Archive for the 'Poetry Chaikhana Misc.' Category

Aug 12 2022

Rumi – Keep knocking

Keep on knocking
by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

English version by Coleman Barks

Keep on knocking
’til the joy inside
opens a window
look to see who’s there

— from The Essential Rumi, Translated by Coleman Barks


/ Image by Daniel Gregoire /

We have made it to the other side of our journey and arrived safely in Eugene, Oregon. It is a homecoming for us, although we have been away for decades. Much is familiar, yet everything is new.

The drive out itself, while beautiful, was a bit of an ordeal. We passed through a heat wave affecting Utah and Idaho before entering the cooler weather of Oregon.

Eugene itself is lovely. The Willamette River running through town, trees and deep greens, blackberry bushes at the edges of alleyways just beginning to bear fruit. Walks along the river in the morning chill is a special treat. The downtown area is vibrant, more active than we remember in the early 90s. Trying to reorient to the idiosyncratic city layout, one way streets, unexpected loops and turns.

When we explore a town, the places we check out first to connect with the community: the natural food stores, the bookstores, coffee shops (though I rarely drink coffee), neighborhood parks. We’re making the rounds.

The ocean, just an hour-and-a-half’s drive away, calls to my wife. An afternoon trip coming up soon.

Boxes are everywhere. All the books arrived, though we did not bring all our old bookshelves, so just where will everything go? Which books make the cut for display on bookshelves and which get tucked away into closets?

Keep on knocking
’til the joy inside
opens a window
look to see who’s there

I want to say thank you to all of you, the entire Poetry Chaikhana community, for all of your thoughts and supportive messages through this move. My heart has been full through the miles traveled. Love to you all in return.

Have a beautiful day!


Recommended Books: Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom
More Books >>


Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi, Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

Afghanistan & Turkey (1207 – 1273) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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Jul 08 2022

Move Update

Thank you so much, everyone, for your many generous donations and for all of the wonderful, warm-hearted messages as we prepare for our move to Eugene, Oregon.

While we have not yet reached our $5,000 fundraising goal, I should be able to maintain a fairly regular poetry schedule, once we get settled.

Currently, we are now surrounded by stacks of boxes and empty bookshelves. We’re engaged in a flurry of planning, coordination, phone calls, and lifting of heavy things. It’s a strange thing to have imagined myself as leading a relatively non-materialistic life, but to then be confronted by all the stuff non-materialist me has managed to accumulate over the past few decades of living in Colorado. Because there is a financial calculation to choosing to transport everything such a distance, each object presents me with a challenge or a question: Is it useful? Is it meaningful? Have I become too attached too it? Or am I being too cavalier in the name of non-attachment and should I make more of an effort to hold onto it? We’re selling a little bit and donating a lot, and still we have so much to move. How did we ever manage to move halfway across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii years ago? Youthful bravado, I suppose, and a willingness to go way beyond the limits of my then unrecognized chronic fatigue patterns. Trying to do things this time with more balance and wisdom, while still retaining a spark of that old bravado.

Wishing you magical adventures… and a beautiful day!

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Jul 01 2022

Poetry Chaikhana Move Updates

Poetry Chaikhana Move Updates

I want to say how profoundly touched I am by the many messages I have received wishing me well through this upcoming move. I haven’t been able to respond to every note, but I have read them all. Here is something I wrote to someone else also going through a move that I thought might be worth sharing:

“So much goes into a move, doesn’t it? It is not just planning and boxing and cleaning. A move becomes a sort of life review. We sift through all the things we have accumulated, furniture, books, mementos, every little thing that fills our living spaces. Each item reminds us of a memory, a time we purchased it, or when it was given to us. It can be an emotional process, reminding us of the stories of our lives, asking us what from our past we want to carry forward into the next phase.”

It’s a bit of a whirlwind around here right now, but we are so looking forward to this new phase, both personally and with the Poetry Chaikhana. We’re trying to catch the current in the midst of all the activity…

We have raised nearly two thirds of our $5,000 goal to help with the move!

The donations coming in to help with this move have been so generous! Many donations of $10, $20 and $30 have come in, along with several donations of larger amounts. I know that sometimes the smallest contributions mean the most, because they are often the most difficult to send. I am grateful to you all!

If you are still thinking of making a contribution — it is certainly welcome. It would be wonderful to reach that $5,000 goal. But if finances are too tight to send something right now, I genuinely understand. Your good wishes help too. And a friendly note of support arriving in my in-box or in the mail is always a welcome sight!

Thank you so much, everyone, for your help and encouragement through this big move. I look forward to working with you and watching the Poetry Chaikhana adapt and change in its new home!

Donate

3 responses so far

Jul 01 2022

Jacopone da Todi – As air carries light

As air carries light poured out by the rising sun
by Jacopone da Todi (Jacopone Benedetti)

English version by Ivan M. Granger

As air carries light poured out by the rising sun,
As the candle spills away beneath the flame’s touch,
So too does the soul melt when ignited by light,
      its will now gone.
Lost within this light,
      the soul, dying to itself, in majesty lives on.

Why fish among the waves for wine
Spilled into the sea?
It has become the ocean.
Can wine once mingled be drawn again from water?
So it is with the soul drowned in light:
Love has drunk it in,
changed it, mixed it with truth,
      until it is entirely new.

The soul is willing and yet unwilling,
For there is nothing the soul now seeks,
save for this beauty!
No longer does it hunger or grasp,
      so emptied by such sweetness.
This supreme summit of the soul rises
      from a nothingness shaped
      and set within the Lord.

— from This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, Edited by Ivan M. Granger


/ Image by Dulcey Lima /

As air carries light poured out by the rising sun,
As the candle spills away beneath the flame’s touch,
So too does the soul melt when ignited by light…

With these recognizable images, we begin to get an idea of how the soul is transformed in exalted states. Flooded by the light of illumination, we, like wax near a fire, melt. The self is no longer a fixed, hardened thing, but something fluid and formless. In this dynamic state, the soul loses its dull opacity, becoming clear, allowing the light to shine through it.

Lost within this light,
      the soul, dying to itself, in majesty lives on.

The old, inanimate self melts away, becoming a new and fluid being that expresses itself through yielding. In its yielding, the soul discovers its real life.

So it is with the soul drowned in light:
Love has drunk it in,
changed it, mixed it with truth,
      until it is entirely new
.

The spiritual concept of surrendering the will is difficult to accept in any age, but especially so in the modern era when accomplishment through aggressive exercise of the will is idolized.

The soul is willing and yet unwilling…

The most immediate objection is that without will, we can do nothing. On a certain level, we prove our existence by acting in the world, right?

When deeply examined, however, the will is revealed to be more complex than we might casually think. There are different expressions of will. On one level, will is volition or the impulse to act. Will can be our sense of firm determination. Will is also the capacity to choose, our free will.

Mystics regularly use terms like “self-will” to express a further understanding of what the will is and how it works. We can say that self-will is selfish will, as opposed to the willingness to be of service. Or we might say that self-will is willfulness, when we are consumed by our own private purposes and no longer pay attention to feedback from other people or the environment. But there is more to self-will than that.

Self-will isn’t always cruel or destructive, at least not in obvious ways. It is quite possible to perform great philanthropic works and still have it be an expression of self-will, for example. Self-will is will that is under the control of the ego. Its actions serve and reinforce the ego. Self-will renews the trance of the ego-self.

Most of what we call will is involved somehow in self-will. But the opposite of self-will is not inaction. There is another form of will that does not originate with the ego and does not constantly return our attention to it. This selfless will is potent, yet it is not our own. To unleash this other will in our lives requires an elegant balance between yielding and stepping forward, between selflessness and presence. We engage in action, but we are not the actors. What we normally think of as the self is not directing the action.

This frees up a great amount of trapped psychic energy, and we become awestruck witnesses to the unexpected grace and power of life acting through us — a vision of immense beauty!

For there is nothing the soul now seeks,
save for this beauty!


Recommended Books: Jacopone da Todi (Jacopone Benedetti)

Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World Jacopone da Todi: Lauds (Classics of Western Spirituality) All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time


Jacopone da Todi (Jacopone Benedetti), Jacopone da Todi (Jacopone Benedetti) poetry, Christian poetry Jacopone da Todi (Jacopone Benedetti)

Italy (1230 – 1306) Timeline
Christian : Catholic

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2 responses so far

Jun 30 2022

Poetry Chaikhana is Moving!

I have a big announcement: The Poetry Chaikhana is moving – and so am I. After many years of living in Colorado, my wife and I have decided to move back to our hometown of Eugene, Oregon.

I am a traveler, You are my road.
I go from You to You.

~ Zeynep Hatun

Deciding to Move

We had discussed the idea of returning to Oregon before, but it never felt like the right time. My part-time job as a computer programmer is here in Colorado. We have friends and spiritual circles in Colorado that are important to us. Though we had been vagabonds as young adults, we now felt like “grown ups” who had finally settled down.

Then some big shifts began to happen. Several friends moved out of the area. Covid hit. And just as the first Covid lockdowns started, both of my wife’s parents died (unrelated to Covid). The grief she felt was magnified by the isolation of Covid world. We felt increasingly disconnected in Colorado. Reconnecting with our extended families in Oregon began to feel essential.

(Downtown Eugene, Oregon. Image: Rick Obst, Flickr)
(Downtown Eugene, Oregon. Image: Rick Obst, Flickr)

Oregon, Poetry and Nature

In addition to people who are dear to us in Oregon, the land itself has always quietly called to us. Oregon’s deep green forests and its generous rain inspires a contemplative, quieter approach to life. A good place for poetry.

Now that all thoughts have subsided
off I go, deep into the woods,
and pick me
a handful of shepherd’s purse.
Just like the stream
meandering through mossy crevices
I, too, hushed
become utterly clear.

~ Ryokan

An Encounter and a Decision

In April, as we were driving through our neighborhood deep in conversation about the idea of a move, a huge eagle swooped down from around the corner and flew right at our car. As it passed above our car, with its bright white head and immense wingspan, we could clearly see that it held prey, what looked like a fish from the nearby lake, in its talons.

(Not our eagle, but it looked similar. Image: Jongsun Lee, Unsplash)
(Not our eagle, but it looked similar. Image: Jongsun Lee, Unsplash)

Encountering that eagle at that exact moment headed straight for us felt like a divine blessing, an affirmation.

When the universe speaks, we find it’s best to listen. We set aside our hesitations and agreed to move.

Just a few days later, we found a home to rent in Eugene that we loved. We committed to move at the beginning of August.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

~ John O’Donohue

Poetry Chaikhana Community Support

When we first started making plans for this move, my wife and I thought we could do it quickly and cheaply, the way we did in our 20s. It turns out that moving when you are over 50 is not the same experience as when you’re young! Who knew I had accumulated so many poetry books over the past couple of decades? Even selling and donating larger things, like furniture, there is a lot to move. We are struggling to find the funds to cover all of the expenses.

It felt like it was time to once again reach out to you, the Poetry Chaikhana community.

I was surprised to realize that it has been more than five years since I last sent out a direct appeal for donations.

My strong hope is that this move will usher in a new flowering of the Poetry Chaikhana. I would love to have community support and encouragement through this move as I begin to explore new poetic avenues in a new community.

Our Goal: Let’s raise $5,000 to help with the move.
That may sound like a big number, but with a community of several thousand people across the globe, I think we can raise that sum together.

Your donation will help in several important ways:

  • Logistically, it will help us cover necessary expenses, like a moving truck, gas (which, as you all know, has become expensive) and lodging during the move.
  • For the Poetry Chaikhana, it will help with a smooth transition, minimizing the amount of extra work I have to commit to my day job to cover expenses, allowing more time for poetry. This will lay the groundwork for establishing the Poetry Chaikhana in our new community and begin to imagine new projects, both local and global.
  • On a personal level, you will be helping us return home to our roots.

If you have thought about making a donation to the Poetry Chaikhana in the past, if you have been touched by a poem or commentary featured in one of the Poetry Chaikhana emails, if you would like to keep the poem emails coming regularly… now is an especially helpful time to make a donation.

Ways you can help:

– Make a secure online donation in any amount through PayPal by clicking the “Donate” button on the Poetry Chaikhana website at https://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/blog/donate/

– Send a check or money order in US funds, addressed to:
Poetry Chaikhana
PO Box 2320
Boulder, CO 80306
USA
(This address will obviously be changing soon, but all mail will be forwarded once the new PO box is set up.)

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

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

~ Rumi

(Bike path along the Willamette River, Eugene, Oregon. Image: Don Hankins, Flickr)
(Bike path along the Willamette River, Eugene, Oregon. Image: Don Hankins, Flickr)

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!

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.

=

Thank you for being such a supportive and inspiring community all of these years! I mean that genuinely. I have always felt that we form an extended family for each other. This community has helped me though challenges and changes and shared in my joys. I hope you feel that too. Sending love and poetic nectar from my tea house to yours!

Ivan

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Mar 11 2022

Ivan’s poetry in Nameless

I am honored to have been included in the new poetry anthology nameless: a riff of 44 images complemented by poetry, by Rashani Réa & Six Contemporary Poets. This is a delightful collection collage art by Rashani Réa, accompanied by haiku and short poems by six poets, yours truly included. One of mine from the book:

chance meeting
were we ever apart
my many selves and i?

A lovely book to sit down with and read at any page.

You can support Rashani Réa’s work by purchasing a copy through Amazon:
click here.

2 responses so far

Dec 10 2021

Ivan Interview: Poetry, Spirituality & Meditating in a Cave

This is an interview I did with PMC last year about spirituality, poetry, and my own personal journey.

(The introduction and questions are in Hindi, but my responses are in English. Hopefully, an interesting puzzle to solve for non-Hindi speakers.)

One response so far

Sep 03 2021

Dogen – midnight – no waves, no wind

midnight — no waves, no wind
by Eihei Dogen

English version by Adjei Agyei-Baah & Gabriel Rosenstock

midnight — no waves, no wind
empty boat
flooded with moonlight

— from The Awakened One: Buddha-Themed Haiku from Around the World, Edited by Adjei Agyei-Baah / Edited by Gabriel Rosenstock


/ Image by Osman Rana /

We don’t have to hand this haiku over to the intellect to immediately understand its implications, do we? Let’s briefly sketch it out.

Midnight. A still lake, an empty boat filled with moonlight.

No activity. The mind is at rest. Emotions are calm, the will is content. In this quiet moment what we normally think of as ourselves is found to be empty, spacious, egoless. But the emptiness is not empty, it is filled with with the light of awareness. More than filled, flooded. And what does a flooded boat do? It sinks. It gives itself to the embrace of the illuminated water. Only the light and the quiet lake remain.

Or perhaps it is just a moment in time. It is what it is and nothing more: Midnight. A still lake, an empty boat filled with moonlight.

=

Eihei Dogen, sometimes respectfully referred to as Dogen Zenji, was a key figure in the development of Japanese Zen practice and the founder of the Soto Zen sect.

Dogen was born in about 1200 in Kyoto, Japan. At the age of 17, he was formally ordained as a Buddhist monk. Considering the Japanese Buddhism of the time to be corrupt and influenced by secular power struggles, Dogen traveled to China to discover the heart of the Dharma by studying Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism at several ancient monasteries.

Much of the Ch’an Buddhism he explored utilized koans and “encounter dialogues” to startle the consciousness into enlightenment, but Dogen was critical of this practice. Instead, he was drawn to the teachings of silent meditation.

Dogen returned to Japan in 1236. He left the politicized environment of Kyoto and settled in the mountains and snow country of remote Echizen Province, where he established his own school of Zen, the Soto school.

While he proved to be a talented writer and poet, the core of Dogen’s teaching was to transcend the mind’s addiction to language and form in order to become fully present and recognize one’s inherent enlightenment.

=

Hurricane Ida and its aftermath are very much in my thoughts. And the fires in California and elsewhere around the globe.

The earth speaks, sometimes we listen.

I hope you are all safe and well.

=

The Awakened One

The Awakened One
Buddha-Themed Haiku from Around the World
Edited by Adjei Agyei-Baah and Gabriel Rosenstock

$8.95 / £6.50 / €7.60

USCANUKFRDEITESAUS

I am still playing catching up with the release of the Poetry Chaikhana’s new publication, The Awakened One: Buddha-Themed Haiku from Around the World, edited by Adjei Agyei-Baah and Gabriel Rosenstock. Initial sales have been solid, but I am still investigating the best ways to ship copies to readers (and some of the haiku writers!) in countries such as Nigeria, Croatia, and Japan. The Poetry Chaikhana website itself is patiently waiting for me to add a new page highlighting The Awakened One. A lot of work goes into a little book!

The Awakened One is a beautiful book, a good gift to yourself and one to share with friends. Purchasing a copy is also an excellent way to support the Poetry Chaikhana. It makes a perfect companion to Gabriel Rosenstock’s explorations of haiku and awareness in Haiku Enlightenment.

May you be flooded with moonlight!


Recommended Books: Eihei Dogen

Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter Haiku Enlightenment: New Expanded Edition The Poetry of Zen: (Shambhala Library) The Zen Poetry of Dogen: Verses from the Mountain of Eternal Peace The Soul is Here for its Own Joy: Sacred Poems from Many Cultures
More Books >>


Eihei Dogen, Eihei Dogen poetry, Buddhist poetry Eihei Dogen

Japan (1200 – 1253) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

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Aug 27 2021

New Book: The Awakened One

I am so pleased to announce the latest publication from the Poetry Chaikhana:


The Awakened One


Buddha-Themed Haiku from Around the World
Edited by Adjei Agyei-Baah and Gabriel Rosenstock

$8.95 / £6.50 / €7.60

USCANUKFRDEITESAUS

This new collection pairs contemporary haiku by poets from around the world with classical Japanese haiku.


     heavenly mystery . . .
     autumn leaves
     descend on a stone buddha

     – Imaizumi Sogetsu-ni (1750-1804)

          sudden wind
          the garden buddha’s head crowned
          with cherry blossoms

          rafale de vent
          le bouddha du jardin couronne
          de fleurs de cerisier

          – Olivier Schopfer (Switzerland)


Modern haikuists from the UK, the US, Croatia, India, Nigeria and a dozen other countries converse via haiku with Japanese masters, like Basho, Issa and Buson, sharing moments of insight expressed in poetry of a single breath.


     in a cloudy well
     this one moon . . .
     let us all adore it

     – Tagami Kikusha-ni (1753–1826)

          cherry blossoms
          the morning moon mingles
          with the petals

          trešnja u cvatu
          stopljen s laticama
          jutarnji mjesec

          – Tomislav Maretić (Croatia)


The Awakened One offers us a poetic dialog on the nature of awareness across culture and time.


     many solemn nights
     blond moon, we stand and marvel . . .
     sleeping our noons away

     – Matsunaga Teitoku (1571–1654)

          hilltop buddha
          moonlight in the emptiness
          of his cupped hand

          – Katherine Raine (New Zealand)


Poetry has helped me navigate through the past couple of years. Some poems bring me to silence, others give voice to my grief and anger. Some awaken pure delight, others remind me to flow with life. The Awakened One is a perfect collection for this time. Within these haiku we hear the voices of poets, men and women from all over the world contemplating a moment, a feeling, or the vast expanse, all within just a few lines. Reading them, there is a shared experience, a shared breath, a shared spark of awareness. Reading these haiku grounds us and reweaves us into the world community.

This is one to spend time with, keeping it nearby to read just a page or two at a time.

Your purchase of The Awakened One is an excellent way to support the Poetry Chaikhana. Remember to buy additional copies to send as gifts to friends and fellow poetry lovers. Copies can also be donated to schools, libraries and prisons – allowing haiku to work its healing alchemy in the world.

Have a beautiful, poetic day!

Ivan

PS – Although The Awakened One has just been published, it is already listed at #16 on Amazon’s best sellers in their Haiku & Japanese Poetry category! The longer that number remains high, the more awareness of the book will spread beyond the Poetry Chaikhana community.



Available through Amazon:
USCANUKFRDEITESAUS
Available soon through other online outlets, like Barnes & Noble, Wordery and The Book Depository.
Also available through your local bookstore by request.

4 responses so far

Jan 15 2021

Poetry Chaikhana Publications

I don’t often talk about book sales, but I thought I’d let you know that two Poetry Chaikhana publications — Haiku Enlightenment and The Longing in Between — have been selling well since the end of 2020. Haiku Enlightenment has been in the top 100 best selling haiku books on Amazon, and The Longing in Between has been hovering in the top 100 or 200 for poetry anthologies. Amazing! I love to see these book circulating, carrying their wild, illuminating poetry out into the world. A great deal of thanks is due to you, the Poetry Chaikhana community, for your steady support and encouragement through the years.

One response so far

Nov 29 2020

Holiday Poetry Book Recommendations 2020

It has been a challenging year for most of us, I know. As we approach the winter holidays, our normal celebratory feeling is muted. We are more cautious about big family gatherings. Economic times are uncertain for many. And the new year remains unknown. But we can choose to use this as a time of spiritual opportunity. So much that we have taken for granted — in the world around us and within ourselves — has been losing its rigid certainty. When things return to a formless and changing state, that is when the greatest potential is available to us. This is a time for dreaming as new patterns form and take shape. And what better time to dream than in the deep of winter? Let us cultivate new visions for who we are and who we are becoming. Let us rediscover our native voices.

I strongly believe that poetry is one of the most powerful, resonant tools for the spirit to reach out into the world. Words and images, rhythms and silences, these expand our awareness, they shift our focus, they open our hearts — and we, in turn, inevitably affect the world around us.

So consider treating yourself to some enlightening moments of poetry this winter. Offer it as a transformative and healing gift to your family and friends. Watch as it works its magic within you and the world around you.

“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.”


Here is a a holiday sampler to consider as gifts for you and your loved ones:

Poetry Chaikhana Publications

Of course, we have to start with the Poetry Chaikhana’s books!

To satisfy that longing (or awaken it)…

The Longing in Between

Sacred Poetry from Around the World
A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

Edited with Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

In many ways this is my most personal publication, combining favorite soul-inspiring poems from the world’s great religious and spiritual traditions, accompanied by the thoughts, meditations, commentary, and occasional tangents that have been central to the Poetry Chaikhana poem emails for years. Selections from Rumi, Whitman, Kabir, Machado, Issa, Teresa of Avila, Dickinson, Blake, Yunus Emre, John of the Cross, Lalla, and many others.

These are poems of seeking and awakening… and the longing in between.

The Longing in Between is a work of sheer beauty. Ivan M. Granger has done a great service, not only by bringing [these poems] to public attention, but by opening their deeper meaning with his own rare poetic and mystic sensibility.”

ROGER HOUSDEN
author of the best-selling Ten Poems to Change Your Life series




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This Dance of Bliss, Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology, Ivan M. Granger


This Dance of Bliss

Ecstatic Poetry From Around the World

A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

Edited with Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

This Dance of Bliss is an inspiring collection of poems and wisdom stories from the world’s great sacred traditions. Rumi, St. John of the Cross, Lalla, Goethe, Hildegard von Bingen, Dogen, Khayyam, and many others gather together within these pages to sing their ecstatic songs.

Ivan M. Granger accompanies each poem with his own reflections and meditative commentaries, inviting us to explore the insights and private raptures of these mystics, seers, and saints-until we too are swept up in this dance of bliss!

This book is a treasure, a feast, an oasis. Ivan M. Granger’s profound gift for selecting the kind of poetry that lights up the cave of the heart and melts the boundaries between the soul and the Divine is fully met by his lucid reflections on the soul-transfiguring power of each piece in this magnificent collection.

MIRABAI STARR
author of God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity & Islam


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Haiku Enlightenment, Gabriel Rosenstock

Haiku Enlightenment
New Expanded Edition

by Gabriel Rosenstock


PURCHASE



   

or ask at your local independent book store

Haiku Enlightenment is a delightful, often playful look at haiku as both a poetic craft and a pathway of awakening – for poets, seekers and creative rebels.

Gabriel Rosenstock has given us a rich collection of insights, distilled from a lifetime dedicated to the art and practice of poetry, on stepping into inspired moments. Using a generous selection of contemporary and classical haiku, he explores ideas of creativity and perception, encouraging us to calm the restless mind, notice what is overlooked, explore the world around us, and fully encounter each glowing moment.

From such moments, haiku – and enlightenment – emerge.

Haiku happens in this world of daily miracles and is a perfect prism through which Nature herself enlightens us.
– Gabriel Rosenstock, from Haiku Enlightenment

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the moon    
has found it for me    
a mountain path    

    Michael McClintock   

    the body of the Buddha
    accepts it–
    winter rain

         Issa


Gathering Silence

Sayings by Ivan M. Granger
Collages by Rashani Réa

All of mysticism comes down to this:
to recognize
what is already
and always here.

Gathering Silence is a collection of meditative sayings and bits of poetry, accompanied throughout by stunning full-color artwork by internationally-known collage artist, Rashani Réa. This is beautiful book, filled with color, creative thoughts, and meditative moments. Perfect for an altar or meditation space, by your bed or on a coffee table. A wonderful gift for family, friends, and fellow seekers!

READ MOREPURCHASE

Marrow of the Flame
Poems of the Spiritual Journey
by Dorothy Walters

Introduction by Andrew Harvey

Dorothy Walters explores the spiritual journey through its ecstasies, struggles, and vistas. Each step is observed with the keen insight and clear voice of a modern woman who is both a skilled poet and genuine mystic.

READ MORE
PURCHASE


This year I thought I would change things up a bit with a more personal list. Rather than giving you a list of general gift suggestions, I thought why not create a list of the sacred poetry books that have meant the most to me at key points in my life.

I had a pleasant afternoon going through my bookshelves, pulling books I’ve loved, remembering key moments in my journeys of spiritual and poetic exploration, until I was surrounded by stacks of cherished books. I thought, this is it! This will be my holiday recommended book list this year. It was only when I then went back and checked my holiday book lists from the previous few years that I realized I have been recommending many of these personally beloved books all along. So here they are (again): my list of books recommended for the holidays, books that have opened doorways in my mind and heart, awakening a deep love of poetry as a way to express the ineffable. I hope these books will mean something special to you and your loved ones these holidays…

A Sampling of Sufi Wisdom…

Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom
By Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut

Something about Andrew Harvey’s selections and translations always strike a pure note. This book is a delightful collection of poetry and Sufi wisdom stories. Rumi, Kabir, al-Hallaj, Shabistari, Ansari… This is one I return to again and again.

Nobody, Son of Nobody: Poems of Shaikh Abu-Saeed Abil-Kheir
Renditions by Vraje Abramian

I read this book early in my exploration of Sufi poetry — and I was hooked! Abu Said Abil-Kheir’s poetry ranges from the ecstatic and celestial, to struggles with abandonment. His poetry has an immediacy and even a sort of devoutly wry petulance. This book remains a personal favorite of mine.

For the wise woman…

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women
Edited by Jane Hirshfield

This is the first anthology I got years ago that made me say, Wow! Includes Sappho, Rabia, Yeshe Tsogyel, Hildegard von Bingen, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Hadewijch of Antwerp, Lalla, Mirabai, Bibi Hayati, Marina Tsvetaeva. The best collection I’ve found of women’s voices in sacred poetry.

Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar
by Elizabeth U. Harding

Not really a poetry collection, but this was the book that first introduced me to the fierce and passionate poetry of the great Kali devotees, like Ramprasad and Kalamakanta. Elisabeth Harding has done a beautiful job of gathering together Kali lore and presenting it to a primarily Western audience, while remaining reverent toward Kali and traditions of Kali worship. She discusses the traditional symbolism of Kali and the shocking, violent images associated with Her. Kali emerges in the reader’s mind as the loving destroyer of illusion, ecstatic slayer of demonic qualities.

For illumination…

The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry
Edited by Stephen Mitchell

This is a compact anthology, but a wonderful collection that includes Li Po, Wu-Men, Rumi, Kabir, Mirabai, Rilke… And the added bonus of Stephen Mitchell’s way with words. One of my personal favorites.

The Illuminated Rumi
Translations by Coleman Barks
Art by Michael Green

I keep recommending this year after year. It is a beautiful gift book with excerpts of Rumi’s poetry accompanied by amazing digital collage artwork that draws you deeply into each page. This book entrances on several levels. An excellent gift book.



For the Christian contemplative…

The Book of Mystical Chapters:
Meditations on the Soul’s Ascent from the Desert Fathers and Other Early Christian Contemplatives
Translated and Introduced by John Anthony McGuckin

This is the book that, years ago, introduced me to the stunning poetry of Symeon the New Theologian, igniting my passion for his visionary poetry of light and transformation. You’ll also find poems and poetic renditions of writings from many other saints and mystics of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Still a favorite of mine.

Selected Poems of Thomas Merton
by Thomas Merton

I can’t recommend this collection highly enough. Merton, in addition to being a deep mystic, was a truly excellent contemporary poet. His poems feel entirely modern, yet touch on the eternal. While drawing on Catholic imagery, one can hear whispers of Eastern philosophy and insight in his words. Poems to reread and meditate deeply upon.

Hadewijch: The Complete Works
Translations by Mother Columba Hart

I was introduced to the divine love poetry of the Flemish mystic Hadewijch in the excellent anthology Women in Praise of the Sacred, edited by Jane Hirshfield. I knew I had encountered a something amazing, but the sampling in that book was frustratingly small. I finally found this book with the complete works of this mysterious Beguine spiritual figure — visions, letters, and a beautiful collection of sacred poetry. The love mysticism of her poetry rightly draws comparisons to the rich traditions of Sufi and Bhakti poetry.



For the Jewish mystic…

The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse
Edited and Translated by T. Carmi

The most complete collection I’ve found of sacred Hebrew poetry, including Judah ha Levi, Solomon ibn Gabirol, Samuel Hanagid, the early Hekhalot Hymns, and many more. My only complaint: the translations in this encyclopedic collection are not versified, even though the Hebrew originals were. I still love it simply because it pointed me in a dozen enlightening different directions.

The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition
Translated and Edited by Peter Cole

Finally we have a truly excellent collection of sacred Jewish poetry. While T. Carmi’s Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse is more comprehensive, Cole’s The Poetry of Kabbalah has more of a poet’s sense of language and even catches of few sparks from the mystic’s fire. This is poetry that startles and transports. The Poetry of Kabbalah has become my favorite source for Jewish mystical poetry in English.
While T. Carmi’s Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse is more comprehensive, Cole has more of a poet’s sense of language. Very highly recommended.



A moment of Zen…

The Zen Poetry of Dogen: Verses from the Mountain of Eternal Peace
Translations by Steven Heine

Although best known for his Zen discourses and his role establishing Zen practice in Japan, Dogen was an exceptional poet too. Quiet moments of insight expressed in a bare minimum of lines. One of my favorites.

Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter
Edited by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto

A good collection without being overwhelming. I especially like it’s selection of Japanese haiku: Basho, Buson, Issa, Masahide…

Sun at Midnight: Muso Soseki – Poems and Sermons
Translations by W. S. Merwin and Soiku Shigematsu

A friend introduced me to this collection, and I was entranced. Muso Soseki is known today for establishing rock gardening as meditative Zen practice, but his poetry — wonderful! And with translations by WS Merwin, you can’t ask for more!

(And don’t forget the Poetry Chaikhana’s publication of Gabriel Rosenstock’s, Haiku Enlightenment!)



Artist, Therapist, Shaman…

Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making
By John Fox

Not a book of poetry, but a book that belongs on every poetry lover’s bookshelf. This is a book about the transformational nature of poetry – reading it, speaking it, writing it. Poetry as therapy. Poetry as a pathway to self-exploration. Poetry to rediscover your true voice. I was surprised how much I liked this book.



Transcendent Hindu verses…

Speaking of Siva
Translated by A. K. Ramanujan

This book became an immediate favorite of mine ever since I picked up a copy of it a few years ago. Stunning poems from the Shiva bhakti tradition of India. Basava, Devara Dasimayya, Akka Mahadevi, Allama Prabhu. The commentary in the book, though a little academic, is genuinely insightful. Enthusiastically recommended!

For Love of the Dark One: Songs of Mirabai
Translations by Andrew Schelling

Andrew Schelling’s translations embody that tension between heartbreak and ecstasy that runs through all of Mirabai’s poetry. These poems can be read as love poems or as spiritual poems — but, of course, they are both. A lovely collection.

And for blessings…

To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings
by John O’Donohue

I keep being told by people how much they love this book of poetic blessings from the Irish philosopher, poet, and mystic, John O’Donohue. These poetically crafted blessings and meditations on the passages of life manage to elevate the spirit, warm the heart, and, on occasion, bring a tear to the eye.

For even more book recommendations, click here.


(Every year my list gets longer. Even so, I had to leave off so many amazing books.)



Let’s remember that, in the midst of winter’s dark, this is the time to renew the light — within ourselves and our world. Regardless of religion, may we recognize our shared brotherhood and sisterhood within the human family, all within the lap of the generous green earth that is our home.

I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday season — and that the new year offers you new life and new inspiration!

Ivan

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Mar 13 2020

Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi – Like This

Like This
by Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

English version by Jonathan Star

If someone asks,
“What does perfect beauty look like?”
Show him your own face and say,
Like this.

If someone asks,
“What does an angel’s wing look like?” — smile.
If he asks about divine fragrance
Pull him close, his face in your hair,
Like this.

If someone asks,
“How did Jesus bring the dead back to life?” —
Don’t say a word —
just kiss him softly on the cheek,
Like this.

If someone asks,
“How does it feel to be slain by love?”
Close your eyes and tear open your shirt,
Like this.

If someone asks about my stature,
Stare into space with your eyes wide open,
Like this.

The soul enters one body, then another.
If someone argues about this
Enter my house and wave him good-bye,
Like this.

I am the storehouse of all pleasure,
I am the pain of self-denial.
To see me, lower your eyes to the ground
Then raise them up to heaven,
Like this.

Only the gentle breeze
Knows the secret of union.
Listen as it whispers a song to every heart,
Like this.

If someone asks,
How does a servant attain the glory of God?
Become the shining candle
That every eye can see,
Like this.

I asked about Joseph’s perfume
Which rode the wind from city to city —
It was your scent
Blowing in from God’s perfect world,
Like this.

I asked how Joseph’s perfume
Gave sight to the blind —
It was your breeze
Clearing the darkness from my eyes,
Like this.

Perhaps Shams will be generous
And fill our hearts with love.
Perhaps he will raise one eyebrow
And cast us a glance,
Like this.

— from Rumi: In the Arms of the Beloved, by Jonathan Star


/ Image by Fadzly Mubin /

I was considering holding off on sending out a poem this week. I’ve been busy with my day job and rather tired, but mostly there are such important concerns demanding our attention — people are anxious about the coronavirus pandemic and, in the US, the elections. I don’t want to ignore these issues and share poems that can feel disconnected from people’s real worries.

Of course, poetry, especially sacred poetry, is not disconnected or merely ornamental. Poetry speaks to the heart of the matter much better than any headline. Poetry reminds us of our humanity… and our divinity. It is an exploration of feeling and perception and reality. It leads us into an open field with unanticipated possibilities. It is our companion in grief and fear, and it gives us words for our exultation and raptures. Poetry allows us to be more fully ourselves. It invites us to fill out our lives with a richer sense of who we are.

So more poetry not less.

Like this.

=

Have a beautiful weekend. Be appropriately aware and cautious, but don’t give in to paranoia. The real sickness being spread by this disease is a breakdown of human connection within society. Find a healthy balance that keeps a warm, supportive sense of community alive.


Recommended Books: Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom
More Books >>


Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi, Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi

Afghanistan & Turkey (1207 – 1273) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

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Feb 05 2020

Ivan M. Granger – Thief of hearts

Thief of hearts
by Ivan M. Granger

Thief of hearts,
you have ransacked
this beggar’s hut,
left me
nothing.

All I see
now
is the print
of your pilfering hand
everywhere.

— from Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey, by Ivan M. Granger


/ Image by notsogoodphotography /

It has been a while since I featured one of my own poems. Here is one for you today in homage to that “thief of hearts,” who is, of course, the Beloved, God.

Let’s face it, from the ego’s point-of-view, the relationship with the Divine is a problematic one. What the heart recognizes as liberation, the ego sees as theft. It’s really very funny… when we’re not tormented by the spiritual dilemma, that is.

All that the ego claims as its own slips from its grip. Control and possession define the ego. So what is it to do when the master thief breaks into the awareness and reveals everything to be the filmy stuff of dreams and light?

In that ultimate moment, however, the emerging bliss is so all-pervasive that even the drowning ego laughs with its last gasp.

Something I thought I’d point out about the poem’s structure: The poem itself is a pair of thieving hands. It has two groups of five lines, suggesting two hands with five fingers each.

Also, notice that the lines “left me / nothing” are intentionally ambiguous. They could be saying that the thief of hearts has left me with nothing — having taken everything — or perhaps it is saying the thief has left me as nothing — without identity or sense of ego.

The line breaks for “All I see / now” leads the unconscious mind to read several layers of meaning into the lines. Some part of the awareness will read that first line as a complete statement of its own: “I see all.” To follow with the single word “now” snaps the awareness into the present moment. When one sees all, one is fully present, now. Or, when one sees, all is in the present moment.

In this supremely full moment, the “pilfering hand” has removed everything. The world normally perceived as a scattered collection of disconnected people and objects disappears. But — and here’s another secret — that hand secretly gives as it takes. The “print” of that hand leaves us, instead, within a magical universe filled with immensity and life and a giddy sense of being that flows everywhere.

===

Too much explanation? Maybe we should just let the poem itself do its work…


Recommended Books: Ivan M. Granger

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) This Dance of Bliss: Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics Diamond Cutters: Visionary Poets in America, Britain & Oceania
More Books >>


Ivan M. Granger, Ivan M. Granger poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Ivan M. Granger

US (1969 – )
Secular or Eclectic
Yoga / Hindu : Advaita / Non-Dualist

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12 responses so far

Dec 17 2019

Gabriel Rosenstock – frosty morning

frosty morning
by Gabriel Rosenstock

frosty morning
      a robin bares his breast
            to the whole world

— from Haiku Enlightenment: New Expanded Edition, by Gabriel Rosenstock


/ Image by Richard Towell /

A frosty morning here in Colorado.

It still has that special sense of life to me, like a newborn: the Poetry Chaikhana’s latest publication, Haiku Enlightenment, by Gabriel Rosenstock. I couldn’t help but feature another selection from its pages, this by the author himself.

Remember poetry when you are planning gifts and maybe a year-end treat for yourself. Purchasing a copy of Haiku Enlightenment is a wonderful way to welcome the magic of haiku into your home, as well as Gabriel’s inspired observations on haiku as a pathway of awareness, compassion, and reconnection. And, of course, your purchase helps support the Poetry Chaikhana.

If you are on Facebook, I have just set up new Haiku Enlightenment Facebook page inspired by the new book. Personally, I’m always happy to see a haiku or short poem slip into my FB newsfeed when I check it — a secret invitation to pause, take a breath, and notice the world again. I invite you to visit and hang out with the haiku.

Okay, time to step out into that chilly morning and fill my lungs with the crisp air. The world awaits.

Have a beautiful day!


Recommended Books: Gabriel Rosenstock

The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology) Bliain an Bhandé – Year of the Goddess Haiku Enlightenment: New Expanded Edition Uttering Her Name Where Light Begins: Haiku
More Books >>


Gabriel Rosenstock, Gabriel Rosenstock poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetry Gabriel Rosenstock

Ireland (1949 – )
Secular or Eclectic
Primal/Tribal/Shamanic : Celtic

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One response so far

Dec 12 2019

Holiday Book Recommendations 2019

Every year I am surprised by how quickly the holidays are upon us, and this year is no exception. It is already the middle of December. Christmas, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, the New Year — they’re all just a couple of weeks away!

If you’re still looking for the right gifts for family, like-minded friends, or even fo yourself as a way to begin the new year, consider the gift of poetry and inspiration. Poetry lasts in ways few other gifts can. A really good poem unwraps itself a little more each time it is read, becoming a continuously opening gift to the mind and the heart.


Here is a a holiday sampler to consider as gifts for you and your loved ones:

Let’s start, of course, with some Poetry Chaikhana publicatons…

Haiku Enlightenment, Gabriel Rosenstock The Poetry Chaikhana’s newest publication!

Haiku Enlightenment
New Expanded Edition

by Gabriel Rosenstock

$16.95

PURCHASE



Marrow of Flame US
 Marrow of Flame UK Marrow of Flame CAN 
£12.99 / €15.25

or ask at your local independent book store

Haiku Enlightenment is a delightful, often playful look at haiku as both a poetic craft and a pathway of awakening – for poets, seekers and creative rebels.

Gabriel Rosenstock has given us a rich collection of insights, distilled from a lifetime dedicated to the art and practice of poetry, on stepping into inspired moments. Using a generous selection of contemporary and classical haiku, he explores ideas of creativity and perception, encouraging us to calm the restless mind, notice what is overlooked, explore the world around us, and fully encounter each glowing moment.

From such moments, haiku – and enlightenment – emerge.

Haiku happens in this world of daily miracles and is a perfect prism through which Nature herself enlightens us.
– Gabriel Rosenstock, from Haiku Enlightenment

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the moon    
has found it for me    
a mountain path    

    Michael McClintock   

with every gust
the butterfly finds a new home
on the willow

Basho

    the body of the Buddha
    accepts it–
    winter rain

         Issa

I am nobody:
A red sinking autumn sun
Took my name away

    Richard Wright

To satisfy that longing (or awaken it)…

The Longing in Between

Sacred Poetry from Around the World
A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

Edited with Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

In many ways this is my most personal publication, combining favorite soul-inspiring poems from the world’s great religious and spiritual traditions, accompanied by the thoughts, meditations, commentary, and occasional tangents that have been central to the Poetry Chaikhana poem emails for years. Selections from Rumi, Whitman, Kabir, Machado, Issa, Teresa of Avila, Dickinson, Blake, Yunus Emre, John of the Cross, Lalla, and many others.

These are poems of seeking and awakening… and the longing in between.

The Longing in Between is a work of sheer beauty. Ivan M. Granger has done a great service, not only by bringing [these poems] to public attention, but by opening their deeper meaning with his own rare poetic and mystic sensibility.”

ROGER HOUSDEN
author of the best-selling Ten Poems to Change Your Life series




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PURCHASE: Amazon or Wordery


This Dance of Bliss, Ecstatic Poetry from Around the World, A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology, Ivan M. Granger


This Dance of Bliss

Ecstatic Poetry From Around the World

A Poetry Chaikhana Anthology

Edited with Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

This Dance of Bliss is an inspiring collection of poems and wisdom stories from the world’s great sacred traditions. Rumi, St. John of the Cross, Lalla, Goethe, Hildegard von Bingen, Dogen, Khayyam, and many others gather together within these pages to sing their ecstatic songs.

Ivan M. Granger accompanies each poem with his own reflections and meditative commentaries, inviting us to explore the insights and private raptures of these mystics, seers, and saints-until we too are swept up in this dance of bliss!

This book is a treasure, a feast, an oasis. Ivan M. Granger’s profound gift for selecting the kind of poetry that lights up the cave of the heart and melts the boundaries between the soul and the Divine is fully met by his lucid reflections on the soul-transfiguring power of each piece in this magnificent collection.

MIRABAI STARR
author of God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity & Islam


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PURCHASE: Amazon or Wordery

A few words to find silence…

Gathering Silence

Sayings by Ivan M. Granger
Collages by Rashani Réa

Gathering Silence is a collection of meditative sayings and bits of poetry, accompanied throughout by stunning full-color artwork by internationally-known collage artist, Rashani Réa. This is beautiful book, filled with color, creative thoughts, and meditative moments. Perfect for an altar or meditation space, by your bed or on a coffee table. A wonderful gift for family, friends, and fellow seekers!


The individual is really
a magical act of seeing
with no fixed eye.

All of mysticism comes down to this:
to recognize
what is already
and always here.


Protect
the wild places
in yourself.


READ MORE

PURCHASE: Amazon or Wordery


For illumination…

The Illuminated Rumi
Translations by Coleman Barks
Art by Michael Green

I keep recommending this year after year. It is a perfect gift book with excerpts of Rumi’s poetry accompanied by amazing digital collage artwork that draws you deeply into each page. This book entrances on several levels. An excellent gift book.

The Fire of Darkness: What Burned Me Away Completely, I Became

Poetry by Fred LaMotte
Art by Rashani Réa

Another collection of the wonderful, meditative artwork of Rashani Réa, accompanied by the poetry of Fred LaMotte. I don’t think I have featured the work of Fred LaMotte, but that is something I will have to rectify soon. I have been aware of his writing for several years and I am a genuine fan. There is something immediate, fully present, but with dancing, playful sense of language — all reflecting the insights of a true modern mystic. A magical book!



For the wise woman…

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women
Edited by Jane Hirshfield

This is the first anthology I got years ago that made me say, Wow! Includes Sappho, Rabia, Yeshe Tsogyel, Hildegard von Bingen, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Hadewijch of Antwerp, Lalla, Mirabai, Bibi Hayati, Marina Tsvetaeva. The best collection I’ve found of women’s voices in sacred poetry.

Marrow of the Flame
Poems of the Spiritual Journey
by Dorothy Walters

Introduction by Andrew Harvey

Dorothy Walters explores the spiritual journey through its ecstasies, struggles, and vistas. Each step is observed with the keen insight and clear voice of a modern woman who is both a skilled poet and genuine mystic.

Also published by the Poetry Chaikhana — Our best seller, in fact! READ MORE



A Sampling of Sufi Wisdom…

Love’s Alchemy: Poems from the Sufi Tradition
Translations by David and Sabrineh Fideler

A very good collection of Persian Sufi poetry. This book focuses on poems and poets that are not as well known in the West. A good place to discover some new names.

Tales of the Dervishes: Teaching Stories of the Sufi Masters over the Past Thousand Years
By Idries Shah

Short wisdom stories from the Sufi tradition that surprise with unexpected insight, delightful humor, and enigmatic conclusions that invite deeper contemplation. I have been rereading this favorite collection for years.

The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry
Translations by Peter Lamborn Wilson and Nasrollah Pourjavady

One of my favorite collections of the Persian Sufi poets, some you may have heard of and others who may be new to you: Jami, Attar, Hamadani, Iraqi, Hafez, Ibn Arabi, Sanai, and many others. If you like Sufi poetry, this is a book you should have.

For the Christian contemplative…

For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of the Christian Mystics
by Roger Housden

This has quickly become one of my favorite collections of sacred poetry within the many Christian traditions. John of the Cross, Merton, Hildegard von Bingen, Gibran, Dante, Meister Eckhart, Blake… and Roger Housden’s brief, thoughtful insights.

Selected Poems of Thomas Merton
by Thomas Merton

I can’t recommend this collection highly enough. Merton, in addition to being a deep mystic, was a truly excellent contemporary poet. His poems feel entirely modern, yet touch on the eternal. While drawing on Catholic imagery, one can hear whispers of Eastern philosophy and insight in his words. Poems to reread and meditate deeply upon.



For the Jewish mystic…

The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition
Translated and Edited by Peter Cole

Finally we have a truly excellent collection of sacred Jewish poetry. While T. Carmi’s Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse is more comprehensive, Cole’s The Poetry of Kabbalah has more of a poet’s sense of language and even catches of few sparks from the mystic’s fire. This is poetry that startles and transports. The Poetry of Kabbalah has become my favorite source for Jewish mystical poetry in English.
While T. Carmi’s Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse is more comprehensive, Cole has more of a poet’s sense of language. Very highly recommended.



A little Zen in your pocket…

The Poetry of Zen (Shambhala Library)
Edited by Sam Hamill and J P Seaton

A very nice sampler of Japanese and Chinese Zen poetry. Han Shan, Li Po, Wang Wei, Basho, Soseki, Ryokan, Issa… The book fits well in your hand when you’re walking to the riverside or the local coffee shop.

Zen Poetry: Let the Spring Breeze Enter
Edited by Lucien Stryk and Takashi Ikemoto

A good collection without being overwhelming. I especially like it’s selection of Japanese haiku: Basho, Buson, Issa, Masahide…

(And don’t forget the Poetry Chaikhana’s new book, Haiku Enlightenment!)



For the Rilke lover…

Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God
Translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

There are several very good translations of Rilke available, but I’ve slowly come to the opinion that Barrows and Macy, more than any others, get the tone just right. Their Rilke translations glow and uplift, but without losing the shadows that also haunt the spaces between his words. Perfect!

In the Company of Rilke
by Stephanie Dowrick

A lovely, insightful meditation of the poetry of Rilke and why it speaks so powerfully to us today. The perfect companion book to pair with your favorite Rilke collection.

Artist, Therapist, Shaman…

Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making
By John Fox

Not a book of poetry, but a book that belongs on every poetry lover’s bookshelf. This is a book about the transformational nature of poetry – reading it, speaking it, writing it. Poetry as therapy. Poetry as a pathway to self-exploration. Poetry to rediscover your true voice. I was surprised how much I liked this book.



Transcendent Hindu verses…

Speaking of Siva
Translated by A. K. Ramanujan

This book became an immediate favorite of mine ever since I picked up a copy of it a few years ago. Stunning poems from the Shiva bhakti tradition of India. Basava, Devara Dasimayya, Akka Mahadevi, Allama Prabhu. The commentary in the book, though a little academic, is genuinely insightful. Enthusiastically recommended!

I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded
Translated by Ranjit Hoskote

There are several translations of the poetry of Lalla available in English now, good ones too, but Ranjit Hoskote’s versions are my favorite. They seem to marry a love of the original language with a poet’s sense of English, without ever losing the mystic’s fire at the center of each poem. Recommended.

And for blessings…

To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings
by John O’Donohue

I keep being told by people how much they love this book of poetic blessings from the Irish philosopher, poet, and mystic, John O’Donohue. These poetically crafted blessings and meditations on the passages of life manage to elevate the spirit, warm the heart, and, on occasion, bring a tear to the eye.

For even more book recommendations, click here.


(While this list changes, it seems to get longer every year. Even so, I had to leave off so many amazing books. The drawback to loving so much poetry.)



Let’s remember that, in the midst of winter’s dark, this is the time to renew the light — within ourselves and our world. Regardless of religion, may we recognize our shared brotherhood and sisterhood within the human family, all within the lap of the generous green earth that is our home.

I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday season — and that the new year offers you new pathways and new inspiration!

Ivan

No responses yet

Mar 02 2019

Podcast: Jack Kornfield – Beauty and Poetry

I occasionally listen to Jack Kornfield’s uplifting podcast, Heart Wisdom. Highly recommended for the insight, playfulness, and compassion he brings to spiritual practice.

A few weeks ago, he posted this exploration of how poetry can awaken us to life’s beauty:

Jack Kornfield – Ep. 87 – Uncovering Life’s Beauty with Poetry & Art

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Sep 26 2018

Request for Online Book Reviews

If you have a copy of This Dance of Bliss and it’s sparking some thoughts (or some silence) — or if it makes you want to dance — consider posting an online review on your preferred book site, like Good Reads, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

Online browsers can’t pick a book off the shelf, hold it in their hands, and leaf through its pages. Reviews by other readers is the main way people decide to buy books online. Simply seeing that a number of people cared enough about the book to post a review is often the deciding factor to read more details about it.

Posting your own review online helps the Poetry Chaikhana and it also helps other readers to discover a new favorite book.

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