Sunday, June 28, 2015

July 3, 2015 Meditation and Poetry Writing Group Resources

FRIDAY, JULY 3, 2015* Meditation in Motion 
with a focus on Walking
Facilitated by Jacqueline Gens
*Normally we meet on the first Saturday of every month

MEETING LOCATION: Shelburne Falls (Contact Jacqueline). PLEASE NOTE that for July and August we will meet in Western Mass, then return to Gullford, VT first Saturday of every month.  TBA

TIME: 11:00 AM-2:00 PM

Jacqueline’s cell: 413-522-1125 & Email:

Next door is a traditonal Labyrinth where we will engage in walking meditation after discussion/sharing followed by lunch. Another great walking space is the Bridge of Flowers if the presence of people won’t bother you.

OPTIONAL: 2:00 PM  Field trip to Buckland retreat land (Khandroling) for a demonstration of sacred dance


 A Guide to Walking Meditation by Thich Nat Hanh

 History of Labyrinth in the Christian Contemplative Tradition

 NAVAJO Walk in Beauty excerpt  the Navajo Night way ceremony

In beauty, may I walk.
All day long, may I walk.
Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
Beautifully I will possess again.
Beautifully birds…
Beautifully joyful birds…
On the trail marked with pollen, may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet, may I walk.
With dew about my feet, may I walk.
With beauty, may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty,
lively, may I walk.
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty,
living again, may I walk.
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.
- Excerpt from the Navajo Night Way Ceremony

Experience Walking
Explore this poem for yourself…embark on a mindful walking meditation, full of awareness of your interconnection with all around you. With each step, remain aware of your breath…how your weight shifts as you walk…from heel to toe and from one foot to the other, your shifting weight moving you forward.
Listen to the sounds around you, whether from nature or human-made…for you are part of each. Let your senses heighten, catch the smell of the wind around you, feel the warmth or coolness on your face, allow your senses to relax so you can naturally take in the vividness of life and color about you.
You are connected to the bird winging by, the tree standing firmly rooted, the vast sky above and the rich, solid earth beneath your feet. Allow yourself to take each step feeling the shifting weight of your body upon the earth…in heightened appreciation of all that is around you…in the harmony of our co-existence.
We are each reflections of ourselves, each other and all that surrounds us…and with each step we can walk in harmonious and loving balance with all we see, both without and within.

II. Some Walking Poems to Consider:

Pablo Neruda – Walking Around

Leslie Scalapino –Walking Person who has Sky Flowing

Interview with Mary Oliver

Allen Ginsberg – Kaddish

Frank O’Hara –The Day Lady Died

III. Writing Exercises

Exercise 1: Try cataloging both inner and outer images as they emerge. Don’t force a narrative but simply let the flow of images trigger memories, thoughts, sounds, vivid perceptions and see what happens. Analyze some of the walking poem samples for structure especially opening lines of Ginsberg’s famous eulogy for his mother - Kaddish which alternates inner memories with the outer details of his walk through his mother’s life with Ginsberg’s present.

Exercise 2:  Regard your walking ‘poem’ as an entre into a different reality, as a kind of window or gateway like Frank O’Hara’s walking poem—The Day Lady Died, another famous eulogy for Billie Holiday which conveys great immediacy. Look carefully at O’Hara’s verb forms.

Exercise 3:Write your own “Walk in Beauty”

****If you bring work to share with others
 please make multiple copies****

Years ago I attended a workshop in Patzcuaro, Mexico with Anne Waldman which I organized for the Great River Arts Institute called “Luminous Details”. Here are her directives prior to a walking poetics from notes I took at the time:

1) Act of Observation/Attention – Compassionate engagement with other

2) Act of Observation/Notation –Entre into sacred world as pure perception

(3) Act of Notation/Articulation –Generosity of spirit

4) Poetic Notation– a dot in the continuity of poets past and present

5) Poetic Articultation – Mingle with the world

6) YES  - Lineage to sing  “in the teeth of  impossibility”

7) Lokapala ----Local guardians, bio-region,  Place—the bigger picture.

Coming Soon - August 1, 2015 meeting will take place at the Dickinson/Evergreen homesteads in Amherst with Chard deNiord, a great scholar of Dickinson’s life and work. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Meditation and Poetry Writing Group Meets First Saturday of Every Month

Writers interested in meditation and/or poetry are welcome to join our  ONGOING writing group in Guilford, VT each first Saturday of every month beginning on June 6 at 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM. Bring a brown bag lunch.

We begin each session with a brief meditation, then share our current work or writing by others who inspire us followed by writing exercises.

Facilitated by Jacqueline Gens. There is no charge but donations welcome.
Contact Jacqueline at for location and
further information or call 413-522-1125. 


June 6
July 4
August 1

Jacqueline Gens MFA and MAT has worked with poets for over 30 years from Naropa’s Jack Kerouac School to the New England College MFA Program in Poery she co-founded with Chard DeNiord in 2001. For many years, she worked for the late poet Allen Ginsberg with whom she informally studied. She is a long time practitioner of Buddhism. Recently retired, she founded the Khandroling Paper Cooperative which specializes in making handmade paper from recycled sacred texts and substances. She lives in Brattleboro, VT.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Coming Soon Poetrymind Workshops in Brattleboro,VT


Participants will be introduced to basic mindfulness practices that “loosen” the mind from judgements and self-consciousness to access natural poetrymind in the moment. We will focus more on process than finished writing leading to fresh approaches and greater confidence in our authentic voice while still honing our craft.  Particpants will be introduced to Allen Ginsberg’s Mind Writing curriculum – the cornerstone of his teaching aesthetic as well as other contemporary methods such as projective verse, investigative poetics, and haiku hybrid forms. This will be a fun and deeply informative course with lots of visiting guests from meditation and yoga teachers to poet friends either in person or via skype. Both beginners and advanced poets and meditators welcome.

WHEN: February-March, 2015 every Sundays 11:00-2:00 PM
COST: $160 for all eight sessions plus optional material fee of $25 for source book. Limited to six-eight people. Location TBA


We will meet weekly to share favorite poems by others or ourselves, talk shop,  and encourage one another on the writer’s journey in a safe and non-competitive environment.  We will begin by refining our reading aloud skills and appreciation for the sacred dimension of language as scribe, witness, provocator, and oracular presence for these times.  Taking it from there, who knows?

WHEN : Ongoing Thursdays 10-Noon  COST: Sliding scale $15 per session  or $100 for 10 sessions. LOCATION TBA

(Spring 2015)

We will apply ourselves with ardent attention to the details of the phenomenal world  around us engaging in writing assignments and meditation as a basis to celebrate sacred world. Location TBA

COST: $125 (Friday night, Saturday & Sunday) includes a participant reading on Sunday

Writing the Heart’s Desire – Exploring Extended Metaphor as a Means to Discover One’s Own  Poetic Voice

Whether broken hearted, grieving, yearning for the impossible,  lovelorn, seeking reconciliation, recognition, locating ourselves in place or any of the myriad human circumstances, we will use our heart’s desire to access the stream of metaphors that hold our energy the most and release them into language reflecting our deepest meanings. This is not a therapy practice but rather an exploration of how to get real with our work.  We will examine stellar examples of works reflecting extended metaphors originating in the heart’s desire from Emily Dickinson, Wordsworth, Shelly, Walt Whitman. Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath, Mark Doty,  Anne Waldman, Charles Olson, and  Gary Snyder among others. 

Stay tuned for more more events and locations......

Jacqueline Gens MFA and MAT has worked with poets for over 30 years from Naropa’s famed Jack Kerouac School to the New England College MFA Program in Poery she co-founded with Chard DeNiord in 2001. For many years, she worked for the late poet Allen Ginsberg with whom she informally studied. She is a long time practitioner of Buddhism.  Recently retired, she founded the Khandroling Paper Cooperative which specializes in making handmade paper from recycled sacred texts and substances. She lives in Brattleboro, VT.

For further information email Jacqueline at

*Calligraphy by Barbara Bash


Sunday, July 06, 2014

Welcome to blogger Ruby

Ruby is my artist friend from New Orleans, I am showing her the virtues of blogger.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

What one Tibetan is Doing for his People - Choegyal Namkhai Norbu on the Importance of Tibetan Song and Dance


 [Photo by Paula Barry of Choegyal Namkhai Norbu leading a Tibetan Singing Session in his home on lower Khandroling 2013]

Upon the death of American folk singer Pete Seeger (1919-2014), often called the father of American Folk music,  people all over the world paid tribute to his long history of dedication for human rights through the power of song and his indomitable spirit of hope for a better world. In our times, he made the old adage "A song is mightier than a sword" a living reality. 

Much feted in his senior years, for decades Pete Seeger was censored by the US government and blacklisted on TV and radio during  the Cold War era during the McCarthy years. Nonetheless, he was able to perform world-wide to huge crowds in which his many signature songs such as We Shall OvercomeWhere have all the Flowrs Gone? Turn, Turn, Turn, and Guantanamera  became anthems for civil rights, the antiwar movement, migrant workers right, no nukes movement and environmental concerns among a host of many other causes he championed. He mentored some of the most brilliant song writers and musicians for generations such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. For seven decades Pete Seeger with wife Toshi lived in the Hudson Valley on a homestead they built themselves. 

His particular genius seem to lie in his infectious invitation for creating a participatory environment in which everyone sang along with him whether they wanted to or not. This created an entirely different kind of event than being entertained by passively listening or watching.   I recently attended a lunch at the Stone Soup Cafe soup kitchen in Greenfield, MA  run by Bernie Glassman and the Zen Peacekeepers where a young man sat quietly singing Woody Guthrie's  If I had a Hammer . When another young  friend joined him in harmony--the entire cafe began spontaneously to sing along. And I mean sing as to bring the roof down.  That's the legacy of Peter Seeger! A bunch of silver haired oldsters in a soup kitchen with hungry families and street folk with kids running around and even reluctant teenagers all singing their heads off about peace and harmony. Song remains the great elevator to the human spirit in any culture and anywhere.


[Pete Seeger in Washignton D.C. for President Obama's inauguration celebrations]

Pete Seeger was no ordinary folk singer but someone who inspired millions  in the age-old practice of singing. Everywhere people sing--in cafes, at work, in the shower, at school, in worship, in protest, in solitude, in groups, around the hearth and in the public square.  No culture on earth  lacks this human urge for vocal expression through joy and sorrow. From song, what automatically emerges is the movement of the body, be it dance or even simple motions of swaying, clapping, waving in rhythm as you can see in the video above. Song may very well represent the first experiences of cultural   "communitas." But more than singing, Pete Seeger taught us how to bear witness to the suffering of others using music as his vehicle to soften the hard-heartedness of indifference and hatreds. Quite simply, music can  awaken our humanity. 

So what's this got to do with Tibet? Well, as most people already know, among one of the most remarkable developments of the Internet is the free video hosting service You Tube. Early in its development You Tube quickly became a living repository to archive every language and cultural group under the sun. If you ever want to learn a craft, how to play a musical instrument, study quantum physics or hear poems and songs from obscure languages--you'll find it on You Tube among the whole gamut of content.   It is the internet's finest open source of  communication along with wikipedia.  Here is where Tibet comes in. 

Through a small crevice of freedom offered by You Tube, young talented Tibetans have discovered an international window through which their contemporary music videos send a message to the world. They are celebrating what it means to be a Tibetan-- their land, the preservation of their language  and the beauty of their ancient culture as important for the world.  In short, they are telling us about Tibet, a country mired in over 50 years of cultural suppression and obscurity. They are trying to save their culture through the vehicle of song and language. Indeed the topic of many of their songs is about the Tibetan language itself which recently was eradicated from school curricula proving a last straw for many Tibetans as the death knell of their culture. The voices of these courageous young singers are not about politics but about what it means to be human.


In these terrible times for Tibet when some young Tibetans tragically choose to burn themselves out of deep despair and misguided nihilism, others are creating joy through their pop songs. The contrast is heart breaking. In recent years in our Dzogchen Community what began as a personal journey of listening to the music of his people on You Tube for enjoyment, eminent scholar and Tibetan Dzogchen master, Choegyal Namkhai Norbu began to take notice of the emerging pop culture of contemporary young Tibetan singers and their importance in communicating their message about Tibet to the world. 

[A practice session of Tibetan Dancing to Sherten's song above in Rinpoche's living room at Khandroling]

He  recently completed the transcription and translation of 180 contemporary Tibetan songs into English--no small feat which will be forthcoming later this year. A number of these songs have been choreographed  under his direction into dances (click here to see a video of the same song performed as a dance in the Dzogchen Community) which are learned throughout the world during his retreats. About three years ago, he introduced this practice of Tibetan singing and dance for many hours at all his retreats. Although in his 70's, Choegyal Namkahi Norbu tirelessly travels the globe giving Dzogchen Teachings which he says is important in regard to the songs and music of Tibet which have a direct link to these ancient teachings. Participating in this activity also creates a positive link of solidarity to the Tibetan people at this time of their great suffering. Through his international travels to his "Gars" where Dzogchen practitioners gather together to receive Teachings, he has disseminated these contemporary songs and dances of Tibet.

Interest in Tibetan songs is not new to him. In the 1960's one of his first scholarly works while at the Istituto Universitario Orientale, was about traditional songs,  and according to his daughter Yuchen Namkhai, he  learned to play the piano when he arrived in the West in order to remember and transcribe as many traditional Tibetan songs as possible. An eminent scholar and incarnate Lama of extraordinary range, Choegyal Namkhai Norbu has done more than any other Tibetan to revitalize interest in the origins of Tibetan culture through historical works which communicate Tibet's place in the long continuum of civilizations and its treasury of knowledge relevant to the modern world. His speciality is the pre-Buddhist culture of Tibet as an ancient civilization with its own written language and culture. These works are written both in Tibetan and English, the language he mainly teaches in today. 

Americans perception of the country Tibet has undergone dramatic changes over the past few decades. Today His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a household word and his face known to millions of Westerners. This is largely in response to the development of Tibetan Buddhism in the west as well as many Tibetan communities now in the US where there is a strong allegiance to maintaining their cultural identity. Twenty years ago one could find only a handful of translation of Tibetan works. Today thousands of books are published which cover the whole cornucopia of Tibetan knowledge which was preserved for centuries. .  

Where once anything Tibetan was considered esoteric and mysterious --the stuff of Hollywood's Shangri La, Today Tibetan studies flourishes world-wide in academia and in film, Op-eds n Newspapers and the media routinely cover news from Tibet. Yet for Choegyal Namkhai Norbu this is not enough to save his culture. His greatest hope is that one morning the world, especially China, will "wake up and hear the birds singing"--so that the Tibetan people can preserve their language and heritage with freedom and dignity.  The medium for this message is not political agendas but the universal appeal of song and dancing. 

For further information about The International Dzogchen Community's program in contemporary Tibetan song and dance, visit the following site: Harmony in the Space