Archive for the 'Poetry Chaikhana Misc.' Category

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!

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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!–

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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

Aug 10 2012

Recovery and Renewal

We were dry, but we moistened.

~ Yunus Emre (Turkey, 13th century)

Have you been wondering where the Poetry Chaikhana emails went? They’re just on hold for two or three weeks.

Throughout the summer I’ve been dealing with bouts of ME/chronic fatigue, but in the last couple of weeks they’ve gotten especially challenging, incapacitating me on the worst days.

I support myself and my family primarily through part-time work as a computer programmer, but I’ve had to miss quite a bit of work recently. I’ve had to put my Poetry Chaikhana work temporarily on hold so I can continue earning income through my day job while I recover.

Perhaps there are other good reasons for a brief hiatus, as well. A time to clear the mental and poetic palette. A time for the Poetry Chaikhana to reset its energies. A time for renewal on several levels.

I will definitely resume the Poetry Chaikhana emails and blog posts soon. I appreciate your patience.

This is probably a good time to remind everyone that I need your support to continue doing this work. Donations, even in small amounts, genuinely help – they are still the backbone of Poetry Chaikhana finances. You can do a one-time donation, or sign up for a $2 or $10 per month donation. Every donation truly helps. Also, your purchase of books through Amazon via the links on the Poetry Chaikhana website and in the emails benefit the Poetry Chaikhana. And, of course, the Poetry Chaikhana has just published, Real Thirst. Purchasing a copy of Real Thirst is an excellent way to support the Poetry Chaikhana and let me know that you are eager for future books, including a Poetry Chaikhana anthology. These are all great ways to help out.

One other important way you can help: by sending supportive thoughts and prayers, for the Poetry Chaikhana and for my own personal energies.

Sending much love to everyone. And I’m looking forward to resuming our poetic exploration of the Eternal soon!

Ivan

War is cut short by a word,
and a word heals the wounds,
and there’s a word that changes
poison into butter and honey.

~ Yunus Emre (Turkey, 13th century)

30 responses so far

Jul 27 2012

Real Thirst for Kindle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jul 04 2012

Poetry Chaikhana is back – with a few updates

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

Apollo

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

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

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

Email Challenges

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

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

28% Discount on Real Thirst through Amazon

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

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

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

Forgetting false future
suns, she sings

in no voice
but her own.

Real Thirst
Poetry of the Spiritual Journey

Poems & Translations by Ivan M. Granger

Available through
Amazon.com
   

Original poems by Ivan M. Granger with new translations of works by visionaries from both East and West: John of the Cross, Francis of Assisi, Symeon the New Theologian, Hakim Sanai, Tukaram, Sarmad, Bulleh Shah, Sachal Sarmast, Vladimir Solovyov, Tulsi Sahib, and Antonio Machado.

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

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

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

Ivan

23 responses so far

Jun 15 2012

Enthusiastic Response to Real Thirst

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

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

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

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Jun 11 2012

Real Thirst – Poetry Chaikhana’s first book!

I am so pleased to announce our first publication…


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

Poems & Translations by Ivan M. Granger

$14.95
PURCHASE

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

Fall 2012:
Kindle & iBook

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

Real Thirst combines original poems by Ivan M. Granger with new translations of works by visionaries from both East and West: John of the Cross, Francis of Assisi, Symeon the New Theologian, Hakim Sanai, Tukaram, Sarmad, Bulleh Shah, Sachal Sarmast, Vladimir Solovyov, Tulsi Sahib, and Antonio Machado.

“I found Real Thirst to be a slow, cool and refreshing drink. The deep singularity present within each poem, evokes a kind of felt suchness, and that is a real gift. I believe you will find these poems an antidote to the rush of your days.”
     ~ JOHN FOX author of Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchasing Real Thirst

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

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

eBook Formats Coming in Fall

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

Reader Reviews

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

Read More

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

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

Have a beautiful day!

Ivan


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



Sample Poetry

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

5 responses so far

Mar 12 2012

Clarification: “Website,” Blog, and Emails

I realized I’ve created some confusion around the recent website changes. I forget how differently I see the Poetry Chaikhana. As I’ve been posting notes about a “new website” several people who relate primarily to the Poetry Chaikhana emails thought they may have to sign up again. Others who mainly read the Poetry Chaikhana blog, thought that the URL for the blog had changed and that they should no longer visit the “old” blog. My apologies that I didn’t communicate what had changed more clearly.

I think of the Poetry Chaikhana in a few broad sections:

The “Website”
www.poetry-chaikhana.com

The Poetry Chaikhana website is an encyclopedic online library with hundreds of poets, thousands of poems. Poets are listed by name, by tradition, by century, and on timelines. Poems are listed by poet, by theme. You’ll also find recommended books, some great links to other websites, and my own commentary. If you haven’t yet visited this part of the Poetry Chaikhana, there is a lot to explore and contemplate.

This is the “website” that was redesigned recently, although the URL/web address for the home page is still the same.

The Blog
www.poetry-chaikhana.com/blog/

The Poetry Chaikhana Blog is a specialized section of the larger website. It is a running collection of my posts, usually a close parallel to the poem emails, though occasionally I’ll post a few other things to the blog, as well, like YouTube videos, book reviews, etc.

A few weeks ago I changed the look and theme of the Poetry Chaikhana Blog, but it has not changed in any other way. You can still find it at the same location on the Web, and I am still posting regularly.

The Poem Emails

Many people only know of the Poetry Chaikhana poem emails, and don’t realize that there is an extensive website and blog behind it all. And that’s fine. For most people one email every couple of days is just the right amount, and more might feel like too much. Also I feel that I have the most personal connection to people through the poem emails.

But no changes have occurred with the emails. If you are already receiving the emails, you will continue to receive them without interruption.

Social Media
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube

The Poetry Chaikhana also has a very active Facebook page, with bite-sized bits of poetry (often accompanied by photos) and updates about the site.

Poetry Chaikhana on Twitter isn’t as active as many other twitterers, but most days I’ll post one or two things.

The Poetry Chaikhana YouTube page goes through periods without much activity. But when I find an interesting or inspiring video — poetry, song, or something else entirely — I’ll post it here (and often on the blog, as well).

That’s an overview of the online realm of the Poetry Chaikhana. When I mentioned “the new website” before, I was specifically referring to the extensive online library of poets, poems, and timelines. Hopefully this note has introduced you to other parts of the Poetry Chaikhana world you’d like to find out more about…

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Mar 07 2012

The New Website is Here!

Just in time for the full moon — a new website for the Poetry Chaikhana!

Take a look, explore, tell me what you think:

www.poetry-chaikhana.com



The Look and Feel

I’ve been busily working on this redesign for several months.

First, I had to settle on a new look. I’ve always considered the Poetry Chaikhana website to be sacred space on the Internet, and I wanted the look and feel to reflect that.

I’ve tried to maintain a simple, spacious design. Visiting the Poetry Chaikhana pages should be a serene experience. I want you to instinctively take an easy, full breath when your browser finds its way to the Poetry Chaikhana. Sacred poetry is best savored when we discover those timeless moments.

After testing a few dozen predesigned website themes, I finally found one I thought came close to what I wanted. That’s when I started digging under the hood, so to speak, changing and adapting the code, to get the look and feel I wanted. Nothing too showy, but there are some subtle touches that I think you’ll appreciate.

The Nuts and Bolts

The unique challenges of creating a website for the Poetry Chaikhana are that–

a) I have LOTS of material — hundreds of poets, thousands of poems, notes on important sacred poetry themes, timelines…
b) I need to be able to maintain and regularly update this extensive site in my limited free time
c) I need to use web technology that I personally understand and have the software tools to maintain, since I can’t yet afford to hire someone

The solution I came up with years ago when I started the Poetry Chaikhana site was to use my skill as a database developer to build a rich, customized database. That gave me an excellent interrelated filing system for everything. And then I got a little fancy and figured out how to generate the website’s HTML code directly from the database itself. The result was a customized system that allowed me to easily add new material and regularly post a new copy of the site on the Web — and all the new pages were automatically integrated. (This is different from the more common approach of using a live database back end. Too much technical gobbledy-gook to explain why I didn’t use that approach.)

But a major redesign also meant a major database redesign. So I let the old design limp along for a bit too long. I won’t bore you with the geeky details of how I made the changes for the new site, but the Poetry Chaikhana database files have been extensively reworked so I can now generate and update the site with ease. And, future design changes should require considerably less front end work.

Fine Tuning

With a major update like this, I expect there to be glitches to fix and details to be tweaked. I’ve already got a small list started of things to do. Please let me know if you find any problems or come across anything that seems confusing. I want the site to be inviting.

Most of all, I really hope you’ll think of the Poetry Chaikhana as a great place to discover new poets and, if we’re lucky, a few Aha! moments. So, please, have fun exploring!

www.poetry-chaikhana.com

…Now, I can turn my full attention to readying the first of the upcoming books for publication. Keep checking back. It will be ready soon!

Sending a warm smile (and a satisfied sigh of relief),

Ivan

33 responses so far

Feb 27 2012

Lent and Sunday School Comments

A few people have raised some valid questions to my introductory comment to the recent poem by Francis of Assisi.

Lent

First, my reference to “the Catholic season of Lent” makes it sound as if Lent is only observed by Catholics.

I do know that Lent is not just for Catholics, but it isn’t so widely observed in the various Protestant denominations. I referred to it as Catholic as a sort of short hand. In the minds of most people who do not celebrate Lent, it is particularly thought of as a Catholic practice.

But on reflection, I see that the criticism is a valid one. In the future I will try to avoid casual, imprecise statements like this. My apologies to the many other Christian denominations that also honor Lent.

“Sunday School”

A few people objected to my statement that “many of you will instinctively react against this selection’s tone. It might have too much of a Sunday school savor for your taste.” Why would I say that about Christian poetry, but not Muslim or Buddhist poetry?

This is an important question; one to which I only have an imperfect answer: I’ve gotten so many emails over the years from people who, for many reasons, have strongly negative associations with “churchy” language. This reaction is particularly triggered by the language of institutionalized Christianity.

I do regularly feature Christian poets from many Christian traditions, and I have a deep personal love and respect for this profound material, but when the language is overtly “religious” (as in the recent poem by St. Francis), I know that a large portion of readers will be tempted to tune out. When I share a Christian poem with a strongly religious tone, I feel compelled to acknowledge what I know will be a strong counter-reaction by a significant number of readers.

My statement about “instinctively reacting against” the poem was an attempt to encourage everyone to read the poem anyway. It is my awkward way of letting people know that I am not trying to proselytize, that I understand that hesitation to delve into this sort of language, but to say that there is so much depth and richness to be found here when we approach it with non-dogmatic minds.

It’s always a difficult balance with such a diverse readership. I sincerely hope I haven’t caused any offense.

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Feb 27 2012

Songs of the Soul 2012

If you are going to be in the San Francisco area between March 16 and 18, this is an event you shouldn’t miss!

Poetry readings and discussions, Sufi music, explorations of Sufi philosophy and prayer practices.

Coleman Barks
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore
John Fox
Riffat Sultana (an amazing singer!)

…and many other excellent poets, spiritual teachers, scholars, and musicians.

For more information, visit ias.org

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Feb 17 2012

Comments on Comments

Yesterday, one of the blog’s regular visitors commented that she’d like more “Facebook-like” conversation threads, the ability to “like” individual comments, etc. I thought to myself, “What an excellent idea! There must be a WordPress plug-in out there that does that.”

Don’t you think it’s a good idea too?

Well… after several hours of research today, I can report that there are at least three good options available — and none of them is a good solution for the Poetry Chaikhana Blog. Continue Reading »

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