How, we all yearn for pre-pandemic life ..


Many writers and poets, in our community (Santa Fe, NM), do anticipate the return to live public literary readings. Of course, the collective sharing of the spoken word, as well as, the lively conversations amongst audience members before and after such events, are indispensable.

Recalling a conversation, from the past – the topic fell upon influential or significant books, we would want to be stranded with, should we have occasion to be stranded; whether in a secluded place in the mountains during a long winter duration or in a remote uninhabited island while shipwrecked?


Five books, or six, which have sustained me (in alpha sequence) recurrently over the years:

  1. Above the river: the complete poems (1990) – James Wright .. (Poetry) A quintessential mid-century American poet and writer. Wright is a contemporary of Robert Bly. Excluding the first two sections of rhymed verse, the lifetime collection feature elegant and lyric poetry and, in the later sections, nuanced/thoughtful prose poetry and short fiction.


[ There is this cave

in the air behind my body

that nobody is going to touch:

a cloister, a silence

closing around a blossom of fire. ]


2. Invisible cities (1974) – Italo Calvino .. (Fiction) A 20th century surrealist writer. A majority of his literary work is famously cryptic to read and comprehend. Invisible cities, a spare and understated volume, consists of an imaginary conversation between the ancient Chinese emperor Kublai Khan and his emissary Marco Polo. Polo reports on the various cities, in China, which he has encounter during his travels. The book is richly imaginative and highly symbolic.


[ Polo: … Perhaps the terraces of this garden overlook only the lake of our mind.

Kublai: … and however far our troubled enterprises as warriors and merchants may take us, we both harbor within ourselves this silent shade, this conversation of pauses, this evening that is always the same. ]


3. The architecture of happiness (2006) – Alain de Botton  .. (Non-Fiction) De Botton is a British writer, lecturer, and philosopher. This book is a blend of anthropomorphic reflections on architecture and contemporary humanistic philosophical musings; it promotes the aesthetics of architectural structure, sensibility, and design. Handsomely written.


[ Beneath the pleasure generated by the juxtaposition of order and complexity, we can identify the subsidiary architectural virtue of balance. Beauty is a likely outcome whenever architects skillfully mediate between any number of oppositions, including the old and the new, the natural and the man-made, the luxurious and the modest, and the masculine and feminine. ]


4. The book of questions (1991) – Pablo Neruda .. (Poetry) A giant among contemporary latin american writers, Neruda received a Nobel Prize for literature in 1973. The poet/writer left seven finished, or nearly completed, manuscripts at the end of his life. The book of questions is one of the posthumous works. The entire thin volume is a series of elegiac poetic questions.


[ How old is November anyway?

What does autumn go on paying for

with so much yellow money?

What is the name of the cocktail

that mixes vodka and lightning bolts? ]


5.The individual and the nature of mass events (1981) – Jane Roberts  .. (Non-Fiction) An American writer and psychic of the 1970s and 1980s, this book is part of series of channeled text. Roberts channeled for a non-physical energy essence being named Seth. Groundbreaking and startling new age and metaphysical commentary on the nature of reality.


[ Dictation: Your scientists are beginning to understand man’s physical relationship with nature. The species is obviously a part of nature and not apart from it.

Environmental questions are being raised about man’s effect upon the world in which he lives. There is, however, an inner environment that connects all consciousness that dwell upon your planet … ]


6. The redshifting web: poems 1970 – 1998 (1998) – Arthur Sze .. (Poetry) Winner for 2019 National Book Award for Poetry and finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (a resident of Santa Fe, NM). Deep, exhaustive, and varied observations of the world around us. Stunning and intelligent post-modern poetry .. visually and structurally innovative.


[ Open a window and touch the sun,

or feel the wet maple leaves flicker in the rain.

Watch a blue crab scuttle in clear water,

or find a starfish in the dirt.

Describe the color green to the colorblind,

or build a house out of pain.

The world is more than you surmise… ]