ISBN : 9781612480589
ISBN : 9781612480596
House Under the Moon
Through transcendent, lyric verse, these poems explore the spiritual struggle for harmony between the contemporary and contemplative life. Blending several religious traditions including Buddhism, Hinduism, Christian mysticism, and Sufism, Sowder’s poems achieve the essence of devotion—both familial and divine—as he graciously takes readers with him along the path to enlightenment.
The poems in Michael Sowder’s marvelous second collection, House Under Moon, enact “the old story of wander / and homecoming,” the story of a person lost in the wilderness finding a way home. As he moves us out into the world and back to the hearth, Sowder engages us in an expansion and contraction that is like nothing so much as a beating heart, or the breath that guides the poet in the daily meditation central to his spiritual practice. By turns straightforward and mystical, ultimately the movement of the poems takes us in one direction, toward love: love that is spiritual, romantic, filial; love, finally, for the self and therefore for what lives outside the self. Devoted, ecumenical, Sowder’s poems embrace the whole world, both its beauties and its difficulties, either of which can break our hearts or break us open into possibility and joy.
Although these powerful poems are poems of the world, they are also poems of the spirit. Michael Sowder is a rarity among the poets of his generation—indeed, among the poets of any generation. He is a seeker, a searcher after meaning, a yearner for consequence. He knows that the secret message of poetry is connection, and he knows that to turn inward and find the spirit is also to discover the spirit moving through the world. These graceful and stirring poems make those magical connections. Sowder has matured into one of our finest spiritual poets. This is a book of deep and lasting beauty.
Surprise is one of the most satisfying elements in Michael Sowder’s resonant, haunting, House Under the Moon. What appears to be a gentle narrative attention to the delicate complexities of human interaction with mountains and rivers—hiking, making love, tending babies—never stays in one dimension. I don’t think I’ve ever read such a mythic eye-opening, and yes surprising, account of a poet’s satori via the middle way of everyday life.
I found this book refreshingly honest. It's a collection that invites us in—to observe not only a mind thinking, but a mind emptying itself of thought.
And, at the book's end, looking backwards, the effects have been sublimity, delight. It has been a recounting of how we somehow emerge from old life that has been painful and dark, confusin and self-destructive. The trouble that the poet has experienced, including, at one point, a kind of perverse penance he alludes to in an earlier life passage, seems to burnish him, propel him forward, bleed new life and new light.
Michael Sowder is the author of the T. S. Eliot Prize-winning book, The Empty Boat and two chapbook collections, “A Calendar of Crows” and “Cafe Midnight.” He also wrote about Walt Whitman’s poetry in Whitman’s Ecstatic Union. In addition to writing poetry, Sowder writes creative nonfiction about the human relationship to the natural world, and about Buddhism, Hinduism, Christian Mysticism. His essays have appeared in Shambhala Sun, The Wasatch Journal, The Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, and many other venues. Sowder is associate professor of English and adjunct professor of Religious Studies at Utah State Univeristy. He is a meditation teacher in the Cache Valley Buddhist Sangha and the Amrita Sangha for Integral Spirituality, of Cache Valley, Logan, Utah.