Feb 052014
 
In the Garden of Absence

In the Garden of Absence

by Stella Pierides

with an Afterword  by Michael Dylan Welch

Awarded the Haiku Society of America Mildred Kanterman Memorial Merit Book Awards 2013 (3rd place, for books published in 2012). 

From the judges’ commentary in Frogpond, the journal of the Haiku Society of America:

“A charming collection… This intersection of the past and present is within all of us, and Pierides mines it well. A very satisfying read” (Vol. 37:1, p. 170).










6.50 GBP+p&p 8.00 Euro+p&p 10.00 USD+p&p

From the back cover:

In the Garden of Absence takes you on a journey echoing the author’s childhood. Yet it does so in the context of adult concerns, uncertainties, and anxieties—as well as pleasures. This book explores the existential fear of loneliness, the many facets of absence, and glimpses a path towards bearing absence and being creatively alone.

“Readers of any book of poetry can assume that each poem has substantial personal meaning for the writer. The poems in this collection go one step further, offering personal meaning to the reader. Stella Pierides pays attention in simple ways (and sometimes vast ways) to her surrounding world, noticing the warmth of a hen’s eggs on Mother’s Day, that only a dog makes eye contact on a crowded train, or in observing the tiny dark holes in a pin cushion as she extracts its pins.”

Michael Dylan Welch, from the Afterword, “Presence in Absence

Cover: from “Welsh Hill,” a painting by Maria Pierides Cover design: Maria Pierides and Rubin Eynon.

How to obtain a copy:

Print edition:

From Amazon.co.uk

The print edition can be ordered from your local bookshop: ISBN: 978-3-944155-00-5  (Germany) Fruit Dove Press, Paperback, 76 pages.

Also from: http://stellapierides.com/news/4744  (Look for the PayPal buttons up the top of this page)

- Published by Fruit Dove Press. Price: USD: 10.00 + p&p; GBP 6.50 + p&p; EUR 8.00 + p&p

e-editions:

e-editions are now available from Smashwords

(Apple iPad/iBooks, Nook, Sony Reader, Kobo, and most e-reading apps including Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, others), PDF and kindle

Publication information: – ISBN: 9783944155012 e-book

- Published by Fruit Dove Press at Smashwords. Price: USD 5.99

Honours, Reviews, Essays:

Awarded third prize in the Haiku Society of America Mildred Kanterman Memorial Merit Book Awards 2013. 

Previous praise for the Book:

– “In Pierides’s meditations, imagination takes center stage, as do imaginary gardens, real toads, and their negative space… The result is a welcome debut in which the reader will find much to admire.”

In Briefly ReviewedFrogpond, 36-1, Spring 2013 (Click here, please scroll down).

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– “This is an engaging collection…”

Modern Haiku 44.2, 2013 (in the “Briefly Noted” section).
*

– “A Poetic Gem… In the Garden of Absence is a lovely little book that sparkles with a quiet brilliance – every word shines.”

Debbie Strange on Amazon.co.uk

*

– “In the Garden of Absence is a stunning book. From homely to somewhat obscure, Pierides touches a chord. Her poetry is the essence of haiku and an inspiration for many of us. In the Garden of Absence A must-read book of poetry.”

Sondra Byrnes on Amazon.co.uk

*

–“… everything, from cover to cover, the cover image, the design, the graphical presentation, the empty space around the haiku, also the introduction… all very aesthetically (one more Greek word) appealing and pleasing! Thank you for taking me on this Magical Journey!”

Freddy Ben-Arroyo, Haifa, Israel*

*

–“… I really enjoy reading it, and already have some favorites…”

Annie Juhl, Svendborg, Denmark.

*

–“I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading your book this afternoon while sipping on a chai latte. A few that I particularly like are: “between my ego and yours”, “the horses neighing”, “your vacant stare”, “moment of stillness” and “shooting stars”. The whole book is really lovely… the beautiful cover, the feel of the paper and the afterword by Michael Dylan Welch. Thank you for sharing your beautiful poems with me!”

Lauren Mayhew, Boston, USA

*

–“Stella Pierides pays attention in simple ways (and sometimes vast ways) to her surrounding world, noticing the warmth of a hen’s eggs on Mother’s Day, that only a dog makes eye contact on a crowded train, or in observing the tiny dark holes in a pin cushion as she extracts its pins.”

Michael Dylan Welch, Sammamish, Washington, USA

*

–“I cannot recommend ‘In the Garden of Absence‘ by Stella Pierides highly enough. A great Afterword too by Michael Dylan Welch. … The book is entrancing.”

Sheila Windsor, Worcester, UK

*

An informative, literary and well-written essay, “Presence in Absence” by Michael Dylan Welch, first written in October 2012 and included in In the Garden of Absence as an afterword, can be read at Graceguts, by clicking here

 

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Feb 052014
 
postersmall

In the Garden of Absence

Awarded third prize in the Haiku Society of America Mildred Kanterman Memorial Merit Book Awards 2013
The judges’ commentary will appear in Frogpond, the Haiku Society of America’s journal, shortly.

Previous praise for the Book:

– “In Pierides’s meditations, imagination takes center stage, as do imaginary gardens, real toads, and their negative space… The result is a welcome debut in which the reader will find much to admire.”
In Briefly Reviewed, Frogpond, 36-1, Spring 2013 (Click here, please scroll down).

– “This is an engaging collection…”
Modern Haiku 44.2, 2013 (in the “Briefly Noted” section).
*
– “A Poetic Gem… In the Garden of Absence is a lovely little book that sparkles with a quiet brilliance – every word shines.”
Debbie Strange on Amazon.co.uk

– “In the Garden of Absence is a stunning book. From homely to somewhat obscure, Pierides touches a chord. Her poetry is the essence of haiku and an inspiration for many of us. In the Garden of Absence A must-read book of poetry.”
Sondra Byrnes on Amazon.co.uk

–“… everything, from cover to cover, the cover image, the design, the graphical presentation, the empty space around the haiku, also the introduction… all very aesthetically (one more Greek word) appealing and pleasing! Thank you for taking me on this Magical Journey!”
Freddy Ben-Arroyo, Haifa, Israel*

–“… I really enjoy reading it, and already have some favorites…”
Annie Juhl, Svendborg, Denmark.

–“I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading your book this afternoon while sipping on a chai latte. A few that I particularly like are: “between my ego and yours”, “the horses neighing”, “your vacant stare”, “moment of stillness” and “shooting stars”. The whole book is really lovely… the beautiful cover, the feel of the paper and the afterword by Michael Dylan Welch. Thank you for sharing your beautiful poems with me!”
.Lauren Mayhew, Boston, USA

–“Stella Pierides pays attention in simple ways (and sometimes vast ways) to her surrounding world, noticing the warmth of a hen’s eggs on Mother’s Day, that only a dog makes eye contact on a crowded train, or in observing the tiny dark holes in a pin cushion as she extracts its pins.”
Michael Dylan Welch, Sammamish, Washington, USA

–“I cannot recommend ‘In the Garden of Absence‘ by Stella Pierides highly enough. A great Afterword too by Michael Dylan Welch. … The book is entrancing.”
Sheila Windsor, Worcester, UK

Jan 042014
 

An honour to be included together with a number of my favourite poets in the Haiku Euro Top 2013 100 most creative poets!

This list is compiled by Krzysztof Kokot of Haiku Euro Top 100.  Thank you so much, Krzysztof .

The list can be viewed by clicking here. Check out the poets in the list for blooming, bubbling, daring, original work! It’s poetry and it’s fun!

Oct 132013
 

A new, exciting Project in the Haiku world!

The Living Haiku Anthology aims to bring “a multicultural voice of haiku to the general public,” its mission being “to provide numerous and varied haiku, free of charge, to readers from all over the world including schools of education at all levels.” The Anthology team is collecting and documenting many of the finest haiku (and living poets) today. So what an honour and pleasure to be included in it. Please visit and browse the poets and poetry in it. You will find an index of poets here 
And while you are visiting, don’t forget to take a look at my haiku too. They can be found by clicking here

Aug 272013
 

Dear Friends,

I’ve listed my book “Feeding the Doves” in Goodreads Book Giveaways! There are 12 free copies (print) available to win. Giveaway dates for entering: Aug 25-Sep 25, 2013.

This is how it works:
1: The easy way: See the Goodreads badge on the right side of this Homepage, click to enter!
2: The slightly less convenient way: Find the book in Goodreads (here) and click the enter to win button there.

Either way, Goodreads will do the rest! After the 25th of September they will notify me the list of winners and I will post the books to them!

Good luck to all who enter!

Jul 252013
 
FeedingtheDoves.jpg

Forthcoming

Feeding the Doves
31 Short and Very Short Stories, and Haibun

Greece has been in the headlines for a very long time. Since ancient times, her  philosophers, historians, mathematicians, shipbuilders, traders, and artisans have been making the news – and, indeed, history. So, amidst the country’s most difficult  years in recent times, many people believe that they know Greece and the Greeks.

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Against this backdrop, the stories – short and very short – collected in “Feeding the  Doves” explore recurrent elements of the Greek psyche, tracing them back to challenges posed by the country’s history and environment. The widow, the old loner,  the refugee, the immigrant, the writer, the expatriate tell us their stories, touching  upon themes at the heart of Greek being, as well as our common humanity: love and l  loss, war, civil war, immigration and diaspora, emigration, poverty, religion, history,  and above all, the will to survive.

 

Cover Design:
Rob Ward, Freelance Animator

Fruit Dove Press
Email: admin@fruitdovepress.com
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[The title story “Feeding the Doves” and the cover image were inspired by a photo taken by Robert Geiss, titled “Feeding Doves” and posted on his (sadly, no longer active) blog “Daily Athens Photo.”]

Jul 242013
 

Pleased to be featured in Haiku From German Tongues.

The site founders, owners, and admin, Heike Stehr and Ralf Bröker, by presenting haiku in Englsih, aim

“to give at least a certain impression of the particular range covered by haiku from German tongues to a wider international audience.”

They are doing a great job. Visit and see… you’ll be impressed by the range of haiku and the haiku poets writing it.

Jun 112013
 

 

poems in waiting
the years I lost for fear
of chrysanthemums
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9 May 2013 Issa’s Untidy Hut

May 292013
 

Uncanny Attractions

Photo of shopfront in Augsburg, Germany (by Stella Pierides)

Photo of shopfront in Augsburg, Germany
(by Stella Pierides)

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of the Uncanny. Freud, the writer often associated with this concept, described the following uncanny experience when he came face to face with his own double. While travelling by train, Freud saw an elderly gentleman enter his sleeping compartment by mistake. Jumping up to let him know of his error, Freud realized it was his own image reflected in the mirror on the connecting door. He had found the appearance of what he thought was another man ‘thoroughly unpleasant.’ Without being frightened, he failed to recognise his ‘double.’ Or was the displeasure he felt, Freud wondered in the last note of his last chapter on “The Uncanny,” “perhaps a vestige of the archaic reaction to the ‘double’ as something uncanny?” He leaves us with a question, perhaps an encouragement to take this further ourselves.

Freud was not the first of course to link the concept of the ‘double’ with mirroring, the image in the mirror as well as the ‘other.’ Ever since Plato conceived of material reality as a poor representation of the true Forms, others have found man’s double in several contexts. In literature, for instance, Mary Shelley made the monster his creator’s ‘double’ and leaving him unnamed, led subsequent generations of readers to refer to him with the name of his creator: “Frankenstein.” Conrad, too, wrote the ‘double’ in his stories (e.g., in “The Secret Sharer”).

So what has this ‘uncanny’ and ‘double’ to do with haiku, and my theme of reader-oriented matters? If you read my previous posts, you may have noticed I like playing with ideas; though more thought games than thought experiments.

Let me throw this thought in the pot: Isn’t there in haiku a situation in which, when you come to the poem, you become slightly disoriented by the presentation of the two separate, juxtaposed ideas? (Remember the field of energy, in the previous post?) I think there is. The ‘cut’ and the pause in the juxtaposition of two ideas/images are device(s) which open up the extra perspective(s), depth, for the reader; they also create a sense of strangeness, a momentary, uncanny disorientation… until there is the spark of realization that transforms what was strange and uncanny into familiar and understood. Once resolved, the two initially puzzling parts of the poem appear to us the way Freud, relating that vignette, stood in front of his earlier self and its reflection; the way we stand in front of a Moore, a Hepworth, a Lucian Freud, or the narrator in Conrad’s novel and his secret sharer.

Are you with me? What do you make of the thought that the moment of insight or realization is preceded by the uncanny? That the uncanny in haiku involves being confronted by the juxtaposition of two on the surface unrelated – but on a deeper level related – ideas within a limited space? That the haiku moment does itself involve overcoming this sensation of the uncanny?

Finally, before I go, and in case you are interested, I’d like to mention a couple of places, amongst others, I like to visit for reading poetry, essays, information, learning, fun (in addition to “Haiku Matters, haiku journals and the homepages of haiku societies!). Do let me know your favorites.

The The Haiku Foundation’s homepage and blog “Troutswirl.” On the same site, among many brilliant features, the THF “Haiku Registry,” the place to get a flavor of the work of haiku poets writing in various forms, from all over the world; the “Montage Archive,” the “Book of the Week,” the “Per Diem: Daily Haiku” panel, and “Per Diem Archive,” are my favorites (esp. since I help out with Per Diem!).

Also, World Kigo Database (whether you appreciate kigo or not), Graceguts, Issa’s Untidy Hut (esp. Small Press Friday and Wednesday Haiku), Shiki Kukai Temporary Archives, are full of essays, criticism, food for thought, poetry, poetry and poetry.

On this note, hopefully leaving you with more questions than answers, having raised smiles as well as eyebrows, I’d like to say a big thank you to Colin Stewart Jones, and goodbye to folks who found their way here, from both the writer and reader in me.

*

The Wikipedia on the Uncanny here
Sigmund Freud, ‘The Uncanny’ in The Uncanny, ed. by Adam Phillips (London: Penguin Classics, 2003) p. 121-161.
Conrad, Joseph, The Secret Sharer can be read here

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Photo and image manipulation: Stella Pierides

May 222013
 

This post is about blind spots, shadows, and the darkness in our minds as readers (and writers). It appeared on Haiku Matters, the blog of Gean Tree Press, and can be read here

Blind Spots

Blind Spots

There are corners and alleys in texts into which we, as readers, may be sidetracked, trapped, and lose our way. The best illustration of this affliction I came across is from another genre, Conrad’s novel “Heart of Darkness” – which I very much like – and Achebe’s criticism of it. I will assume that you have either read this novel or a synopsis of it.

There had been huge praise for this novel over the years. Critics had written about aspects of imperialism, hair, clothes, rivers, language in it – yet, one aspect had gone unnoticed in so many readers’ and critics’ reading. I hadn’t noticed it myself either. Achebe, in his reading of the novel, saw a text underpinned by racism, and pointed to a need in Western psychology

“to set up Africa as a foil in Europe, a place of negations at once remote and vaguely familiar in comparison with which Europe’s own state of spiritual grace will be manifest”

The novel presented Africa as ‘the other world’, a chaotic, corrupting continent, sharing with the West only ancient roots of kinship which were, however, long ago overcome. Such an image of Africa, Achebe pointed out, satisfied a psychological need to get rid of, to disavow what had been repressed and disowned; and it was a dangerous image to be challenged. Instead, it had to be reinforced. Achebe’s criticism – that Conrad’s masterpiece, attempting to examine the European psyche, compromised African humanity by this juxtaposition – illustrates a defamiliarization process, in which the familiar common humanity is denied and the ‘other’ is created.

While at first, years ago, I felt shocked by Achebe’s reading of Heart of Darkness (was Achebe being oversensitive, misreading Conrad’s intention of exposing undercurrents in Western culture?), I came to agree with it; it opened my eyes to the blind spots a whole community of writers and readers, every one of us, may be prone to. Achebe, in his interview in Paris Review, “The Art of Fiction” is quoted saying:

“… all these people who see nothing about racism in Heart of Darkness, I’m convinced that we must really be living in different worlds. … Until these two worlds come together we will have a lot of trouble.”

How could such a massive failure to ‘see’ happen? Had readers, before Achebe, been reading ‘passively,’ submitting themselves to Conrad’s words without thinking, or approaching the text indeed from another world? In such a scenario, Achebe was best placed to see, and bring to our attention, the other side.

Returning to the haiku world and its readers: this is not to imply that some haiku readers, or writers, suffer from a particularly dark streak/from prejudiced thinking, but to illustrate how we are all prone to oversights, blind spots, are subject(s) to our cultural, historical, national environments’ influences. How, like Conrad’s earlier readers, we may be led to overlook, or overreact to, certain aspects in others’ and our own work. Achebe again, when asked what pointed him in the direction of writing:

“There is that great proverb – that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter… Once I realized that, I had to be a writer.”

Novels and haiku, perhaps the longest and shortest forms, also belong to different worlds, yet I tend to think we benefit from looking at the history and critical readings of both. It may spark insights, awareness of something we might have been missing. Wouldn’t it be useful to bear the possibility of blind spots in mind when we are differentiating between the various haiku traditions, when we are thinking about the content of haiku poetry? When reflecting on the issue of our identity(ies) as readers and poets? When we ponder, or pen, poems about illness, aging, the young, minorities, disadvantaged groups? When, in other words, we are faced with the ‘other’?

Achebe is widely said to have brought to our awareness the African perspective. Might we say that by doing so, Achebe, like Freud, Jung and others, made it possible to accept that our minds, even when open, even when filled with kindness, generosity, benevolence, and respect, at the same time contain blind spots and darkness?

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Conrad, Joseph “Heart of Darkness” see Wikipedia for some of the history of the perceptions/reader appreciation of this novel.
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Achebe, Chinua, “An Image of Africa”, The Massachusetts Review, 18 (Winter 1977), 782-794
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Achebe, Chinua, interview in Paris Review, “The Art of Fiction
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Interested in following this issue in poetry in general? See Poets.org, “Open Letter: A Dialogue on Race and Poetry”, by Claudia Rankine (with Tony Hoagland’s response)
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And something that caught my eye during my internet travels: If something isn’t there in our field of vision: “what isn’t, what can’t be” from a poem “Blind Spot” by Beth Thomas.

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Image: Stella Pierides

Jan 252013
 

In a few days, on the first of February, National Haiku Writing Month begins. Again. Once a year, during the shortest month of the year, the shortest form of poetry is being celebrated by writing at least one haiku a day for the duration of the month.  And so a dark, dismal month, in the Northern hemisphere, that is, is being transformed through haiku. (No doubt, the poets in the Southern Hemisphere see this differently. I look forward to hearing what they say… )

Once again, the world becomes quieter. A sense of awe and expectation grips the bankers, the nurses, the old age pensioners, the performers, the writers, the psychologists, the traffickers. All eyes are glued to the NaHaiWriMo panel, waiting for the day’s prompt to appear.  The moment it appears, the magic unfolds. Noradrenaline flows. Nerve cell upon nerve cell get activated, electrical signals spread, transmitter substances are released, sending out tentacles of attention to gather material.

do not disturb –

gathering of poetry

in progress

What a state of mind to be in! Though some poets are more relaxed than others!

The moon, a grain of sand, the sound of the carburetor, the horse’s neighing, the blackbird’s song, waves rolling to the shore; the child’s hand, a kite, tomatoes…  Whether snow, cold or warm weather, the poets are watching and waiting, fingers poised over the laptop to catch it, hold it in the palm of their hand, share it.

Will you join NaHaiWriMo? Do if you can bear the world come nearer to you; if you believe you can hear the wind’s voice; if you can let this big, big wonderful world sing to you.  If not, you’ll be fine. Just watch from a distance: read what these daring poets are attempting to do, day in day out, here

Michael Dylan Welch, the founder and coordinator of the group, put together a first anthology of the group’s work in August 2012, “With Cherries on Top”. It is a PDF of astounding beauty. And so it goes,

cherries

again this insatiable need

to come into bloom

Nov 172012
 

A new downloadable book was made available on the 16th of November 2012 by Michael Dylan Welch, writer and poet, and founder of the NaHaiWriMo site and FB community. Titled “With Cherries on Top: 31 Flavors of NaHaiWriMo,” it is a sparkler of haiku, senryu, and micropoetry. It is excellently designed and presented, with fantastic photography, and also well-proof-read by Christina Nguyen. A haiku fireworks to enjoy on many a winter evening.

Image Credit: Michael Dylan Welch

This is how Michael Dylan Welch introduces it:

“In August of 2012, the NaHaiWriMo page on Facebook featured daily writing prompts from 31 different prompters. Each prompter selected at least five of his or her favourite poems written in response. Michael Dylan Welch selected from these poems to produce the online PDF book, With Cherries on Top: 31 Flavors from NaHaiWriMo”

This book is available for free download, from www.nahaiwrimo.com

I am honored to have a few haiku of my own included, and to have been one of the 31 prompters of the month!

Nov 142012
 

While my first book of poetry, “In the Garden of Absence” is at the printers, being fitted into its paper dress, smoothed, sewn, and shaped physically into a book I can hold in my hands, I’d like to say

a huge thank you to Michael Dylan Welch for his generous Afterword “Presence in Absence.”

Also  a huge thank you to my daughter Maria Pierides for her permission to use one of her paintings, “Welsh Hill,” for the book cover, Maria Pierides and Rubin Eynon for designing the cover, and Thomas Geyer for his help with formatting the print edition.

Special thanks to the members of the nurturing NaHaiWriMo Facebook community (now over 1000 people!) for their continuing inspiration, warm support, and encouragement.

Oct 272012
 

Do you ever wonder about the difference between loneliness and the capacity to be alone? Between the soul-destroying feeling of utter despondency, emptiness and despair, on the one hand, and on the other, the capacity to be creatively alone, to enjoy the space and freedom aloneness gives and to be productive? I do, often. I have been putting together a small collection of micropoetry, haiku, and senryu on this theme. Titled “In the Garden of Absence,” the collection aims to  reflect on this difference, without, I hope, rushing to answer any questions. Even if I had the answers…

Interested? D. W. Winnicott, the British psychoanalyst and paediatrician originally introduced this concept. If you have access to his work, fine. If not, Jean-Bertrand Pontalis provides the best explanatory note of Winnicott’s concept  (on this capacity to be alone) in the online Gale Dictionary of Psychoanalysis.

Risking oversimplification, I would say here that the capacity to be alone is not the capacity to simply bear being alone until the other person returns, but a capacity to feel and creatively use the space and freedom which being separate from the other person offers. In terms of the child, Winnicott argues, it is the capacity to disentangle herself from ‘mother’s madness’ or the most primitive needs of the mother’s attachment to her own offspring. It is in this sense, I believe, that this capacity, paradoxically, is compatible with the other’s or, in that case, mother’s presence.

I quote from Pontalis here:
“To be able to tell oneself  “I am alone” without feeling forsaken—such is the prerequisite for what Winnicott considers an essential achievement: to be assured of a sense of continuity as between oneself and the other person, or, better still, to perceive discontinuity in a permanent bond, or even its rupture, as the very precondition of that’s bond’s survival.”

Buffling? Visit the whole Pontalis entry when you have a moment… of solitude! Click here

Oct 112012
 

Thrilling news: A new book brimming with wonderful poetry is out this month. The even more thrilling news: it includes two of my own short poems!

A Blackbird Sings: a book of short poems” edited by Kaspalita and Fiona Robyn, is now available on Kindle and will be available in print from the 1st of November 2012.

This book is the second anthology of  ‘small stones.’ What is a small stone?  “A small stone is a short piece of writing that precisely captures a fully-engaged moment.” It may or may not be a haiku, tanka, or other form.

The editors say:

“This is a book you can dip into and be nourished by again and again. It will surprise you, shock you, move you and delight you. It’ll remind you of the important sparkling details in your own life, and inspire you to pay more attention to what’s around you.”

Well, I can only say I am very excited to be part of this project! Buy the book! You will find yourself coming back to it again and again!