any would be if, by Norman Fischer
Poetry. ISBN 978-1-946104-05-2. 146 pages. $17 US.
A graduate of the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, Norman Fischer is a poet and essayist. He has been practicing as a Zen Buddhist priest for thirty five years, and is one of the senior Zen teachers in America. The latest of his more than twenty-five poetry and prose titles are Experience: Thinking, Writing, Language and Religion (prose, Poetics Series, University of Alabama Press), Conflict (poetry, Chax Press), The Strugglers (poetry, Singing Horse Press), and Magnolias All At Once (poetry, Singing Horse). In 2000 he retired as co-abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center, one of the largest Buddhist organizations in the West, and founded The Everyday Zen Foundation (www.everydayzen.org), an international network of Buddhist groups and social projects.His latest Buddhist title is Training in Compassion (Shambhala). Norman Fischer lives on a cliff near Muir Beach California with his wife Kathie, also a Zen priest. Their two sons live in Brooklyn.
“without love no quirks,” writes Norman Fischer in the midst of any would be if. One might add: without quirks, no life, as in this book Fischer proceeds “by ellipsis,” and suggests that living, noticing, even drinking tea, manifests in similar fashion. Indeed, “the teacup told us how to hold it,” provides one of many delightful and slightly puzzling, or perhaps uncanny, moments in a book full of moments. Moments of thought, moments of action, moments of light, moments of language, moments through which “we pull ourselves into now.” If one wants a book to show the world, not in its grandeur (or, maybe that, too) but in its process, in the betweenness we all inhabit, then this is the book one wants. I know I am glad to have it, and to return to it, often, “to be.”
Conflict by Norman Fischer
“The conflict Norman Fischer speaks of in this poem is an inherent component of the universe. He writes of the human dilemma, the struggles of daily life, and the desire to 'hold the world in place,' showing us how not to be mired in any one spot. Freedom is won by tirelessly moving forward. The lines breathe: the poet's breath, and the complexity of his thought, visualized on the page.”—Anne Tardos