at Findhorn in Scotland for his technical advice on Word Press blogs). Before the site can go live on the new web host’s servers I still have a handful of technical issues to resolve, but I’m steadily making progress. Whew!

Because this has taken so much time and energy, your recent donations have been a huge help. I look forward to announcing that the Poetry Chaikhana is live with the new host soon.

Again, thank you, everyone!

No responses yet

Jun 17 2013

Thank You

I am so deeply touched by the generosity of the Poetry Chaikhana community. Thank you to everyone who has sent in a donation or signed up for a monthly contribution. Your support will help to solve several challenges and allow the Poetry Chaikhana to move forward with upcoming projects and technical needs.

Here is a special thank you ecard for all of you.

Your support makes the Poetry Chaikhana possible!

Recent contributors include —

Anya (OR), Mary (subscriber), Gary (CA), William (subscriber), Suzin (NJ), Warwick (UK), Salifou (AB, Canada), Barbara (ON, Canada), Gary (subscriber), Emilia (supporter), Laura (subscriber), Ken (CA), Mary Louise (SC), Sylvia (NSW, Australia), Bill (WA), Eve (subscriber), Vicki (NC), Susan (CA), Lisa (supporter), Stephen (UK), Sandra (supporter), Sacred Circle of Yoga (MA), Anil (NY), Michael (CO), Elizabeth (MA), Sarah (CA), Thomas (NJ), Triva (subscriber), Glenda (supporter), Bonnie (supporter), Jack (OR), Dr J (BC, Canada), Juan (CA), Therese (NY), Curtis (NC), Dianne & Robert (ID), Geraldine (NJ), Susan (IL), Becky (CA), Craig (NC), Surendra (CA), Jessica (CA), Alima (HI), Rachel (ACT, Australia), Lindsey (UK), Kurvin (Mauritius), Harvey (UK), Sue (UK), Lysana (UK), Frederic (IN), Brenda (subscriber), Robyn (ON, Canada), Mariabruna (CA), Kim (CA), Theresa (NY), Elaine (AZ), Marcia (PA), Wendy (NSW, Australia), Maria (QC, Canada), Helen, Joyce (OR), Tia (subscriber), Keith (WA), Agnes (Netherlands), Grace, Jim (TX), Devvasena (NJ), Nanci (WA), Alexandra (subscriber), Hannah (subscriber), Vera (subscriber), Margot (Australia, supporter), Jennifer (VIC, Australia), Concetta (OR), Eugene (VA), Rasika (India), Maeve (Ireland), Tim (UK), Margaret (NH), Penny (CA), Jane (BC, Canada), Andrew (Australia, supporter), Francis (PA), Frances (subscriber), Linda (CA), Steven (VA, supporter)

No responses yet

Jun 10 2013

Thank you for the generous response!

Thank you to everyone who has sent in a donation or signed up for a monthly contribution in response to my request last week. I am truly amazed by the generosity of this community. I know how difficult it is to make even a modest donation. I am deeply moved — thank you.

A few of you have sent me notes saying that you appreciate my willingness to ask for help, recognizing that is not an easy thing to do. You are so right. Requesting money in support of the Poetry Chaikhana is the most difficult aspect of my work. I grew up with a worldview of striving to transcend money and material needs. Admitting the need for money, even for the most simple and practical needs of this work, hits a lot of triggers for me. But the Poetry Chaikhana necessarily exists within society in order to reach people — and so I have to play by that society’s financial rules to a certain extent. The blunt truth is that in a hyper-capitalist society, the Poetry Chaikhana needs a certain amount of capital to sustain itself.

The rebel in me can’t help but subvert that paradigm at the same time. That is why I always try to make it clear that financial support, while greatly appreciated, is not a requirement. And when I ask for donations, I hope no one feels pressure to strain their finances. When a donation is relatively easy and feels meaningful to you, then it is accepted with gratitude. But I hope everyone enjoys the Poetry Chaikhana, whether or not you are able to make a donation.

Again, thank you!

No responses yet

Jun 07 2013

Poetry Chaikhana Needs Your Support

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
~ Rumi


Hi –

Almost every day I receive at least one email from someone telling me how much the Poetry Chaikhana means to them. The daily poem brings a moment of calm to the morning, inspires creativity at work, offers comfort in a period of crisis, carries hope when assaulted by the headlines, suggests a focus for meditation or prayer before bed. These notes from you continuously 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.

Several of you have signed up for monthly subscriptions or send in periodic donations. These contributions greatly help, but I need to ask more of you to join in and support this work. We have a large Poetry Chaikhana community — more than 9,000 people are receiving this email! And that number grows every day as people pass the daily poems to friends and as word-of-mouth spreads. I am certain that, as a group, we can cover the expenses of one person (me) dedicating part of each day to the Poetry Chaikhana — as I write commentary and send out the daily poem, maintain the poetry database, research and add new poets, update the website, and respond to many of your emails.

If you’re curious what sort of work I do every day with the Poetry Chaikhana, take a look at Behind the Scenes with the Poetry Chaikhana.

/ Photo by AlicePopkorn /

Projects that need your support

Change to web hosting service. We have used the same web host for years, a small company with excellent technical support. Last year they were bought out by another company. Working with the new company has had several frustrations, with monthly fees that are too high. It is time to switch to another web hosting service. The switchover itself only requires a minor investments, but it will require quite a bit of my time, time that cannot be put into my day job. Your donations will allow me to dedicate the time necessary to manage the transition.

A new computer. The computer I use to manage the Poetry Chaikhana website and emails has served me faithfully for many years, far longer than you typically expect in this era of rapidly changing technology. And I think it can continue to serve for a little while longer, but soon I should replace it with a newer system that will allow me to work more efficiently and maintain the Poetry Chaikhana well into the future.

The Poetry Chaikhana’s first anthology. I have hinted at an upcoming Poetry Chaikhana anthology for more than a year now. You must be getting as impatient as I am to hold the book in your hand. I feel like I’ve been waiting for the arrival of an old friend. Originally I thought I’d be able to quickly follow Real Thirst with the anthology, but chronic health issues and general busyness keep putting the project on hold. Your donations will allow me to focus the necessary time and energy to complete the anthology.

And, of course, the daily work of sending the poem emails, maintaining and updating the Poetry Chaikhana website, responding to as many emails as possible, all require a my time and energy and expense.

If you feel a connection to the Poetry Chaikhana, please consider making a donation.

(Of course, please do not contribute more than you can comfortably afford. Even a modest amount — from many people — is immensely helpful. Many contributions from many people makes the Poetry Chaikhana a stronger community project, maintained by many helping hands.)

Ways you can contribute:

  • You can send a check or money order in US funds made out to “Poetry Chaikhana”, addressed to:

    Poetry Chaikhana
    PO Box 2320
    Boulder, CO 80306

  • You can make a secure online donation in any amount through PayPal by clicking the “Donate” button below or on the Poetry Chaikhana home page http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com
  • You can sign up for a voluntary subscription of $2/month or $10/month by clicking either the “Subscribe” or “Support” PayPal button, also below or at http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com. (A regular monthly amount is often easier on your pocketbook and allows the Poetry Chaikhana to plan finances over the long term.)

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


/ Photo by AlicePopkorn /

“Sacred poetry has the unique benefit of being a deeply personal expression of spiritual truth while, at the same time, being largely free from dogma… Sacred poetry is the natural goodwill ambassador for the world’s religions. Poetry can reach across cultural divides, soften prejudices, and shed light on misunderstandings. I hope the Poetry Chaikhana can help to facilitate that process.”

Sacred poetry is transformative on both a personal and a global level.

The Poetry Chaikhana has become a community that reaches across the globe. We have visitors from every continent and more than 220 countries and territories! (See Poetry Chaikhana Around the World.)

2 responses so far

May 05 2013

Real Thirst Book Signing – May 4, 2013

Ivan M. Granger

Ivan M. Granger Book Signing 5/4/13

Thank you to everyone who came by for the Real Thirst Book Signing event yesterday. Since I do most of my work over the Internet, I often have wonderful conversations with people via email, but I rarely get the chance to meet readers of the Poetry Chaikhana in person. So it was a special treat to meet several of you and share smiles face-to-face. I signed books, read a few poems, answered a few questions. But I especially enjoyed the conversations and (thanks to Roger’s suggestion) the opportunity to hear everyone read a short stanza from my translation of Antonio Machado’s “Songs.”

Thank you also to the folks at La Vita Bella Coffee for generously hosting the event. A good cozy, community environment, well-suited to discussion and the poetic spirit…

The Real Thirst Fellowship

One response so far

Apr 19 2013

UPDATE: Real Thirst Book Signing – May 4, 2013 in Longmont, CO

Last week I announced that I would be doing a book signing at a Colorado authors event. That event was unexpectedly postponed until later this year. Because I don’t want to disappoint the people who have already contacted me to say they were looking forward to meeting me, I have set up an alternative book signing of my own — same date, same time, and just across the street from the original event:

When: Saturday, May 4, 2013 1:00pm to 3:00pm
Where: La Vita Bella Coffee, 47t Main St., Longmont, CO 80501

This is a good opportunity to say hello or sit down to some friendly conversation over tea or coffee.

Free. Everyone is welcome.

If you’re in the area, come by and say hello!

No responses yet

Apr 12 2013

Real Thirst Book Signing – May 4, 2013 in Longmont, CO

Come meet Ivan M. Granger in person at La Vita Bella Coffee in Longmont, Colorado. If you are in the Boulder/Longmont area, here is a wonderful opportunity to sit down with Ivan for some friendly conversation. (Don’t forget La Vita Bella’s excellent mochas and baked goods!) Ivan will be signing copies of Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey.

When: Sunday, May 4, 2013 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Where: La Vita Bella Coffee in Longmont, Colorado

–Free event – everyone is welcome!–

No responses yet

Dec 17 2012

Translations and Original Languages

Unlike today’s poem, most of the poetry featured on the Poetry Chaikhana was not originally composed in English. I periodically receive requests to include the poem in its original language, as well as in English translation. We have people on the Poetry Chaikhana mailing list quite literally from all over the world, and those who can read Farsi or Hindi or German, naturally want to read the poem in the original language.

I love the idea of creating a resource in multiple languages, one that invites discussion of which translations are the most accurate and which are the most poetically satisfying, and where the best point of balance is found.

But this isn’t as easy as one might hope. For one thing, most of the sources available in the West don’t include the original versions, except sometimes when the original was in another European language. Academic books are better at this, but they are harder to find and often quite expensive. It’s true that these days we can order books from publishers all over the world, so I can easily purchase original language books, but that too presents problems. How do I match up the original poem with the translation if I myself don’t know the original language?

Also, how should I handle other scripts and lettering systems? I can’t assume that everyone will have the necessary fonts to read them on their computers. And for those who would like to sound out the words but are unfamiliar with the writing system, should I also create an intermediary transliteration?

These are all questions that I’d like to eventually find good answers to. For now, however, the Poetry Chaikhana will continue to focus on English language versions of the poetry, but with an open invitation for your comments on translations and original language.

No responses yet

Dec 17 2012

A note on my commentary…

I always hope you feel free to read a different meaning in a poem than I do. Sometimes what I write only relates indirectly to the poem, when some phrase or image sends me off on my own rambling tangent. My observations on these poems should not be read as the single, absolute meaning. It is not even necessarily intended to reflect the original author’s meaning. I believe a poem, like a dream, has layers of meaning — and that meaning can shift over time and from differing perspectives. My commentary is offered in order to suggest a starting point for you to begin your own exploration into the poem’s meaning. So, please, weigh anything I say against your own reading of the poem and your own life experience — and then let me know what you think!

No responses yet

Nov 16 2012

Behind the Scenes of the Poetry Chaikhana

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
~ Rumi


Do you wonder what my work with the Poetry Chaikhana looks like?

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 often spend a little time researching the life of the poet so I can pass along a few 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.

Some mornings I feel I’ve said too much in recent commentaries, and I just send the poem with a short, friendly note. And sometimes I come across a poem with a comment I wrote a couple of years ago, 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 feeling from the poem.

I select a “Thought for the Day” from among the many I’ve written over the years, and I find a music CD.

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 nearly 10,000 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 3,500 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!

Poetry and Personal Transformation

We forget how fundamental poetry is, not only to culture, but to consciousness. Poetry is meditation in the form of words. I posted this on the Poetry Chaikhana website years ago, and it’s just as true today:

“Poetry has an immediate effect on the mind. The simple act of reading poetry alters thought patterns and the shuttle of the breath. Poetry induces trance. Its words are chant. Its rhythms are drumbeats. Its images become the icons of the inner eye. Poetry is more than a description of the sacred experience; it carries the experience itself.”

The Politics of Poetry

In addition to the spiritual importance of this sacred poetry, there is also a cultural, even a political motivation behind the Poetry Chaikhana. Here’s how I described it in a interview a few years ago:

“Sacred poetry has the unique benefit of being a deeply personal expression of spiritual truth while, at the same time, being largely free from dogma. In the United States, for example, there is an increasing prejudice and fear about the Muslim world. But who can read Jelaluddin Rumi without immediately recognizing the deep truth that Islam can express? The same is true for a non-Hindu reading Lal Ded or a non-Christian reading St. John of the Cross. Sacred poetry is the natural goodwill ambassador for the world’s religions. Poetry can reach across cultural divides, soften prejudices, and shed light on misunderstandings. I hope the Poetry Chaikhana can help to facilitate that process.”

Sacred poetry is transformative on both a personal and a global level.

The Poetry Chaikhana has become a community that reaches across the globe. We have visitors from every continent and more than 220 countries and territories! (See Poetry Chaikhana Around the World.)

The Poetry Chaikhana is an important resource for people all over the world seeking to more deeply understand their own wisdom traditions as well as the spirituality of other cultures in an atmosphere of mutual respect.


/ Photo by woodleywonderworks /

Your Support as a Community

It is still a struggle to find a workable balance in time and money to bring you the Poetry Chaikhana on a regular basis. I support myself and my family by working part-time as a computer programmer. My computer work is flexible enough to allow me to spend a lot of time with the Poetry Chaikhana, but that also means it’s flexible enough to allow me to earn very little income ;-)

To continue this work, the Poetry Chaikhana needs community support.

If you feel a connection to the Poetry Chaikhana, please consider making a donation.

(I want to be clear, though, that I am not asking you to contribute more than you can comfortably afford. Even a small amount – from many people – is immensely helpful. Many contributions from many people makes the Poetry Chaikhana a stronger community project, maintained by many helping hands.)

Ways you can contribute:

  • You can send a check or money order in US funds made out to “Poetry Chaikhana”, addressed to:

    Poetry Chaikhana
    PO Box 2320
    Boulder, CO 80306

  • You can make a secure online donation in any amount through PayPal by clicking the “Donate” button on the Poetry Chaikhana home page – http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com
  • You can sign up for a voluntary subscription of $2/month or $10/month by clicking either the “Subscribe” or “Support” PayPal button, also at http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com. (A regular monthly amount is often easier on your pocketbook and allows the Poetry Chaikhana to plan finances over the long term.)

Many of you have been generous with your contributions to the Poetry Chaikhana in the past, through donations, through notes of thanks, through supportive thoughts and prayers. Every contribution, whether financial or energetic, is sincerely appreciated.

A warm thank you to everyone!

Ivan

9 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

Aug 20 2012

Thank you for your emails and comments

Thank you so much for the many kind and concerned notes — as well as the several donations to help me through this difficult period when I haven’t been able to maintain both the Poetry Chaikhana and my day job. I am feeling better — I’d say at 83% of normal. ;-)

This is something I’ve dealt with on and off since childhood. While I continue to search for ways to improve and perhaps, someday, be free of these patterns of ME/fatigue, I have also learned to make room in my life for it. It is a part of my history and has imprinted key moments of my life. I know I may never be able to work a typical career schedule or have the most active social life but, after so many years, that’s not me anyway. I strive to use what I’ve been given, the good and the bad. I try to use my energetic struggles as a doorway to greater self awareness and to awaken my heart. We all have our struggles; this is part of the package of life. The goal isn’t a lack of struggle, it is to find meaning. Then our struggles become the adventure of our souls.

Thank you again, everyone, for the thoughts and prayers and messages. Much love to you!

3 responses so far

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