New book of Via Negativa-derived poems: The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis

On Monday, Elizabeth Adams at Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal, announced the arrival of my new book, The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis —and for a limited time, or until March 20, 2018, Phoenicia is offering it at a special discounted pre-order price.

cover of "The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis"

I’m so grateful for Beth’s attentive eye for detail, and for the outstanding cover that she made— cutouts à la Henri Matisse, depicting a bird resting on some bramble bushes; and a lady slipper orchid. So much love and gratefulness too, to these beautiful writers who are some of the first readers of these poems as they are collected in one volume: Ira Sukrungruang, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Ivy Alvarez, Satya Robyn, and Tom Montgomery-Fate. Their generous words are helping to usher this book into the world. The gifted poet Marly Youmans has also done a quick early feature of the book on her blog, The Palace at 2 a.m.

There are around 53 “Buddha” poems in this volume, which is my 14th single-authored collection of poetry. I began writing them in late January or early February 2016, here on Via Negativa as part of my daily poem practice, now in its eighth year.

At the time, I didn’t really have any intention of writing a book of poems with various Buddha personae. I’m no Buddhist, though I have found myself attracted to many concepts presented on sites like Tricycle: The Buddhist Review (for instance, this month there is this discussion on “Everyday Buddhahood“).

Through the years, I’ve heard people use this phrase: “The Buddha in me greets the Buddha in you”— by which they mean the idea that every living being already holds the seed for transformation within themselves; in other words, that in every creature, there exists the possibility of transcendence, of going beyond our flawed, imperfect nature.

That spring, quite rapidly (in just under three months) I wrote poem after poem using a variety of “Buddha” personae. Once I started, it felt like I couldn’t stop until I’d exhausted the subject. In each poem I proposed different scenarios: what if the Buddha felt the need for a therapist? what if the Buddha had a child with an Internet addiction? what if the Buddha was a mother in mid-life who had a “wardrobe malfunction” at a public beach? what if the Buddha joined a campus “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” for Women’s History Month?

It wasn’t until later in the year that I returned to these “Buddha” poems to see how they might belong in a manuscript together. I was surprised at the humor that emerged in many of the poems, especially as I don’t think humor is my strongest suit. I also wrote and brought in some quieter poems— poems that could function as reflection, or as transition between sections.

Late in 2017, Beth Adams informed me that she wanted to publish my manuscript— my second title now with Phoenicia (the first being Night Willow, a book of prose poems, published in 2014). We’ve worked through most of the winter going back and forth in correspondence over the book, and I am so excited to be able to share it with readers very soon.

Pre-order prices are being offered until March 20, 2018, after which Phoenicia will make the book available at the regular price.

Please watch for events soon that will feature The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis. Further, I hope you will consider using the book for course adoption in the coming year, or including it in your literary and festival programming.

Re-blogged (with a few minor changes) from my author website.

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