Thursday, September 21, 2006


I blogged not too long ago about how I try very hard for this blog to just be positive energy (not that I succeed all the time but it's part of the "form" of this blog -- it is an aesthetic issue for me, insofar as I consider the blog a form).

Well, it occurred to me after my trip to New York where I met with my publisher that this positive energy thingie is but an extension of something I decided years ago as I moved within the poetry world -- that I need to be open, sure, but also be very careful about exposing myself (including my Muse) to debilitating forces, including poets who would sap your energy away from the Work.

Which is a blather-ish way to say that after meeting with Marsh Hawk Press editors (okay, meeting understates the matter when you got poet-and-also-chef- extraordinaire Sandy McIntosh cooking for you--check out his menu!), I am really grateful that I ended up with this publishing organization. I think most other poetry publishers would have clipped my wings in what I'm trying to explore in poetry.

At Marsh Hawk, I'm lucky to have as my in-house editor Thomas Fink, a fabulous poet but also brilliant critic. Tom and Sandy have really created a "home" for me at the press. And because I and Tom stayed over one night at Sandy and Barbara's home, I was able to witness their morning habit of chanting -- part of their Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism practice. And an amazing thing happened (which, I believe, reflects these two gents' positive-energy affect on my poetry practice) -- while listening to their breathtaking, speedy-breath chanting of "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo", I was able to finalize what had been a rather tortuous working title to the manuscript that Marsh Hawk will publish next year.

Prior to this trip, I had been stuck on this title -- sensing it was not quite right but being unable to edit it further: THE LIGHT THAT LEFT HIS BODY ENTERED THINE EYES.

Inhaling Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and feeling it spread as a warmth through my body triggered my brain to gasp out a much better title:


Better, yah?

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is the title of the Lotus Sutra that Nichiren Shoshu Buddhists practice. It is literally "Devotion to the Mystic (or Wonderful) Lotus Sutra," but that is not its true significance. "Nam" means the devotion of one's mind and body to "Myoho," the law of life/death, "Renge," is simultaneous cause and effect, through the "kyo," sound, or the sound of chanting the title of the Lotus Sutra. In any case, the main thing is that simultaneity of cause and effect is the most basic law of existence.

This simultaneity, of course, is synchronistic again since it is part of the notion I addressed in THE LIGHT.... -- that is, in terms of form, I'd addressed disruption of linear narrativity by taking my clues from Dante's notion of the Trinity in Creation: that creation is simulltaneous as regards What (God) creates, How (Son) creation unfolds, and the Form (Spirit) taken by what is created.

Well, what better editors to guide this book through out into the world next year! Between the two of them, I think they've got nearly 70 years practicing their, uh, practice -- which make them a unique audience for my home-grown notion of simultaneity. A notion that encompasses how a book can seem to "freeze" a poem in flight when, actually, as the Fallen Angels have often berated me -- the flight of a poem has no beginning or end but is just ever-continuing. Is just is. A flight both cause and effect.