The BeZine, Dec. 2018, Vol. 5, Issue 4, Theme: Life of the Spirit

“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it…”  The Art of Living, Wilfred Peterson

December 15, 2018

A Life of the Spirit is a many-faceted jewel. Some of our contributors interpreted the theme for this month as Spirit (Being, the Ineffable, the Divine) and others more as spirited, strong. Some find Spirit and courage in the great love of their life or in their art, in their religion or spiritual practice. Others find it in an inspiring parent or grandparent.  You will see that nature plays a role for nearly everyone.

I don’t think I’ve ever used as many hankies in pulling together an issue of The BeZine as I have with this issue.  Contributors this quarter speak intimately from both joy and heartbreak, which is perhaps not surprising given the theme.

©2018 Naomi Baltuck, Chris Spengler, and Allison Cox

Our contributors have also rallied their spirits to speak out against gun violence and to speak up for the LGBTQ community. Violence and cruelty are not an absence of Spirit but a lack of awareness.

c 2018, Anjum Wasim Dar

My country – America – has a gun violence history that is notorious but firearms are ubiquitous on this Earth and complicit in wars and conflicts, hate crimes, terrorism, suicide and accidental shootings. Death by fire arms is grotesquely common in South American countries, Jamaica, and Swaziland.

Gun-suicides: I’ve taken the liberty of including a poem about my big sister, Teresa Margaret, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. She was twenty-seven. I was fourteen. Fifty-four years later, the trauma remains. The questions remain: Why? Where did the gun come from? Who taught her how to use it?

“Although the USA ranked fourth in the world with 12,400 firearm-related homicides, that figure pales in comparison with its 23,800 gun suicides. None of the other 194 nations and territories  [ … ] came close; India ranked second at 13,400.” USA Today HERE

Easy access to firearms is cited by experts as one reason for the prevalence of their use in suicide. Another may be that guns offer an effective means of suicide.

Since there is history, culture, identity, and ethic involved in gun ownership and use, attempts at doing away with guns are not feasible at this time. Complicated core issues need to be defined and addressed first. Will we ever come to a unified place where we agree that murder and torture are not options?  How then would Spirit play in the garden of material life?

Thanks to The Bardo Group Bequines team and to our guest writers for helping us put together an issue that is honest, artful, and inspiring, one that walks “with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground.”

As you read, we hope that you will leave your “Likes” and comments behind to let each contributor know they were read and appreciated and to enrich the experience for others.

In the spirit of love (respect) and community,
and on behalf of The Bardo Group Bequines,
Jamie Dedes
Founding and Managing Editor

TABLE OF CONTENTS


How to read this issue of THE BeZINE:You can read each piece individually by clicking the links in the Table of Contents.
To learn more about our guests contributors, please link HERE.
To learn more about our core team members, please link HERE.


BeAttitudes

A Murmur, John Anstie

Your Freedom Eyes, Linda Chown

Julia Vinograd Slipped Into My Writing, Michael Dickel

Feathers of Grass, Joe Hesch

Whelm, Tricia Knoll

Making White Flags, P.A. Levy

Hope Springs Eternal, Tamam Tracy Moncur

Spirit Speaks, Corina Ravenscraft

A Gift of Courage, Anjum Wasim Dar

Poems

Standing Out in the Straight …, Linda Chown

Stone Love, P.A. Levy

Landing, P.C. Moorehead

Illuminating, P.C. Moorehead

Dense Flesh, P.C. Moorehead

Songbird, Jason A. Muckley

Princess of the Sea, Jason A. Muckley

Four Haiku, Jason A. Muckley

Log Cabin Quilt, Anne Myers

Lit Up With Your Warmth, Scott Thomas Outlar

Catching Leaves and Picking Clover, Scott Thomas Outlar

High Tide Hallelujah, Scott Thomas Outler

The Spirit of Us, poem by Deborah Setiyawait, photography by Carl Scharwath

The Star, Clarissa Simmens

my decision is not new, since …, Anjum Wasim Dar

for those who don’t know the chocolate, Amirah Al Wassif

the poetry is …, Amirah Al Wassif

Windows of Madrid, Amirah Al Wassif

Social Justice for LGBTQ

Telling Tales Under the Rainbow, Naomi Baltuck, Alison Cox, Chris Spengler

Gravy, Chris Spengler

Gun Violence

GunShot, Gary W. Bowers

A Girl in a Box, Jamie Dedes

A Poem for the Tree of Life Synagogue, Michael Dickel

Silencing the Thunder, Joe Hesch

Snow Angels, Joe Hesch

CONNECT WITH US

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SUBMISSIONS:

Read Info/Missions StatementSubmission Guidelines, and at least one issue before you submit. Updates on Calls for Submissions and other activities are posted every Sunday in Sunday Announcements on The Poet by Day.

Orhan Pamuk: The Fear of Being Left Outside, What Literature Needs to Address

Orhan Pamuk (b. 1952), Istanbul Turkey, Novelist
Orhan Pamuk (b. 1952), Istanbul Turkey, Novelist ~ photo courtesy of Mr. Pamuk

“What literature needs most to tell and investigate today are humanity’s basic fears: the fear of being left outside, and the fear of counting for nothing, and the feelings of worthlessness that come with such fears; the collective humiliations, vulnerabilities, slights, grievances, sensitivities, and imagined insults, and the nationalist boasts and inflations that are their next of kin … Whenever I am confronted by such sentiments, and by the irrational, overstated language in which they are usually expressed, I know they touch on a darkness inside me. We have often witnessed peoples, societies and nations outside the Western world–and I can identify with them easily–succumbing to fears that sometimes lead them to commit stupidities, all because of their fears of humiliation and their sensitivities. I also know that in the West–a world with which I can identify with the same ease–nations and peoples taking an excessive pride in their wealth, and in their having brought us the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and Modernism, have, from time to time, succumbed to a self-satisfaction that is almost as stupid.”

—Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Lecture (translation by Maureen Freely), 2006
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This seem the perfect piece to expand on Michael Watson’s post yesterday and his comment, “. . . we seem to be caught up in the Bardo, spinning endless fantasies derived from fear, greed, and anger” … and we would add “hubris.”  So just some thoughts for us as poets and writers, artists and musicians, therapists, clerics bloggers … and simply as humans beings.
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Is Orhan Pamuk’s statement fair? How do you feel about it?.

BROAD MARGIN

MAXINE HONG KINGSTON (b. 1940)

Chinese-American Author, Poet, Peacemaker, and Professor Emeritus of University of California at Berkeley, California, U.S.A.

Photograph courtesy of the CitySon Philosopher. Taken at Kepler’s Books, Menlo Park, California, U.S.A.

Keep this day. Save this moment;

Save each scrap of moment; write it down.

Save this moment. And this one. And this.

I Love a Broad Margin to My LifeMaxine Hong Kingston

AN EVENING WITH MAXINE HONG KINGSTON

by

Jamie Dedes

I suspect that when many of us think of Buddhist influences on American literature, the first writers we think of are the Beats, but there are also very fine contemporary writers: Maxine Hong Kingston, Lan Cao, Anne Waldman, and Charles Johnson among others. Hence, I was delighted when, as part of the two-week-long celebrations of my sixty-first birthday, the CitySon Philosopher took me to dinner at Cafe Barrone and afterward next door to Kepler’s Books – a favorite among family and friends, the local independent – to hear Maxine Hong Kingston talk about her new book, I Love a Broad Margin to My Life.

Story gives form and pleasure to the chaos that’s life. By the end of the story, we have found understanding, meaning, revelation, resolution, reconciliations. Maxine Hong Kingston

This newest book is a memoir in long poem, in effect like the old-country tradition of writing a poem on a scroll. Flowing. Organic. Seemingly endless. It was occasioned about six years ago by Ms. Kingston’s sixty-fifth birthday. When I dipped a ready toe into its rippling waters of free-verse, my own preference, I was not disappointed.

Going to author presentations is one of our nicer family traditions. Having both already read The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, my son and I looked forward to hearing what Ms. Kingston had to say. There’s also a certain amount of local pride. Ms. Kingston was born and raised in Stanford, a university town and the next one over.  She derives from a family of Chinese immigrants with strong culturally inspired story-telling and poetry traditions. This family experience combined with some years in Hawaii and traveling to China and elsewhere enriches Ms. Kingston’s writing and lends vitality, color, and perspective to both her prose and poetry.

Am I pretty at 65?

What does old look like?

Ms. Kingston immediately addresses the  issues of aging and fears of dying, both in her book-presentation and in the book itself. She talks about being superstitious and thinking that as long as she has things to write “I keep living…” She tells the origins of the title: Thoreau. It’s a line from Walden that, she says, also hangs framed over her desk. She explains the Chinese custom of “writing poems back” and tells of her dad who would write poems to her in the margins of her books. Charming! She is now translating these for publication, though that was never her dad’s intention. Or so I would infer. She encourages us to write our own poems in the margins of her book, which certainly are wide.

Ms. Kingston stands in front of us, like a fragile little bird, reading excerpts from the book, which I delight to hear. She is ten years older than me and remembers the same key events: civil rights, women’s rights, Vietnam, Iraq … and so on. She’s lived the immigrant experience. She does indeed sound like a Buddhist. Has the Buddhist sensibility: respect for life, for silence, for present moment.

When Ms. Kingston has finished her presentation and Q & A, my son excuses himself and kindly goes to buy two copies of the book. We stand in line with others, waiting for her to sign our books. Every moment spent attending to writers, talking about books and writing, is precious…even more this one, because I am with my son and the writer happens to be one with whom I share values, gender, and the context of time. She also is a mother with one son.

Finally it is our turn: Ms. Kingston sits tiny and cheerful with pen in hand. She greets us, as cordial as she has been with each reader. She writes my name in big, bold sprawling black letters and “Joy and beauty and delight” and signs her full name,  with “Hong” in Chinese characters. In the privacy of my mind, I think: teachers do indeed come in many guises and Ms. Kingston provides an engaging example of Buddhist values in action and at work.

Finally, my son and I head for his car, for home, and for good reading, just as we so often have over the past forty years. I feel sated. As long as we have dear children, fine friends, authentic authors, and good books to read and our own stories to write, we have everything. Life is indeed full of joy, beauty, and delight. Thank you, Son! Thank you, Ms. Kingston!