103 Years Old and Still Loving Poetry

As editors of Poetry of Presence we take tremendous joy in hearing how readers are using the anthology. This story, gleaned by serendipity from Facebook, really brightened our day:

Cheryl Hale works in the activity department at One MacDonough Place, an assisted living facility in Middletown, CT. “I read poems from this anthology to the residents where I work. It’s such an inspiring, positive collection.”

One of the activities they offer the residents “is a program for expressing oneself through poetry. Sometimes we have them write with prompts and sometimes we share poetry with them. I love your book … as the collection of poems has examples from such a wide range of poets, with the focus being on mindfulness and being present in each moment. They enjoy it, as do I. Thank you!”

phyllis 104
Happy birthday, Phyllis

Cheryl says that one of her role models at the facility is named Phyllis, like one of us editors. “[She] writes, paints, participates in literally everything, [and] will be 104 in a couple of weeks! Here she is, after I read her `Sifter’ [by Naomi Shihab Nye]. She is awesome, and always up for anything new!”

Cheryl and Phyllis, we’ll be up in CT in a couple of weeks to do (among other fun things) a reading organized by Ginny Connors, publisher of Grayson Books. Maybe we’ll just swing by One MacDonough Place to greet you and celebrate a 104th birthday! In the meantime, continue enjoying the anthology and writing your own poems.

Poet Spotlight: Laura Grace Weldon

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 Laura Grace Weldon.

POP spotlight weldon

Short bio: I live on a small farm where I cook weird things, sing to livestock, and stay up late reading library books. I’m the author of a poetry collection titled Tending and a handbook of alternative education, Free Range Learning, with a book of essays due out soon. I also write about mindfulness in prose and poetry. These pieces include welcoming mistakes and celebrating humanity as well as finding meaning in coyote songs and spider webs.

Bonus material:

Look Up

Summer is a perfect time to gaze at clouds.

The traditional spot to indulge in this pleasurable activity is sitting in the grass. Better yet, lying on the grass. Stay there as clouds drift into view over treetops and roofs, slowly changing form. Linger long enough, you might insist you can feel the planet moving.

Looking at clouds is a perfect way to disengage from all the buzzing, ringing distractions that claw our attention to shreds. Those puffs of air vapor seem to invite contemplation. And that’s good. Daydreaming is so rejuvenating that it can boost creativity. It also helps us to relax, review emotion-laden situations calmly, generate new ideas, and get to know ourselves better.

When we let our minds wander, we’re in what neuroscience calls the “default mode network.”  An L.A. Times article titled, “An Idle Brain May Be The Self’s Workshop” notes,

Just as sleep appears to play an important role in learning, memory consolidation and maintaining the body’s metabolic function, some scientists wonder whether unstructured mental time—time to zone out and daydream—might also play a key role in our mental well-being. If so, that’s a cautionary tale for a society that prizes productivity and takes a dim view of mind-wandering.

Even when you don’t have time to lie in the grass, take the time to notice the sky. Really look at a starry sky, overcast sky, rainy sky. You may be getting more than a glimpse of the firmament.

I learned this when I helped conduct a psychology study in college.  We went to urban office buildings and asked people two questions. First, we asked each person to describe his or her mood. Second, we asked them to describe the current appearance of the sky. These people were in offices or hallways when we talked to them and the windows in most buildings were shuttered with horizontal blinds ubiquitous during that decade, so the only way they could have described the sky is if they had paid attention on their way to work or during a break. Here’s the interesting part. People who identified themselves as pessimistic, angry, depressed, or in other negative terms tended to be the ones unable to describe the sky’s appearance. You guessed it. The happiest and most optimistic people either correctly described the sky or came very close.

That study was never published, but research these days now indicates that pausing to experience nature in our daily lives is powerfully positive. Just a few minutes of regular exposure has been shown to improve our emotional and physical health. It leads us to be more generous, to enhance relationships and value community. The effect of nature, even looking out a window at nearby trees, seems to lead us, as one researcher noted, to be “our best selves.”

Go ahead, look at some clouds right now. You may see a cloud pig sailing a cloud boat. The sailboat may morph into French fries before the whole thing breaks apart into a shape resembling a bongo-playing octopus. Good thing the images we see in clouds aren’t a meteorological Rorschach test.

 

Website and social media:

Poet Spotlight: Teddy Macker

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 Teddy Macker.

POP spotlight macker

Short bio: My first book of poetry—This World (foreword by Brother David Steindl-Rast)—appeared in March of 2015 through White Cloud Press. A lecturer at University of California-Santa Barbara and orchardist, I live with my wife and daughters on a small farm in the foothills of Carpinteria, California.

Thoughts on mindfulness: Mindfulness helps me with the practice of faith, of living beyond answers, solutions, knowledge, the clamoring demands of mind; encourages me to let the mystery be the mystery.

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.

free-shipFREE BOOK-RATE SHIPPING ON ALL ORDERS WITHIN THE U.S. THROUGH 2017!

10% OFF ALL BULK ORDERS of five or more copies!
NEED YOUR BOOKS BY CHRISTMAS?

We recommend placing your order before December 14.

RUSH ORDER AFTER THAT DATE?

We’ll gladly help, but there will be a charge for any expedited shipping.


U.S. customers:
To buy up to four copies via PayPal or credit card, click here. To pay by cash or check, please contact us.

International customers: We recommend you make your purchase through either an Amazon website in your country or the Book Depository, which offers free international shipping.

Bulk orders (5+ copies): Contact us directly to receive a 10% discount

Custom orders: Contact us for expedited shipping, inscriptions or other special requests

Other sellers: Also available through Grayson Books, Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Warning: Beware of distributors illegally offering this as an e-book

Okay, so we’re blushing a little.

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!