Five Star Review on Amazon: “A must read for anyone interested in the intersection of language and culture, experience and naming, absurdity and truth. If you love poetry, if you’re looking for a contemporary finger pointing to a spherical moon with an American flag on it, read this—savor it. This is a breathtaking collection of poems.”
The Constant Yes of Things: Selected Poems 1973-2018 by Steve Kanji Ruhl is available now on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/194547372X
In addition to being available on Amazon, the book also is available on the Leveller’s Press website:
and is available at the Broadside Bookshop as well:
The Constant Yes of Things: Selected Poems 1973-2018 is a landmark collection from a poet whose work is “very fine” (May Swenson), poems intensely personal yet addressing universal concerns of mortality and loss, erotic passion, the natural world, history, art, contemporary American life, Buddhist spirituality, mystical experience, and language itself.
Steve Kanji Ruhl published his first poem in a national literary journal at the age of 19; by the time he was 28 he had published poems in numerous magazines, published two chapbook collections, been awarded a Massachusetts Artists Fellowship in Poetry, was invited to read his work in the Lamont Poetry Room at Harvard University, and had received high praise:
“The words of these poems seem to cup and contain the experience like the hands of a craftsman who loves his material. The language is strong and delicate simultaneously. I can’t think of any more accurate word for the poems than beautiful. He says off-handed things which are hard to forget,” wrote Pulitzer Prize winner and U.S. Poet Laureate William Meredith.
Steve Kanji Ruhl’s “poems are very fine…they are complex but clear, infused with flashes of self-revelation. They make use of language in the instinctive way that marks a true poet. His perceptions are keen, and he takes care to be a good craftsman. ‘The astonishment of being in this world’ — a line from one of the poems — is what he conveys so well,” wrote May Swenson, winner of the Bollingen Prize and a MacArthur “genius award,” and acclaimed by eminent critic Harold Bloom as one of the major American poets of the 20th century.
“I was blown away. I have tremendous respect,” said Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Tate.
By his early 30’s, Ruhl had lost interest in the poetry “scene.” He played drums in an avant-punk trio, wrote for newspapers, began a Zen practice, and traveled. Yet privately he continued to write poetry, in standard modern forms and in bold experimental forays, sharing his work among intimate circles of friends while still publishing occasionally in magazines. Today, at 64, Steve Kanji Ruhl is a Zen Buddhist teacher employed as a Buddhist adviser at Yale University, a meditation instructor at Deerfield Academy, and teacher in the Spiritual Guidance program at The Rowe Center, having received his Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School. Otherwise he lives in semi-hermitage in the woods of western Massachusetts, emulating the ancient Chinese literati and wild Ch’an monks who wandered the mountains while writing poetry, studying, teaching a few students, observing nature and meditating, living simply while forsaking what they called “the world of wind and dust” — the conventional realm of egoistic striving for social status.
The Constant Yes of Things spans 45 years of work by a poet who remains a maverick, artistically and spiritually, and whose work is original, risk-taking, candid, uncompromising, revelatory, and still “beautiful,” still saying “things hard to forget.”
Kanji is also a contributing author to The Arts of Contemplative Care: Pioneering Voices in Buddhist Chaplaincy and Pastoral Work: