Archive for the 'Poetry Chaikhana Misc.' Category

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 »

2 responses so far

Feb 15 2012

New Projects, New Look – Books, Website, More

It all started a few weeks ago with an email. Someone mentioned how much they liked my poetry selections and commentary, and asked how to order a Poetry Chaikhana book. And then I received an email asking about a book of my own poetry. And then more emails started coming in, all asking about my books, if they exist, when they will exist.

I know how to take a hint. It’s time to get my long-term plans for the Poetry Chaikhana back on track. Sure I still have periodic struggles with chronic fatigue, and I still have a day job to maintain, but enough excuses – the Poetry Chaikhana community has spoken!

But, before I can announce new books through the Poetry Chaikhana, I realized that I need to first update the website. So, in addition to gathering together material for some books, I’ve also been secretly working on a redesign of the website. And, of course, the Poetry Chaikhana Blog needed some changes too.

So keep checking in. Over the next few months you’ll notice changes to the website, new books, and some other cool stuff.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to let you in on my behind-the-scenes activities recently. I’ve been busy, so there’s a lot to cover… Continue Reading »

19 responses so far

Dec 19 2011

Happy Holidays

Since many people are on vacation, I am going to put the Poetry Chaikhana on hold until January. If you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, the Solstice… I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. And may the dawning of the new year bring new possibilities and new joys.

Click here for a special e-card for everyone in the Poetry Chaikhana community.

I look forward to reconnecting with everyone in the new year!

29 responses so far

Nov 07 2011

No Story Can Contain You – Words by Ivan M. Granger

No Story Can Contain You – Words by Ivan M. Granger

I am regularly asked who the author of the Thought for the Day is. I am. I always try to be very careful about attributing everything to the correct author, so if an author isn’t specifically mentioned, then I am the author. To avoid confusion, I’ve considered adding something like “by Ivan M. Granger” to the Thoughts for the Day, but that feels awkward and oddly self-promotional. Mainly I want to share my thoughts.

If you like those thoughts, several have been gathered together for a small deck of cards by an artist in Hawaii — one short saying or poem per card. If you’re interested in ordering a set, you can find them at Rashani Rea’s Dharma Gaia Cards — click on the “Small Card Decks by Rashani” link, and scroll down to the end of the list to the “No Story Can Contain You” set. I encourage you to explore some of Rashani Rea’s other wonderful work, on this and other pages. In addition to other small card decks, you’ll also find inspiring, artistic greeting cards.

5 responses so far

Aug 28 2011

On Hold for a Week (or Two)

I’ve been dealing with a rough bout of chronic fatigue recently and it’s gotten to the point that I’ve had trouble working at my day job. I never seem to lack the energy necessary to send out the poetry emails, but I’ve decided to put the Poetry Chaikhana on hold for a week or two to allow my system to rebound and also to try bring my income back up in my normal job.

Wish me well. I’ll resume the poetry soon.

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

…And to everyone in the vicinity of Hurricane Irene, be well, be safe, appreciate the majesty.

83 responses so far

Jul 25 2011

Rainer Maria Rilke – Ah, not to be cut off

Ah, not to be cut off
by Rainer Maria Rilke

English version by Stephen Mitchell

Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.
The inner — what is it?
if not the intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.

— from Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke, Translated by Stephen Mitchell

/ Photo by AlicePopkorn /

Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.

When I sit at my computer in the morning and decide which poem to select for the day, I often feel like a musician, trying to find just the right tone and rhythm. It’s a Monday, the beginning of the work week for most people on this list, not the right time for a long poem or a long-winded commentary. Also many people really responded to Friday’s selection, and I don’t want mentally to crowd it out with today’s selection. So I thought we should go with something short, without a lot of my own commentary. Something that gently shifts perception and soothes the heart, but without hooking into the analytical mind.

That’s the tone I like to renew my connection with the world each week.

The inner — what is it?
if not the intensified sky…

A peek into the musical art of poem selection.

…hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.

Have a beautiful day!

Rainer Maria Rilke, Rainer Maria Rilke poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Rainer Maria Rilke

Germany (1875 – 1926) Timeline
Secular or Eclectic

More poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke

3 responses so far

May 25 2011

Forum Clarification

From a few notes I’ve received, I realize that my original note from a few days ago about the forum closing wasn’t as clear as it should have been. I am only halting the discussion forum, NOT the entire Poetry Chaikhana. The discussion forum has always been small compared with the rest of the Poetry Chaikhana so, with the new technical concerns, I made the decision not to continue with it. But the rest of the Poetry Chaikhana is very much alive and well! The website will continue to grow and evolve, the blog will continue to be updated regularly, and the poetry emails will continue to be sent out. So please join in and explore!

One response so far

Apr 27 2011

John O’Donohue – I arise today

I arise today
by John O’Donohue

I arise today

Blessed by all things,
Wings of breath,
Delight of eyes,
Wonder of whisper,
Intimacy of touch,
Eternity of soul,
Urgency of thought,
Miracle of health,
Embrace of God.

May I live this day.

— from Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong, by John O’Donohue

/ Photo by Vincepal /

On Friday afternoon, right after sending out the poem email, my computer went kaput… problem with the hard drive. I just got it back yesterday, with a healthy new hard drive. Four days without a computer, without email, without access to the Internet. As much as I work at the computer these days, it’s a little disorienting to have it totally removed from my life… and then it’s pretty nice! :-) A good reminder of all the rest of life.

…But that’s why you haven’t heard from me since last week. It might take me another day or two to get caught up with emails.

Anyway, I’m back and I’m reachable again.


Today’s poem, what should I say?

May I live this day.


John O'Donohue, John O'Donohue poetry, Christian poetry John O’Donohue

Ireland (1956 – 2008) Timeline
Christian : Catholic
Secular or Eclectic

Continue Reading »

3 responses so far

Mar 30 2011

Health, Spirit & Support

Ivan M. Granger

I am often asked why I don’t publish a book. I usually give one of several standard answers that are all partly true, but the real reason is that I suffer from chronic fatigue. Balancing my day job, nurturing the Poetry Chaikhana, and maintaining my spiritual practice is often a challenging struggle for me. I just don’t have enough energy left to put together a book, at least for now.

Ivan’s Work

I now find myself with a difficult decision… The company I work for in my day job, my primary source of income, has had to cut my work hours by nearly half. The change should be temporary, for a few months perhaps. But I still have to find a way to make ends meet while keeping the Poetry Chaikhana going.

I may have to consider taking on a second job. But it’s difficult to find work that is adaptable to my up and down schedule due to chronic fatigue patterns. I’d have to reserve as much energy as possible for the new job and either drastically cut back on the Poetry Chaikhana work or possibly put it on hold. That’s not the way I’d like to go.

To avoid that scenario and keep the Poetry Chaikhana going in a good rhythm, I need to reach out and ask for your support. As a community of more than 10,000 regular readers, we can cover enough of the daily expenses to support the Poetry Chaikhana — allowing me to continue to write commentary and send out the daily poem, maintain the poetry database, research and add new poets, update the website, and respond to your emails.

If the Poetry Chaikhana brings something special to you each day, please consider supporting the Poetry Chaikhana by sending a donation or signing up for a voluntary subscription. Your contribution is truly appreciated!

But please don’t feel as if I’m 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” and addressed to:
    Poetry Chaikhana
    PO Box 2320
    Boulder, CO 80306
  • You can make a secure donation online in any amount through PayPal by clicking the “Donate” button below or on the Poetry Chaikhana home page
  • 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 (A regular monthly amount is often easier on your pocketbook and allows the Poetry Chaikhana to plan finances over the long term.)

I also want to thank everyone who has been so generous to the Poetry Chaikhana already, through donations, through notes of thanks, through supportive thoughts and prayers. Every contribution, financial and energetic, is sincerely appreciated.

A warm thank you to everyone!


I know I’m not alone with health struggles. I thought I’d share an excerpt of something I wrote a few years ago, a meditation on Health, Suffering, and Spirit. I hope it you find it helpful and inspiring.

Here’s the thing: Not every disease or discomfort is meant to be overcome.

That’s a hard thing to say, and even harder to accept. But it’s true. If disease dares to show up in our lives, we want it fixed, removed. We want to get on with life and refuse to see disease as being part of life. Even in the holistic health community which views illness as a teacher, we often want to learn the “lesson” so we can quickly dismiss the teacher.

Sometimes, though, dis-ease is an annoyingly persistent teacher. It teaches us interior awareness. Not something learned quickly. It teaches sheer endurance. And, maybe the most difficult lesson, surrender. Many of us get into the world of “alternative” health as a way to take control. But surrender, that’s much more difficult to achieve with grace. It requires real subtlety to even distinguish between surrender and defeat. I don’t think we should give in or give up. I personally keep trying new things, new approaches, new… strategies. Maybe it’s my Aries nature, but I sometimes think of it as a sparring match. I don’t necessarily get into to it to win. I just like the sparring. Like a martial artist. The back and forth teaches me more about myself.

Don’t speak of your suffering — He is speaking.
Don’t look for Him everywhere — He’s looking for you.



One other thing that has come to me over the years — one of the mental reflexes for suffering is… jealousy. That’s not the first emotion one normally associates with illness, but it’s often lurking in the background. I’ve certainly noticed it.

Why should I have so much of my life and attention diverted by this, when everyone else has it so easy?

Says Farid,
I thought I was alone who suffered.
I went on top of the house,
And found every house on fire.

Baba Sheikh Farid

I’m always being reminded that no one has it easy. Sure, some people have less struggle, while others have heartbreaking levels of suffering. But, when the weariness clears, I glimpse a surprising truth: None of that is the point. The purpose of the human spirit isn’t to be free from difficulty.

That may sound like a cold statement, but it is not. When deeply embraced, this understanding opens us to greater levels of empathy and compassion, and it begins to create a profound resilience within ourselves, allowing us to encounter suffering without shutting down. In other words, if you hold in your mind the idea that suffering is inherently and always wrong, then when you encounter it, you will instinctively shut down. If, however, you accept the existence of suffering — in yourself, in others — your eyes and heart remain open and your hands become willing in the midst of struggles. Accepting suffering gives you greater ability to genuinely alleviate it.

Spirituality and Health

There is a related unconscious thought we often carry that suffering and illness are the sign that something is imperfect about ourselves spiritually. Saints get cancer and have heart attacks. Sages suffer epilepsy. Medicine women get migraines. The body, being a limited vehicle designed to operate in a sometimes disharmonious environment, will sometimes ail. The mark of attainment is not a lack of struggle, but how we respond to that struggle.

Our lives are simply stories. Sometimes the drama and the heat are high, sometimes they are quiet. What is important is the meaning we discover and reveal through that drama. It’s a supremely difficult paradox: We have to engage intensely in the body and the challenges of life, yet, at the same time, it’s not personal… it’s a fascinating story being told through us.

The hallowing of Pain
Like hallowing of Heaven,
Obtains at corporeal cost –
The Summit is not given

To Him who strives severe
At middle of the Hill –
But He who has achieved the Top –
All – is the price of All –

Emily Dickinson

Meaning and Suffering

The ultimate question is one of meaning. When we discover meaning in suffering, the suffering becomes endurable. Even comfort and ease, without meaning, eventually become unbearable.

Illness may be devastating, but discovering meaning feeds a hunger even more fundamental than the desire to be free from pain. It feeds the hunger of the soul know itself.

That hunger, when left unfed, is the real source of suffering in the world.


how can the heart in love
ever stop opening
– Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

15 responses so far

Nov 06 2010

On Interpreting Poems and Dreams

In response to Friday’s poem by Wendell Berry, a few people commented that they read it as a meditation on the path to a mature and peaceful sense of mortality, something not really touched on in my own notes about the poem. I think Wendell Berry would entirely approve of that way of understanding his poem. Throughout his series of Sabbath poems, there is both an exploration of Sabbath as spiritual rest, but also, yes, Sabbath as the rest at the end of a lived life… with the natural world often teaching us these great lessons not as easily learned amidst human concerns.

This is one more reminder that my commentary on any particular poem should not be taken as all-encompassing or the one “right” way to understand it. Poems, by the elastic nature of their language, have no single, fixed meaning or correct interpretation. Even the when the poet himself has a fixed meaning in mind when writing the poem, the moment that poem is shared it expands in meaning.

I like to read a poem the way I try to understand a dream: It is layered with meaning. Ask yourself a question and then look at the poem — it will suggest a meaning to you. Ask yourself a different question and reread the same poem — you will discover a different meaning. Return to the poem five years later and discover a new meaning again. Poems change with us.

It is my hope that the thoughts and observations and occasional tangents I include with each poem inspire you to connect more deeply with the poem or be touched by it in some unexpected way. But my commentary is only one possible entranceway into the world opened by each poem. Never hesitate to claim a different understanding of a poem, even one contrary to mine. It’s not so important what I say about a poem; it is in your own personal experience of the poem that is where the magic happens!

3 responses so far

Oct 30 2010

Blog Software Updated

I just completed an update of the software I use to maintain the Poetry Chaikhana Blog. You, as a visitor to the blog, probably will not notice much of a change, but behind the scenes we now have better security, more precise administrator controls, future upgrades will be much easier, and the administrator UI I work with is much easier on the eyes. I can tell you’re as excited as I am about this!

One response so far

Oct 13 2010

Poetry Chaikhana Fan Page on Facebook

I’ve finally created a separate Poetry Chaikhana fan page on Facebook. Several of you have encouraged me to do this in recent months, and I’ve finally gotten it going. Thanks for all the friendly nudges!

I’ve maintained a personal page on Facebook for a while, and many of you have already connected with me as Facebook friends, but I’m going to start making more of a distinction between my personal FB page and the new Poetry Chaikhana page. I will soon shift most of my poetry posts over to the Poetry Chaikhana page. That’s where you’ll find the juiciest poetic explorations and meditative meanderings.

If you’re on Facebook, come on over to the new Poetry Chaikhana page and become a fan. I’d love to see the number of fans for the Poetry Chaikhana page really take off. As more and more people “like” Poetry Chaikhana on Facebook, it gets more attention and that draws even more people, helping the Poetry Chaikhana circle to expand.

See you there…


2 responses so far

Oct 09 2010

Correction: Tulsi Sahib and Tulsi Das

Several readers caught a significant error in my last post: Tulsi Sahib and Tulsi Das are two separate poets, and I mistakenly wrote about them as if they were the same person. Thank you for the correction! The recent poem I featured was by Tulsi Sahib (1763 – 1843), not Tulsi Das (1532 – 1623). While I mistakenly listed the author as Tulsi Das, the basic biographical notes I included, sketchy though they were, were correct for Tulsi Sahib.

At least I haven’t made the mistake of calling the poet Alexander Pope, Pope Alexander…

No responses yet

Aug 25 2010

simple answers

Don’t ask questions
with simple answers.
Ask the questions
that bring you face-to-face with the Mystery.

3 responses so far

Jul 29 2010

Behind the Scenes with Ivan

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

I normally 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 year ago, and I think, “I have to share that with everyone again!”

Then I spend a while searching through photos among Flickr’s “Creative Commons” library 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 7,000 people! It takes my computer 3 – 4 hours to send the poem email out each day.

I also 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!


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 –
  • 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 (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!


17 responses so far

May 10 2010

A little shameless self-promotion today…

Two of my poems are featured on the TIFERET Journal website. Click on the “Journal” link, and then select “Poetry Corner.” This section of the site is under the guidance of silent lotus, himself a luminous poet who regularly shares his work on the Poetry Chaikhana Forum. Elizabeth Reninger also has a poem on the Tiferet site; you may recognize her name as well, since she’s a poet we’ve featured in past Poetry Chaikhana poem emails.

The Tiferet Journal is an excellent publication, and their site is worth exploring…

One response so far

Apr 19 2010

Poetry Chaikhana on Hold This Week

I just wanted to post a brief note to let you know that I won’t be posting to the Poetry Chaikhana this week. Over the weekend I managed to crack a couple of ribs in a martial arts class. Ouch!

I am doing well, however, and already beginning to mend. Full recovery will probably take a few weeks, but I should be able to return to the Poetry Chaikhana next week.

So, no new poetry posts this week, but I wanted to let you know why.

Sending lots of love!


7 responses so far

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