PLEASE NOTE: This book review is an extended version of the one previously published on Goodreads:
When I first learned the author of Already Here, the Matter of Love, had used quotes from my work in her new book, I thought for some reason that the entire project would be a collection of quotations by diverse individuals. I was definitely mistaken.
Moreover, I was pleasantly surprised by her choice to use the quote in the Postered Poetics art graphic above. It is from the poem “Angel of Healing: for the Living, the Dying, and the Praying.” The poem contains a number of haikus which readers seem fond of sharing on social media but this one is generally ignored and I sometimes if I possibly overreached with the imagery, which is in fact intended to encourage the kind of awakening discussed in the subject of this review.
Revising Your Habitual Life MO
Already Here is a passionately-considered and beautifully-presented work on staking your claim to joy and sanity in a world where so many are now convinced that the opposite must necessarily be the norm. From the book’s very first pages, Kelly Corbet invites her readers to “Think Again” and cautions them that, “What you’re about to catch a glimpse of will probably not match your habitual life MO.” Why does that turn out to be a good thing? Because the habitual life MO for so many of us denizens of Earth within these early years of the 21st century is one defined by war, terrorism, poverty, domestic violence, xenophobia, disease, and other atrocities that do not have to exist.
Imagine if we chose as eagerly to cultivate practices which increase the presence of Love and Joy in the world as we do to engage actions which hasten the destruction of our fellow human beings. That is within realm of possibility for everyone. Corbet is too wise a writer to promise a cure for all of humanity’s current failings. But she happily offers an important contribution to the body of literature illustrating ways to position ourselves to experience as great a sense of delight in our lives as we do sorrow or tragedy. For starters, she suggests the following 4 points as the “foundational essence” of Already Here:
Different wise souls have shared similar insights but when confronted by overwhelming chaos in the world (consider the gun violence crisis, the apparent total absence of ethics in various industries, mass kidnappings and epidemic rapes in different countries, etc.) many find themselves without the strength of any meaningful convictions. Then someone comes along to stoke the flames of forgotten wisdom and bit by bit we start to find our way back to more humane frames of mind.
If the author did nothing more than spout wishful generalizations throughout the pages of Already Here there would be little reason to take the book seriously. As it is, however, she backs up her core principles with rigorous (and yet somehow playful) examinations of language, philosophical ponderings strengthened by scientific reasoning, and short exercises intended to increase your capacity for experiencing a deeper sense of delight through everyday living.
On the Orlando Massacre and One Pet Peeve
I received a copy of Already Here (beautifully autographed with hand-scripted calligraphy) just a few days before the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. While meditating upon the painful senselessness of the killings, I couldn’t help wondering if the shooter might not have made a profoundly different choice if he had taken time to tap into an innate sense of thrilling wonder within his own being instead of building up deadly rage against others based on imagined slights or rejections. Certainly he––and far too many like him––would have discovered more reasons to simply enjoy sharing the available music than latching onto delusional motives to end the lives of 49 people who had never caused him harm.
My primary criticism of Already Here, the Matter of Love, is that it deserves a good index but has none at all. That does not make reading the book or taking useful advantage of its exercises any less gratifying. It would simply provide a helpful tool for scholars and researchers looking to quickly locate specific exercises or key references.
Among those references is the highly-intriguing selection of authors quoted throughout the text. These include: Simone De Beauvoir, Pierre Theilhard de Chardin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Albert Einstein, Kahlil Gibran, Vincent Van Gogh, Dr. Amit Goswami, William James, Kabir, John Lennon, C.S. Lewis, Nelson Mandela, Jalal al-Din Rumi, Mother Theresa, Walt Whitman, Marianne Williamson, Pharrell Williams, and quite a few more.
Despite any purported shortcomings, there are those who may be inclined to describe Already Here as an instant modern classic of its kind. They just might be right in that assessment.
© July 2016
Bright Skylark Literary Productions
Dear Creative Thinkers International Family--
By now everyone has received the communication that went out notifying you that CTI would soon go offline. There is no sadness in this announcement because we have actually had a much better run here at Ning (September 2007–July 2015) than many others around the web and the race is not done yet.
During the most volatile periods in world history, not everybody chooses to attempt to make a positive difference. I am deeply honored to acknowledge that, as a community, members of Creative Thinkers International did endeavor to do so. Through our collective talents as poets, photographers, artists, musicians, fiction writers, filmmakers, essayists, bloggers, and much more, we employed creative vision to help counter those agendas dedicated to destruction for its own sake and which added to the stultifying regression caused by social polarization and xenophobic mindsets.
I am grateful to have shared this venue with you and I hope to share others in the days ahead as well. The goal has always been to help empower your unique gifts and promote sustainable social and political harmony within the Global Village. We are not abandoning the definitive vision of Creative Thinkers International but the time has come to revise the means through which that vision is expressed and distributed.
With Love to All,
“Human beings, in a sense, may be thought of
For poets who are not preparing to step up to a microphone or sit down to chat with Oprah Winfrey (in front of TV cameras no less!) about the endless joys of World Poetry Day and National Poetry Month, participating in an interview with the editors of Poetry Life and Times just might be the next best thing. Therefore, I consider myself fortunate to have done exactly that:
Poetry Life and Times Interview with Author-Poet Aberjhani
Most working-scribe authors (like me) find more comfort in asking interview questions than answering them. The fact is, however, switching interview roles is one of the best ways for a wordsmith to reflect on the validity of work already accomplished and to clarify emerging perspectives on pages in progress. The former strengthens one’s resolve to remain true to previously-confirmed literary purposes while the latter supplies intensified motivation for the labors at hand.
With this Q&A, thanks to editor Sara Russell’s perceptive reading of my verse, I was able to expand my understanding of the experience that created the Songs of the Angelic Gaze series. Translator Robin Ouzman Hislop’s queries prompted me to confront technical and philosophical aspects of poetry that I may have started to take for granted and likely needed to give more conscious consideration.
Because I am a multi-genre author, the interview experience was especially important at this very poetic time. Namely, it performs two noteworthy duties: the first is that of identifying the extraordinary positions of grace, knowledge, and power that poetry has come to occupy in my existence. And the second is that of respectfully acknowledging it, poetry, as a shaper of immensely significant meanings and contexts on this journey called life.
Contemporary award-winning author of classically-styled works in history, poetry, creative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and journalism.