Grace Cavalieri just listed Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems as “The Best Book of Mindfulness Poems” in her November “Exemplars” column for the Washington Independent Review of Books.
Grace produces “The Poet and the Poem” from the Library of Congress. She’s celebrating 40 years on-air. Thank you, Grace, for all you do for poetry!
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 Pat Schneider.
Short Bio: I’m a poet, playwright, librettist, and the author of ten books. My titles include How the Light Gets In: Writing as a Spiritual Practice and Writing Alone & With Others (both from Oxford University Press) and five books of poems. Founder of Amherst Writers & Artists, for thirty years I was adjunct faculty at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. Forthcoming is a new book of poems, The Weight of Love.
Thoughts on mindfulness and poetry: Poetry slows us down, brings us into ourselves. Poetry is of the body. In my forthcoming book of poems, The Weight of Love, there is a poem titled “It Takes a Long, Deep Listening.” The poem includes these lines: “. . .listen/ between iambs of breath/ to the pentameter of the heart. ” A note at the back of the book says, “This is a reference to the assertion by Peter Viereck, Poet and Nobel Laureate: ` . . . poetry is your most physical expression. Its basic throb is your body throb.’ He was fond of pointing out that the human heart beats five beats to every breath, and the pattern of iambic pentameter is five beats to every line.”
A fact (not so funny, but I think interesting) about myself: I wrote my first poem at age ten. At eleven, as she was putting me in an orphanage, my mother gave me a little five-year diary with tiny spaces to write in every day. I kept going over the lines, writing in many spaces at once. She gave me my life of writing.
Another (more jolly) fact about myself: I was born in 1934. Around then, rhyme fell out of fashion in poetry, and through almost all of my long life, poetry was not supposed to rhyme. Robert Frost in America, and Patrick Kavanagh in Ireland, who used rhyme, were both looked down upon as “farmer poets.” But a few decades ago, something changed all that: RAP!! And the little White boys and girls who were trying to sound like the little Black boys and girls? All of them, Black and White, are in MFA programs, writing rhyme! And Kay Ryan, whose poems are full of internal rhyme, near rhyme, full rhyme, but not end rhyme—became Poet Laureate of the United States! I have achieved getting to age 83. I grew up in the Missouri Ozarks hearing nursery rhymes, country western songs, hymns—all rhyming. Now I let music back into my poems. I am as happy as a pit in a mud puddle.
The Poetry of Presence Book Bash was held at the Brookings (SD) Arts Council this past Saturday. In addition to great music by Green & Snow and delicious food, we enjoyed poetry readings from the book and the drawing of whimsical door prizes. Contributing poet Marianne Murphy Zarzana joined us from Minnesota for the occasion. She not only shared her anthologized poems but had a vital role in a wonderful experiment.
During the Bash we invited everyone to jot down a wish for the world and drop it into one of the many collection bowls around the room. With about twenty minutes left in the event, we gathered all the wishes that had been offered. Marianne retreated with them to a quiet place and creatively assembled them into a community poem, which she read to conclude the Bash. It was a very powerful experience.
We want to thank Marianne for her willingness to engage in this adventure. Thanks, too, to those “Bashers” who contributed to the making of the poem, which Marianne titled “Our Wish for the World.”
We’ll be finding various ways to share this poem with the public. For now, we’re happy to share it with you. Feel free to download your own copy here. Maybe share it with a friend? Remember: “The end of the poem is just the beginning.”
Our Wish for the World
We wish the world would turn from force toward feeling,
that everyone could be fed— body, mind and soul.
We wish we could approach our problems and conflicts by tapping deep into our creativity.
We wish that all could feel the sun of friendship warm upon their faces,
that we could see and speak of the beauty around us and within all people.
We wish that we could put ourselves into the shoes of those around us, walk at least a mile,
that kindness, compassion and peace received more attention than hatred and greed.
We wish our skin color and gender did not matter, that we could all be accepted for exactly who we are.
We wish the stuff that is no longer alive could come back to life, resurrect.
We wish that we could learn to create common ground rather than standing only on our own ground.
We wish that we could transform terror, watch it disappear,
that we could let go of all the distractions that keep us separate and lonely.
We wish we could be grateful for everything, and be kind to every living creature.
We wish we could forgive ourselves and others, and we could all be free.
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 onJudy Sorum Brown.
Short bio: I am a poet, speaker, writer, and educator whose work focuses on leadership and the nature of change. I have designed and facilitated leadership programs and retreats for symphony orchestras, urban libraries, manufacturing plants, public schools, the federal government and those who serve elders. Along with several leadership books, I have authored three volumes of poetry, The Sea Accepts All Rivers & other poems, Simple Gifts and Steppingstones.
Thoughts about mindfulness and poetry: Those of us who are poetry lovers often collect poems that are particularly powerful reminders of the experience of being in the moment. This collection, that I am honored to be apart of, brings many examples of that kind of poetry together. If we open it to any page, it will be a resource to our path toward greater mindfulness and presence.
Our publisher Grayson Books has announced the nominations for this year’s Pushcart Prize from among the authors and poems they’ve published in 2017.
We’re very happy to share the news that they’ve nominated a poet from Poetry of Presence: Anita Barrows for “Lessons in Darkness.” Congratulations, Anita! Well done!
The Pushcart Prize is a prestigious American literary prize published by Pushcart Press honoring the best “poetry, short fiction, essays or literary whatnot” published in small presses over the previous year.
Kudos to the other Grayson Books Pushcart nominees for 2017:
James Finnegan: “Jacket” from Laureates of Connecticut: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (Ginny Lowe Connors & Charles Margolis, editors)
D. Walsh Gilbert: “Which Tattoo Identified My Brother?” from Ransom by D. Walsh Gilbert
H.K. Hummel: “Elizabeth Eckford’s Walk Toward Central High School” from Forgotten Women: A Tribute in Poetry (Ginny Lowe Connors, editor)
Kerry Rawlinson: “Number 99” from Forgotten Women: A Tribute in Poetry (Ginny Lowe Connors, editor)
Alexandrina Sergio: “Every Breath” from Laureates of Connecticut: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (Ginny Lowe Connors & Charles Margolis, editors)
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 onLydia Whirlwind Soldier.
Short bio: I’m Sicangu Lakota, born in Bad Nation on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. An enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and a Lakota speaker, I’m a poet, nonfiction writer, business owner and recognized craftswoman. Holding a Master’s in Education Administration from Pennsylvania State University, I also worked in education for thirty years. My collection of poems, Memory Songs, was published in 1999 by the Center for Western Studies.
Barbara Mahany has just penned a review of Poetry of Presence in her roundup of soulful books for The Chicago Tribune. Already online, the review will also appear in the paper’s Arts & Entertainment Section on Thursday.
“The power of poetry,” Mahany writes, “is its capacity to sneak up from behind and pry open the heart. Or the soul. It’s in that unanticipated moment when the truth of the poem rushes in and packs its indelible wallop. That’s when a poem, for some of us, becomes a prayer.” Read the rest of her column here.
We’re very grateful to Ms. Mahany for approaching us about including our anthology in her roundup. As if we would ever have turned her down!
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.
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.
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.
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.