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Trying to Be Thoughtful....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Many of you know that I began my solo 3-month road trip this summer on May 18 sitting at the feet of the master, Mary Oliver, at one of her readings in Fayetteville, AR. I see her as one of my teachers on the Path. In the Yogic tradition, there is only one initiating teacher, the "diksha guru," but there can be many other teachers along the way (shiksha gurus). Mary Oliver is one of my "shiksha gurus."

Maui 2009


I am thinking, or trying to think, about all the
imponderables for which we have
no answers, yet endless interest all the
range of our lives, and it's

good for the head no doubt to undertake such
meditation; Mystery, after all,
is God's other name, and deserves our

consideration surely. But, but -
excuse me now, please; it's morning, heavenly bright,
and my irrepressible heart begs me to hurry on
into the next exquisite moment.

~ Mary Oliver ~

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ROBINSNEWNEST 9/21/2010 3:51PM

    Oh, thank you for sharing... I don't think I was familiar with her writing until I found you. What amazing discoveries... my dear emoticon and Mary Oliver?! Reading her work feels like a portion of my own body and soul coming back to me... It's a physical as well as emotional/spiritual grounding... thank you for sharing with such grace and love...


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THE_SILVER_OWL 9/19/2010 12:14PM

    What a gift you have shared with us. I am not familiar with her writings, but found this really spoke volumes to me.

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PENNYAN45 9/19/2010 10:16AM

    You have taught me about Mary Oliver and I so appreciate it. Thanks for all the exquisite moments you have brought into my life, my friend!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    We share yet another shiksha guru. Speaking of which, I recently learned (after 20 years?) that Sri Easwaran shares the same birthdate as my daughter. The Ramagiri Ashram is celebrating (what would have been) his centennial this December 11th. I really just wanted to stop by and say hello. Thank you for the lovely poem, and image of you at Mary's feet.

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CARRAND 9/16/2010 9:41PM

    Wonderful poem. I'm so glad you share.

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SIRIRADHA 9/16/2010 6:12PM

    Looks like I'm going to have to head back to the library! I had never heard of Mary Oliver until my friend's recent message to me on facebook. Now, another poem that rings true. Thank you.

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PUDLECRAZY 9/16/2010 5:27PM

    How wonderful! Thank you for this post.

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WALKINGANNIE 9/16/2010 5:05PM

    Thank you for giving me an 'exquisite moment' when I read this Maha.


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TIPPINGPOINT 9/16/2010 4:25PM

    thanks for sharing your interesting life... a 3 month road trip was quite an adventure

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GIANTPANDA 9/16/2010 2:10PM

    I love Mary Oliver's work. Thank you so much for the photo of Maui and this awesome blog! Namaste!

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SUSANSERENE 9/16/2010 1:53PM

    Valerie, thank you, as always, for sharing Mary Oliver with us. This is a fabulous way to begin our day and I am grateful for the moment of serenity that comes with it.

FloridaSun...Karma is a wonderful thing, indeed! So glad you're finding more connections and synchronicities on the path to Josh's book. Thinking of you with lots of love.

Blessings and joy to you both!

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FLORIDASUN 9/16/2010 1:44PM

    Mary Oliver is a beauty! I love her words...and I LOVE you for sharing them! I'm sending monster hugs and big, big kisses to you to have a DE~Light~ful day!

How's this for profound...I found it in my Joshie's Sophmore English Honors Journal. I'm going through his writings to share in his book
"The Unique Stand Alone"
The question posed to the class was..A dying man needs to die as a sleeping man needs to sleep.
Josh's observation:

"I think that this statment is true, dying is something that must happen to every person so that more people can come into the world.

You need to sleep so you can be aware enough to learn what each day teaches you and you need to die so that you can use your teachings."

ing...did this child know that his many, many journals would be left behind to teach other's the consequences of wrong choices...and isn't it AMAZING that every thing he wrote was ANTI-drug?

Isn't it also amazing that out of ALL the many things I could have picked to inscribe on his urn I chose "May the work I've done..speak for me"

This was long before I discovered the hundreds of writings he left behind.

Karma is such an AMAZING really, truly is! emoticon

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SHERYLDS 9/16/2010 10:35AM

    Very spiritual words.
I often marvel at the peace and tranquility these people exude, and I wonder what kind of lives they have that would allow them such a serene outlook. I find it hard to imagine that a normal stressful environment would support such inner peace. Do they just ASCEND above the chaos around them, or do the REMOVE themselves from what's going on? Are they BLOCKING out Reality, just CHANGING their perception of Reality, or FILTERING the reality they chose to see?

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GOANNA2 9/16/2010 10:16AM

    Thanks for posting the lovely words of Mary Oliver.
Also thank you for commenting on my status. I wrote my essay but I had information overload and not too sure how I wenr.

But, now I am immersing myself in theose words and too bad about the essay.

Have you started your studies yet?

Good luck. emoticon emoticon

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DENI_ZEN 9/16/2010 9:59AM

    Ahhhh! I'm so glad I've finally gotten to see the heartful and talented Mary Oliver here :) Thank you, Maha! I love that you've chosen her as your diksha guru, too. Her words always leave us with such a peaceful feeling :) - Sandi emoticon

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SUCHAHOOT 9/16/2010 9:49AM

    Bee-u-ti-ful! Thanks for posting.
A lovely day here, huh? Still a little hot, but nicer evenings!

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SLASALLE 9/16/2010 9:27AM

    What a wonderful start to MY day!!! Thanks, Maha. As always, I appreciate your "thoughtful" moments!! xoxoxo

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Remembering 9/11:

Friday, September 10, 2010

When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall.

Think of it...always.

-- Mahatma Gandhi

Photograph taken at a candlelight vigil outside the
firehouse of Squad 18, NYFD, September 11, 2001.

Return to the most human,
nothing less will nourish the torn spirit,
the bewildered heart,
the angry mind:
and from the ultimate duress,
pierced with the breath of anguish,
speak of love.

Return, return to the deep sources,
nothing less will teach the stiff hands a new way to serve,
to carve into our lives the forms of tenderness
and still that ancient necessary pain preserve.

Return to the most human,
nothing less will teach the angry spirit,
the bewildered heart;
the torn mind,
to accept the whole of its duress,
and pierced with anguish --
at last, act for love.

~ May Sarton ~
(Collected Poems 1930-1993)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LOPEYP 9/22/2010 12:35PM

    At that tragic time, Americans were kind to one another, at least for a short time. I pray for a return of that kindness.

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SHANTISHANTI 9/20/2010 9:25AM

    I'm reading this blog a little late, but the message is loud and clear...LOVE IS THE ANSWER. Thank you for being part of this community and sending love to us all through your spirit.

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ROBINSNEWNEST 9/13/2010 10:37PM

    ah, Maha, such a beautiful offering...


Comment edited on: 9/13/2010 10:37:51 PM

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PENNYAN45 9/12/2010 2:27AM

    Thanks for the quote on this sad day of remembering.


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MEDDYPEDDY 9/12/2010 1:16AM

    Thanks for reminding me - I have a lot of feelings around this because the year after 0/11 our foreign minister Anna Lind was stabbed to death with a knife and I had my cancer breast just removed and was waiting for hemo to start and was at a seminar with women entrepreneurs when the message about her death came and we lit candles and it was a very good place to be at the time... a lot of memories...and a lot of feelings.

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CARRAND 9/11/2010 5:02PM

    I have always loved Mahatma Ghandi. Thanks you for sharing the quote.

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WALKINGANNIE 9/11/2010 3:08PM


When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.

Jimi Hendrix

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JEANNETTE59 9/11/2010 12:00PM

  War is not the answer, only love can conquer hate...

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KAITLYNSNAMMY 9/11/2010 11:46AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

I share your sentiments and I will NEVER FORGET.

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SIRIRADHA 9/11/2010 11:14AM

    May all sentient beings be at peace. emoticon

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SHERYLDS 9/11/2010 10:11AM

    Beautiful Words
and I wish I could believe in cosmic justice,
but what I know for sure is that WE are responsible for how WE choose respond to life. May we all have the wisdom to do the right thing. emoticon

Comment edited on: 9/11/2010 10:12:56 AM

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DENI_ZEN 9/11/2010 9:30AM

    What beautiful, soothing thoughts for this day, Maha! Thank you :) - Sandi emoticon

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SUCHAHOOT 9/11/2010 9:25AM

    A very beautiful reminder of truth.


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GREENCAT1 9/11/2010 9:23AM

    Thank you for the Ghandi quote....peace always....

Cathy emoticon

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LYNNANN43 9/11/2010 8:50AM

    Loved the Ghandi quote and the beautiful poem, Maha.


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GOANNA2 9/11/2010 5:17AM

    Thank you for the Ghandi quote.
Peace to all. Lest we forget.

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BRIGHTSPARK7 9/10/2010 11:47PM

    Thank you, Mahalakshmi, for another beautiful Gandhi quote. I loved the note you sent earlier this evening and Jesus saying, "Be the God you want to see in the world." Radical paraphrase of Gandhi's "Be the change you wish to see in the world." This resonates with May Sarton saying, "act for love."

Rich sharing and much blessed by this!
Love and respect,

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KRISKECK 9/10/2010 11:37PM

    Thank you, Maha, for the Ghandi quote...I am sharing it with everyone I know. Peace and love, Kristin

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Do you remember the movie "Stand and Deliver" about an inner city teacher in East LA who motivated his kids to excel? That teacher was the late Jaime Escalante (he died at 79 in March from cancer), and this KarmaTube story gives credit where credit is due!

In the midst of this trouble-laden world, stories like this give me courage to continue (Stevie Wonder's image of the "joy inside my tears").

The word for the determination, discipline, and hard work that leads to success that Jaime Escalante used with his students is translated as "ganas" in Spanish. For decades, he taught math in the tough neighborhoods of LA -- and again and again succeeded with students others had given up on. His untiring commitment and passion now lives on in the work of his many grateful students.

This will bring a smile to your face and perhaps a tear to your eye:

Blessed be!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EOSTAR_45 9/10/2010 11:04PM

    I love that movie. I'll watch it again when I get back. He was a true hero. Thanks for the clip.

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DENI_ZEN 9/10/2010 8:35PM

    Ahh...I remember how sad I felt, hearing on NPR that he had died... what a dear, loving, great man! And the video speaks truth: He really DID ignite that spark...and in SO MANY of his students, too! He'll always be remembered with great love and devotion. Thank you for this link, Maha :) - Sandi emoticon

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PUDLECRAZY 9/10/2010 4:21PM

    I love the true story and I loved the movie. So inspirational! I aspire to giving that much to my students.

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WALKINGANNIE 9/10/2010 4:03PM

    Thanks Maha for celebrating this very special life.

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SHERYLDS 9/10/2010 3:22PM

    and here i always thought ganas meant earnings, rewards or desires.

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SIRIRADHA 9/10/2010 1:44PM

    Drat! I tried clicking on the link and it didn't work. I'm going to have to go check out karmatube! Thank you for posting this.

Edited to add: got to watch the video and my favorite part was the woman who talked about how Mr. Escalante's efforts will have lasting reverberations!

Comment edited on: 9/10/2010 1:49:32 PM

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KALIGIRL 9/10/2010 1:10PM

    Wonderful - thank you for sharing!

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JEANNETTE59 9/10/2010 12:45PM

  The term "Gentle Giant" need not have anything to do with physical stature. Thank you for sharing emoticon

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PENNYAN45 9/10/2010 11:50AM

    I love stories of teachers who make a difference with kids that others give up on. They are treasures!
Thanks for sharing this with us.


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MARENAMOO 9/10/2010 11:42AM

    Thank you so much for hightlighting a person - a quiet hero - who really made a difference - not just by what he did but what he should others they could do. That is true leadership.

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Training the senses for success!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Once again, one of my teachers, Eknath Easwaran, has captured an important truth that either propels me toward, or gets in my way of, success on the weight loss journey...and in LIFE in general! Cheesecakes in the bakery case or vegetarian sushi in the refrigerator case, movies instead of exercise, staring at a monitor or jumping on my bike...all great opportunities to train the senses!

Even as a tortoise draws in its limbs, the wise can draw in their senses at will.
– Bhagavad Gita

What a marvelous simile! Just imagine a tortoise being approached by a group of school children with sticks in their hands. He sees the children coming, and the command is given to the limbs, "Retire"” Immediately, the head, the tail, and the four legs withdraw into the shell. The children come; they tap on the shell with their sticks, trying to get the tortoise to come out. He is safe inside.

After the children leave and all is quiet, the tortoise ventures to stick his neck out, then his tail and legs. He continues his journey, unconcerned. He goes where he likes.

If we want to live in freedom, we must train our senses. We learn when to welcome an experience, and when to withdraw for our own safety. We become masters of our lives. Then we will be like the giant tortoise I saw at the zoo – wandering freely while all the other animals were in cages. A notice on his back read: "I am free. Don’t report me to the management."
-- Eknath Easwaran

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOANNA2 9/10/2010 7:55AM

    Thank you so much for the beautiful words Maha.
I am stressing out over exams at the moment and
this gave me such a lift.

Again puts things into perspective and staying focused.
While researching quotes found 1 from Socrates
"The best man is he who most tries to perfect himself,
and the happiest man is he who most feels he is
perfecting himself". Focus to live simply and peacefully.

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BRIGHTSPARK7 9/9/2010 11:01PM

    This reminds me of my own encircling of myself with my 'borders' when I feel the need for them, Mahalakshmi. Thankyou for this beautiful blog.
Love and respect,

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GETDONE 9/9/2010 10:04PM


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    Love this analogy... This one will stay with me. Thank you, Maha, as usual for sharing insight that speaks to you...


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JEANNETTE59 9/9/2010 4:06PM

  To all the emoticon out there, thanks for the lesson.
And to you dear friend, thanks for being emoticon

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SLASALLE 9/9/2010 2:27PM

    Where in the world do you find the time to spend on all of these wonderful blogs???? You constantly amaze me ... and I LOVE reading them.


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KALIGIRL 9/9/2010 1:58PM

    Wonderful - when to welcome, when to withdraw.
I welcome your blogs.

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WALKINGANNIE 9/9/2010 1:10PM

    More amazing designs in the turtle's body and shell.

I love the images that you use to illustrate your insights.

I'm so glad that you are continuing to blog and hope that you will still be able to find time to share your unique contributions. (No pressure though - I don't want you to feel that this is a burden as you become busier.)

emoticon emoticon

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TIPPINGPOINT 9/9/2010 11:03AM

I highly rate Eknath Easwaran and his 8 point program.

Comment edited on: 9/9/2010 11:04:14 AM

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CARRAND 9/9/2010 10:06AM

    It all comes back to focus. We have to focus on a healthy path and draw our senses away from the distractions.

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CWESTMORE 9/9/2010 9:32AM

    Thank you for sharing this blog with us. The lessons learned from you have been wonderful. I, too, like the tortoise example look for safe experiences especially in eating healthy with no regrets. emoticon

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KCOCEAN 9/9/2010 9:25AM

    I like this blog. The tortoise has learned how to be safe. As people trying to loose weight or be healthy we have to learn to be safe. We have to finds ways not to let others derail our journey.

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Someone is looking to YOU for love.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

I have, for as long as I can remember, had a resonance with and a primal attraction to hawks, particularly the red-tailed hawk. Though I'm not engaged in Native American spiritual practices, I have long considered the hawk to be my animal medicine, my spirit guide.

This beautiful creature does not neurotically worry about sufficient activity and proper weight, about isolation and loneliness, about appearances and purpose, but instead, in the hawk's own voice --
"my gold skull filled with nothing
but God's will
the whole day through, instead
of these glinting voices incessantly
unerringly guiding me
to pursue
what makes me sick, and not to
what makes me glad."

Franz Wright is an extraordinary man and poet, and has found redemption and hope after many years of mental illness and substance abuse. I love that Panhala presented "The Hawk" today, because it's exactly the right time and place for me to be with it...and to share it with you!

The Hawk

Maybe in a million years
a better form of human
being will come, happier
and more intelligent. A few already
have infiltrated this world and lived
to very much regret it,
I suppose.
I'd prefer to have come
in the form of that hawk, floating over
the mirroring fire
of Clearlake's
hill, my gold
skull filled with nothing
but God's will
the whole day through, instead
of these glinting voices incessantly
unerringly guiding me
to pursue
what makes me sick, and not to
what makes me glad. And yet
I am changing: this three-pound lump
of sentient meat electrified
by hope and terror has learned to hear
His silence like the sun,
and sought to change!
And friends
on earth at the same time
as me, listen: from the sound of those crickets
last night, Rene Char said
prenatal life
must have been sweet -
each voice perhaps also a star
in that night
from which
this time
we won't be
interrupted anymore - but
fellow monsters while we are still here, for one minute, think
about this: there is someone right now who is looking
to you, not Him, for whatever
love still exists.

~ Franz Wright ~
(God's Silence)

Franz Wright is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1977. He was the Jacob Ziskind Visiting Poet-in-Residence at Brandeis University until May 2009. He and his father James Wright are the only parent/child pair to have won the Pulitzer Prize in the same category.

Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1953, and during his youth, his family moved to the Northwest United States, the Midwest, and northern California. Wright believes that his birth overseas and early years of moving around with his parents never allowed him to put down roots in any one place. "That pattern was set very early," he says.

Not having roots has its benefits for Wright's chosen vocation. "I feel like I have many pasts and that helps my writing," he explains. "But, I also don't feel like I come from anywhere, and that's disturbing."

His parents divorced when he was 7 years old, and the young Wright went to live with his mother. While he would see his father periodically, it is a correspondence that he shared with his father for ten years that Wright speaks of with fondness. The two wrote letters back and forth while the younger Wright was between the ages of 15 and 25.

These letters were about life, but more importantly about poetry. As he started to publish at the age of 19, Wright found in his father's letters "great patience and honesty."

What the younger Wright also shared with his father, and his younger brother Marshall, was a proclivity for addiction and mental illness. Wright's journey as a poet has been extraordinary and yet riddled with the all too familiar cliches of the tortured artist. He is very open in talking about the length and arduous nature of his struggles with mental illness and addiction.

Wright speaks with stark clarity about his "manic depression, schizoid affective disorder coupled with delusions and paranoia." He has been hospitalized several times, although not in the last ten years, for these troubles, and for attempted suicides.

The mental illness was either the root of, or at least exacerbated by his addictions to alcohol and drugs. Wright tried "every single drug in existence," although his preferences were for opiates like heroin. "I never had a sober breath for thirty years," he says, quickly adding that today he has been in recovery for seven years.

As part of that recovery he attends daily AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings in Waltham, goes to Catholic mass in Boston each morning at 7 a.m. and works with others who are addicts and mentally ill. He considers that last the "best treatment because you realize you are not alone in the world and that these things are not a moral state of sin or crime."

Wright knows the depths of his own misery, feeling that he would never get well and that the end was always near. He once did not leave his apartment for two years. And yet, he has managed to continue writing and winning accolades. "I share myself as an example that severe mental illness and addiction is not the end of the road."

It is the hour
the moment
when it becomes possible
to distinguish a white
thread from a black,
so prayer begins.
-- from "Shaving in the Dark"

In 1999 he married the translator Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright. The two main sources of Wright's peace are his wife and his conversion to Catholicism at the age of 47 when he got baptized into the faith.

He wakes up at around 4:30 each morning, drives to St. Clement Catholic Church in Boston by 6 a.m. Before the daily mass at 7 a.m. he listens to a group that chants in Latin. He loves this routine. "I know that every 24 hours for one hour I will be completely happy," he says.

While Wright is grateful for the awards he has won because it helps him financially, accolades don't help with the struggles of trying to create consistently. However, one award does stand out because of its historical significance. The 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry that he won, coupled with the same prize his father won in 1972, make them the only father-son team to achieve that feat.

"It's fabulous," he says of this historical event. "It's an incredible honor, as my father was like a god to me. To be mentioned in the same breath as him still astounds me. I can't take it in."

Since his recovery he has been writing about his conversion, his addictions and about getting well. He is concerned with what happens to someone after this ecstatic conversion."t is strange to go to such heights and then return to reality," he says, speaking about the hard work and discipline it takes to continue writing in a meaningful way. Since he knows all too well about long periods of despair and doubt, he struggles even today because he doesn't "want to fade away."

Wright has translated poems by Rene Char, Erica Pedretti, and Rainer Maria Rilke. Wright has also received the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, as well as grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Wright wrote the lyrics to and performs on the Clem Snide song "Encounter at 3AM" on the album Hungry Bird (released in February 2009). His latest book, Wheeling Motel, had selections put to music for the record 'Readings from Wheeling Motel' (2009)

Primary source of bio:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FLORIDASUN 9/16/2010 2:01PM

    Such a fascinating man, and the beauty of his words are breath taking!

I often think that there is a very fine line between brillance and the torture of self destructivism.

So many of the great masters were so very tortured it makes me wonder if the stripping away of our souls is the honesty and the pain that we have to face head on to tap into the ethers of greatness.

Most people are afraid to walk that rocky road. My Josh knew it well. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CARRAND 9/8/2010 8:59PM

    Fascinating man and a wonderful poem. Thank you for sharing.

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DENI_ZEN 9/8/2010 7:17PM

    What an amazing man, Maha! Thank you for bringing us this work of his :) As if Hawks weren't majestic enough in their own right, Wright brings us such a beautiful portrait of them in this poem of his :) He really captured the hawk's essence! - Sandi emoticon

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BUNNYCATS 9/8/2010 5:29PM


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WALKINGANNIE 9/8/2010 2:11PM

    Thanks for sharing the inspiring biography and for the stunning photograph of the hawk as well as the moving words.

How amazing that something as functional and exquisitely engineered can be so beautiful as the patterns of the wing feathers.

emoticon emoticon

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SHERYLDS 9/8/2010 1:47PM

    The info on Franz Wright's is very interesting and inspiring...And it makes me wonder about how many people there are in this world who are mentally ill but don't or won't go for help. Makes me wonder when I come in contact with people behaving badly. And I do believe it's is the cure (showing a little kindess and understanding).

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KALIGIRL 9/8/2010 1:23PM

    I too love the birds of prey and as a "fellow monster" am indebted for your post. May our heads be full of love.

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SLASALLE 9/8/2010 11:19AM

    Maha, my dear friend, you NEVER cease to amaze me. Once again, and as always, your choice of what to share brings out the depth of many feelings in me, just by reading the poem and the biography of this amazing poet.

Thank you, kind soul.


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GREENCAT1 9/8/2010 10:54AM

    Beautiful poem! We have a nest of hawks on our property. though I am not sure if they are red tailed or cooper's hawks. Very inspirational!

Cathy emoticon

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PENNYAN45 9/8/2010 10:48AM

    "looking to YOU not Him for whatever love still exists."

If they look to you, Maha, they will find love. Thanks for the poem and the info about the poet. Very interesting.


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EARTHSEAME 9/8/2010 10:09AM

    Thanks for posting this. I just sent the poem to a friend and I plan on reading Mr. Wright's books.

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LYNNANN43 9/8/2010 10:07AM

    Thank you for the wonderful, inspiring biography of Franz Wright.

And "The Hawk" is a gorgeous poem.

Have a wonderful day, MAHA!


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