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One Blade of Grass tells the story of how meditation practice helped Henry Shukman to recover from the depression, anxiety, and chronic eczema he had had since childhood and to integrate a sudden spiritual awakening into his life. By turns humorous and moving, this beautifully written memoir demystifies Zen training, casting its profound insights in simple, lucid language, and takes the reader on a journey of their own, into the hidden treasures of life that contemplative practice can reveal to any of us.
"This heartfelt and beautifully written memoir provides one of the most insightful, informative, and honest accounts of Zen practice yet to appear in English." —Stephen Batchelor, author of After Buddhism
With this assured and powerful first collection, Henry Shukman springs fully-formed into the poetry world, having already won a raft of prizes for individual poems. His sensibility is unique, engaging and immediate; we are drawn into the worlds of these poems by his accurate eye, his sensual line and the warmth of his communion with the scene he describes.
Ranging across the globe, from Mexico to Japan, from the States to Southern England, these poems can be lyrical and deeply affecting, wryly funny or wildly imaginative. From a lonely mother attempting to learn the piano to a ski-jump that never ends, from a redemptive encounter with horses on a cold day to a miraculous bowl of chicken soup, these poems display a vibrancy and variety rarely seen in contemporary poetry. But Shukman's great strength is in the domestic: the complexities of love, and the rites of passage of childhood and parenthood, are re-entered with candor, grace and originality.
In Doctor No's Garden is an affectionate, refreshing debut, striking in its imagery and insight, remarkable for its lightness of touch and emotional weight.
Traveling through South America, Jackson makes his way through desert, arid mountains, inhospitable villages, and impenetrable jungle, meeting several unforgettable characters, including an American woman who both redefines and fulfills all of Jackson's expectations. And though he's warned at almost every turn, he still enters the lethal forest that hides La Joya—where he will discover other searchers, with motives far more sinister than his own. With its lyrical voice, heart-stopping pace, and the audacious romanticism of the quest that fuels it, The Lost City is a novel at once suspenseful, unexpected, and thoroughly mesmerizing.
In “The Garden of God” an aging, ailing war reporter reflects on his adventures covering a little-known conflict in the Sahara and the precipitous and disgraced end of his career; In “Old Providence,” a dissolute artist mourns a lost love and the “bloody perfect island” where, through his own callow foolishness, he lost her. In “Darien Dogs” a man goes south to Panama, desperate for a business deal that will restore his finances and sense of mastery, only to find himself on a confounding search for a beautiful, mysterious woman and his stolen wallet. By turns full of suspense, farce and poignance, always alive with energy and atmosphere, these are the stories of a gifted and assured writer.
It has been over a decade since Henry Shukman published his award-winning first collection, In Doctor No’s Garden. Now, in his greatly anticipated second collection, he explores a little-known piece of Jewish history, in a sequence of poems that forms the centre-piece of this book. In 1917 several thousand Jewish tailors were deported from London and shipped back to Archangel and the Russian Empire they had recently fled, ostensibly to fight on the Eastern Front. They arrived just as the Revolution was unfolding and the old regime was collapsing into chaos. Among them were Shukman’s grandfather and great-uncle, and these poems chronicle their four-year struggle to return to their wives and children in London.
With poems on loss and mortality, on love in difficult circumstances, and on the familiar themes of childhood and family relationships, Archangel tells the stories of many journeys – from youth to maturity, from loss back into love – and the migrations of Shukman’s Jewish grandparents are echoed in his own move with his wife and family from England to New Mexico. Whatever the theme, though, these are all love poems: poems lucid with intensity, bright with the longing for love – both its fleeting rapture and its slow contentment – and Archangel is a book of great reach, power and beauty.