SILENCE HAS A NAME - Poetry Chapbook and CD, with Music by Mark Hanley

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Ani Drubgyudma, a Western Buddhist nun who has been a contemplative practitioner since 1973, has written a beautiful, bold and necessary book, Wake Up in the Forest, that is a gem for those wanting to or already practicing contemplation or meditation in nature. And it offers hope for those who long for more than what daily life has to offer.

How many of us, bogged down by routine in suburbia or cities, do not dream of escaping into nature for peace and serenity? I often find when I'm alone in nature that the sight and scent of flowers, trees and earth, the sound of streams and rivers, the view of lakes, hold profound and special significance, particularly because those experiences are so rare.

My experience is also that nature not only enlivens the senses and refreshes the mind, but takes me deeper into myself, to who I really am. It is increasingly a brave venture--to go into the woods, to find one's inner way in silence--not unlike the way Thoreau and even Jack Kerouac did--because it is increasingly hard to do.

Ani is a poet, writer, photographer and artist, and the images, poems, reflections and deep insight that comprise Wake Up in the Forest make for both important and compelling reading.

Take the time to read, reflect, and review this work of words and images that are like a vast and profound blessing.


Friday, August 17, 2012


I listened to seven songs from Patti Smith's new Banga CD tonight, all of them on YouTube, so I had the full experience of imagery, along with the sounds of the album. The songs are every bit as interesting, thoughtful, original, intelligent and gutsy as you would expect, and more. As is true with jazz, Patti Smith moves me to think in different ways. And to view music and even the world in different ways.

Here's the order of songs I listened to: "Amerigo," "This is the Girl," "After the Gold Rush," "Constantine's Dream," "Nine," "Seneca," and "Banga," the latter on none other than The David Letterman Show. A sign of Patti Smith's genius is that she can rock 'n roll her originality on a show like David Letterman's and treats him and everyone with respect. This is a very beautiful and rare quality. To this day I am struck with the utter lack of malice in Just Kids, her fine memoir about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, in which she relates stories about so many people--and not once does she say a nasty thing about anyone. That's amazing, very hard to do. She can roar about a cause, but behind what she does is always kindness.

I could say a lot about each of the Patti Smith songs I listened to on this rainy night, but I'm going to be brief because I'd rather keep the experience of these songs to myself. My only real point in sharing these few words is to get you to listen to the songs as well, really listen, because they are worth it. You will be in art. And you will learn something new.

I like getting lost in the world of a song and Patti Smith makes this easy. I loved "Amerigo," about the discovery of America, and "This is the Girl," a song poem about Amy Winehouse. "After the Gold Rush," is the Neil Young song, whose poetry Patti Smith makes fresh in her inimitable way. She and Young have been friends a long time and I believe they are or will be touring. "Banga," which is a town in the Punjab district of India," is a very cool and wild song in the way "Horses" is.

Banga is very international, covers time and space, poetry, spirituality and art. Another punk original from the master herself. Check it out.