When I first started the Poetry Chaikhana a little over five years ago, I had humble expectations. I remember thinking to myself, If at least 30 to 40 people follow it regularly, that will be enough.
Well, as of today, we have 5,000 people on the poetry email list! Wow!
And that’s all without marketing, ads, or exchanged links. Everyone has found his or her own way to the site, through your word of mouth and serendipitous web searches. That’s 5,000 unexpected, unique pathways to the Poetry Chaikhana.
We’ve managed to build quite a community, with people coming together from all over the world to appreciate these elevating, non-dogmatic expressions of the spirit. In fact, the web site has had visitors from more than 200 countries! If you’re curious which countries have shown the most interest, take a look at Around the World.
I just got word that the Poetry Chaikhana Blog is listed in the Top 100 Poetry Blogs complied by Online University Reviews.
The list they’ve put together looks like an excellent resource of blogs focusing on collected poetry, original work, audio and video poetry, even children’s poetry. Worth exploring…
This weekend I completed a series of updates to the Poetry Chaikhana web site that I think you’ll like…
- Site Search
You can now search for anything anywhere on the Poetry Chaikhana site, from any page! Search for poets, words, phrases, themes, spiritual traditions. The Poetry Chaikhana is far too rich of a resource to not give you the ability to run a search. Well, that’s now available. I’ve been planning on adding this capability for years, literally, but never quite got around to it – until now.
- Poetry Page Redesign
I made several changes to the look and feel of the poetry pages. Space is used better and, I hope, the pages should be more inviting to the eyes.
I made a few other miscellaneous technical changes, but those two are the changes you’re most likely to notice. So please explore the changes. Use them as an excuse to re-explore the site. Make a few new discoveries…
The Poetry Chaikhana is a community reaching across the globe. We have visitors from every continent (okay, not Antarctica) and almost every country — literally! (See Poetry Chaikhana Around the World.) You are participating in a worldwide, multi-ethnic, multi-religious community of seekers, sages, and artists. By exploring the sacred poetry of the world together we open pathways for dialog, greater respect, and deeper understanding. And, of course, we get to share stunning expressions of humanity’s wisdom and wonder and wordplay.
I haven’t made a focused appeal for donations in the last twelve months, but your support is what keeps the Poetry Chaikhana going. Your donations pay for Internet services and software; they allow me to build the library of poetry books that is the backbone of this site. Most of all, your donations free me up to share my thoughts on these amazing poems, respond to your emails, add new poets to the website, and, when necessary, troubleshoot technical problems.
As you read these poem emails, as you visit the website, if you are regularly touched by that spark of connection and inspiration, please consider supporting the Poetry Chaikhana by clicking on one of the Donate buttons below or sending a check or money order in the mail. Your support keeps our community alive. It allows us to be a resource of inspiration and exploration for more and more people around the world.
If you can’t make a donation right now, please know your supportive thoughts and word-of-mouth recommendations are also genuine contributions, as well.
Ivan M. Granger
PO Box 2320
Boulder, CO 80306
/ Photo by woodleywonderworks /
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Do you ever wonder what I do for the Poetry Chaikhana besides sending out poetry? The Poetry Chaikhana is actually an extensive network, including the poem emails, a website of rich resources, a blog, a forum, a Facebook page, and now a Twitter page. It’s a lot for one person to manage in his free time (especially when that person tends to be a rather quiet, meditative type).
The main way I coordinate it all is through the custom software I developed several years ago. But that software was becoming increasingly out-of-date and not as efficient as I’d like. This past weekend I just completed a major update that will allow the Poetry Chaikhana to keep serving you its special brand of tea well into the future. You probably won’t immediately notice much change on your end, but I’ll certainly have a more relaxed smile on my face.
…And a reminder that your generous donations are what allow me to do all that work behind the scenes — thank you.
I’ll admit, it’s taken me a long time to figure out what the big deal is about Twitter, but in the last few days I’ve been exploring the world of tweets and I think I’m starting to get some good ideas.
I just set up a Poetry Chaikhana Twitter page:
Sign up. Check it out. Send me lots of ideas and feedback. Tweet me.
As of this morning, we now have more than 4,000 people on the Poetry Chaikhana email list. Wow! When I started this project on the Web in 2003, I figured I’d be content if at least 30 people signed up.
/ A Girl by the Window /
I’ve just been exploring the stunning paintings of Iman Maleki…
/ A Girl by the Window (detail) /
Yes, these are in fact paintings, not photographs.
/ A Tar Player /
Iman Maleki is a young Iranian artist, born in 1976 in Tehran. When he turned 15 he began to study under Iranian realist painter Morteza Katouzian. Iman Maleki has been painting professionally since the late 1990s.
Looking at these images for the first time, you play a game with yourself: It’s like staring at an optical illusion. One moment you’re convinced you’re looking at a photograph, then a switch is flipped in your brain, and you see a painting. Continue Reading »
/ Photo by larry&flo /
I often use the word “mystic” in my commentaries. To me it suggests one who is concerned with inner truth and realization, as opposed to a mere follower of rules, theologies, and surface observance. “Mystic” is a word free from most religious or sectarian definitions and, therefore, well suited to an interfaith site like the Poetry Chaikhana. Less often I’ll use “esoteric,” and when I do, I generally use it to mean the same thing, perhaps slightly emphasizing the more academic-sounding heft of the word.
Some writers, however, make a strict distinction between the words “mystic” and “esoteric.”
They point out that esotericism is concerned with with the essential, the essence of things. An esotericist is exclusively focused on God or enlightenment, and not the subtle/psychic/spiritual phenomena that may be encountered along the way. A mystic, by contrast, is interested in the entire landscape of spiritual experience.
Those can be important distinctions to keep in mind for certain uses but, from my perspective, it is an artificial distinction that only a lexicographer can love.
In my opinion, the only valid goal is the esotericist’s. And the only responsible approach to the journey is the mystic’s.
In other words, to be successful, an esotericist must also be a mystic.
So I hope you’ll forgive me as I continue to use a very broad definition of “mystic” as it swirls and merges with the “esoteric”…
/ Photo by Berd Whitlock /
Up until now I haven’t directly addressed the current invasion of Gaza, but I don’t want to appear to be ignoring this deeply traumatic world crisis. Although I am quite aware of politics and world events in my private life, the Poetry Chaikhana isn’t intended to be overtly political or a soapbox for me to express my own personal political perspective. It is, however, definitely intended to encourage a deeper respect for different cultures and the great world spiritual traditions. In that sense, the Poetry Chaikhana is indirectly political; it is meant to be subversive to the ‘us vs. them’ political instinct that so often leads to violence and wars.
I will just say this about the current invasion of Gaza: There is so much suffering occurring in that region that it is almost unbearable, and that suffering is being felt by people on all sides of the conflict. Sadly, this new invasion probably signals a worsening of the already frayed relationship between the Palestinians and the Israelis. It’s one of those historical events that can’t be forgotten, and so the bitterness and wounding gets passed on to another generation. The invasion seems to be a total rejection of peace in the near future.
My heart breaks for all the peoples of the region whose pain is likely to deepen.
It’s now past time to think deeply about these issues, to question past assumptions of right and wrong, and to dig in for the necessary multi-generational process that is now required for real and honest and lasting peace in the region. Does that sound too hard? Well, there is no other way. Become patient, determined, vocal, and, most of all, continue to nurture a heart that feels, even though it may feel pain.
I am reminded of a poem a read years ago, though I’ve forgotten the author’s name:
My heart breaks
/ Photo by jetheriot /
With the election of Barack Obama as the next president of the United States of America, I can’t resist a brief exploration of the esoteric meaning of his name.
The word barack, like the Hebrew word baruch, means blessing or blessed. But that’s just the most surface translation of the word. A deeper exploration of the word relates to sending down roots or to kneel down in prayer. Both of these meanings carry the sense that what is above is reaching down to what is below. So, in the fullest sense, barack and baruch imply the heavenly reaching to the earth, rooting its blessings in the earth, weaving its life throughout the world.
Regardless of our political viewpoint, that is a blessing we all pray for.
The Poetry Chaikhana web site — including the forum and blog — were down for much of Friday, Aug. 15.
What happened is that, in the middle of the night, the poetry-chaikhana.com domain name “deactivated.” I just found out that Network Solutions, the agency that regulates that, didn’t automatically renew the domain name, as they were supposed to. No domain name = no web site.
One person suggested to me that Network Solutions should be careful not to mess with “thousands of vicious pen-wielding poets in Quonset tea houses… ready to write them into eternal oblivion.” I guess they got the message. With the help of my very helpful Internet service provider, we got them to fix the problem within a few hours. (And it only took wielding a phone and email, not a barbed pen.)
So — the Poetry Chaikhana is back!
I periodically get asked where I find the photos that accompany the poems on the blog and in the poem emails. Did I take them all myself? (No, I’m not that talented behind the lens.) Did I pay to access a stock photography catalog? (Nope.)
Actually, I find almost all of the photos on Flickr, through their Creative Commons section. These are basically photos people post and make available for free, as long as you attribute them.
You’ll notice that beneath each photo I use, I include a reference to the photographer’s name with a link that leads to their Flickr pages.
Once I’ve selected the poem for the day, I imagine visual images that might compliment the words well, and then start searching through Flickr. Some real treasures in there, even though most photos are by amateurs. Often I end up selecting a photo that has little to do with my original idea. I’m just as curious as you to discover which image will ultimately accompany the selected poem…
If you tried to visit this blog, or any part of the Poetry Chaikhana website Wednesday evening or Thursday morning — everything was down. My internet service provider, the folks who host the website, were hit by a Denial of Service attack. Basically, that means a hacker sent an automated stream of data to their servers, overwhelming them, and shutting their systems down.
Well, we’re back up, with new security in place that should minimize the possibility of that in the future…