A Zen poem is nothing other than an expression of the enlightened mind, a handful of simple words that disappear beneath the moment of insight to which it bears witness. Poetry has been an essential aid to Zen Buddhist practice from the dawn of Zen and Zen has also had a profound influence on the secular poetry of the countries in which it has flourished. Here, two of America's most renowned poets and translators provide an overview of Zen poetry from China and Japan in all its rich variety, from the earliest days to the twentieth century. Included are works by Lao Tzu, Han Shan, Li Po, Dogen Kigen, Saigyo, Basho, Chiao Jan, Yuan Mei, Ryokan, and many others. Hamill and Seaton provide illuminating introductions to the Chinese and Japanese sections that set the poets and their work in historical and philosophical context. Short biographies of the poets are also included.
About the Author
Sam Hamill is the author of more than a dozen collections of poetry, including Destination Zero: Poems 1970- 1995 (1995), DUMB LUCK (2002), Almost Paradise: New and Selected Poems and Translations (2005), and Measured by Stone (2007). Influenced by Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Kenneth Rexroth, Denise Levertov, and Hayden Carruth, Hamill "presents a model of honest, consistent, undisguised political engagement: he articulates not only a vision of peace with justice, not only his relish for work to achieve that vision, but his sense of the role that poetry can play," as Publishers Weekly noted in its review of Measured by Stone. Hamill has also published several collections of essays and numerous translations. With Bill O'Daly and Tree Swenson, he co-founded the all-poetry Copper Canyon Press in Denver, Colorado. Copper Canyon later joined with the nonprofit arts organization Centrum in Port Townsend, Washington. Hamill was editor-printer for the press from 1972 until 2004.
"A major collection."—Booklist
"The poets in this superb collection pay attention to the wonders of the natural world, the signs of precariousness of life in all living beings, the little changes that comprise each day, and the small details that are often missed by those who are less observant."—Spirituality & Health
<p style="line-height: 150%;"> “These evocative poems capture the ephemera of nature with uncanny starkness.”—Buddhadharma
"There is no need to be mystical or religious to enjoy this writing."—The Bloomsbury Review
"This is a book to enrich our life and our practice, a collection that encourages us to be mindful, to keep at it. Read it, and sit."—Tricycle