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Lions Roar : January 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2012 84 Buddhism that they feel would be helpful. The afterword is by Richard Gere. YOUR TRUE HOME The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh Compiled and edited by Melvin McLeod Shambhala Publications 2011; 384 pp., $17.95 (paper) According to Thich Nhat Hanh, our true home is in the here and the now. This isn’t an abstract idea, but something we can touch and live in every moment. Your True Home is a collection of 365 pithy teach- ings by Thay. In the editor’s preface, the Shambhala Sun’s Melvin McLeod sug- gests reading them slowly, maybe one or two a day, in order to savor and digest them more fully. This is excellent advice, but whenever I sit down with the book, I find myself reading “just one more” and “just one more” again. The diverse themes include reconciliation, freedom, sexuality, and conscious breathing. One of my favorites is No. 76: “Sometimes you encounter people who are so pure, beautiful, and content. They give you the impression that they are divine, that they are actually saints or holy beings. What you perceive in them is their awakened self, their buddhanature, and what they reflect back to you is your own capacity for being awake.” OUR SECRET TERRITORY The Essence of Storytelling By Laura Simms Sentient Publications 2011; 160 pp., $14.95 (paper) Storytelling, says Laura Simms, provides us with immediate relief from stress and self-preoccupation; urges us into wis- dom; and ultimately connects us to our buddhanature. Part lyrical treatise on the power of storytelling, part memoir, Our Secret Territory is woven through with quotes, poems, and tales. Simms is the adoptive mother of ex-child soldier Ish- mael Beah, author of the bestseller A Long Way Gone, and some of the most moving parts of her book deal with their relation- ship. When Beah first came to the U.S., Simms thought that he’d just stay with her for the summer, then in the fall she’d find a “real” family for him to live with. He was silent when she told him this plan. Finally, he said: “I thought you were going to be my mother.” Simms suddenly felt every cell in her body adjust to a binding deci- sion. “You are right,” she said. “I am your mother.” And that was that, she writes, “as fast and decisive as an event in a fairytale, and as true as the best stories.” A FISH TRAPPED INSIDE THE WIND By Christien Gholson Parthian 2011; 268 pp., $14.95 (paper) This debut novel is described as having six main characters: a Buddhist magician, a journalist, a clairvoyant, an aging Casa- nova, a Catholic priest, and a Rimbaud scholar. But I think the mysterious fish threading throughout the story have such surreal weight that they almost constitute a seventh character. On the morning of the festival day of St. Woelfred, fish are found dead, scattered everywhere throughout a small cement factory town in Belgium. Did the saint leave the fish as some kind of sign or was it Contexture, an environmental activist dance troupe known to get naked? Illusion is the theme of A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind and this is best summed up by the book’s opening epigraph from the Lankavantara Sutra: “Things are not what they seem. Nor are they otherwise...” THE IOVIS TRILOGY Colors in the Mechanism of Concealment By Anne Waldman Coffee House Press 2011; 720 pp., $40 (cloth) In a world where most poetry collections are slender to the point of being anorexic, kudos to Coffee House Press for publish- ing such a substantial work. The Iovis Trilogy is Anne Waldman’s epic, richly textured poem exploring the manifesta- tions of patriarchy, braiding history and myth, Buddhist philosophy, and conver- sation snippets. An award-winning poet, longtime Buddhist, and social activist, Waldman was referred to by Allen Gins- berg as his “spiritual wife,” and in 1974 they founded The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Univer- sity. Waldman is now the artistic director of the school’s summer writing program and she has forty books and chapbooks of poetry under her belt. ♦