Category Archives: Poetry

Three Five Stars for Painting With Words

Some words from Five Star Reviews may bring the book alive for you. You can pick it up from the author or order it online, details at: http://ianprattis.com/PaintingWithWords.html

 

Kathryn Bennet wrote: “I read this book three times before settling in to write this review. Each time I felt that I uncovered another layer with the collection of poems that I had missed the last time through. To me there is something truly magical about a work that can do that…….The poems strike right at the heart of the journey the author himself has taken in life, and yet it also has an ability to resound with others…….You can see the images come to life before your eyes as you read….This collection of poems takes the reader through the full gamut of human emotions. The author has masterfully used his own life experience to transport the reader through this journey, while striving to leave a mark directly on the reader’s heart.”

From K.C. Finn: “Shying away from the old fashioned traditions of symbolism and imagery, the work expresses an emotionally outcry in a raw and direct from, creating powerful auditory moments to express the highs and lows of the human condition………What results is a work which runs the full spectrum of emotional consideration, taking a singular personal experience and reaching for the qualities which make it universal to all…..The poems are direct in address, but spiritual and philosophical in themessage the leave lingering afterwards.”

Romuald Dzemo speaks: “A collection of poems thematically arranged that reflect the very soul of humanity, filled with imagery and rhythms that mimic the different seasons of the human soul. The poems in this collection bear witness to what readers feel, perhaps in the hushed hours of the day; emotions, thoughts, felings, and realities that allow readers to connect with the things he writes about…….The voice is powerful, the poetic lines rhythmic, and the entire collection is filled with powerful imagery……..I love the depth in Ian Prattis’ poetry and thebeauty in the rhythm and richness if its diction…….For instance: “A week in the life/ of a poem/has words racing to knowing’s edge.” Here is another: “Phrases creep/over the dawn of logic/suspended then gone.”

 

Poetic Voice

                                              

I will talk about the Poetic Voice and “Painting with Words, Poetry for a New Era.”

In 2017 I published a book of essays titled “Our World is Burning: My Views on Mindful Engagement.” Once I sent it off to the publisher I had to clean out my filing cabinet, which was a total mess. In the process of dumping stuff I was surprised to come across a folder with 60 years of my poetry stuffed in it. Most of it was garbage, but there were sufficient gems to feature six distinct thematic moods to capture the shared aspects of human experience.

It all started during my teenage expedition to Sarawak, Borneo (1960 – 62). This was with Britain’s Peace Corps. I kept a journal of the vivid surrounds and how I was feeling. From that time on I scribbled poetry wherever I went, accumulating poems that reminded me of the experiences. Later on in life, my extensive shamanic training with First Nations medicine people was also carefully logged. Those notes and poems were a sign-post to always be authentic. In my career as an anthropologist I was fortunate to encounter many First Nation story tellers across North America. Their poetic recounting of myths and history had a deep impact on how I wrote. I would say that without poetry cultures implode.

My first book – Redemption – was written in 1975. I refer to this novel as I wrote it as an extended prose poem. It became a lost manuscript as I did not know how to get published at that time. In 1975 I was writing way over my head and lacked the maturity to understand the deep nuances emerging from my pen. Redemption was writing me and it is fitting that it was not published until 2014. It reads like an extended prose poem reflecting the primal forces of nature and human nature. The time lapse allowed me to grow into the insights and revelations writ large. I was a total mess in 1975 – with a failing marriage in the Hebrides and trying to keep my career intact as a young professor at Carleton University. I was not doing a good job with either. The surprise for me in 2014 was how did I write such a powerful poetic novel while in a desperate state of mind? This background brings me to “Painting with Words” – my latest book

PART ONE: BITTERSWEET

It growls rather than sings – a side show malady of words I sometimes prefer to hide. It relishes what I failed and flailed at – my discomfort with relationships, hierarchical structure and all that is phony. Growing up I was acutely aware that I was a maverick – on the outside looking in. I saw more clearly and deeply than allowed.

The poem Punk Palace in the Moonlight presents a sudden shift in the first mood. This poem is about my son – lost in the drug underground of Glasgow, Scotland. I went there to bring him out. Punk Palace in the Moonlight is a collaborative poem composed with my son. We took turns composing lines of a poem to the moon. I cannot discern where he began and where I ended, which is perhaps just as it should be.

Punk Palace in the Moonlight

Moonlight speaks of a morning passing by

life crisis turns beyond wreckage

preventing boundless life entering grim death.

The moon a delicate mistress

veiled by fleeting clouds and mysteries.

It makes the stars and galaxies dance.

The moon does this,

with all that is in me.

This gateway to boundless space

is a door for my troubles and joy.

For I am in the moon and stars

and they are in me.

We dance together

– Now Bright; Now Turbulent

Now Lost; Now Found –

Beyond any sense or reason.

And the night sky casts movement and hues

to something I touch

with that in me.

The full harvest moon

rises from banks of pastel grey,

pacing existence

through the rhythms of our universe.

Glasgow, Scotland. September, 1995 

PART TWO: PAINTING WITH WORDS

Part Two displays my passion for nature, the colourful images of nature’s cycles and its “undeterred rhythm” of change. I remember as a child how I blithely assumed that nature walked me when I cut school to roam the forest and rivers near my home. As a child I had special relationships with wild animals, in particular with one otter and a family of hedgehogs that I kept under my bed. My parents were long suffering over the stray animals I brought home, but their patience was severely stretched over the hedgehogs. They had to be returned to the forest when I became infested with their fleas, which I passed on to my immediate family, classmates, and also to a particular schoolteacher that I did not like.

My poem “Weaving in the Forest” paints the image of a lake, awakening the senses to the striking beauty of the depicted scene.

Weaving in the Forest

 

Let me share it.

This symphony of autumn color,

cascading melody from a sky

pastel grey and fiery red.

Descant to the dancing tones of

a painted forest

cooled by lush evergreens.

 

Sensual beauty,

rhapsody of forest and sunset sky

fused a golden sheen,

caught in a still lake.

Waiting with patience

beyond time and space,

A pause to reflect this moment of

splendor –

Weaving

Lac Philippe, Gatineau Hills, October, 1992

 

PART THREE: AGUA VIVA and PART FOUR: FOOTSTEPS OF THE BUDDHA

I will run together Part Three: Agua Viva and Part Four: Footsteps of the Buddha. They are both about the spiritual journey at different times. Agua Viva (in Mexico) provides poems about my clumsy emergence to new understandings. They are very different from the more mature Part Four – Footsteps of the Buddha.

I met a visiting Rishi to Canada in 1995 – a holy man from India who recognized me and insisted I go to India for spiritual training. In November and December of 1996 I became seriously ill in India. As I observed my bodily systems crashing one by one I knew there was a distinct possibility of death. I was living in a small ashram in the city of Mumbai – reserved for saints and holy men. I did not qualify for either category yet felt their grace at hand. One humorous manifestation of that grace occurred one morning when I woke up and opened my eyes to greet one of my swami mentors. He smiled broadly and said in his wonderful Indian accent:

“We are all so happy Ian that you have decided to die with us in India, if indeed you are to die. And we will be most happy should you live.”

I went back to India six years later. My wife Carolyn and I embarked on a pilgrimage – In The Footsteps Of The Buddha – through North India and Nepal in February 2003. I created six insight poems that provide a glimpse of experiences that are too immense to otherwise communicate. The Footsteps of the Buddha pilgrimage was full of wonder and miracles. It was a journey to the center of being so that everyday life becomes a pilgrimage.

 PART FIVE: SPEAKING OF TRUE LOVE

I do not have the credentials to speak of this lofty pinnacle. My relationships through time hardly equipped me, as I stumbled through ignorance, stupidity (mostly mine) and unhappiness. My mistakes were legion and I eventually decided to live alone. I found a spacious cabin set in the Gatineau Forest across the river from Ottawa.

An old friend pierced that bubble. She was taking ballroom dancing lessons and asked me to accompany her, as her partner was unable to do so. At the Jack Purcell Centre in Ottawa, an elderly Jamaican gentleman was our instructor. He was charming and had all the moves to put us through the paces of ballroom dancing. I noticed an attractive blonde woman always dancing the male part with her female friends – all from the same office. Her name was Carolyn. I asked if she would like to dance the female role with me. Her wide green eyes and gentle smile said it all. The following week of dancing with her was magic. Not once did I tread on her toes during the intricate passages of the Quick Step and the Fox Trot.

Before leaving that evening, I asked if she would like to meet my wolf. As soon as these words came out of my mouth, I thought she must think this was the worst pick-up line in the world. She paused, smiled and then said “Yes.” I did, in fact, have a pet wolf in the back of my truck. He had found me in the Mt. Currie forest in British Columbia. He played his part beautifully. I rolled down the window of my truck and Carolyn could see his magnificence. He had a russet brown coat with white forelegs and face. He rested his large paw on Carolyn’s shoulder and gently licked her cheek. It was an instant match. She told me much later that she fell in love with the wolf first, then thought that there must be something about the fellow who had him.

The thematic focus of these poems is a celebration of souls mirroring each other, bonded in a union reminiscent of twin flame bonds. They remind me of the Romantic period in English literature, or the Sturm and Drang of the German poetic expression, where ecstatic feelings prevailed over the poetic form. Here is a taste: “Our soft spoken adoration blows on dandelions, creating parasols drifting to fertile ground” – PAUSE – that begins one of the many verses.

PART SIX: ANCIENT WISDOM

PART SIX – ANCIENT WISDOM was written when I accompanied two friends on the first leg of their cross Canada canoe expedition.

My creation of this epic poem had a double focus. I wanted to leave a document about Canada’s wilderness for my grand-children, so they could be inspired by Mother Earth. I also wanted to weave in the Wisdom of the Elders, to speak about Canadian waterways from the reverence of First Nations.

Painting With Words Poetry for a New Era ends with this thematic focus on Ancient Wisdom – pulsating with the rhythm of the river, the spirit of nature of its ancient inhabitants. In spite of being exposed to the merciless harshness of the elements, the poet – that is me – still smiles because I am a part of this world just like a tree or a rock.

The connection between humans and nature is illustrated in the poem about a solitary tree and a man. In each other’s presence, their feelings of aloneness vanish.

The Forest

In the forest a great many entities

of the earth and sky speak of before

and what is to be.

Clearings sunk into the earth

await further visits.

In the center of one clearing

stood a single tall aspen

Waiting for companionship,

fragile in its aloneness,

in her aloneness,

in our aloneness.

I stand within her circle

– this tree and I –

and for a brief moment,

neither were alone.

To finish I would like to bring to your attention a 5 STAR review which inspired the writer of it to start writing poetry again. READ.

Kathryn Bennett writes:

I have to be fully honest in saying I read this book three times before settling in to write this review. Each time, I felt like I uncovered another layer with the collection of poems that I had missed the last time through. To me, there is something truly magical about a work that can do that. You can see the images come to life before your eyes as you read. It was truly a pleasure to be able to read this collection of poems and it has inspired me to look back on some poetry I used to write and perhaps to start doing so again. I would highly recommend this book to any reader who loves a journey and wants to find themselves mesmerized by the written word.

 

Great Review for Poetry

Another Great Review – OnlineBookClub.org

ORDER BOOK: http://ianprattis.com/PaintingWithWords.html

Painting with Words by Ian Prattis is a collection of poems written at different times throughout the writer’s life. This collection is divided into six parts each one with a different theme. Every part is unique and deeply emotional with an extraordinary aesthetic that I’ve never come across in poetry before.

I really enjoyed the variety of themes, feelings, and lessons I received by reading this book. The first part “Bittersweet” is, in my opinion, the most melancholic. It’s the dark side of the poet who seeks consolation in writing poems to overcome his frustration and sadness. Soon after that, our writer takes us to wonderful landscapes to calm our troubled souls. “Painting with words” is the second part, and it’s literally a series of beautiful images illustrated with words. This part is a great reminder of how beautiful our world is if we just stop and behold it for a while. My personal favorite part is “Speaking of True Love”. As a romantic soul myself, I couldn’t help but adore each and every poem in this part. I could clearly see the depths of the poet’s love for his wife since every poem of this part is inspired by her. She is obviously his muse, and they have a beautiful love story that makes every poem even more sentimental and meaningful. The other parts are “Agua Viva”, “Footsteps of Buddha”, and “Ancient Wisdom”. I won’t give more details of these ones as I want readers to discover for themselves the rest of this collection.

What I can say though, is that after you finish reading this book you’ll probably find yourselves knowing the poet like he is your old friend. Every part is a different piece of Prattis’ puzzled life. He made sure to share every emotion and experience he had with us, and I think that is really brave and beautiful.

Reading this book was definitely an emotional roller coaster. The first part almost made me cry, especially the poem “ The Old Mare”. Some poems will make you think and others will put a smile on your face without realizing it. I’m sure everyone would find a poem to his liking in this collection. Furthermore, what I really appreciated while I was reading this book, was that the author, before every part, wrote an introduction. In those introductions, he explains why he wrote each poem, what inspired him, and what he was trying to achieve by writing it. This is extremely helpful because many times I find myself devaluing a poem since I can’t understand what it means. I also got to know the mentality of the poet better. I also loved the fact that the book starts with a poem dedicated to a Muse. This used to be a custom back in Ancient Greece when poets and writers asked inspiration from the Muse of writing. As a Greek, I’m very honored that a foreign poet decided to do that as well.

Overall, it’s clear to see that I loved every minute of reading Painting with Words. There was nothing not to like in this collection of poems. I actually read it twice, and I’m planning on reading it many more times. Moreover, I was pleased to see that it was exceptionally well edited. Thus, I’m happily giving this book 4 out of 4 stars. For those of you who love poetry, you should definitely give it a try. However, please keep in mind that some of those poems have curse words and some are hard to understand, so I wouldn’t recommend this book to an underage audience. Last but not least, many of these poems represent a Buddhist lifestyle and interpretation, so if you are offended by that, you probably wouldn’t enjoy this collection.

******
Painting with Words 
View: on Bookshelves

5 Star Roll for “Painting With Words”

Another 5 Star Review of Painting with Words, Poetry for a New Era by Ian Prattis

 BOOK REVIEW

Five Stars 

 Reviewed By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

Painting With Words, Poetry for a New Era is a book of inspirational verses written and compiled by poet Ian Prattis. Shying away from the old fashioned traditions of symbolism and imagery, the work expresses an emotional outcry in a raw and direct form, creating powerful auditory moments to express the highs and lows of the human condition, as our author sees and experiences them. The work is separated into six themed sections, travelling through different moments in recent history as the author experiences them, reflects upon them, and reaches different emotional conclusions along his journey to full discovery. What results is a work which runs the full spectrum of emotional consideration, taking a singular, personal experience and reaching for the qualities which make it universal to all.

One of the things which I found unexpectedly delightful about this work was the strong and recurrent connection to nature that Ian Prattis strives for. Whilst many of the works pertain to some of humanity’s most unkind acts towards one another, unveiling the true greed and violence we are capable of as a species, others look beyond these base defects to consider the potential for good that we have if we can reconnect our spirits to nature. The poems are direct in address, but spiritual and philosophical in the message which they leave lingering afterwards. Overall, Painting With Words, Poetry for a New Era, presents an optimistic new viewpoint with a clear and engaging emotional progression of how it came to be.

 “Painting with Words, Poetry for a New Era” Order through: http://ianprattis.com/PaintingWithWords.html  To avoid shipping costs, Ottawa area friends can get a signed copy directly from the author –your purchase enables you to take home a prior book or Meditation CD home for FREE, as a special thank you.

 

5 STAR Review of “Painting with Words”

Painting with Words, Poetry for a New Era 

BOOK REVIEW

 5 Star – Reviewed By Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite                                                 

 Painting with Words, Poetry for a New Era by Ian Prattis is a collection of poems that are thematically arranged and that reflect the very soul of humanity, filled with imagery and rhythms that mimic the different seasons of the human soul. The poems in this collection bear witness to what readers feel, perhaps in the hushed hours of the day; emotions, thoughts, feelings, and realities for which they find no language. This poet succeeds in capturing moments of reality that allow readers to connect with the things he writes about. The voice is powerful, the poetic lines rhythmic, and the entire collection is filled with powerful imagery. I love the depth in Ian Prattis’ poetry and the beauty in the rhythm and the richness of its diction. For instance: “A week in the life/ of a poem/ has words racing to knowing’s edge.” Here is another: “Phrases creep / over the dawn of logic, / suspended, then gone.”

Painting with Words, Poetry for a New Era opens new portals into reality. It is highly imaginative and the author articulates brilliantly on a variety of themes, from denouncing the horrors of war, to celebrating the seemingly mundane moments of life, to capturing the relationship between humanity and nature. Each poem is unique, expressing a thought, a reality, a moment in existence in a succinct manner. Some of the poems are very personal while others are universal in nature. This collection is as delightful as it is meaningful. You will read these poems and find yourself going back to them.

“Painting with Words, Poetry for a New Era” Order through: http://ianprattis.com/PaintingWithWords.html  To avoid shipping costs, Ottawa area friends can get a signed copy directly from the author –your purchase enables you to take home a prior book or Meditation CD home for FREE, as a special thank you.

 

 

Back Cover of Painting with Words: Poetry for a New Era

It is exciting to be putting the final strokes on the poetry volume. 40 years in the making – quite a surprise for me. The mug shot and Back Cover of the book displayed in this blog.

Ian Prattis was able to sift through his forty year opus of poetry written all over the world. He divides it into six moods of life, presenting experiences in all their varied richness – a curious wonder about the world of poetry into which the reader is ushered.

He has experienced truly extraordinary things, blessed with the gift of writing. He is a Poet, Global Traveler, Founder of Friends for Peace, Guru in India, Zen teacher and Spiritual Warrior for planetary care, peace and social justice. Ian presently lives in Ottawa, Canada and encourages people to find their true nature, so that humanity and the planet may be renewed. He mostly stays local to help turn the tide in his home city so that good things begin to happen spontaneously.  He is an award winning author of seventeen books. His books are screenplay-worthy epic tales that weave together seamlessly to create inspiration for global citizens staring into the abyss. His writing delivers a vigorous message about personal transformation in order to become responsible stewards of the earth and society.  His poetry, memoirs, fiction, articles, blogs and podcasts appear in a wide range of venues.

Beneath the polished urban facade remains a part of human nature that few acknowledge, because it is easier to deny the basic instincts that have kept us alive on an unforgiving earth. Ian Prattis bravely goes there in his outstanding literary work. His books, essays and poetry are a memorable experience for anyone who enjoys reading about primordial tendencies. A stone tossed into the waters of life.

Painting with Words

                                                         

When I published my last book, Our World is Burning, I thought I would study the writing craft more deeply. But first I had to clean out my filing cabinet, which was a total mess. I tossed stuff out and then came across a yellowing folder. It was full of forty years of my poems. Most of it was garbage but there were enough gems to create a volume made from six very different moods. This one comes from Part 5: Speaking of True Love. The volume will be published early in 2019.

Dance of the Eyes

Behind a plow of words a poet drives a furrow,

never straight.

Phrases spiral upwards as an eagle soars in a sky

with no horizon or meter.

 

Cascading into passages that hover,

tracing cosmic runes at the edge of knowing.

Words drift by on the morning mist,

a whisper of wind haunts every thought I breathe.

 

Enter the Muse – waiting wondrous so long

to grant life to this poem on dancing with the eyes

 

Slow pirouette of eyes turning en pointe,

knowing glimpses dancing with joy.

Our soft spoken adoration blows on dandelions,

creating parasols drifting to fertile ground.

 

The waltz of happiness, exhilaration of vigorous reels

leave all sadness behind –

a funeral march to banish pain elsewhere.

That was all before our eyes danced together.

 

My life lives in each glance of your eyes.

Cradled in the mosaic of green lustre smiling from you.

Gently lifting my heart you reach how deep

we bind together.

 

Connecting where the universe begins and ends.

 

Delicate curves of elegant quadrilles, staccato intensity of flamenco

and the peace of loving serenade.

We dance with our eyes, sneezy jive, convulsive samba,

cheek to cheek smooch.

 

All in place, this dance of our eyes

 

France, August 2001

Ian Prattis is a Zen teacher, poet and author. For his books go to www.ianprattis.com

PART SIX: ANCIENT WISDOM

Four large Ravens visited me in my back garden. They stared at me until they had my full attention. This was a prompt to complete a neglected piece of work. I had placed a complete volume of poetry on the back burner, allowing it to sit for six months. No longer – I got it that this was my priority. In particular the final section of the poetry book – PART SIX: ANCIENT WISDOM. The Ravens left as silently as they arrived. I was humbled by their presence. Here is the introduction to ANCIENT WISDOM.

PART SIX: ANCIENT WISDOM

PART SIX was written when I accompanied two friends, Janice and David, on the first leg of their cross Canada canoe expedition. My good friend Keith Crowe teamed up with me and a yellow canoe. I had never undertaken anything quite like this. Ancient Wisdom was written during the canoe trip, under oilskins, during portages, while cooking in the rain and once when standing drenched and half clothed in a Quebec laundromat. PART SIX is written in capital letters – a writing form quiet alien to me but that is how I wrote it.

My creation of this poem had a double focus. I wanted to leave a document about Canada’s wilderness for my grand-children, so they could be inspired by Mother Earth. When experience and inspiration sparked, I would shout out to Keith in the stern of the yellow canoe that I had to write. I would bring out the oil skin envelope stuffed with poems about the journey. The final poem ended up being very long. I edited it radically when my oldest grandson exclaimed, “Too long grandpa!” I took his response to heart. However, it is still very long. I hope there is enough apocryphal prose to hold the reader’s attention.

I also wanted to weave in the Wisdom of the Elders, to speak about Canadian waterways from the reverence of First Nations. A decade earlier I had become aware that I had a stalker from that ancient realm. She persisted in shadowing me. Eventually, White Eagle Woman, my shaman mentor made it clear I was mistaken. This was no stalker. It was a woman from the 18th century. The female entity from the past was a medicine woman and she was trying to bring powerful medicine gifts through to me in the 21st century. I had not learned how to release my logical, intellectual mind, and did not possess the wisdom to receive her gifts. She had a name – Trailing Sky Six Feathers.

My dumb resistance, however, was no match for her determination. I ultimately surrendered to this Muse and wrote a book about her – Trailing Sky Six Feathers: One Man’s Journey with His Muse. I learned that I had died in her arms in 1777. She vowed to find me in the future to complete my purpose. Through her insistence I learned to reconfigure my understanding of time, place and consciousness. She refused to give up on how dense I was and provided guidance so that karma was reversed, the internal battles ceased and I learned to navigate past and present life experiences over four centuries. The medicine gifts received from Trailing Sky during dream visions and shamanic journeys required that I nurture skills and learn to use them wisely. I eventually remembered a clear mosaic of experiences stretching back to 1777. Past life memories collided head-on with the present, as the relentless shadowing by this Muse brought understanding and purpose to overcome the darkness of my past. This provided the appropriate training to navigate this river of Ancient Wisdom.

It was during a gathering of elders in 1978 that I first met White Eagle Woman. She beckoned me over, looked me right in the eye and told me that she did not like me at all. Quite an introduction. Her rebuke was perhaps well deserved, given how unaware I must have seemed. My disjointed education and experience with the Indigenous domain of mysticism did, however, slowly evolve into a seamless pattern rather than remain as random knots stretching across an abyss. She had been instructed by her ancestors to train me and it began straight away with an eight day vision quest. Her blunt introduction was the prelude to a thirty year period of training and healing under her guidance. She directed the shamanic process of my healing from childhood sexual abuse. This allowed the mosaic of the past to reveal itself.

She also identified Trailing Sky and taught me how to create a medicine wheel in my mind with a circle at the sacred centre. That was the location where I could dialog with Trailing Sky, which I do every day. Each time my life was at risk, Trailing Sky would orchestrate the necessary energies to keep me alive. That must have kept her very busy as she brought me through to safety – time after time. She is not an illusion, nor a projection that I am attached to. She constitutes all that is crystal clear within me – the ultimate Muse. I am deeply humbled and privileged to touch this Ancient Wisdom of transformation. She said to me,

“You have transformed all that you brought in with you and suffered from. The person who stumbled blindly through the first part of your life is not the Ian walking through the second part of life. In India, Arizona, France, the Canadian wilderness and around the world you went to extraordinary lengths to deal with karma. You changed course and now have freedom and alignment. There were so many severe experiences, but you responded by moving in a spiritual direction. You touched universal threads that allowed me to keep my promise from 1777. And we are both grateful for that”

I could feel her smile expand with my own. I placed my two hands together with great reverence and offered a deep bow of gratitude to Trailing Sky Six Feathers.

Namaste….

http://www.ianprattis.com/TrailingSky.html

 

Finding the Poetic Voice.

During my teenage expedition to Sarawak, Borneo, with Voluntary Service Overseas, I kept a journal of the vivid surrounds and how I was feeling. From that time on I scribbled poetry wherever I went, eventually accumulating trunks full of poems that reminded me of the experiences, particularly those later in India.  My extensive shamanic training with incredible First Nations medicine people was also carefully logged, and those notes were a sign post to always be authentic, even when it was difficult to re-read. As a professor I wrote text books and scholarly papers, which had particular protocols that were somewhat stifling. When I started late on the writing craft – I had to re-learn how to write without sounding pompous. I gave up on footnotes!

My challenging journey through life navigated shamanic healing of childhood sexual abuse, guru training as well as a near death experience in an ashram in India. From this vast range of experience I developed an ability to sculpt narrative in a novel way and this was expressed in my poetry and books. My life as a global traveller certainly stretched my attention beyond any limits I could have placed on it. Expansion of mind was inescapable. I certainly stumbled through the first part of life, but then stood strong in my own sovereignty in the latter part. My approach to life comes through experience, crises, difficulties and joys that may have common ground with many readers. To the best of my ability, I endeavor to follow Gandhi’s principles of ahimsa and the teachings on mindfulness. I live very simply as a planetary activist. As a Zen teacher my initial task was to refine my own consciousness – to be a vehicle to chart an authentic path. From this energy the poems and chapters emerge.

My book – Redemption – was first written in 1975. I wrote it as an extended prose poem. It became a lost manuscript as I did not know how to get published at that time. When I rediscovered it forty years later I could scarcely believe my eyes. Anita Rizvi had this to say….  “Redemption is a riveting chronicle of one man’s journey through the stages of innocence, darkness, destruction and transformation.” She goes on to say, “What is so exquisite is the tenderness and honesty with which the author deals with the human condition . . . When the main character’s journey takes him ever closer to the abyss, the author refuses to ‘sanitize’ his experiences.

It is important for me to remain true in telling the grittier and more difficult aspects of a poem or story, also to touch the mystical elements that led to it being transposed to written form. Yet in 1975 I was writing way over my head and lacked the maturity to understand the deep nuances emerging from my pen. The book was writing me and it is fitting that it was not published until 2014, as the time lapse allowed me to grow into the insights and revelations writ large. I was a total mess in 1975 – with a failing marriage in the Hebrides and trying to keep my career intact as a young professor at Carleton University in Canada. I was not doing a good job with either. The surprise for me in 2014 was how I could have written such a powerful poetic novel while in a desperate state of mind. The themes of mental illness and alcoholism are writ large in this deep and turbulent Hero’s Journey to emancipation. Redemption is an allegory for the depression and life difficulties I once experienced, though I did not realize it at that time.

From the rhapsody of an idyllic childhood through traumatic tragedies to the derelict zone of alcoholism and then to a state of awakening – I depict the stations of a personal Calvary that ultimately leads to “Redemption.” The poetic voice in the book is a lyrical and moving tale of struggle, love, loss, transformation and hope. It reads like an extended prose poem reflecting the primal forces of nature and human nature. Its starkly gorgeous and remote island setting creates and reinforces the central themes of struggle, family, community and wonder at the beauty of the world. Its rich cast of characters offers numerous gripping interludes that brim with complex interpersonal drama. Relationships with people, land and sea skilfully brings the poetry out.

In my career as an anthropologist I was fortunate to encounter many First Nation story tellers across North America: Dene, Hopi, Ojibwa, Algonquin, Inuit – to mention a few. Their poetic recounting of myths and history had a deep impact upon me. I would say that without poetry cultures implode. Over a period of thirty years, four extraordinary aboriginal medicine people enhanced my process of remembering the power of the poetic voice. Through their mentoring, I learned how to reconfigure my understanding of time, place, consciousness, and re-write some of Carl Jung’s psychology. I chose to listen to the feminine voice of Earth Wisdom rather than to the multitude of competing voices in my deep unconscious. I am not good at sitting down and writing four pages a day. I wait until the spiritual energy is present within me, then I write. Sometimes this is frustrating, as I want to get on with it, but when I do not stay still and wait – I simply write garbage! So I use the in-between times to do research and edit. When the energy is sparkling, the writing flows effortlessly.  I do not consider this as a necessary template for others. It is just what works for me to connect to the Muse within.  I trust that far more than any impatience.

My books are screenplay-worthy epic tales that weave together seamlessly to create inspiration. Global citizens are staring into the abyss. Instead of being eaten up by it all, I say to them – “Awaken spiritually,” for that transforms everything. We have made our world an unpredictable beast because we fail to work with it intelligently. Turning on the switch of awakening seems to be a good idea right now. That is the prod and direction of my poems and books. We just need to touch the sacred in ordinary experiences of life to find the courage and determination to transform. All of this funnels back into my writing.

The stories I tell in my poetry and books are offered as a gift to our planet. My purpose in life is to share my wealth of experience on how to live in harmony not just with ourselves but with the place we call home… Earth. I shed light on issues that will affect our world for generations to come. The example of my own challenging journey and personal transformation illuminates a path for others to expand their consciousness and chart the course for a future beyond the abyss. The human race does not need to be stuck with maladaptive options and patterns. My writing delivers a vigorous message about personal transformation in order to become responsible stewards of the earth and society.

Books at http://www.ianprattis.com 

Agua Viva

Agua Viva                                                                                                      

 

When I finished writing “Our World is Burning” and got it published in October 2017, I decided to step back and study the writing craft more deeply – particularly short stories. But first of all there was the task of clearing out my file cabinet, which was a total mess. During the demolition, I came across a yellowing folder that contained 40 years of my poetry. Much of it was garbage, but there were sufficient gems to fashion a book of poetry. That instantly became the new project. I had enough material for six distinct poetic memes that played out significant parts of my own life. This required an autobiographic introduction for each of the six sections. The collection is much like an exquisite cheese – it has to be left to mature. At least until Spring 2019!

Here is the introduction to PART ONE: AGUA VIVA.

The poems in Agua Viva – Water of Life – were written over a forty year time period (1978 – 2018). They provide a text for my clumsy emergence into new understandings. I first journeyed to Mexico in March 1978 to a Dominican Monastery – Agua Viva – sixty kilometres southeast of Mexico City. With a number of friends this adventure was to experience a heightened transformation of the path of awareness few of us knew we were travelling. A return visit to the same monastery was made two years later. In 1988 the same core of friends returned to Mexico and made a destination to the Mayan civilization in the Yucatan. The Agua Viva poems were scribbled down hastily and refined with later insight.

There was a return to Mexico thirty years later in November of 2017 – again to the Yucatan. In particular, the Mayan walled city of Tulum. It was located upon a shoreline cliff facing the Caribbean Sea. The ocean provided a stunning turquoise color as the backdrop for jungle, sea and the mystique of Mayan civilization. Previously in 1988, I had sat for hours at the top of the Tulum Castillo looking out at the Caribbean Sea. I was mesmerized by the sublime Mayan architecture and the overwhelming pulse of an angry sea crashing, swell after swell, into the cliffs it rested on. I did not write a poem at the Castillo at that time, too astonished to put pen to paper or even take a photograph. Yet the feelings of that day, thirty years ago, seared into my mind as I anticipated a meeting with a timeless collision of civilization, memory and human nature.

The early poems (1978 – 1988) delivered an uncertain direction as my friends and I threw ourselves to find out what we could not fathom. Trying to identify purpose without too much success and leaning on an awkward posturing. I waited a long time to cap this early scribbling with a candid view of the Mayan city of Tulum – thirty years later. A wake up call from reality arose. The “Agua Viva” poems are dedicated to all of us who seek, strive and then occasionally relax into maturity.