Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Five Recently-Read Fiction Books that Make Kasey Happy

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (Norton, $13.95)
Like many favorite books of mine, The History of Love is very hard to categorize. It is a kind of history and it's also (kind of) about love, but it's also about family and God and writing itself, and a whole lot more. Plus it is so beautifully written, you will want to read it very very slowly, in order to savor it--and then maybe you'll want to read the whole thing all over again, which is exactly what I did.

Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott (Riverhead, $25.95)
I love Anne Lamott so much it's hard for me to express. And for a long time I thought I loved her nonfiction books even more than her fiction, but reading Imperfect Birds has caused me to question that idea. It's such a deeply thoughtful, sad, funny, joyful novel, full of perfectly-imperfect characters who--in spite of all their flaws--are so lovable I wish they lived in Mt. Airy and shopped at the bookstore (which, if they actually did live in Mt. Airy, they certainly would, because they all love to read), just so I could meet them.

A Fortunate Age by Joanna Smith Rakoff (Scribner, $26.00)
This is one of those rare, rare novels that's intelligent and deep and full of wonderful characters and compulsively readable, all at the same time. When I was reading it I carried it with me everywhere and dipped into it every time I had a spare second, because I couldn't wait to see what would happen to the characters next.

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby (Riverhead, $25.95)
I am a huge Nick Hornby fan; High Fidelity and About a Boy are two of my all-time favorite books, and now I think I need to add Juliet, Naked to that list as well. Hornby's characters are older now, in their late 30s and early 40s, and dealing with regrets and disappointments, but they are still brilliantly quirky, funny, and lovable, and Hornby's writing is still tough and realistic and, in the end, redemptive.

A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore (Knopf, $25.95)
I was so very happy when this book--Lorrie Moore's first in a number of years--came out, and I read it almost immediately. First thing to love: her sentences are so gorgeous, I often found myself rereading and pondering them. Second thing to love: her plot and characters are equally compelling and memorable. In a nutshell, this book follows Tassie, a Midwestern farmer's daughter, through her first years at college and her job as a nanny. But it's about so much more than that: connection and loneliness, the power and limitations of knowledge, the meaning of family. And for a book in which some tragic things happen, it's often weirdly, remarkably funny.

June 2010, Kasey Jueds

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Claudia's June Picks: Five Books by John O'Donohue

For the month of June I would like to introduce you to John O'Donohue.

John O'Donohue was an Irish teacher and internationally respected poet and author, whom the Times in London described as "a man of the soul". He passed away very untimely and unexpectedly at the age of fifty, leaving behind a treasury of inspirational books, filled with poetic language and spiritual insights drawn from Celtic traditions. Readers of all faith will find solace and guidance in his beautiful blessings, prayers, and mesmerizing prose. The books will meander through life's thresholds and serve as an invaluable companion in your odyssey. Please treat yourself to these timeless gems:

To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings (Doubleday, $22.95)

Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom (Perennial, $14.99)

Beauty : The Invisible Embrace (Perennial, $13.99)

Eternal Echoes : Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong (Perennial, $13.99)

Conamara Blues: Poems (Perennial, $13.99)

June 2010, Claudia Vesterby

Monday, June 28, 2010

Erica’s Five Retellings That Don’t Involve Zombies or the Undead

Back in the day when I was just a young lass we didn’t take kindly to upstart whippersnappers inserting zombies or denizens of the underworld into our literary classics. Here are five books you’ll like if Pride and Prejudice and Zombies holds little or no appeal for you.

The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (W.W. Norton, $13.95).

It’s no Jane Slayre, but why should it be? Where is it written that in order to re-imagine the great gothic masterpiece that is Jane Eyre we have to add the undead? I’ve got plenty of problems with Jane Eyre (you mean there’s a madwoman in the attic who burns Thornfield Hall to the ground leaving Rochester blind and minus one hand? you mean that even though Rochester is blind, minus one hand and has kept his first wife locked in the attic for years Jane still marries him?) but zombies aren’t the answer. Jean Rhys understands that. In this prequel of sorts, she crawls inside of the gothic trappings of the original novel and with prose that is lush, effective and evocative fleshes out the life of that madwoman in the attic from her childhood in the West Indies, through her marriage to Rochester, to her arrival in England where she is imprisoned in Thornfield Hall. It’s a fierce and beautiful examination of one woman’s life amid colonialism and the forces of a patriarchal society only too willing to label her as other and insane.

Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin (Vintage, $13.95).

Mary Reilly is a servant in the household of one Doctor Henry Jekyll and I’m going to flat out tell you that I don’t envy her. The guy keeps totally weird hours. He’s supposedly brilliant but then he turns up at dawn all rumpled and bleary-eyed as if this learned man of science has spent the night tripping the light fantastic instead of holed up in his laboratory. Then there’s his new “assistant” Mr. Hyde, a feral creature with “cold eyes” and a face “charged with anger.” There is a darkness about these two men which both draws and repels Mary, requiring her to confront the demons of her own troubled childhood. Valerie Martin gives us the strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from Mary’s perspective and it becomes a deeply human exploration of Good and Evil, as well as a tale of those who slip through Evil’s fingers and live to tell. No Zombies need apply.

The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall (Mariner Books, $12.95).

I confess: I hate Scarlett O’Hara. It’s hard to admit because I love an epic. I love a feisty heroine. I love a sweeping family saga that spans generations, but the politics of Gone with the Wind have always made me queasy. Alice Randall had a similar love-hate relationship with the novel, which prompted her to write The Wind Done Gone. Presented as the diary of a mulatto slave woman named Cynara, Scarlett’s half-sister and contemporary, this slim novel takes place alongside the original in a world where Scarlett is referred to as Other, Rhett Butler as R., and Tara as simply Cotton Farm. These iconic characters through their naming have been reduced to truncated versions of themselves or even (gasp!) stereotypes, not unlike the slave characters in Gone with the Wind. Randall’s novel is more than a mere reversal of perspective however; it’s a thoughtful meditation on racial politics and a spare, lyrically told story to boot. Well, fiddle-dee-dee!

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (Penguin, $13.95).

Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Well, not Angela Carter and certainly none of the heroines she’s created in her collection of re-imagined fairy tales. With a keen eye for the symbolism already present in the classic Brothers Grimm oeuvre, Carter transforms familiar stories into lush, sensual tales that reexamine women’s roles and sexual agency in a way that is both bold and intelligent. Gone are the typical damsels in distress on the lookout for Prince Charming. Instead, Carter’s heroines are more likely to laugh in the face of the wolf despite those huge, lupine eyes, and sharp, pointy teeth. They carry knives beneath their red riding hoods and they aren’t afraid to use them.

Fool by Christopher Moore (Harper Collins, $26.99).

Never one to back down from a challenge, Christopher Moore goes balls out and pretty much has his way with King Lear. Fool is witty, vulgar, sublime and profane, and I wholeheartedly applaud him for sticking it to the Bard. People tend to treat Shakespeare with kid gloves and I’m not sure why. I mean, he’s pretty venerable. The man’s survived over 400 years in print, I think he can stand up to a little ruddy manhandling from an American author with undaunted pluck. Told from the point of view of Pocket, Lear’s clever fool, this novel is a rollicking romp in five acts through the treacherous minefield of Lear family relationships. It’s up to Pocket to help long-suffering Cordelia regain her father’s esteem, and he’ll use every joke, pun and ditty in his arsenal to achieve that end.

June 2010, Erica David

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Poetic License Horoscopes, June 25-July 2

(Concerts I've Been to Edition) by Jane Cassady

New Order, Oakenfold, Moby, The Orb (Area 51 Festival, San Bernadino, CA) We'd just worn ourselves out dancing to Oakenfold and were buying some lemonade when we heard the first note of Moby's “Porcelain.” We joined hands and ran up the hill toward the big stage under a full sky of stars. It was the must fun I ever had while running.

The New Pornographers (The Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA) I haven't been to a concert in like, 4 or 5 years because I had this weird idea that I was too old for rock shows. As the gorgeous lights went up and the harmonies hummed me up some new chakras, I kicked myself for every show I'd ever left myself out of. What have you left yourself out of?

Aerosmith, Skid Row (The War Memorial, Syracuse, NY) I went to my first concert with my mom. For all that I go on about my cheesy first concert, seeing Steven Tyler sing Dream On was a very moving experience for my 15-year-old self. “Sing with me, but just for today, maybe tomorrow, the good lord'll take it away....” Maybe that's why I became an existentialist! Also, my mom said this: “Why do they have to swear so much?”

A Tribe Called Quest, Wyclef Jean (Cornell University) Remember how much fun it was to shake our asses to to “I left my wallet in El Segundo”? How many things have we left like that, then had to tell elaborate stories about retracing our steps?

Soundgarden, Ministry, Pearl Jam, etc. (Lollapalooza 2, Saratoga, NY) Dye your hair pink, watch it run down your back in the heavy rain, get drunk on a stranger's flask of sloe gin. Do inadvisable things in the bushes. Watch out for poison ivy.

Ben Folds (Syracuse University) It was the day after my Uncle Tony died, but he was a music guy, so why not use the tickets? We got separated from our friends, so we watched from a distance as they danced in the collective effervescence. There are few things that can't be soothed by cathartic piano.

Morrissey (Central Park) There was a guy in front of me who had Morrissey's face tattooed on his arm. (Whose face would you tattoo on yours?) I didn't want to throw gladiolas on the stage like everyone else, so I threw pink roses. They got kicked off the stage anyway!

Rilo Kiley, Tilly and the Wall (Hamilton College) 1. If your car isn't that good, wear thick socks in the dead of winter! 2. Hipsters are weird. One minute they're watching 80s TV shows ironically and the next moment they're crying along to an Elliott Smith death ballad; they're raising their hands up and clapping, singing “It's sixteen miles/ to the promised land/and I promise you/I'm doing the best I can.”

Pisces: Flaming Lips, Ween, The Magic Numbers (New York State Fairgrounds) Carnival rides were the perfect backdrop. Wayne Coyne advised us to turn to our friends right then and tell them how much we love them. “Though they were sad,they rescued everyone. They lifted up the sun. A spoonful weighs a ton.”

Aries: Paul Simon (Born at The Right Time Tour) This was the time our family was picture perfect. We even stopped for a picnic by the river one the way there. That day was a perfect rest stop on the way to falling apart. 1. It eventually came back together. 2. It makes the nostalgia sweeter.

Tori Amos (Syracuse, NY) 1. She can play two pianos at once! 2. My friend Randy waited backstage and gave her a necklace he made and an antique china teacup. Buy some lovely presents for someone of whom you are a huge fan.

Ben Folds Five, Ween, Beck, Neal Young, and... (HOARDE Fest, Saratoga, NY) My brother and I used to go to a lot of concerts together. As we were driving to this one, we were listening to Soul Coughing and I said “Wouldn't it be awesome if Soul Coughing was there?” AND THEY WERE! Maybe a little more wishing aloud this week, Gemini.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Five Books: Janet's Quotes for June

Home Repair by Liz Rosenberg (Harper Collins, $13.99)
"Change was the only constant. The rest was mysterious. Maybe that was why people loved mystery novels and detective shows, loved trying to solve crossword puzzles. It was time to walk the dogs, lift their leashes from the hook behind the door, put on her winter coat. The world waited, cold, grim, alive, beautiful. There was no saying no to it."

The Empty Chair by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
(Jewish Lights Publishing, $9.95)
"Know! A person walks in life on a very narrow bridge. The most important thing is not to be afraid."

Unraveled by Maria Housden (Three Rivers Press, $13.95)
"Happiness, contentment, and love were not experiences we could give each other, they were simply experiences we could share or be."

Anh's Anger by Gail Silver (Plum Blossom Books, $16.95)
"Anh and his anger sat together silently. They sat. They breathed in. They breathed out."
(Check out the mindfulness opportunities for families listed on the last page of the book.)

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (Laurel-Leaf Books, $6.99)
"When a Stargirl cries, she does not shed tears, but light."

June 2010, Janet Elfant

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jen’s Five Books with Excellent Illustrations

These beautiful books of pictures make great gifts!

The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe by Theodore Gray (Black Dog and Leventhal, $29.95)
This coffee table photo-essay has quickly become one of my all-time favorite books. Shiny copper. Blue liquid oxygen. The purple of a xenon sign. A sample of vicanite that may or may not contain an atom of actinium at any one time. Clever little facts about everything. And I do mean really everything. (See also the book excerpts I posted to the blog in November.)

The Book of Clouds by John A. Day (Sterling Publishing, $15.00)
Cloud names and classifications, which I had always wanted to learn, with gorgeous photographs that make me want to jump in and gaze at the sky all day.

Transit Maps of the World: The World’s First Collection of Every Urban Train Map on Earth by Marc Ovenden (Penguin, $25.00)
I love transit maps, from my “Tate Gallery by Tube” London Transport postcards to my Hard Rock CafĂ© St. Petersburg T-shirt with the Metro on the back. This book is full of transit maps -- modern, historical, laced with commentary about both the rail systems and the mapmaking. And, you know, handy to carry if you find yourself in a city without a map!

The Songs of Wild Birds by Lang Elliott (Houghton Mifflin, $19.95)
I’ve spent the past year slowly learning new bird songs, and I love how it changes my experience of the world. This book has beautiful close-up photos of fifty birds, with sound spectrograms of their songs! CD included.

Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain (Arsenal Pulp Press, $19.95)
An entertaining and instructional manual on the use of handwork as street art. There’s something so cool and whimsical about the idea of finding a bike rack cozy or an extra pad on a prickly pear or a sweater on a statue. Or at least it looks like it in the book. I haven’t seen (or planted) any of these things in my own travels...yet.

June 2010, Jennifer Sheffield

Monday, June 21, 2010

Five Books That Taught Mo a Thing or Two about Philadelphia

I have now been living in Philadelphia for almost two years. When I move to a new place I like to study its history. Here are some of the books on the topic of Philadelphia history that I have consulted and enjoyed.

Forgotten Philadelphia: Lost Architecture of the Quaker City
by Thomas H. Keels (Temple University Press, $40.00)

Digging in the City of Brotherly Love: Stories from Philadelphia Archaeology
by Rebecca Yamin
(Yale University Press, $35.00)

Up South: Civil Rights and Black Power in Philadelphia
by Matthew Countryman
(University of Pennsylvania Press, $22.50)

Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North
by Thomas Sugrue
(Random House, $20.00)

Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine (Scholastic, $16.99)

June 2010, Mo Speller

Friday, June 18, 2010

Horoscope Week of June 18-24

Poetic Horoscopes by Jane Cassady

Last weekend, my mom and stepdad drove down from upstate New York with a van full of plants for us—iris bulbs, rootable mums, calendula, a clump of daisies, wads of vincas for the shady areas, and best of all, a Carefree Delight rosebush. All I had to do was ask, and now we're rich with flowers.

Cancer: One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from Mindy Nettifee, who suggested bringing pillows with us to the beach. Get thee to an ocean. Lay down your bedding. Call to mind that thing you've been obsessing about and think about it to your heart's content. Let it unspool to the sound of the waves.

Leo: My Aunt Connie told me about this diet book called something like How to Eat Like a Thin Person. She said that “genetically hungry people like us” wouldn't gain weight if we only ate what we really craved. She said “Maybe I've always been hungry because I didn't get a piece of this one baked Alaska in 1968.” I resolved immediately to 1. Apply the same concept to time-management. And 2. Learn to make baked Alaska.

Gretchen Reuben started The Happiness Project because she realized that her life is pretty great and she wanted to appreciate it more. Your horoscopist is starting one for the same reason, but also so she won't have to go on anti-depressants. Make a list of five things that will REALLY make you happy, and then do them.

Libra: You are like the section of every teacher catalog where you can order trophies and certificates in bulk. You're dozens of knickknacks that say “We're # 1!” Place your order, have your name engraved on each one, enjoy.

Scorpio: When everyone else is consulting their phones to see if the clouds that have gathered above the beach will mean a thunderstorm, you're setting up your chair under an umbrella, wrapping yourself in a warm towel, and falling in love with the gray horizon.

Sagittarius: The book Love Letters from God makes a nice friend. I like to open it every morning to learn about poets' ecstatic love affairs with the Divine. I've resolved to be less aloof from the Divine, but I'm not sure how I'll know when I've succeeded. Will I be a love-drunk dervish when all is said and done?

The other day on the bus, I saw a man get on who'd tied a miniature purple Christmas ornament to what I thought was his belt. I wish my eyes hadn't followed the string, but they did and I saw that it was tied to his own, er, miniature ornament. Buy your eyeballs something beautiful to make up for all of the things you never wanted to see, but did.

It's your first week in a new home. Unpack all of your boxes as if they were all full of very fragile keepsakes. Look at your light refracting in the glass of your possessions. Paint the walls the color of your radiant eyes. This is your own beautiful life.

Pisces: Go to a used bookstore, if there is such a thing where you live. Breathe in the dust. Find the narrowest aisle and fight claustrophobia. Reach up to the highest shelf and pull down a book. Open it to a random page. It'll tell you what you should do.

Aries: My favorite Aries is my dad. A little over a year ago, he retired from his job managing a convenience store to pursue his dream as a standup comedian. Do something similarly brave and humorous, Aries. I'm cheering you on. If you need a good laugher in the audience, I'll be there every time.

My wonderful friend Marcia Cohee used to live by a stream where egrets sometimes landed. She gauged he luck each day by haw many were there: a three-egret day was very lucky, she said. I think you can do this with any kind of bird, or better yet, hydrangea petals.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Five Children's Books That Made Maleka's Heart Burst Wide Open

(and by bursting wide open, I mean these books either made me cry in a good way, or left me speechless, or made me want more, or made me want to change the world for the generations to come, or made me want to savor and cherish every minute on this beautiful and imperfect planet filled with all of humanity.)

The Gardener by Sarah Stewart ($6.99, VHPS)

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold ($6.99, Random House)

I'm in Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor ($6.99, Simon and Schuster)

The Way to Start a Day by Byrd Baylor ($6.99, Simon and Schuster)

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown ($16.99, Little Brown)

-Maleka Fruean, June 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010

Horoscope, Week of June 11-17

Poetic Horoscopes by Jane Cassady

Your horoscopist is taking a week off to commune with some beaches. In the meantime, please Google "The Encyclopedia Show", then go to "Audiopedia" and listen to their Zodiac-themed episode.

Enjoy, XOXOX, Jane

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Poetic Profile: Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore

1) How would you describe your poetry?

I think if I were to characterize the overall intentional aesthetic of my work, it would be a certain luminosity. A luminosity of thought, of image and of goal. And an open-hearted deep-listening and seeing for the Face of The Divine in every manifestation in our lives and around us, constricted only by our own limitations. Luminosity and elasticity, or as my Mexican poet/mentor, Marco Antonio Montes de Oca called it in the early 60s in Mexico City, “plasticidad,” or “plasticity.” And by it he meant not “plastic” but rather flexible and somehow always moving, as in cinema, with images transforming and metamorphosing into other images, associative and fluid. He taught me to keep the metaphors active, and I’ve gone through phases of velocity, where I wanted the poem to move quickly, without looking back. Olson helps in this regard, with his thoughts about poetic association and flexibility, famously (and not always practiced) in his essay on Projective Verse. Poems are little dioramas with miniatured life in them allowing us to connect without fear of agoraphobia, as it were, which me might naturally feel in the boundaryless world we live our lives in, under the vast ocean of stars. Even the Iliad is miniatured, where huge epic warfare is comprehensible, graspable, whereas on the battlefield it would be simply blood and chaos. It’s metricalized, musical, and emitted from a single human voice, infusing action and thought with luminosity.

Then there’s the spiritual aspect, which I’ve infused with my American lingo (via Rumi and more especially years living among Sufis in Morocco, England, Spain, Nigeria, etc.), to raise the state of the reader as I’m raising my own state in the process of writing, which is why I call my overall poetic project, The Ecstatic Exchange.

2) How does poetry fit into your everyday life?

Everyday. I’ve spent my life writing, since about the age of 17 or so, and am reaching my 70th birthday this year (I know!). At about 18 or so I seriously dedicated myself to poetry, and it has been a concern and practice all these years, with about a ten-year break in Sufi community apprenticeship and soul-transformation, which only deepened and reoriented my work when I resumed writing in plethoric abundance afterwards (I have about 60 manuscripts of books of poetry, 25 of them published to date: 6/3/10). During the years of raising a family I worked day jobs and wrote at night or in the wee hours of the morning, before dawn, and never really had time to send poems out and create a career, as it were, once I became a Muslim in 1970. I’d had some success in my twenties, with two books of poetry published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights in San Francisco, but my departure from America into the deserts of divesting and increasing curtailed any reaping of my early success to ensure its continuance. I’ve been out here, more or less on my own, not quite in the mainstream, writing and publishing my poems for whomever has ears and heart’s interest in them, retirement since 2005 allowing me the time to really establish the texts of my works and continue writing into the mortal future.

3) What poets and/or authors inspire you?

Whitman is a shaman mentor, and Blake, and the Beats with their real, if shaggy, longing for transcendence. The Latin American poets, like Cesar Vallejo, a true spirit-blaster, Rimbaud always and forever, Vasco Popa, his amazing folk metaphysic, Tomas Salamun, goofily free and deep, Ezra Pound, the honer of a clear language, Rene Char, whom I can never quite understand either in French or English, Apollinaire, his cubist blocks of illumination…

And then the divine and sparkling panoply of Hafez, Rumi, ‘Attar, ibn Farid, and the great tradition of Sufi shuyukh (Masters) who put their hearts into poetry of the moment and of the deep teaching both to instruct and to inspire spiritual travel.

But there are always and have always been many, spongeification being my way of drawing up light from everywhere and everyone… The Outside of Colin Wilson being a great springboard to setting out on my own and trusting my own soul’s work, and the Surrealists with their daring and unconscious Sufism, and the musical forays of Terry Riley, Messiaen, etc. Great extreme works of art that are also focused on real knowledge-transmitting and yearning always for more, restlessly eager to expand and go beyond ourselves.

4) How does the community of Philadelphia play a part in your poetry?

Since moving here with my family in 1990 I’ve participated in many poetry readings, particularly with Eileen D’Angelo’s Mad Poets Society programs, and her indefatigable sponsorship of same. But I’ve also traveled to England and Abu Dhabi, Cairo and Morocco to read and perform (both poetry and a sometime puppet theater), so I have a global and international view, though I very much cherish the local activity and its ever-enthusiastic participants.

5) What is the last book you have read that you enjoyed? Tell our Big Blue Marble community a little about it.

I think I have a kind of creative attention deficit disorder, in that I get terribly excited by a new book, begin it and the next day I’m onto something else, my own editing and writing actually taking precedence, though I will read in and at a book for months, which is why I love reading poetry, since a poem is often as full as War and Peace but not quite so bulky and time-consuming!

But of Sufi books, I’ve been reading the book of the founding Master of our Sufi Order, Sidi Hasan al-Shadhili, The Mystical Teachings of al-Shadhili, translated by Elmer Douglas, and The Book of Illumination, of ibn ‘At’Allah al-Iskandari, his disciple and the shaykh who came after him. Reading these books are a miner’s descent into the heart, and there’s always ore and real treasure to be found. Pungent single lines like, “Lifting the veils of separation and alienation helps us endure divine decrees without agitation” have both a salutary and inspiring effect on our understanding and on the wellspring of poetry. I’ve also been reading The Zen Works of Stonehouse, Poems and Talks of a 14th Century Hermit, translated by Red Pine. Truly amazing poems, where inner and outer nature are fused and interpenetrating, with sweet outward observations standing also for spiritual states and realizations as well as standing for themselves in radiant (luminous) and simple eloquence. But I’ve also been dipping into Franz Wright’s God’s Silence, a kind of Bukowski-ish poetry with Rilkean sensitivity if you will, but that’s perhaps not quite Wright. I love so much work, and am ravenous to read, yet aware of my time-limit (mortality’s zephyr’s blowing this’a-way) and need to edit and publish my own poetry, that it’s all an ongoing and exploratory labor of reading and writing, editing and then playing a bit of piano (I bang out weird music beautifully)… and so it goes.

Born in 1940 in Oakland, California, Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore's first book of poems, Dawn Visions, was published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights Books, San Francisco, in 1964, and the second in 1972, Burnt Heart/Ode to the War Dead. He created and directed The Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company in Berkeley, California in the late 60s, and presented two major productions, The Walls Are Running Blood, and Bliss Apocalypse. He became a Sufi Muslim in 1970, performed the Hajj in 1972, and lived and traveled throughout Morocco, Spain, Algeria and Nigeria, landing in California and publishing The Desert is the Only Way Out, and Chronicles of Akhira in the early 80s (Zilzal Press). Residing in Philadelphia since 1990, in 1996 he published The Ramadan Sonnets (Jusoor/City Lights), and in 2002, The Blind Beekeeper (Jusoor/Syracuse University Press). He has been the major editor for a number of works, including The Burdah of Shaykh Busiri, translated by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, and the poetry of Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Munir Akash. He is also widely published on the worldwide web: The American Muslim, DeenPort, and his own website and poetry blog, among others:, He is also currently poetry editor for Seasons Journal, and a new translation by Munir Akash of State of Siege, by Mahmoud Darwish, from Syracuse University Press. The Ecstatic Exchange Series is bringing out the extensive body of his works of poetry.


POETIC WORKS by Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore

Published and Unpublished

(many to appear in The Ecstatic Exchange Series)

Dawn Visions (published by City Lights, 1964)

Burnt Heart/Ode to the War Dead (published by City Lights, 1972)

This Body of Black Light Gone Through the Diamond (printed by Fred Stone, Cambridge, Mass, 1965)

Poetic Horoscope, Week of June 4-10

Horoscope, Week of June 4-10 by Jane Cassady (Sorry this is such a late version of this week's horoscope! -Big Blue Marble Editor)

Gemini: This is your week for chatting. Call up all your besties and long-losties. Make ill-advised calls to drunk ex-lovers. As for your enemies: send them the strongly worded letters you've been rehearsing. For every cutie-pie who won't text you back, send three texts to people who really love you.

Cancer: I feel protective of you. I keep wanting to tell you about sunscreen, floppy hats, beach umbrellas, but it's really your metaphorical shell that I love. You can go in there, puzzle it out, then shed your swirly home for another, like a love-drunk hermit crab.

Leo: Isn't it weird that in Pennsylvania, you can sell wine hardly anywhere, but you can see fireworks in every grocery store, right at the front of the Acme with the patriotic pies. Start stockpiling sparklers, black cats, bottle rockets. You're planning something bright, explosive, rainbow-hued.

Virgo: One New Year's, I resolved to be more like BeyoncĂ©, our fellow Virgo. This wasn't because she gets stuck in everyone's head or because her Betty Page impersonation is almost as empowered as Betty herself, but because I like the vulnerability I saw in her eyes when she sang “If I Were a Boy” on Oprah one time. Whose light is blinding you? Whose love is coming at you crazily at the moment? Tell them.

Libra: Everyone falls in love with your beautiful face, glowing so pretty that it's almost supernatural. If that weren't enough, they're in love with your oddities too: the way you organize your jewelry box, the three different sugars you put in your coffee (pink packet, yellow packet, brown packet―how sweet are you?), the dictionary of food terms that you carry like a talisman. Libra, love them back.

Scorpio: I heard that if you put beer on a scorpion's tail, it will sting itself. That might be an urban legend, but what are your little one-drop sabotages? The mean friend you keep hanging out with? The soul-suck job you can't quit? Do you forget to pull back the blinds in you secret rooms during the hour the sun shines in?

Sagittarius: Send love notes to your broken dishes. Mourn the coffee cups chipped by your porcelain sink, or save them to use as pen cups. Pick up every thread. Make a special drawer for the buttons that come in little baggies with new shirts and blouses. Practice keeping track.

Capricorn: Splurge on teacher supplies, even if that isn't your job. Buy dry erase markers to remind you of bright impermanence. Buy sheets of shiny stars and paste them all over your face. Get ten-packs of pencils in every pattern available. Pom Poms, pipe cleaners, googly eyes―build a little cathedral, call in the pilgrimages.

Aquarius: The Aquarius of the week is Justin Timberlake. Think of all he has given us: we hadn't even known that sexy had left until he brought it back, wrapped in a shiny trick Christmas package. Hooray sometimes for the songs that will never be deeper than ringtones. I'll never change mine, Justin.

Pisces: It's another terrible week for actual fishes, but not for you. Your gills are clear as meditation, your vistas un-sullied by petroleum rainbows. You remembered the blowout preventer. What is the opposite of catastrophe, Pisces? That's where you are.

Aries: Put things in order. Make your soul like The Container Store. Label things the ways Real Simple is always nagging you to. Get cute little bins for everything. Things will be neat and clear then, and you'll know what to do.

Taurus: How many libraries are there in your city? Visit them all. Become a connoisseur. Which has the nicest tables at which to leaf through magazines? Which security guard will hug you and offer you tomato plants? Which afterschool program's talent show will restore your faith?