Green Mountain Zen
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"Green Mountain Zen renders the cycles of the human spirit as it surrenders to the shortest, most shut-down days of winter, keeping the coals of itself aglow, and then opens to celebration as the earth softens, greens, and again offers its abundance. This is a wise book, attentive to the nuances of inner and outer weather in a way that might best be called devotional -- patient and deeply respectful. Image by image --Romaine seeds 'the size of a baby's eyelash, ' the raindrop 'that lingers/like a diamond in the cup of the lupine's fan-shape leaf'-- Demers renders the feel of seasons, much as Chinese painters did through spare, careful brush strokes. This is the perfect book to dream with beside a warm fire, or overlooking a harvest-ready garden while morning sun is still fresh and cool."
-- Leslie Ullman, poet whose most recent books are
Library of Small Happiness and Progress on the Subject of Immensity
"The poems in Green Mountain Zen by Michelle Demers are original in a way that really matters: they speak clearly of their source, inseparable from the pure current of their language. They have an effect like afternoon light hitting ordinary objects: they illuminate, clarify, and direct our gaze toward the ordinary magic of what we love but often overlook. Minding and mining the details of her particular landscape, What is hope, after all, if not the idea of crocus and tulip, / if not the brown hare feeding in the early morning in Vermont? Michelle leads us to the river of spirit that flows through and beneath all seasons; these poems of the body in place connect us to the world. I read them with care and admiration for each one is a sensory delight and an inspiration."
-- Mary Kay Rummel, Author of Cypher Garden and
The Lifeline Trembles, Former poet laureate of Ventura County, CA
"Green Mountain Zen is a cycle of poems devoted to witnessing the immediate natural world. Stilling herself amid the winds of ceaseless human chaos, Demers' poems find the ordinary joys and riches of nature before her. Beginning in the lean light of November, as she leads us into her 'winter-dark' corner in the Northeast, her poems use direct accessible lyrics as they chart progressive changes in weather and temperature, noticing, for example, how the willow outside her window is glazed alternately with ice and then snow making it look like 'a chandelier, / then a powdered wig."'
As she watches a grey sun rise over 'silent white fields' and anticipates 'raucous daffodils/making their way to the surface, ' her poems look at the majesty and mystery of the semi urban, semi rural Vermont landscape the way Rilke studied the caged panther. The result is a duet with ever-present nature, whose lyrics she scores in a variety of poetic forms -- haiku, pantoum, free verse, ghazal, concrete poetry.
Green Mountain Zen acts like a mindfulness almanac, as Demers' poems pose poignant questions and notice a variety of answers growing, thawing, ripening, rising and falling around her. She both wonders, 'How can this moment/ break open/ the sunflower seed?' and discovers that the cawing crow splits 'frozen air into particles, shattering' her inner chatter 'like a koan'-- and that's what this lovely collection will do for you."
-- Julia Shipley, author of The Academy of Hay, winner of the
2015 Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize and a finalist for
the 2016 Vermont Book Award