American Poetry

There’s No Salvation in Elsewhere

'If nothing's here, nothing's there', writes poet Stephen Dunn about the instinct to believe that happiness is a place other than where we are, over the horizon, up in the sky, on the streets of a foreign city. If you are expecting to find salvation there, he says, all you'll find are reflections of the… Continue reading There’s No Salvation in Elsewhere

American Poetry, Poetry

Between Walls – William Carlos Williams

A pediatric doctor by training, Puerto Rican-American poet William Carlos Williams advanced his poetry by scribbling lines and ideas onto the notebooks of his medical profession. What grew out of this practice was a way of writing that was strikingly humane and attuned to the American vernacular. Between Walls is a simple poem that almost… Continue reading Between Walls – William Carlos Williams

American Poetry, English Poetry, Poetry

Following the Thread, Finer Than a Cobweb – Denise Levertov

Can we detect a guiding filament in our lives, like Ariadne's thread that led Theseus out of the labyrinth? Is there a constant that runs through this perpetually-changing existence that pulls us this way and that? What is the nature of that thread and where did it come from? Denise Levertov wonders at its origins in… Continue reading Following the Thread, Finer Than a Cobweb – Denise Levertov

American Poetry, Poetry

Molly Peacock – What If, When We Said I Love You, There Were A You To Love?

In order to really love, Thich Nhat Hanh proposes, we need to consider the elements of true love: benevolence, compassion, joy and freedom. But what about the more fundamental problem of selfishness? Can we ever love wholeheartedly in a way that puts the wellbeing of the other person - our beloved or a stranger -… Continue reading Molly Peacock – What If, When We Said I Love You, There Were A You To Love?

American Poetry

Naomi Shihab Nye’s Poem on Loss and Kindness

Victor Hugo's claim that 'Those who do not weep do not see,' is echoed here by poet Naomi Shihab Nye in her poem Kindness. Sorrow and grief will soften and open up our hearts, priming them for kindness and compassion in a way that's never quite possible before the experience of a devastating loss. Our… Continue reading Naomi Shihab Nye’s Poem on Loss and Kindness

American Poetry, Poetry

Chen Chen’s I’m Not a Religious Person But

Chen Chen is a startling young American poet whose life as seen through his work is imbued with poignancy and wit. This poem from his debut collection 'When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities' is steeped in an excruciating sense of the limits of religion and belief.    I'm… Continue reading Chen Chen’s I’m Not a Religious Person But

American Poetry, Poetry

Mary Oliver’s Morning Poem

Like the Zen poets of China and Japan, American poet Mary Oliver's work is deeply rooted in nature and her physical and ephemeral experience of the wilds that surround her. In Morning Poem, she communicates a deep optimism about the human condition; that even in the midst of heavy suffering, we can recognize a rightness… Continue reading Mary Oliver’s Morning Poem

American Poetry, Poetry

Jane Hirshfield’s “A Carbon-Based Life Form”

New York-born poet Jane Hirshfield studied Zen at the San Francisco Zen Center and at the monastery in Tassajara for a total of eight years before going on to garner a host of accolades for her poetry writing and editorial work.   "A Carbon-Based Life Form" A person tired from happiness grows sober. Another, worn… Continue reading Jane Hirshfield’s “A Carbon-Based Life Form”

American Poetry, Poetry

Gary Snyder – For Nothing

Zen student, poet and environmental activist Gary Snyder's Turtle Island, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1975. For Nothing is one of the poems in this book that present a vision of rediscovery of the north American continent whereby its inhabitants cease to behave as colonizers but rather as natives.    Earth a… Continue reading Gary Snyder – For Nothing