Reading from The Parliament of Poets: An Epic Poem, a shaman-like tale or chant for our time, speaking to the entire planet.
Since 2014, I’ve read at Crazy Wisdom Bookstore four times, for the poetry and the story-telling groups and a shaman book group; and since my epic is over 9,000 lines, I thought I’d invite people here tonight for a little longer taste of it than merely 5 or 10 minutes, for more of a sense of the story as a shaman Journey drawing from and evoking all of the great spiritual and wisdom traditions and regional civilizations.
I gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to such writers and thinkers as the historian Arnold Toynbee, Carl Jung, Huston Smith, Aldous Huxley, Joseph Campbell, and many others of open and universal sensibility. Campbell, especially, wrote on shamanism and myth and their power to heal the tribe through a visionary experience and tale. Campbell also wrote repeatedly about the overview Image of Earthrise, rising above the horizon of the moon, as the great new mythic Image and Symbol for our time.
“Like a story around a campfire.” —From the Audience
Decades ago your outstanding programs with Joseph Campbell and Huston Smith were important influences on me, and on my epic poem, The Parliament of Poets, which was published in late November 2012, after thirty years in the making, and which takes place partly on the moon, at the Apollo 11 landing site. For many years I mulled over Campbell’s insight that the great image of Earthrise over the lunar landscape heralded a new spiritual awareness. In my epic I evoke a new global, universal vision of life on this planet.
In a world of Quantum Physics, Apollo, the Greek god of poetry, calls all the poets of the nations, ancient and modern, East and West, to assemble on the moon to consult on the meaning of modernity. The Parliament of Poets sends the main character, the Poet of the Moon, on a Journey to the seven continents to learn from all of the spiritual and wisdom traditions of humankind. On Earth and on the moon, the poets teach him a new global, universal vision of life.
One of the major themes is the power of women and the female spirit across cultures. Another is the nature of science and religion, including Quantum Physics, as well as the “two cultures,” science and the humanities.
It would be an honor for you to choose to Journey to the Moon… and judge my epic worthy of “reaching humanity,” if not on your program, now ended, through perhaps your good opinion. I’d be happy to send you a hardcover copy.
Frederick Glaysher www.fglaysher.com
fglaysher AT gmail
5224 Aintree Road
Rochester, Michigan 48306
I’ve found myself over the years repeatedly going back to a few of Joseph Campbell’s books and articles. Among them, of course, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and his 1979 article “Earthrise–The Dawning of a New Spiritual Awareness,” reprinted in Thou Art That (2001), which I’ll let here speak for itself:
“Men stood on the moon and looked back and by television we were able to look back with them–to see earthrise….
With the moon walk, the religious myth that sustained these notions could no longer be held. With our view of earthrise, we could see that the earth and the heavens were no longer divided but that the earth is in the heavens. There is no division and all the theological notions based on the distinction between the heavens and the earth collapse with that realization. There is a unity in the universe and a unity in our own experience….
Symbolically, the same tradition suggests the return of Mother Earth to the heavens, the very thing that has occurred because of our journeys into space….The exclusivism of there being only one way in which we can be saved, the idea that there is a single religious group that is in sole possession of the truth–that is the world as we know it that must pass away. What is the kingdom? It lies in our realization of the ubiquity of the divine presence in our neighbors, in our enemies, in all of us…….the Space Age reminds us that it must come from within ourselves. The voyages into outer space turn us back to inner space.As Thomas Merton wrote, a symbol contains a structure that awakens our consciousness to a new awareness of the inner meaning of life and reality itself. Through symbols we enter emotionally into contact with our deepest selves, with each other, and with God–a word that is to be understood as a symbol.”
It was as a young student in high school that I first encountered the scriptures of other peoples, in a class on world religions, which used The Portable World Bible. Instead of historicism, I believe I got the real message, since I did the reading, of the writings themselves, the universalism at their core. And it may have been that I was fortunate in the teacher of the class, who may have introduced me to a new style and way of manhood. Looking back, I see an intellectual man, more sophisticated and nuanced in sensibility.
And then, a year or two later, after more and wider reading, I took a college class that included Huston Smith’s The Religions of Man. That book opened new vistas, ordered things in a new way for me, even as I couldn’t really relate to the instructor, dropping the course before the end. But I had the book. And read it. And re-read it. It was true to my experience. For soon, I had “gone off hiking into Baha’i.” But it was not “too quickly” of a decision. I had spent a few years reading and thinking about virtually every Baha’i book that had been published up until that time, 1976. I searched through several libraries from the suburbs to downtown Detroit to find them, and thought and prayed, prayed and thought, while continuing to read widely in the poets and literature.
It was more than a decade later that I heard of Joseph Campbell, through Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth on PBS, another powerful influence, one I immediately recognized as true to my experience, re-watching it many times, reading some of his books. By 1982, while I was still in Japan, I had already begun to make notes for The Parliament of Poets. Campbell’s work was startlingly congruent with where I already found myself to be, confirmed me in the direction I would take. But it wasn’t until about 1993 that I had written down, perhaps, I think now, as a result of his interview with Moyers, where I would travel.
ANN ARBOR—On September 22, 29, and October 6, the theatre company, Apollo’s Troupe, will stage the theater adaptation of the poem, The Parliament of Poets, written by Michigan poet Frederick Glaysher and published in 2012 by Earthrise Press. Continue reading →