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A Literary & Poetry Column
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

It's in the Air
Poetry and the Universe

     I believe that the universe provides what is needed in the moment. Before I started my book of poetry (Skyscapes: A Woman's View), I was a lapsed reader of poetry. I didn't review poetry. I certainly didn't know any poets.

     Since then I have run across an artist who sometimes illustrates (amazing, heartfelt, spiritual photographs) poetry books, named Eric Dinyer. I found a friend in a young poet named David Herrle because he started up a new website called where my newly published collection of creative nonfiction was reviewed. I have reviewed several books of poetry for MyShelf and other sites; you can find some of them listed below. And I took a poetry class in St. Petersburg, Russia, from Mark Halperin, an accomplished poet who teaches in Washington state. My classmates were all blooming poets-some just learning, others accomplished. Whew! The universe delivers what we need in abundance. Ours is only to recognize it for what it is when it comes and snuggles in our laps like a purring kitten.

     Or, maybe it is the other way around. We are attracted to what the universe is full of. It so permeates the atmosphere that we breathe it in. Barnes and Noble recently announced that it has sold 30% more poetry books and Borders Books and Music noted a similar surge.

     The Academy of American Poets has doubled its size in the last few years and it recently announced the debut of its popular Poetry Book Club.

      One of the LA Times most exciting news stories of the year was that Ruth Lilly left much of her pharmaceuticals millions to Poetry Magazine even though they had not once published one of the poems she had submitted over the years. It seems there is truly something about poetry that increases generosity of spirit and if this story isn't an indication of that, I don't know what would be. I suppose people will have to quit saying that good news never makes the front page!

     It is in the spirit of Lilly's generosity, I would like to mention some poets that my readers might want to search for on Amazon or other sites. Many of them are new or relatively unknown. When appropriate I have included ISBN numbers so that you might more readily find their books:

Doomsinger Smiles by David J. Herrle (

Life and Death by Bollingen Prize in Poetry winner Robert Creeley (ISBN: 0811214494)

Time as Distance by Mark Halperin (ISBN: 0932826210)

Edgewater by Ruth L. Schwartz (ISBN: 0060082534)

Lot of My Sister by Alison Stine, a chapbook (ISBN: 0873387058)

North Point North by John Koethe (ISBN: 006620982X)

The Breathing Field: Meditations of Yoga by Wyatt Townley; Images by Eric Dinyer (ISBN: 081227947)

The World is Round by Nikky Finney (ISBN: 0971489041)

The Caedmon Poetry Collection: A Century of Poets Reading Their Work, Audio (ISBN 069422791)

Skyscapes is yet unpublished. It is no matter. It seems to be drawing beauty to it and to me, a another reminder of what magic there is in our world, in our cosmos.

Tips and Tidbits

Each month in this box, Carolyn lists a writing or promotion tidbit that will help authors and a tip to help readers find a treasure among long-neglected books or a sapphire among the newly-published.

Writers' Tidbit: Receive a tidbit of grammar in each day's mailbox until you have painlessly covered all the basics. Go to: It is quite milestone when the messages stop coming and you realize it is because you have mastered all the essentials. Archives are also available. The ever-so-able disseminator of all things grammatical is Mr. Bill Johansen, a teacher at Utah State University. And, no, in spite of my Utah roots I do not know him personally. (-:

Readers' Tip: Seldom do I feel that film does literature justice. "The Pianist," directed by Roman Polanski, is an exception. It is stunning. A superb story of a Polish pianist who lived through more than one human being should need to and not only survived but conquered. Because it deals with my passion, the corrosive nature of intolerance, and because it is so exceptional, I thought you might not mind my lapse from reading to viewing.

2003 Past Columns

Poetry and the Universe

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