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Collections by Roger Housden
The fourth volume in the popular series that began with
Ten Poems to Change Your Life, Ten Poems to Last a Lifetime
focuses on what it means to be truly human. In it, Roger Housden offers us
poems on life and death, happiness, seeing ourselves in relation to the
world, and, of course, the ineffable—the things that really matter when the
chips are down. He describes these passionate poems as “bread for the soul
and fire for the spirit.”
The poets Housden has chosen are Billy Collins, Hayden Carruth, Dorianne
Laux, James Wright, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Mary Oliver from the United
States, D. H. Lawrence and John Keats from England, Rainer Maria Rilke from
Germany, Fleur Adcock from New Zealand, and Seng-Ts’an from sixth-century
China. And yes, that adds up to eleven, not ten. Housden decided to include
a bonus poem for his faithful readers in this, the final volume of the
series. As before, Housden’s luminous essays provide an elegant and easy
passage into the sometimes daunting world of poetry, enabling readers to
feel that in him they have found a trusted guide and mentor.
Roger Housden, a native of Bath, England, immigrated to the
United States in 1998. He is the author of several works of nonfiction,
including Ten Poems to Change Your Life, and also a recent novella,
Chasing Rumi: A Fable About Finding the Heart’s True Desire. He gives
occasional public recitals of ecstatic poetry from the world’s great literary
and spiritual traditions.
I picked up Housden's
Ten Poems to Change
a few years ago, mainly because I wanted to understand poetry better.
From the first poem, Mary Oliver's The Journey,I was bewitched.
"One day you finally knew what you had to do and began.."
I don't know if I understand poetry better, but I understand humanity better
for this lovely book.
Housden has shared the impact a poet can wash over a reader's
He's added many new volumes to his collections and
occasionally deviated from his Ten Poem structure. His March 07 release will
address love’s many aspects. In
Dancing with Joy,
he assembles 99 poems from 69 poets that celebrate the many colors of joy.
Anything can be a catalyst for joy, these poems reveal. For Wislawa Szymborska,
the catalyst is a dream; for Robert Bly, being in the company of his
ten-year-old son; for Gerald Stern, it is a grapefruit at breakfast; for Billy
Collins, a cigarette. Dancing with Joy includes English and Italian classical
and romantic works; early Chinese and Persian verse; and poets from Chile,
France, Sweden, Poland, Russia, Turkey, and India, plus a range of contemporary
American and English poets. Whether inspiration is what you need, or an
affirmation of what is already joyful in life, Dancing with Joy is a welcome
treat for Housden’s numerous fans, as well as anyone looking for sheer
happiness, marvelously expressed.
Mr. Housden is married to
Maria Housden, author of Hannah’s Gift.
It's clear the spiritual journey that guides the path of both of these
writers comes from the human place of suffering and joy.
An Interview With Roger Housden
Mr. Housden, has your spiritual journey changed the way you write?
The way I write is part of my
exploration and spiritual journey. It is an archeological dig in
language to give form to the inchoate movements of soul.
You've been described as a "lifelong student of the word." Do you
have any favorite words?
The funny thing is, that was a misprint. It should have read "
lifelong student of the world." One of my favorite words is the French
for magician - prestidigitator. Another is mellifluous.
Do you have anything else you'd like to say to our readers?
Yes, keep reading!
Many thanks to Mr. Housden
for gracing our pages with this brief interview. I
find certain words are fun or favorites. I just like the way
they sound. I was thrilled that Mr. Housden had some favorite
words too! Do explore his books--You'll never be quite the same.--Amy Jenkins
Ten Poems to Open Your Heart is a book devoted to love: to the intimacy of
personal love and lovemaking, to a loving compassion for others, and to the love
that embraces both this world and the next. This new volume from Roger Housden
features a few of the same poets as his extraordinarily moving Ten Poems to
Change Your Life, such as Mary Oliver and Pablo Neruda, along with contributions
from Sharon Olds, Wislawa Szymborska, Czeslaw Milosz, Denise Levertov, and
others. Any one of the ten poems and, indeed, any one of Housden’s reflections
on them, can open, gladden, or pierce your heart.
Through the voices of these ten inspiring poets, and through illustrations from
his own life, Housden expresses the tenderness, beauty, joys, and sorrows of
love, the presence of which, more than anything else, gives human existence its
As Housden says in his eloquent introduction, "Great poetry happens when the
mind is looking the other way and words fall from the sky to shape a moment that
would normally be untranslatable. . . . When the heart opens, we forget
ourselves and the world pours in: this world, and also the invisible world of
meaning that sustains everything that was and ever shall be."
This is a dangerous book. Great poetry calls into question not less than
everything. It dares us to break free from the safe strategies of the cautious
mind. It opens us to pain and joy and delight. It amazes, startles, pierces, and
transforms us. It can lead to communion and grace.
Through the voices of ten inspiring poets and his own reflections, the author of
Sacred America shows how poetry illuminates the eternal feelings and desires
that stir the human heart and soul. These poems explore such universal themes as
the awakening of wonder, the longing for love, the wisdom of dreams, and the
courage required to live an authentic life. In thoughtful commentary on each
work, Housden offers glimpses into his personal spiritual journey and invites
readers to contemplate the significance of the poet's message in their own
Risking Everything: 110 Poems of Love... This luminous anthology brings together great poets from around the world whose
work transcends culture and time. Their words reach past the outer divisions to
the universal currents of love and revelation that move and inspire us all.
These poems urge us to wake up and love. They also call on us to relinquish our
grip on ideas and opinions that confine us and, instead, to risk moving forward
into the life that is truly ours.
In his selection, Roger Housden has placed strong emphasis on contemporary
voices such as the American poet laureate Billy Collins and the Nobel
Prize–winners Czeslaw Milosz and Seamus Heaney, but the collection also includes
some timeless echoes of the past in the form of work by masters such as Goethe,
Wordsworth, and Emily Dickinson.
The tens of thousands of readers of Roger Housden’s “Ten Poems” series will
welcome this beautiful harvest of poems that both open the mind and heal the
Ten poems to set you free? Free of what? Of complicated
explanations, and other peoples’ stories ( Rumi); of caution and prudence (Mary Oliver): of sadness (Unamuno); of failing
luck and work gone wrong (Cavafy); free of whatever it is that prevents you in
this moment from claiming the life that is truly yours. It is the truth that
sets you free, and these poems are its messengers. Read the introduction to
Ten Poems to Set You Free.
“Conventional wisdom,” says Roger Housden, “tells us that nobody
goes to heaven for having a good time.” Seven Sins for a Life
Worth Living, then, is a refreshing, liberating, and decidedly
welcome dose of unconventional wisdom that awakens us to the simple
delights and transformative joys of the world around us.
With elegance, gentle humor, and remarkable openness, Housden takes
us along as he recalls his personal journey toward an appreciation
of what he calls the Seven Pleasures: The Pleasure of All Five
Senses, The Pleasure of Being Foolish,The Pleasure of Not Knowing,
The Pleasure of Not Being Perfect, The Pleasure of Doing Nothing
Useful, The Pleasure of Being Ordinary, and The Pleasure of Coming
Housden writes, for instance, of submitting to the ultimate folly of
falling in love, of celebrating our imperfections, of coming to
understand the virtues of the Slow Food movement while enjoying an
all-afternoon lunch in a small French village, and of discovering in
a Saharan cave that, however extraordinary our surroundings, “we are
human, a glorious nothing much to speak of”—and learning to be at
peace with the notion.
Such pleasures may be suspect in today’s achievement-driven, tightly
scheduled, relent-lessly self-improving, conspicuously consumptive
culture, but surely the greater sin lies in letting them slip away
moment by precious moment. “The purpose of this book,” says Housden,
“is to inspire you to lighten up and fall in love with the world and
all that is in it.” Reading it is a pleasure indeed.
“When you die,God and the angels will hold you accountablefor all
the pleasures you were allowed in life that you denied yourself.”
Roger Housden, author of the bestselling Ten Poems series, presents
a joyously affirmative, warmly personal, and spiritually
illuminating meditation on the virtues of opening ourselves up to
pleasures like being foolish, not being perfect, and doing nothing
useful, the pleasure of not knowing, and even (would you believe
it?) the pleasure of being ordinary.