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Writing as a Meditation Practice

February 26th, 2017

Managing Editor’s Note: Writing means many things to us–an escape or a chore, a creative challenge or a job, a craft or a skill, perhaps all of these at once. Some of us experience something of the spiritual, too, when we work; a fulfillment and insight into our own lives that we can’t get any other way. Our guest blogger today, Elaine Fletcher, describes writing not as an aid to meditation, but as meditation itself, an “internalized, felt experience of the Path.”     –Amy



by Elaine Fletcher Chapman

The year my mother died, I claimed a desk for myself in the family room. I placed my notebook and the books that were my touchstones at the time on the desk. I bought a beautiful fountain pen from pennies saved, ink made from roses.

Nearby, my mother’s photo. Nearby, a bottle of the Pacific Ocean. Nearby, a blue postcard with the single word SOLITUDE printed on it. Nearby, a feather and rose quartz for healing the deepest wounds of the heart. I lit the incense and bowed with hands folded in prayer before I sat to write.

Now many years later, I still burn the same incense before I write. Sometimes though I depend on the lingering perfume to carry my words. I still bow. I sit with intention and invite mystery. I evoke the known and the unknown. When I sit, I know nothing and everything. I am the body. I lose the body. I lose time. I lose self. Self fades away and there is only the writing. (more…)

Fighting Mental Health Stigma: 7 Empowering Books by Black Women

February 6th, 2017

Managing Editor’s Note:

In this post, Lyndsey Ellis speaks to the challenge of coping with mental illness, especially in our post-election world, and finding the empowerment needed to fight its stigma. Any of us who love reading can’t help but nod emphatically when she writes, “A good read becomes the essential wellness tool for bookworms.”


7 Books by Black Women That Empower Me

to Continue the Fight against Mental Health Stigma

Like many people, I’m still in post-election recovery mode. I’m shocked, confused, angry, sad, numb, yet somehow relieved that one of the vilest presidential campaigns in U.S. history is finally over.

Fortunately, there’s hidden triumphs in the bleakest moments. While the Internet, social media and half of America’s downtown districts are currently use-at-your-own-risk, a good read becomes the essential wellness tool for bookworms, especially the kinds of books that compel readers like me to broaden the discussion on the ultra-timely topic of mental health awareness.

As a person who’s experienced bullying and bouts of depression during childhood after her parents’ divorce, one of the only things I drew hope and comfort from were books. Lots and lots of them. With that, came a natural love for writing which has continued to feed my endless appetite for reading through adulthood.

As a Black woman, the urgency to explore and share the works of Black female authors is vital, especially during times like these when it’s easy to become hardened and defeated by the gross realities of bigotry and systemic oppression.

Here’s a few Black women whose books highlight mental health and in so doing, give me strength to heal myself and embrace compassion for all.


1) 4-Headed Woman by Opal Palmer Adisa

Opal Palmer Adisa’s 4-Headed Woman is a candidly nourishing poetry collection. Adisa’s work oozes with love, warmth, wit, awareness, and admiration for the complexities—and sometimes, the emotional and mental horrors—that often ring true for Black women. Her latest book is deeply matriarchal, weaving in food and humor to express relatable experiences. For me, it was a spiritual guide to womanhood that paid homage to mothers, sisters, aunts, mentors and endearing community elders who insist on keeping it real. (more…)

Listen and Look: Joyce Peseroff Reviews ask anyone by Poet Ruth Lepson

January 23rd, 2017


Reviewer—Joyce Peseroff

ASK ANYONE by Ruth Lepson, Pressed Wafer, 2016, 68pp., $12.50

Managing Editor’s Note:

Some reviews of poetry collections are not only insightful, but a pleasure to read. Reviewing poetry is a challenging task, given the art form’s sometimes slippery use of language and the subjective quality of interpretation.

Peseroff manages it beautifully. More than one of her sentences seems to sum up the entirety of the collection, including this: the poems “often dart between the mind and the world.” And this darting–isn’t this a wonderful description of the act of writing poetry?


When Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize, some questioned whether song lyrics qualified as literature. Some suggested that the committee was expanding the definition, first by anointing journalist Svetlana Alexievich in 2015 and then with Dylan in 2016. Others were reminded that the lyric poem originally accompanied a lyre. (more…)