Poet Spotlight: Alison Luterman

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 Alison Luterman.

POP spotlight luterman

Short bio: My three books of poetry are The Largest Possible Life, See How We Almost Fly, and Desire Zoo. I have also written an e-book of personal essays, Feral City; half a dozen plays; and a new musical, The Chain. I perform with the Oakland-based improvisation troupe Wing It!, teach memoir and poetry at The Writing Salon in Berkeley, California, and have given writing workshops all over the U.S., including at Omega and Esalen Institutes.

Thoughts about mindfulness and poetry: I use poetry to track the meanderings of my restless mind. The unexpected connections and juxtapositions, the associations, are all mirrors. My best poems start right under my feet and go down and in at the same time. Something beyond them is lifting them up and out. That doesn’t always happen, but when it does, I am grateful.

Website and social media:

Website: http://www.alisonluterman.net
Facebook: @AlisonLutermanWriter
Twitter: @AlisonLuterman

Final Reminder: Free U.S. Shipping Through 2017

Poetry of Presence is flying off the shelves. We’re having trouble keeping it in stock for direct sales, while our sales ranking in Amazon’s “poetry anthologies” category is consistently in the top twenty. (It’s risen as high as #4.) You people are incredibly supportive! We’re very grateful.


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Poet Spotlight: Kirsten Dierking

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 Kirsten Dierking.

POP spotlight dierking

Short bio: I’m the author of three books of poetry: Tether, Northern Oracle and One Red Eye. My poems have frequently been read on the radio program The Writer’s Almanac, and in 2015 I appeared as a guest on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion.

Thoughts on mindfulness and poetry: It wasn’t until I started writing poetry in a serious way that I began to be really observant in the world.  In the same way that each word is important in a poem, each small thing I experienced started to have its own vital significance—a pristine snow drift, a bird feather, the sound of a wave lapping a boat.  The more I wrote, the more I loved walking—even a short, uneventful walk through my neighborhood became filled with a hundred interesting things I wanted to explore in my poems. It’s a sort of symbiotic relationship—writing poetry makes me pay attention to detail, but carefully attending to those small details out in the world makes me want to write.

A favorite quote: I’ll go with [Charles] Darwin. You can feel his intense love of nature in these last lines of Origin of Species:  “whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

Fun fact: I’m a bit of a Trekkie.

Website: www.dierking.net

We’re Inside the Beltway!

We’re happy to announce that Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems has been listed among the “New Releases” in the December issue of Beltway Poetry Quarterly.

Beltway Poetry Quarterly is an award-winning online literary journal and resource bank that showcases the literary community in Washington, DC, and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic region. Our anthology qualified for consideration because it includes work by Lucille Clifton and Linda Pastan.

We’re very grateful for this publicity. The world needs “good medicine” poetry, now more than ever. Thanks, Beltway Poetry!

Poet Spotlight: Annie Lighthart

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 Annie Lighthart.

POP spotlight lighthart

Short bio: I’m a poet and teacher who started writing poetry after my first visit to an Oregon old-growth forest. I’ve taught at Boston College and in writing workshops with students of all ages. Poems from my book Iron String have been read on The Writer’s Almanac, turned into choral music, used in projects in Ireland and New Zealand, and have traveled farther than I have.

Thoughts about mindfulness and poetry: For me, poetry is a way of waking up mindfully to the world. After reading it or writing it, there’s a difference in my awareness and understanding. In a way, it’s like breathing. Yes, I breathe all the time—but I can feel a great difference between my regular usually shallow breathing, and those moments when I take in a slow deep breath. Poetry is that slow deep breath. Because of it, my life opens and is changed.

A favorite quote: The poet Charles Péguy writes, “All life comes from tenderness,” and I am coming to believe that when we live tenderly and mindfully—whether when we’re writing or parenting or simply acting kindly towards one another—a deeper life opens for us, right then, right there.

Fun Fact: I started writing poetry suddenly, right out of the blue at age 30. My first poem came to me all of a sudden, all in one piece. It was such a surprise, and such a joy, that I folded it up and carried it around with me in my pocket for a while as a talisman.

Website: www.annielighthart.com

Poet Spotlight: Mary O’Connor

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 Mary O’Connor.

POP spotlight o'connor


Short bio: A native of Ireland, I’ve taught literature and writing to college students and older adults since 1977. My poems and short stories have appeared in Metre, Jacaranda Review, New Irish Writing, Columbia, America, NCR, Briarcliff Review, Contemplative Review and other journals, and my essays in numerous scholarly publications. A chapbook, Windows and Doors, appeared in 2012 from Finishing Line Press. Among my awards are a fiction prize from Listowel, poetry prizes from the Academy of American Poets, and residencies in Ragdale and The MacDowell Colony.  I frequently conduct poetry retreats, and have organized writing sessions in a trafficking shelter. A member of the Mercy community since I was 17, I see poetry as a spiritual practice, one that invites both writer and reader to enter into a deeper awareness of themselves and the world around them.

A favorite quote: “Every single creature is full of God and is a book of God.” —Meister Eckhart

Poet Spotlight: Marianne Murphy Zarzana

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 Marianne Murphy Zarzana.


POP zarzana spotlight

Short bio: I teach English and direct the Creative Writing Program at Southwest Minnesota State University. My work has appeared in Notre Dame Magazine, AYearofBeingHere.com, Stoneboat Literary Review, Blue Earth Review, Minnesota River Review, Dust & Fire, UmbrellaJournal.com, and elsewhere. I am married to writer James A. Zarzana, and we have a grown daughter.

A favorite quote: This is from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard:

“The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.”

Fun fact: Our only daughter and only child got married in Sweden this summer outdoors, and I wrote a daily haiku as a way to stay present, mindful and grounded amidst the swirl of wedding preparations. Friends and family traveled from all over the globe. It was an international gathering. We could not have been more joyful. Here’s a sampling of the daily haikus:


Azure sky, clouds scud.
Bus stop, old woman smiles, speaks.
I translate: “Fresh breeze.”

DOG-SITTING   (our daughter and her fiancé left for an overnight teachers’ retreat)

Bed’s edge, shih-tzu begs,
subtle as a jackhammer,
wins, sleeps with new pack.


Father-daughter walk,
Sweden, country road. Through oats,
moose bounds. Majestic.


Sunset, hedge’s edge,
a compact, prickly bundle
eats grass, ignores us.


Daughter, friend, parent,
wife, teacher—many mistakes.
Spring comes. Grow better.


Website: www.mariannezarzana.com

Poet Spotlight: Donna Hilbert

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 Donna Hilbert.

Donna Hilbert spotlight

Short Bio: My latest book is The Congress of Luminous Bodies, from Aortic Books. My work is anthologized in Boomer Girls, A New Geography of Poets, Solace in So Many Words, The Widows’ Handbook (Kent State University Press), and The Doll Collection (Terrapin Books), among others. My poems can be found monthly in the online magazine Verse-Virtual.com. I write and lead workshops in Long Beach, California.

Check out this 6/19/17 video interview that I did with Chicon Street Poets in Austin, Texas. The link also includes a video performance of my poem “Credo.” Coincidentally, the emcee for the evening reading there in Austin told me that her favorite of my poems was the one included in Poetry of Presence, so of course, I read it and plugged the book!

Website and social media: