Poet Spotlight: John Brantingham

This is part of a series highlighting some of the poets anthologized in Poetry of Presence. We thank the poets for providing the material. Today we shine the spotlight on John Brantingham.


POP spotlight brantingham


Short bio: I’m the author of seven books of poetry and fiction including The Green of Sunset. I’m currently working on a poetry collection about living in nature. I direct creative writing at Mt. San Antonio College, near Los Angeles, California.

Fun fact: During the summer months, my wife Ann and I live off grid in a van in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks where we teach art and poetry in free week-long seminars.

Website and social media:


Poet Spotlight: Kimberly Blaeser

This is part of a series highlighting some of the poets anthologized in Poetry of Presence. We thank the poets for providing the material. Today we shine the spotlight on Kimberly Blaeser.


POP Spotlight Blaeser

Short bio:
Writer, photographer, and scholar, I’m the author of three poetry collections—most recently Apprenticed to Justice; and editor of Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone: Contemporary Ojibwe Poetry. I’m a professor of Creative Writing and Native American Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and also serve on faculty for the Institute of American Indian Arts low rez MFA. I was Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2015-16. An enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, I grew up on White Earth Reservation.

Fun fact: My current project is an evolving collection called Ancient Light, which includes ekphrastic poetry, photography, and a form for which I coined the term picto-poems—intersecting layers of text and image inspired by Native American pictographs and ledger art. The pieces bring my nature and wildlife photography together with poetry to explore intersecting ideas of Native place, nature, preservation, and spiritual sustenance. It is my hope that these images will invite reorientation as they blur the lines between place and spirit, between image and voice and being. Here is one sample from that collection.

Website and social media:


Videos: Enjoy the videos below. On the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Facebook page you can also hear me read my poem “Manoominike-Giizis.”


Poet Spotlight: Carolyn Locke

This is part of a series highlighting some of the poets anthologized in Poetry of Presence. We thank the poets for providing the material. Today we shine the spotlight on Carolyn Locke.

POP Spotlight Locke

Short bio: I live in Maine and am a graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Goddard College. I am the author of Always This Falling (2010), Not One Thing: Following Matsuo Basho’s Journey to the Interior (2013), and The Place We Become (2015).

Thoughts on mindfulness and poetry: Mindfulness poetry offers the gift of grounding, gratitude, and inspiration for living and writing. It reminds me of what’s important.

Website and social media:

Contributing Poet Named Berkeley Poet Laureate

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We’re proud to share the news that contributing poet Raphael Jesús González has been selected as the first Poet Laureate of Berkeley, CA. Congratulations, Raphael!

“I will not wear my laurels lightly
in honor of the belovèd city
to praise when it serves justice,
to protest when it does not.”

You can read Raphael’s acceptance poem in its entirety, in both Spanish and English, on his blog.

Mindful Music for Mindfulness Poetry!

What would the world be without serendipity?

If you’ve watched the official Poetry of Presence book trailer, you’ll remember the gentle guitar soundtrack. We chanced upon “Goodnight Esme (Instrumental Version),” composed and performed by Axletree, while searching the Internet for Creative Commons music to use in our video. As soon as we heard the piece, from the album Cormorant (pictured below), we knew it was just what we needed.

Shortly after we completed our book trailer and uploaded it to YouTube, this comment was posted on the video’s page:

Thank you for putting this video together, a lovely choice of images and the music works really well, I’m pleased it resonated with mindfullness, which is where it emerged from 🙂 Have a wonderful summer

The comment was signed “Axletree—Alexander Westmacott.”

Alexander Westmacott, we learned at his website, is an artist and philosopher. “Axletree” is a project by which he’s “exploring and promoting traditional agriculture and rural ways of life through art, with the aim of increasing human and environmental wellbeing.”

Since Poetry of Presence is an anthology of mindfulness poems, we were thrilled to learn that “Goodnight Esme” had also sprung from mindfulness practice. We contacted Alex and asked if he might share some reflections on the subject. He responded immediately:

Thank you so much for suggesting I write a little about mindfulness. It is a topic that means a lot to me. I am a lay monk in the Christian tradition and mindfullness plays a very important part in my life. So here goes….

I was touched that [you] chose this piece of music to promote Poetry of Presence, although perhaps I can’t say it is my music. As a poet myself, and as a philosopher and a monastic, I have learned gradually to understand the message from artists throughout history, who have said that their art is not theirs.

When we create, something organic emerges. Our thoughts & feelings take form and become something new, with a life of its own. In mindfullness we learn to recognise the truth that, much as we might like to, we cannot take the credit or the shame for our ideas.

Art grows out of mindfullness like a plant grows out of the soil, and just as we can tend a plant, care for it, and hope it comes to fruition, so we hope that our art manifests a deeper meaning. But also like the plant, we know that this meaning comes not from ourselves, but from life—from the heart of what is is to be alive.

In bringing together this anthology, I sincerely hope that more people young and old will come to recognise and cherish the gift that mindfullness offers us, as a path to this heart, and as a return to our own lives, and to the overwhelming presence and delicate beauty of life itself.

Alex even generously shared with us a short poem he’d written “some time ago”:


As in January waking finds a snow
That whispers for the wintr’ing seeds to grow.

Like a rolling mist that turns to frost
But’s gone tomorrow;

Little gained, or lost.

There’s such sweet serendipity in all this! Thank you, Alex, for the gift of your music, your poetry, your soul. May you continue to touch this world with gentleness. All blessings on you and Axletree!

Click on the album image below to listen
to more of Alex’s music and poetry on the Free Music Archive.

Image result for axletree