There’s still time to submit your poem for The Poetry of Yoga. Enter your poems at The Poetry of Yoga by April 15th. Brand new poets are welcome. (See my original interview with HawaH for more background.) Meanwhile, I caught up with the very busy HawaH recently to ask him how things are going:
I see that you extended the deadline for submissions to POY, tell us how things are going so far?
Things have been incredible over the past few weeks with a lot of new submissions coming in from around the world, so far poetry from 14 different countries! I extended the submission lifeline to April 15th so please spread the word and your work in before then!!!
The writing received so far has been tremendous and very diverse. It was part of my original intent, to inspire people to take the plunge and write poetry, even if they never have in the past. Another part of my mission was getting people poetically documenting how their life has been transformed through the healing arts and help kick-start a Renisanance of Hafiz and Rumi in the 21st century. It seems it might be working.
You say inspire people to write poetry even if they haven’t in the past, tell us more about your theory on that?
Have you ever read anything that Picasso has written? He’s a painter, clearly, but when he wrote (which was not that often)… his words rang with an eloquence breathing clarity, conciseness, and creativity. What I believe is that sometimes when you are schooled in a subject area that your expression/ creativity can be limited by the boundaries of pre-conditioning… by the parameters of how you think it’s supposed to sound, taste, touch, or feel.
Some of the most brilliant and beautiful poetry I’ve read is from people who never have written a poem before. It’s fresh, new, and contains a perspective devoid of this pre-conditioning. To confirm my theory, I’ve had both Joseph Goldstein and Larry Yang from Insight Meditation Society write poems (even though they were adamant that they don’t write poetry), for the book and it is powerful work.
I know you’ve been talking to Shiva Rea about the book, give us the inside scoop?
I’ve been blessed to participate in multiple workshops that Shiva Rea has taught in Washington, DC, and each experience embodied fluidity, serenity, power, and grace. Shiva is poetry moving on a yoga mat, and so it only made sense for her to play a large role in this book. Most recently, Shiva Rea agreed to write the foreword, which creates new dimensions of opportunities for the finished product.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve been facing with this upcoming submission deadline?
It’s a bit overwhelming. Just under 1week left for submissions. I’m not going to extend the deadline again, because it’s going to take months to read through all the work and assemble the book. You know you have a real project with wheels when people start asking questions about what a non-exclusive copyright is, which is what I’m providing for the book contributors. I sometimes get ahead of myself, and like to think this isn’t the end but just the beginning. I’ve been pondering turning The Poetry of Yoga into a yearly anthology. I’ve also been brainstorming ways to take this thing to press independently.
I still haven’t been offered a publishing contract and so I need a back up plan. For now that plan is to publish it independently if no one wants to help. Because I don’t have a budget, I’ve been thinking about launching it as an e-book first. This would also provide a lot more options for photos, paintings, and multi-media dimensions. Imagine having Rod Stryker reading his poem to some music; you just downloaded The Poetry of Yoga book onto your iPad and can hit the little play button under his poem!
If I can get a handful of contributing poets do audio versions of their poetry that would make a dynamic interactive book. Then of course the idea of having paintings and colored photos is appealing. All of that is hard to do in a print book, unless you turn it into a coffee table production, which then would send the price tag into the clouds.
What’s your hope for this book?
I want this book to travel the world and be testament to the modern day poetic soul of humanity. Ultimately, I hope the book will provide a sustainable source of revenue for a wonderful non-profit organization called, “One Common Unity,” that for the past 10 years has been inspiring caring, healthy, and sustainable communities, through music and arts.
Thanks for joining us again here at Elephant, HawaH. Can’t wait to see the book.
Submit your poetry at
The Poetry of Yoga
Hawah is an artist, author, educator, yoga instructor and community organizer. He has dedicated his life to teaching about solutions to violence and ways to peace, and has traveled to over 28 countries in the past 10 years to facilitate interactive workshops, dialogues, perform poetry, teach yoga, and speak with those interested in creating a caring, sustainable, and equitable world. He has worked as an Americorps big brother in one of D.C.’s most under-resourced neighborhoods, and also as an R.F.K. Memorial Foundation fellow as a special representative to the United Nations and the World Conference Against Racism.
Hawah is co-founder/ executive director of One Common Unity, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. For 3 years he directed the Peaceable Schools Program in D.C.’s largest public high school—specifically developing leadership skills of youth and assisting them in dealing with trauma through Alternatives to Violence, Deep Breathing & Yoga classes. Over the years, Hawah has trained thousands of teachers in the principles of peace education and regularly featured as a speaker, performer and workshop presenter for People to People International, the Congressional Youth Leadership Council and the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools. A spoken word poet known as Everlutionary and an artist of a diverse collection of paintings and photographs, Hawah has authored three books and released two CD’s.
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