THE POETS


Sebastian Barker (d. 2014) wasborn in 1945 and educated in both the sciences and the arts, worked as a fireman, furniture restorer, freelance writer, editor and book expert in Sothebys. His poetry includes Guarding the Border: Selected Poems (Enitharmon, 1992), The Dream of Intelligence (1992), a long poem based on Nietzsche’s life and works, Damnatio Memoriae (Enitharmon, 2004) and The Land of Gold (Enitharmon, 2014). He also wrote three collections of philosophical, theological and cultural essays.  From 1988-1992 he was Chairman of the Poetry Society of Great Britain. A Hawthornden Fellow, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1997 and in 2002 appointed successor of John Lehmann and Alan Ross as editor of The London Magazine, a post he held until 2008. In 1983, he bought and restored a ruin in the Greek mountains which became his second home.

Zanna Beswick (b. 1952) is a university lecturer in Drama and Theatre. For British television she has commissioned and/or produced over 200 hours of broadcast drama in series and serials (‘the form best suited to television drama’ she says). She has trained a stable of writers and editors for television. As a poet she considers the inner and outer worlds with a more contemplative energy. Her poetry has been published in The Independent, Resurgence, Writing Women, Caduceus etc.; and in various anthologies. Her work has been shortlisted in the Arvon International Competition, Myslexia, Expressions of Encephalitis, and Acumen, and has been broadcasted on Poetry Please (BBC Radio 4), and Poetry Marathon (Capital Radio London). She lives in NE Somerset. 

Robert Bly (b. 1926) is the author of numerous books of poetry, including The Light Around the Body, winner of the National Book Award, and most recently Stealing Sugar from the Castle: Selected and New Poems 1950-2013 and Like the New Moon I Will Live My Life. He is also the author of Iron John: A Book About Men, an international bestseller and a pioneering work in the men's movement. His awards include the Poetry Society of America's Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry. He is the subject of a new documentary film, A Thousand Years of Joy. He lives in Minneapolis. 

Janine Canan, poet and psychiatrist, volunteer for Amma'sEmbracing the World project, is the author of twenty booksincluding poetry, essays, stories, translations of Jammes and Lasker-Schueler, and award-winning anthologies, She Rises like the Sun and Messages from Amma. Canan's newest collections are Mystic Bliss, Ardor: Poems of Life, and Garland of Love: 108 Sayings by Amma. The poet lives in California's Valley of the Moon with her Samoyed companion, and can be visited at JanineCanan.com or on Facebook.

Jeni Couzyn (b. 1942) began her working life as a free-lance poet in London, doing readings, broadcasts, and teaching. She published collections with Cape, Heinemann, The Women’s Press and Bloodaxe, and in Canada with Anansi and JJ Douglas. Her book In the Skin House has a foreword by the Sufi mystic Llewellyn Vaughan Lee. In 1999, she set up the First People Centre in the remote Karoo village of Nieu Bethesda - a project to assist /Xam Bushman survivors of historical genocide in her native country, South Africa. www.firstpeoplecentre.org. The Centre and its people have been central to her work for the last seventeen years, along with her work as a psychotherapist. Her poems are often published in the magazine “Sufi” and are forthcoming in Temenos and Resurgence magazines. 

Jenny D’Angelo (b. 1946) poet, editor, healer, Angel Scribe. She was adoptedas granddaughter/next of kin by Dorie D’Angelo, “the Angel Lady of Carmel”, in 1983. Before meeting Dorie, she was International Editor for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who brought Transcendental Meditation to the world. Her poems have appeared innumerous international collections. Her most recent book is Connect with Your Angels: A Guide for Everyone (Robertson, 2014). Jenny has presented in the U.S., Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden. She lives on California’s central coast. She blogs at: angelsinlight.wordpress.com

Hilary Davies (b. 1954) has three collections of poetry from Enitharmon: The Shanghai Owner of the Bonsai Shop, In a Valley of This Restless Mind, and Imperium. A fourth collection, Exile and the Kingdom, is due out from Enitharmon this September. Hilary won an Eric Gregory award in 1983, has been a Hawthornden Fellow, Chairman of the Poetry Society, and 1st prizewinner in the Cheltenham Literature Festival poetry competition. She was Head of Languages at St. Paul’s Girls’ School, London, for 19 years and is currently Royal Literary Fund Fellow at King’s College, London. Hilary was married to the poet and editor, Sebastian Barker (The London Magazine), who died in January 2014. http://www.enitharmon.co.uk/pages/authors/author_details.asp?AuthorID=17 

Aidan Andrew Dun (b. 1952), was born in London, spent a fantastical childhood in the West Indies and knew his calling for poetry from an early age. Returning to the UK as a teenager in ’68 to live with his inspirational grandmother, dancer Marie Rambert, he briefly attended Highate School but left without A-levels after taking (perhaps too seriously) the role of the rebel-chieftan Aufidius in Coriolanus. After several years travelling the world with a guitar AAD was drawn back to London to explore the psychogeography of Kings Cross, magnet to other visionaries before him. Surviving - and working - in squat-culture for 15 years, he slowly gestated Vale Royal, an epic poem which dreams of transforming an urban wasteland into a transcultural zone of canals at the heart of London. In 1995 Allen Ginsberg flew in from NY to perform - with Paul McCartney - at the launch of Vale Royal at the Royal Albert Hall in a reprise of the Wholly Communion event of 30 years earlier. Launching his second epic poem India Cantos (Universal) in 2002 AAD accomplished an American tour, reading in New York, Santa Fe and San Francisco (at City Lights Bookshop). AAD has read alongside David Gascoigne, Ben Okri, Iain Sinclair and Andrew Motion. In 2008 he lectured at the British Library on The Kings Cross Mysteries. Numerous short (and some longer) poems have appeared in The London Magazine, English, The Cortland Review, The Salzburg Review, Tears in the Fence, Resurgence, Scintilla et al. In 2005 AAD undertook a special commission for The Wordsworth Trust. The Uninhabitable City (Goldmark) was published in 2005; Salvia Divinorum (Goldmark ) appeared in 2007. McCool, a verse- novel in 264 sonnets, followed from the same publisher in 2010. Appearing in 2016 (from Skyscraper in the UK and Interlink in the USA) is Unholyland a verse-novel in 800 sonnets set in Palestine/Israel. Heathcote Williams describes Unholyland as ‘a pyrotechnic, apocalyptic dance.... a powerful meditation on the place where civilization began and where it could end.’ 

Diana Durham (b. 1954) is the author of three poetry collections: Sea of Glass (Diamond Press), To the End of the Night (Northwoods Press) & Between Two Worlds— sonnets (Chrysalis Poetry); the nonfiction The Return of King Arthur (Tarcher/Penguin) and a debut novel The Curve of the Land (Skylight Press). Her poetry has featured in numerous journals and anthologies in the UK and USA. Diana was a member of the London poetry performance group Angels of Fire (with Jay Ramsay); in New Hampshire she founded 3 Voices, with two other women writers. She holds a BA in English Lit from University College London, and was a Visiting Research Associate at the Womens’ Studies Research Center, Brandeis University. Diana is also trained in the healing practice of Attunement. Diana is British, but she and her family live in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. www.dianadurham.net 

Victoria Field (b. 1963) is a writer and poetry therapist. Her most recent collection of poetry The Lost Boys, Waterloo Press, 2013 won the Holyer an Gof Award for Poetry and Drama. She has had poetry and short fiction commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and 4 and is also a playwright and former writer-in-residence at Truro Cathedral. Her memoir of pilgrimage and marriage Baggage: A Book of Leavings was published in 2016 by Francis Boutle. She’s a mentor-supervisor for the International Federation for Biblio-Poetry Therapy www.thepoetrypractice.co.uk 

Rose Flint (b. 1944) is a writer and art therapist. She has taught Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes and works in hospitals, healthcare and the community. An international prize-winning poet, her work has been widely published in anthologies and magazines including Poetry Review (London) and Scintilla (Wales). She has published six collections: Blue Horse of Morning, Firesigns, Nekyia, Mother of Pearl, A Prism for the Sun, and Grace, Breath, Bone, a book of poems for the Goddess. As a committed Green Party voter, her writing is centred on earth-based spirituality. She lives in Wiltshire. 

John Fox (b. 1955) is a poet and certified poetry therapist. John is author of Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-making and Finding What You Didn’t Lose: Expressing Your Truth and Creativity Through Poem-Making. His work is featured in the PBS documentary Healing Words: Poetry and Medicine. His essays have appeared in numerous books on subjects of education, mindfulness, expressive therapy, creativity, medicine, healing & spirituality, etc. A chapbook of John’s poems, The Only Gift to Bring, was published by Seasonings Press in 2015. John is currently adjunct associate professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA where he has taught since 2000. John is Founder and President of The Institute for Poetic Medicine which funds poetry projects for marginalized people. Find out more about his work at www.poeticmedicine.org 

Kim French (b. 1976) is a writer and movement-practitioner living in London. She has previously lived in Ireland for ten years and has travelled extensively around the world. Driven by a belief in the body's intrinsic desire for wholeness and its ability to facilitate its own healing, her writing is currently influenced by her studies in Continuum, Body-Mind-Centering and movement-improvisation. She is currently in a writing class with Jo Shapcott at Faber, and is at work on her first poetry collection The Architecture of Light

David Gascoyne (1916-2001) had his first book Roman Balcony published when he was only 16 (in 1932). He was the youngest of the writers in Paris at the time of Anais Nin and Henry Miller, and wrote some remarkable surrealist poetry. After the War he developed his own particular gravitas as a poet in a religious and spiritual context before a breakdown left him hospitalized for some years. He latterly lived with his wife Judy on the Isle of Wight, where he continued to translate Modern French poetry. He was also a close friend of Kathleen Raine. His Collected Poems (OUP, 1965) is the source for the poems in this anthology. 

Ivan M. Granger (b. 1969) is a poet and modern mystic. He is the founder and editor of the Poetry Chaikhana (www.poetry-chaikhana.com), an online resource for the exploration of sacred poetry from the world’s great spiritual traditions. His poetry and translations have been published in Real Thirst: Poetry of the Spiritual Journey (Poetry Chaikhana), For Lovers of God Everywhere: Poems of Christian Mystics (Hay House, ed. Roger Housden), and Poems of Awakening (Outskirts Press, ed. Betsy Small). He is the editor of The Longing in Between: Sacred Poetry from Around the World (Poetry Chaikhana). Mr. Granger lives in Colorado. 

Andrew Harvey (co-editor: b. 1952) is an internationally acclaimed poet, novelist, translator, mystical scholar, and spiritual teacher. He has published over 20 books including his book on Rumi The Way of Passion (1994), his book on Jesus Son of Man (1998), Sun at Midnight (2002), The Hope—a Guide to Sacred Activism (Hay House, 2009), and his newest book Radical Passion: Sacred Love and Wisdom in Action (North Atlantic Books, 2012) which is also an anthology of his prose. Harvey was a Fellow of All Souls College Oxford from 1972-1986 and has taught at Oxford University, Cornell University, The California Institute of Integral Studies, and the University of Creation Spirituality, as well as, various spiritual centers throughout the United States. He was the subject of the 1993 BBC film documentary The Making of a Modern Mystic. He is the Founder of the Institute for Sacred Activism. His website is www.andrewharvey.net

Alan Jackson (b. 1938). A Scot. Lives in Edinburgh. AJ writes: In 1968 after a reading in Aberdeen a man in the audience asked me: 'Why do you write poetry, Mr Jackson?’ Inwardly I thought 'Bloody hell! What a question!' but straightaway I answered: When I was about fifteen the gods looked down on me and one said What can we do for this poor wretch? After a pause another replied: Let's give him poetry and see what he makes of it. www.alanjacksonpoet.com 

Georgi Y. Johnson (b. 1967), writer and spiritual teacher, was born in Sheffield in 1967. Now based in the Middle East, she gives seminars worldwide on awakening and spiritual healing together with her partner Bart ten Berge. She is author of: I AM HERE - Opening the Windows of Life & Beauty, a book inquiring into the trilogy of consciousness, awareness and emptiness as forms of perception. www.iamherelife.com 

Peter Owen Jones (b. 1957) grew up in the English countryside. He started writing poetry in his late teens when he was living chaotically in London. His deep love for the natural world is expressed in his latest book Pathlands (Rider, 2015). He is also the author of Letters from an Extreme Pilgrim (which records his time spent in the Sinai Desert), and Psalm. He has presented several documentaries for the BBC including Extreme Pilgrim, How to Live a Simple Life, and Around the World in 80 Faiths and is currently, as Vicar of Firle, the parish priest for three rural parishes on the Sussex Downs. 

Irina Kuzminsky (b. 1959) has spent her life in a quest for the feminine dimension of God, and poetry, dance and music are an intrinsic part of that journey. Born in Australia of White Russian descent, she combines classical music and dance training with an academic background, including a scholarship to Oxford where she wrote her doctorate on the ‘Language of Women’ and was elected Junior Research Fellow in Humanities at Wolfson College. Poetry publications include Dancing with Dark Goddesses, light muses (with artist Jan Delaney), Into the Silence, poems and articles in Soul of the Earth, Esoteric Quarterly, Acumen, Caduceus, Poetrix, and others. As Irinushka she has released three CDs of her poetry set to music, Would That I Could, Roads Travelled which featured on the ZoneMusicReporter top 100 chart for New Age music, and Orpheus Sings. Her one woman dance, poetry and music fusion show Dancing with Dark Goddesses has been seen in New York, Melbourne, Germany and the UK. www.vimeo.com/86810433, www.irinakuzminsky.com; www.soundcloud.com/irinushka 

Paul Matthews (b. 1944) lives in Forest Row, Sussex, UK with his Californian wife. His inspirational books on the creative process, Sing Me the Creation, and Words in Place (both available from Hawthorn Press) arose out of many years work as lecturer and resident poet at Emerson College, Forest Row, Sussex. His poetry, gathered in The Ground that Love Seeks, and Slippery Characters (Five Seasons Press), is strongly influenced by American poets, Robert Duncan in particular. www.paulmatthewspoetry.co.uk 

Niall McDevitt (b. 1967) is an Irish poet living in London, author of two collections, b/w (Waterloo Press, 2010) and Porterloo (International Times, 2012). He is an urban explorer who follows the trails of Shakespeare, Blake, Rimbaud, Yeats and many others, in London and beyond. His essays on David Gascoyne have been published in The Fiend, The Wolf, and elsewhere. He hosted An Evening Without David Gascoyne at Pentameters Theatre in 2012 which also included Jeremy Reed, Hilary Davies and Robert Fraser. His third book is about Jerusalem and is forthcoming from Robert Montgomery’s New River Press. 

Jehanne Mehta (b. 1941) is a singer-songwriter and poet, focussing especially on our connection with Nature and the Earth. She has also developed a unique form of sound healing, using her voice. She has led workshops on the sound work and has also inspired creative writing in a group context. With her group ‘Earthwards’ she has recorded several CDs and has five published collections of poems: The Burning Word, Nest Edge, The Difficult Gate, Walking Two Ways, Heart of Yew. She has had poems published in various journals including Tears in the Fence and has contributed articles and poems regularly to the Cygnus Review. www.jehannemehta.com 

Gabriel Bradford Millar (b. 1944) is a renegade American. She graduated cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University and did post-grad work at Edinburgh, where she read with Norman MacCaig and The Heretics, and was interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland. She’s published six books including The Saving Flame (Five Seasons Press, 2000) and her Selected Poems Crackle of Almonds (Awen, 2012) and given scores of readings, sharing the stage several times with Kathleen Raine. With Jay Ramsay she co-founded Celebration of the Word in Stroud, Gloucestershire: a fertile alternative community where she’s lived for many years. She has two grown-up daughters and two stepsons. 

Helen Moore (b. 1971) is an award-winning ecopoet and socially engaged artist based in Somerset, UK. Her debut poetry collection, Hedge Fund, And Other Living Margins (Shearsman Books, 2012), was described by Alasdair Paterson as being “in the great tradition of visionary politics in British poetry.” Her second collection, ECOZOA (Permanent Publications, 2015), which responds to Thomas Berry’s vision of the ‘Ecozoic Era’, has been acclaimed by John Kinsella, as “a milestone in the journey of ecopoetics”. Helen also makes video poetry with Howard Vause; their film ‘Greenspin’ was awarded 3rd prize in the Liberated Words International Poetry Film Festival in 2013: http://vimeo.com/69228739 Helen’s website is: www.natures-words.co.uk 

Lisa Page (b.1972) is an international speaker, author, poet, and Sacred Intimacy Mentor who has been passionately exploring the deeper truths of life, love and intimacy for more than twenty years. For over fifteen years she’s worked with women and couples from around the world as the Founder of SoulSatisfactionForWomen.com and Co-Founder of LivingLovingDeeper.com weaving a unique blend of relational psychology and somatic-spiritual principles and practices. Lisa is the author of training programmes such as Breathe Baby Breathe, Life, Love & Intimacy, the co-author of Picture Them Naked and the producer of the film series in production, Intimate Conversations with Great Mystics, Wise Teachers & Everyday Lovers which can be found at LisaPage.com.au. Lisa is also the Creatrix of EmbodySHE®, a unique body of transformational women's work grounded in feminine embodiment practice, powerful breath-work, original-wild-free-movement, artistic offering and sacred ritual. Lisa lives on the beach in South Australia with her partner and teenage son, but as a self confessed WanderLuster still finds any excuse to travel the world for work, pleasure and exploration. 

Sally Purcell (1944-1998) was an Oxford-based poet and translator, after attending the University where she studied Medieval French. Her collections included The Holly Queen (1971), Dark of Day (1977), Lake and Labyrinth (1985) and Fossil Unicorn (1997) before her Collected Poems (2001), edited by Peter Jay at Anvil with a Foreword by Marina Warner. Geoffrey Godbert also published a pamphlet of her work at Greville Press in the 1980s, admiring how it stood apart from 20th century realism in emphasizing the imagination and inner life. She also translated Amorgos (1944), the long surreal poem by the Greek poet Nikos Gatsos (Anvil Press Poetry, 2000) to stunning effect. 

Kathleen Raine (1907-2003) was a Blake scholar, a Yeats scholar, and founder of the journal Temenos and the Temenos Academy. Gavin Maxwell’s bestselling Ring of Bright Water about his beloved pet otter took its title from one of her poems at the time. Kathleen wrote three remarkable volumes of autobiography where she fuses science and mysticism; she is unique in that. Her first collection Stone and Flower (1943) was followed by Living in Time (1946), The Pythoness (1949), The Year One (1952), The Hollow Hill (1965), The Lost Country (1971), On a Deserted Shore (1973), The Oval Portrait (1977), The Oracle in the Heart (1980), The Presence (1987), and Living with Mystery (1992). Her Collected Poems are published in the US by Counterpoint, Washington. She was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal in 2003. 

Jay Ramsay (co-editor: b. 1958) is the author of 35 books of poetry, non-fiction, and classic Chinese translation including The White Poem, Alchemy, Crucible of Love–the alchemy of passionate relationships, Tao Te Ching, I Ching—the shamanic oracle of change, The Poet in You (his correspondence course, since 1990), Kingdom of the Edge—Selected Poems 1980-1998, Out of Time—1998-2008, Anamnesis—the remembering of soul (in residence at St. James’, Piccadilly, London) and Places of Truth (2009). His latest collections are Agistri Notebook (KFS, 2014), Monuments (Waterloo Press, 2014), Surgery (Yew Tree Press, 2015), and also the The Most Venerable Book, Shang Shu—with Martin Palmer (Penguin Classics). He is also poetry editor of Caduceus magazine, and works in private practice as a UKCP accredited psychosynthesis psychotherapist and healer, running poetry and personal development workshops worldwide. www.jayramsay.co.uk 

Alan Rycroft (b. 1957) was born in London, and though based in Bristol with his family, life has often taken him on a planetary odyssey. Being a qualified teacher, he has an MA in Applied Linguistics, and he has long been engaged in teaching English and English Literature in universities in the Middle and Far East. He has been much privileged and enriched to imbibe and interact with so many cultural influences and faith traditions globally. ‘And all the while, poetry (he says) has quietly distilled it all, a constant companion and mentor, a profound and rich internalized form of therapy and illumination, as well as craft. And simultaneously it’s been questioning and quest; a form of channelling and conversing with Spirit, the multidimensional voices of the voice, by turns human and every day, mythic, shamanistic, philosophical and spiritually enlightening’. His collection At the Steep Face of Your Heart is forthcoming (arycroft@yahoo.com). 

Chris Saade (b. 1950) is a former therapist and trained therapists and coaches in the method of “Individual Authenticity and Global Solidarity." Saade offers personal psychological and spiritual coaching, and cutting edge workshops. He has led more than 200 retreats. For over a decade during the Lebanese war, Chris Saade was involved in peace and humanitarian work. The challenges of those difficult years taught him to approach tragedy through heart and service, leading him to develop a great respect for freedom, authenticity, diversity, and a passion for justice, especially for children. Saade has directed three non-profits. In addition to being the co-director of The Olive Branch Center with his wife, Jessie Thompson (www.theolivebranchcenter.net), Saade is the author of Second Wave Spirituality: Passion for Peace, Passion for Justice; and Prayers of Peace and Justice; and also Prayers from the Heart. Together with Andrew Harvey he has co-created two CD sets: An Evolutionary Vision of Relationships as well as Sacred Activism and the Epic Spirituality of Love. Saade currently has five manuscripts either under contract or in progress. Many of them are in collaboration with visual artists. Saade resides in San Diego. 

Anna Saunders (b. 1965) is the author of Communion, (Wild Conversations Press), Struck, (Pindrop Press), Kissing the She Bear, (Wild Conversations Press), Burne Jones and the Fox, (Indigo Dreams), and Through Her Eyes into the Forest (Wild Conversations Press, 2015). She has had poems published in journals and anthologies which include Ambit, The North, Amaryllis, Iota, New Walk Magazine, Caduceus, Envoi, The Wenlock Anthology 2014 and The Museum of Light. Anna holds a Masters in Creative and Critical Writing from The University of Gloucestershire. She is also the founder and CEO of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. 

Henry Shukman (b. 1962) is the resident Zen teacher at Mountain Cloud Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives, and is an associate master of Sanbo Zen of Kamakura, Japan, studying under Yamada Ryo’un Roshi. He’s also a writer and poet; his poetry collection In Dr No’s Garden (Jonathan Cape) was Book of the Year in the London Guardian and Times, and his novel Sandstorm (also Cape) won the Author’s Club First Novel Award, and his third novel The Lost City (Knopf) was a New York Times Editor’s Choice. He is married to the artist Clare Dunne, with two sons. www.mountaincloud.org 

Thomas R. Smith (b. 1948) is a poet, essayist, editor, and teacher living in western Wisconsin. His books of poetry include The Foot of the Rainbow and The Glory (both from Red Dragonfly Press), and he has edited, among other books, Airmail: The Letters of Robert Bly and Tomas Tranströmer (Graywolf in the US and Bloodaxe in the UK). He is an environmental activist and holds with the French poet Francis Ponge that the artist "must take the world into the shop for repairs, piece by piece as he or she finds it." www.thomasrsmithpoet.com 

William Stafford (1914-1993) received the Robert Frost Medal in 1993 having published over sixty-five collections of poetry and prose. His first major collection Traveling Through the Dark won the National Book Award in 1963. A close friend of Robert Bly, Stafford was born in Kansas and spent most of his life in Oregon. Describing himself as one of "the quiet of the land", Stafford was a conscientious objector during World War II and a pacifist, while his work is rooted in the landscapes of the American West. He was appointed Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (a position now know as Poet Laureate) in 1970, and named Poet Laureate of Oregon in 1975. Other awards included a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Shelley Memorial Award and a Western States Lifetime Achievement Award in Poetry. 

Mirabai Starr (b. 1961) is a critically acclaimed author and translator of sacred literature. She teaches and speaks widely on contemplative practice, interspiritual experience, and the transformational power of loss. Her works include translations of Dark Night of the Soul by John of the Cross, The Interior Castle and The Book of My Life, by Teresa of Avila and The Showings of Julian of Norwich, poetry collection Mother of God Similar to Fire (in collaboration with iconographer, William Hart McNichols), Contemplations and Living Wisdom (Sounds True), God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation

Thanissara (b. 1956), poet, Dharma teacher, author, and activist, is originally from London. She trained in the Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah for 12 years as a Buddhist nun and teaches meditation internationally. She is co-founder, with her partner and husband Kittisaro, of Dharmagiri Insight Meditation Centre on the border of Lesotho and South Africa, and Chattanooga Insight, Tennessee. Her work in South Africa, since 1994, involves teaching meditation, Buddhism, and therapeutic and mindfulness approaches to healing. She continues to fund-raise and support community uplift projects, particularly in response to the AIDS pandemic, in rural KwaZulu Natal. She is also core teacher at Insight Meditation Society, Massachusetts, and affiliated teacher at Spirit Rock and Insight Yoga Institute, California. Thanissara has an MA in Mindfulness Psychotherapy Practice from the Karuna Institute, South Devon, UK, and is author of poetry books Garden of the Midnight Rosary and The Heart of the Bitter Almond Hedge Sutra. She co-authored Listening to the Heart, A Contemplative Journey to Engaged Buddhism with Kittisaro. Her latest book is Time to Stand Up, An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth, The Buddha’s Life and Message Through Feminine Eyes (2015). 

Lewis Thompson (1909-1949) died in Benares, India in 1949, aged only 40. Almost unknown in his lifetime, he is a remarkable mystical ’pilgrim poet’ whose work has been gathered and edited posthumously by Richard Lannoy and also championed by Andrew Harvey. Black Sun, his Collected Poems (which includes his long poem ‘Black Angel’), is published by Hohm Press, Prescott, Arizona (2001). Thompson was a meticulous craftsman who also wrote voluminous journals as well as his prose work Mirror to the Light in which he reflects on the spiritual life and writing. 

Jennifer Doane Upton (b. 1947) was born in eastern Kentucky in 1947, and studied under Wendell Berry at the University of Kentucky. In 1972 she moved to California where she studied poetry with Jack Gilbert; she returned to Kentucky in 2004. Her books are: Dark Way to Paradise: Dante’s Inferno in Light of the Spiritual Path (Sophia Perennis, 2005); Black Sun: Poems 1965-1985, (Finishing Line Press, 2014, by whose permission these poems are reprinted); and The Ordeal of Mercy: Dante’s Purgatorio in Light of the Spiritual Path (Angelico Press, 2015). Her books on the Divine Comedy are dedicated to recovering a lost tradition: Christianity. 

Charles Upton (b. 1948) is a poet, activist, protégé of Beat Generation poet Lew Welch, veteran of the psychedelic counterculture of the 60’s, and a lifelong student of traditional metaphysics and comparative religion. He’s published 4 books of poetry and 13 on metaphysics, mythopoetic exegesis, spiritual psychology and ‘metaphysics and social criticism’. His short epic Panic Grass was published by City Lights Books in 1968. In 1988 he entered Islam, joined the Sufis, and discovered the metaphysics of the ‘Traditionalist School’—René Guénon, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Frithjof Schuon. His first Traditionalist book was The System of Antichrist: Truth and Falsehood in Postmodernism and the New Age (2001). He moved to Lexington, Kentucky with his wife Jennifer in 2004. In 2013 be co-founded the Covenants Initiative, an international movement of Muslims to defend persecuted Christians. www.charles-upton.com 

Dorothy Walters (b. 1928) lives and writes in Colorado. A long time lover of nature, of mystical poetry, and mysticism itself, she strives to contribute to the light now spreading in the midst of a dark time. Many years ago she experienced spontaneous Kundalini awakening, an event that totally changed her life. Her poetry grows from this continuing experience, and she is often visited by the Beloved. She strongly believes in following the direction of the "guru" within, rather than the directives of a particular teacher or teaching. She also believes that the globe is currently undergoing spiritual awakening leading to universal evolution of consciousness. Dorothy has published five books of mystical poetry plus a spiritual autobiography, including Marrow of Flame, Poems of the Spiritual Journey (second edition); A Cloth of Fine Gold, Poems of the Inner Journey; The Ley Lines of the Soul, Poems of Ecstasy and Ascension; Penelope’s Loom, Poems of Turning Matter into Spirit; Some Kiss We Want, Poems Selected and New. Her account of her Kundalini awakening is entitled Unmasking the Rose, A Record of a Kundalini Initiation. Dorothy Walters, PhD. www.kundalinisplendor.blogspot.com 

Philip Wells (b. 1962) performs as The Fire Poet everywhere from Buckingham Palace to Canterbury Cathedral. Pioneer of interactive poetry with special needs children, he is poet-in-residence at Chelsea Hospital School and St Ann's School, London. His latest poetry collection is The Night Without Dawn (Albion, 2013). He walked 1000 miles barefoot on a bardic pilgrimage around Britain in 2014 and plans to walk barefoot from London to Rome in 2018.