Monday, July 11, 2011

Making A Life by Charles H. Harper

Making A Life
Charles H. Harper
Powder Horn Press, Inc.
Soft cover: $12.00
Hard cover: $22.00

Charles Harper’s second full-length book of poetry weaves the interconnectedness of Being throughout the work – the words as weft and the intention behind the use of the Chinese symbol pronounced “tee-an” as warp. While the symbol cannot be exactly translated into English, it is known to represent a “totality of reality” – all aspects of being: manifest, intuition, and that which goes beyond human intuition.

The use of the symbol intrigued me and each time it appeared in the book along with a short poem, I was offered a moment to meditate on the group of poems that preceded each printing of the symbol. In keeping with the possibilities inherent within interconnectedness, Harper has penned a poem entitled, “Is.” The epigraph is a phrase from Czeslaw Milosz – “they walk contemplating the holy word: Is.” Harper begins by saying:

I’m dancing on the rim of IS: Blue sky
above backdrops the sheen of sun that holds
our planet in its thrall –

In “Disquietude,” Harper looks at the suffering of our interconnectedness, the helplessness that may set in when we perceive there is nothing that we can do to lessen others’ pain:

What good is my bitter lament
for ragged refugee lines
staggering across endless
wastelands of our world?


For Harper interconnectedness does not end with the Oneness of humanity. No, he also addresses our connection to nature – to earth herself.

Gaia trembles beneath our piles
of gadgets, greed, and war.
She weeps a mother’s darkest grief. . .

In a nod to the poetic life the work “Three or Four” brought me a smile:

A Poet
may have three
or four things to say,
hardly ever more

It can take many years,
hundreds of yards of pencil,
paper and eraser,
as well as millions
of wadded up words
tossed in the wastebasket
before you finally figure out
what these three
or four things are

Jean Mellichamp Milliken, editor of “The Lyric,” says “This poetry pulls us away from our duty-filled days and reminds us of the miracles of our presence here on this spinning ball as we whirl through the universe.

Bill Moyers of PBS writes, “These poems cut deep, but not like a knife. They are the slow coming of dawn, until we see all at once what had been there in the dark.

Harper’s book is like wading into a clear tidepool and finding spirituality, nature, the human condition, love, despair, wonder, struggle, hope and, above all, gratitude cohabitating within the eco-system, each embracing and understanding the other.

And isn’t that the way the world should be?

“Making a Life” can be purchased through Charles Harper by contacting him via email at:

Rene Schwiesow is a co-host for the popular South Shore venue: The Art of Words. She can be contacted at

No comments:

Post a Comment