A gorgeous book!

Breaking the Drought
Visions of Grace
by Stephen Levine
Inspiration / Spirit Poetry

0-943914-48-5
978-0-943914-48-0

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“It is lovely when someone who has given so many gifts in psychology during his lifetime can turn and give such gifts in poetry. There are many poems here you’ll want to read to your friends.” —Robert Bly

"Here are poems of the heart that speak directly to our spirit today. Anyone who reads them will be quickened and touched. Both timely and timeless, these visions of grace are like nectar to soul.” —Lama Surya Das

“This is a gorgeous book, a book of powerful images, experience, beauty, and wisdom. Stephen Levine has always told the truth, now he does it with the great beauty of his poetry ringing in our hearts.”—Roshi Joan Halifax, abbot, Upaya Zen Center

“Stephen Levine's work as poet shines. This book renews my spirit.” —John Fox, Director, Institute of Poetic Medicine

See “Excerpts & Info” on this page for a description, Stephen’s introduction, some sample poems, and full reviews.

 

Description

Breaking the Drought showcases the creative intuition and poetic sensibility that draw so many so deeply into Stephen and Ondrea Levine’s inspired work with the early wounded, the grieving, and the dying.

The Village Voice favorably reviewed Stephen Levine’s first book of poetry—in 1959. Now, his “retirement” is turning into a late date with his original muse. In Breaking the Drought, the poetic sensibility that for many years went into the intuition so helpful for tuning into patients’ difficulties again bursts forth in its native voice.

These 81 spirit/teaching poems—by the author of Who Dies?, A Gradual Awakening, A Year to Live, and Embracing the Beloved—exquisitely express a life well spent in quest of wisdom, openness, spirituality, and humanity and deliver Levine’s “healing” in a new mode. After years of listening deeply to hearts in crisis, and guiding many on the paths of self-discovery, Stephen evokes his original muse as best suited to open this next wisdom door he invites us to enter.



Early Reviews

“It is lovely when someone who has given so many gifts in psychology during his lifetime can turn and give such gifts in poetry. There are many poems here you’ll want to read to your friends.” —Robert Bly

“At last the drought is over. Stephen’s poems—a glorious deluge of the divine.” —Wavy Gravy

“This is a gorgeous book, a book of powerful images, experience, beauty, and wisdom. Stephen Levine has always told the truth, now he does it with the great beauty of his poetry ringing in our hearts.” —Roshi Joan Halifax, abbot, Upaya Zen Center

"Here are poems of the heart that speak directly to our spirit today. Anyone who reads them will be quickened and touched. Both timely and timeless, these visions of grace are like nectar to soul." —Lama Surya Das

“Having known Stephen Levine since the 1970s, I’ve watched his unfoldment as a highly accomplished writer and author of several books inspirited by his work as a psychotherapist. Now, it’s wonderful to read his poetry in Breaking the Drought. It’s been a long time coming, but well worth the wait. Quench your spiritual thirst. Pick up a copy and read it. It’s a keeper.” Michael Toms, founding president and CEO, New Dimensions Media

“What a superb book of poems! Breaking the Drought helps me suddenly ease up a window that's been stuck for a long time and I feel the true breeze of the Unknown on my face. Images fire my synapses awake with nourishing surprise and I see the window-opened world this way, fresh! Some poems show me my already shattered heart with words for what I've felt too but couldn't say. At last, with whoever wrote these poems, I find a friend's shoulder to cry on. Stephen Levine's work as poet shines. This book renews my spirit.” —John Fox, Director, Institute of Poetic Medicine

Introduction

 

My first book of poetry was published in 1959. The Village Voice liked it and said they hoped I would write more. My next two books were small press prose poems mostly sold by City Lights Books. I related to myself with the grandiose self-proclamation of “poet” until I noticed there was a weeping in the corner of the room. It called the poetic intuition into whole different areas of service. Then, thirty-five years ago, my Buddhist meditation teachers suggested that I should teach. After a few years teaching meditation in various prisons, I began working with the dying and grieving.

Incorporating aspects of that inner work into practices for finishing business (forgiveness), deepening awareness (mindfulness), and opening the heart (compassion and loving kindness practices), I was learning to hear more deeply, to listen at the intuitive level which displayed so fruitfully many of those places I remained hidden from life and from myself. And much that went into “formal” poetry rose to the surface as insight into patients’ process.

Stephen Mitchell once asked why there was, except for a few cases, such a hiatus in the publishing of my poetry. And then he, gracious as ever, nodded knowingly when I described how so much of that poetic sensibility had gone into the intuitions so helpful in tuning into patients in a time of difficulty. He acknowledged how much of the poetic he had sensed in the numerous guided meditations for various sorts of healing and insight practices that had appeared over the years.

Now decades later, breaking innumerable droughts, reawakening the subconscious to blossom from quite a different intuitive seed, nourished by retiring from working with patients and a visit from Robert Bly, another book of undecoded transmissions from the underdream has come to light.

Stephen Levine, July 2007

Selected Poems

© 2007 Stephen Levine

 

The Southwest is eight years into a drought

Droughts can make you superstitious,
change the way you pray
and to whom.

Droughts can make you dream
of drums and magic,
make you change your religion
like Old Noah almost did
parched and trembling one night
secretly beside the burning rock
wagering his uncertain soul with God
“for just a sip from Your deep cup.”

And what a flood it was!

Noah had such a big soul
and God loves a gambler
who will bet everything
to find his original heart
and break the drought.

 

Half life

We walk through half our life
as if it were a fever dream

barely touching the ground

our eyes half open
our heart half closed.

Not half knowing who we are
we watch the ghost of us drift
from room to room
through friends and lovers
never quite as real as advertised.

Not saying half we mean
or meaning half we say
we dream ourselves
from birth to birth
seeking some true self.

Until the fever breaks
and the heart can not abide
a moment longer
as the rest of us awakens,
summoned from the dream,
not half caring for anything but love.

 

There is a silence between breaths

There is a silence between breaths
when the heart becomes a sacred flame
and the belly uncoils which reminds me
how remarkable it is to wake
beside you another day.
Between deaths we played together
between breaths, in that stillness,
which has joined us ever since.

In that first breath
we step onto the dance floor,
and waltz unnoticed through the void.
The sacred everywhere we turn
and turn again, as form so generously dissolves
and only the Beloved remains.

In this moment which lasts a lifetime
there is nowhere to stand
where you are not beside me
where you do not accompany me within.

About Stephen Levine

Stephen Levine is a poet, a teacher of guided meditation healing techniques, and a bestselling author of many works. His popular books—including A Gradual Awakening, Who Dies, Healing into Life and Death, and A Year to Live—are considered classics in the field of conscious living and dying. He is also the coauthor, with Ondrea, of the acclaimed Embracing the Beloved: Relationship as a Path of Awakening.

The Levines’ work stretches from the most painful experiences of the human spectrum to the furthest point on the human horizon, from hell to heaven, from pain to ease, from our ongoing sense of loss to the legacy of our unending interconnectedness. Many experience their experiential “Conscious Living / Conscious Dying” workshops as profound meditative investigations into being fully alive, cultivating qualities that heal mind and heart, sympathetically fathoming the nature of what it is that dies.

Presently Stephen and Ondrea live in the mountains of New Mexico.

See/hear readings

Click here for a video of Stephen reading from Breaking the Drought at Ecoversity.

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