“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
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.”
Don't Forget to Breathe
“Andrew Levy's DON'T FORGET TO BREATHE is truly only figuring out how to stay free.”—Lissa Wolsak
“Somewhere in here the poet says 'you can call me Nothing / Which is something,' thereby compressing the crisis related in this book to its bluntest formulation. Who or what is the residue that causes these words to occur? What do these questions, jokes, propositions, slogans, fragments, rationalizations constitute? No answer is forthcoming: anatomies of 'absurdities / Spewing forth / From capital' disintegrate as they coalesce, disposing themselves along an eroding continuum, where each step taken is a step back to an abandoned future. Although from here it's hard to see forward, some day the sticks will dry out, giving us a chance to make a fire, in whose heat and light we'll remember DON'T FORGET TO BREATHE as a threshold.”—William Fuller
(a) lullaby without any music
“These etched words take flight into the everyday of husbands and birds, crystalline reflection and self-possessed repose. Bartlett's poems sparkle with unadorned being and sardonic becoming. Till we become ourselves in their reflection, refigured as beauty.”—Charles Bernstein
“The crosshatch of love, place and domesticity. A woman wearing, then shedding, the identities of body, mother, wife, daughter, bird and lover. Jennifer Bartlett's (A) LULLABY WITHOUT ANY MUSIC proves, once again, that she is the nightingale in the city, and we are all richer for it.”—Maryrose Larkin
“This stunning, wry collection is a tonic, triggering memory and the knowledge that we all enter poems in medias res—from anywhere. Rhythmic fragments or grand paragraphs, FLOAT becomes its own mixing board. At times you hear it almost disappear, then reappear as ‘total sound.’ In a long poem titled ‘Times of Day,’ one vertical, vital string, the words ‘Zoo / Cage / Jazz’ track to John Cage because of interventions earlier in the book, a startling elegy within and without. Cooked or raw, from the title to the end notes, possibilities abound. Alluring, captivating, it’s a must-read!”—Norma Cole
Exit Moonshine, Enter Wall
What is so diabolical about weather and classical music?
What happens when one grabs a contribution from Gertrude Stein?
The Invention Tree
Jerome McGann and Susan Bee
Genre: Poetry, Art
Text by Jerome McGann with drawings by Susan Bee. “This delightful book plays with words and non-words, phonetics, and poetic conventions such as metrics, rhyme scheme, and figurative language to cleverly reflect on the much debated, long troublesome, ever wonderful process of artistic creation. Jerome McGann weaves a fantasyland complete with oceans and islands, lords and ladies, demons and creatures, and the familiar trope of the tree in the garden—here it is one of invention. The imaginative nature of the work, and its mastery of allegory liken it to the whimsical cousin of Spenser's Faerie Queene in miniature. Where Spenser discussed religious morality, McGann's work is a parable of the joys and trials of the creative process, and the dilemmas an artist will inevitably encounter on the journey to inspiration. Susan Bee's artwork provides a colorful compliment to McGann's poetry, the images joining in a medley of whimsy that reinforces his charmingly quirky style.”—Sarah Caitlin Ghusson