What Book!? is a lively anthology of modern mindful poetry, featuring 330 selections from 125 contributors. Also included are “mind-writing exercises” by Allen Ginsberg and a meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Themes include love, nature, pacifism and violence, the avant-garde, family, silence, and song. The contents include original work and translations; performance art and conceptual art; lyrics, arias, and blues; picture poems and calligraphy; prose poetry and sonnets; haiku; meditations and sutras; journal entries; bucolics; jeremiads; postmodernism; and other artifacts from the intersection of meditation and art.
Its rich tapestry of voices includes Peter Coyote, Maxine Hong Kingston, Yoko Ono, Czeslaw Milosz, Robinson Jeffers, Yusef Komunyakaa, Lawson Inada, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Laurie Anderson, John Cage, Thomas Merton, Robert Aitken, Norman Fischer, Gary Snyder, Diane de Prima, Mary Oliver, Stephen Mitchell, bell hooks, Adam Yauch, brand-new discoveries, and children of all ages.
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This enigmatically titled anthology offers numerous delights and valuable evidence that great poetic variety, from haiku and witty two-liners to page-long discourses, has by now given distinct expression to Western Buddhism. The immigrant Buddhist teachers of the past century would indeed be amazed to see the range here. —Publishers WeeklyThe movement of Eastern religions to the West has been one of the most remarkable phenomena of the 20th century. Beginning in the mid-1950s and continuing into the late 1990s, the influence of Buddhism (along with other Eastern religions) has been evident, perhaps most strongly in the arts and particularly strongly in contemporary American poetry. Here is an enormous anthology of poetry celebrating that phenomenon. Gach has collected poems from a broad variety of sources—almost too broad—selecting works by greats like Allen Ginsberg, Mary Oliver, and Gary Snyder and mixing them with poems by children, elders, first-time poets, and Buddhist teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh and Thomas Merton. Add poems by composers/performers Laurie Anderson, John Cage, and Yoko Ono, and the result is a splendid, flavorful and aromatic stew. One could argue that the book is way too long and that the editor has included too many mediocre poems. But the freshness and authenticity of even the most inexpertly written pieces is appealing. Highly recommended. —Library Journal