Poetry for April?

3 Comments

[This post is pinned to the top of my blog for April. Scroll down to read other stuff.]

Looking for some poetry to read during April? Consider buying the ebook of one of my collections of poetry:

screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-3-59-28-pmThe Mansions of the Moon

In this collection are a series of poems celebrating the twenty-eight angels and traditional astrological images of the positions that the Moon cycles through every month. In this collection, you receive twenty-eight poems in the traditional ode format.

Based in part on a close reading of Christopher Warnock’s Mansions of the Moon (a remarkable book in and of itself, with brilliant illustrations by Nigel Jackson), this is effectively a collection of hymns or prayers to the angels of the Mansions, asking for their assistance and focus in the life of the reader.  It can be read aloud as part of a magical and spiritual practice, or simply as a way of reflecting on the ways in which the Moon spoke to ancient and medieval peoples, and told them stories based on the sky.

I’ve found that this collection has been quite useful to me, personally, and not just because people have bought it.  It’s spoken to me personally, even though I wrote the poems — and part of it had to do with the process by which they were written. I waited until the Moon was in the part of the sky associated with the particular Mansion, and then wrote the poem while ‘listening’ to what the Moon seemed to say; I also made an effort to write each poem when the Moon was waxing or full, and depressed the particular power of the moon at that time of each month.

510f0dXWciLThe Sun’s Paces: Poems for the Decans

This is another collection of astrological poetry.  At least since ancient Egypt, the sky has been divided into twelve signs of the Zodiac… but also into thirty-six sub-signs called Faces or Decans (because they’re each ten degrees of arc across the sky).  The Sun’s Paces is a collection of thirty-six poems to the thirty-six Decans or faces of the Zodiac. About every ten days, the Sun passes from one of these decans to the next. More refined and subtle than the Zodiac, the Decans can help zero in more clearly and particularly on the elements of a horoscope; and they also demonstrate that some times of year are better for working on particular problems or issues than others.

And, of course, each planet is also in each Decan at some point during its ambulation around the Sun. Each planet also gets reflected through the powers and capacities of each Decan, and these are explored in gentle ways through the poems in this book.

Based in part on Austin Coppock’s elegant book, Thirty-Six Faces, you’ll find that this is a great collection of poetry to round out your poetic, magical or spiritual library.
51carqhtbl

The Tai Chi Poem

Although you can download a copy of this for free, here, you can also also buy one for your Kindle reader. You’ll also be supporting my work as a poet.

This collection of poetry is not actually a collection — it’s a single poem, where each verse is a sonnet, running to some sixty-three poems describing the sixty-three movements of the Tai Chi form I learned at Star Farm in the late 1990s. I attempted to create a guide to the postures and positions based on my own practice of the form for four years.  I don’t know that you could learn Tai Chi by reading this poem and then doing it, but my goal was to create and celebrate the way in which martial arts manuals celebrate movement and spirituality through poetic language.  This book was an attempt to capture and realize that mindset in a standard form so celebrated in English-language poetry.

51zuU7LxzcL.jpg Festae: Poetry for the Roman Calendar

This is a collection of hymns or odes for deities associated with the Greco-Roman pagan calendar. Here you’ll find celebrations of Neptune and Salacia (the goddess of brine wells, used in ancient and medieval Italy for curing cheeses and making Parma hams, among other things).  There is a hymn for the Feast of All the Heras, and festivals for the three weeks in June dedicated to Vesta as the keeper of the hearth-flame.

The collection of poems is organized by month — Each of the twelve months of the year is marked with at least three festival dates that more or less match up with our own calendar.  There are several dates for Dionysius/Bacchus, both as the wine-god and as the patron of the theater; here are poems for Artemis as the goddess of the Moon, and as the patroness of trance-states achieved through music.

As with nearly all of the poetry in these collections, these are composed as odes: three-stanza poems of thirty lines in length, that speak to the gods and goddesses of old with an awareness of their traditional imagery, and their modern relevance.

51j6AYSu8zL-1.jpgPoems for the Behenian Stars

The last collection of astrological poetry I intend to create for a while, this was the first to be published in 2017 (this year!).

The Behenian (or ‘root’) Stars are a list of fifteen traditional stars from Arabic and European astrological and astronomical lore dating back at least a thousand years. Mostly, they’re the brightest and most distinctive stars in the northern hemisphere, all through the year: the terrifying Caput Algol, the head of Medusa; Aldebaran, the eye of the Bull; Sirius the Dog Star; Regulus the heart of the Lion; Algorab in the Crow’s wing; and many others.  In astrological lore, the presence of a planet in close conjunction with one of these stars signified a particular eminence in the person born at that hour.

Yet I’ve found that knowing and naming and celebrating these stars is a way of connecting to the sky above us, and a way of becoming both more human, and more humane.  The lore of the stars has extraordinary things to teach us about how ancient and medieval peoples saw the sky above their heads, and the world around them.  This collection of poems speaks to those truths.  As a special for April, I’m reducing the price of this collection from $9.99 to $2.99… You can also buy it in a printable format through my website at Etsy.com.

And thank you, always, for your support!

New eBook: Festae

1 Comment

I’m pleased to report that Festae, a book of poetry with hymns to deities from the Greco-Roman pagan calendar, is now available on Amazon.com.Festae Cover.jpg

Festae includes four odes called the “Seasonal Greetings”, dedicated to Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. It also contains forty-three additional odes in a traditional three-stanza form, dedicated to:

  • Poseidon, god of the wild sea
  • Neptune and Salacia in their roles as providers of salt for food preservation
  • Hecate as a goddess of magic and artistry
  • Hephaestus and the Nymphs, the teachers of technology and craft
  • Pallas Athena
  • Artemis of the Moon, and of Music
  • Apollo
  • The Nine Muses
  • Vesta three festivals of June
  • All the Heras
  • The year-end celebrations of the Roman sacred year in February
  • and numerous others…

This collection joins four other of my poetry on Amazon, including The Sun’s Paces: hymns for the Decans of the Zodiacand the Poems for the Behenian Starsand Hymns for the Mansions of the Moon.  You can also find The Tai Chi PoemIn all, these five collections now present one very long poem about tai chi, and nearly 130 other poems on subjects related to astronomy, ancient history, the better angels of our nature, and our relationship to the sky and each other.

It’s been my great pleasure to write and share these poems with you, and I hope you enjoy them.  These materials are also listed on my publications page.

Twenty-Three Things: Activity 13 — eBooks

7 Comments

I’ve challenged some of my colleagues to take the 23 Things challenge to become more invested in online learning this summer. This website includes a 10-week game plan for learning some online learning and presenting methods that are useful for teachers, and that are appropriate activities for the age group we teach. There are other 23 Things lists out there, I know, but this is the one that we’ve chosen to work with, and that I’ve decided to complete.

The previous entries in this series are here:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Discovery
  3. Setting Up a Blog
  4. Starting with Flickr
  5. Find some Flickr Toys and Tools
  6. Blog about the role of tech in your classroom
  7. Initial experiment with RSS Readers
  8. RSS Readers continued
  9. Cloud Computing
  10. Web 2.0 Activty
  11. YouTube & Video
  12. Podcasts

Activity 13: eBooks

I’ve now been using eBooks and PDFs for quite a while, and they’re so important to me, personally, that I hardly know what to say about them from an educational perspective. The notion that I’m supposed to “try to find some eBooks you want to read” for this activity is laughable. Back when the 23 Things list was composed at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Library system, eBooks were this new and alien thing that hardly anyone knew about. Nowadays, I’m using Apple’s iBook Author to compose my own eBooks, and Calibre to alter books from PDFs to .mobi files, and Pages to create PDF files for both myself and colleagues. There’s even a website that converts PDF files to Kindle files, so you can take a PDF and turn it into a book.

As far as resources: I have a library of early English and American authors on my iPad as Kindle files, PDF files, or .mobi files. I’ve been siphoning up resources for years, if not a decade.

Yikes.

So. Back to the activity. “Find a Free eBook”? That’s the challenge this week…?

All right.

Look, anybody can find stuff. My dad was amazed. He’s a pretty conservative guy, but he was (and is) angry about all this NSA spy business and Edward Snowden, and so on. He wanted this recent amendment HCV #412) to pass, and shut down this NSA’s process of spying and collecting all the metadata on every phone call in America.

I whipped out my phone, dialed up thomas.loc.gov, and found out what he wanted to know: which Connecticut representatives voted for the amendment (which would have shut down the NSA’s spying program), and which representatives voted against it (which keeps it active). Behold, his representative voted against the bill, and mine (I live elsewhere) voted for it. Mom was able to name three Republicans from other states, and they had split their votes: Issa had voted against it, Stockman voted for defunding the NSA, and Michele Bachman voted against the bill (keeping the NSA). Complicated.

The question is, what do you do with the information? One of those weird things I’ve picked up in my digital hoovering is a photostatted PDF of a 1690s manual on astrology. Of this 125-page document, maybe 65 pages is immediately useful (if you want to learn classical astrology which maybe you don’t), although difficult to read; the rest is ephemeris charts from the late 17th century. In order to be genuinely useful, someone is likely going to have to do an OCR (optical character recognition) job on this text, and further re-transcribe all the charts and diagrams. Me? Maybe. Probably not. I have other fish to fry. Like reading the 500+ eBooks I already have.

Along those lines — one of the things I’m doing these days is buying reference books in Kindle format when I need them. They reside on my iPad, I can download them to my phone, and I don’t have to be standing in my library to look something up that’s of interest to me right then and there. This is one of the key skills of the digital immigrant generation, I think — those folks who grew up in a world without computers, who now live in a world with them. We have the ability to look things up and the mental habits that there are things which must be looked up, and the knowledge of keywords and subject searches to find first the right general class of information, before searching for the more specific information. And this is a powerful benefit.

I can’t help but feel that this activity’s ship has already sailed. If you don’t know how to use or find eBooks, particularly eBooks of the classics that you already read for your students, then you’re in real trouble.

Excuse me. I have some reading to do.