Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Zen and the Poetic Insight of Alvaro Cardona-Hine



Mel Mathews: Having recently published one of your collections of poetry, The Song Less/on (il piccolo editions), undoubtedly I am a big fan of your work. However, today I'd like to learn more about your just published Phantom Buddha (Alba Books). Why the title: Phantom Buddha?

Alvaro Cardona-Hine
Alvaro Cardona-Hine: Phantom Buddha is an autobiographical novel dealing with the time in my Forties when, after reading extensively about Zen Buddhism, I began actual practice under a Japanese Zen Master who turned out to be a womanizer. The woman I was with was lured away from me. It was a painful experience that took me several decades to translate into a novel. There is a blend of reality and dreams I had during those days that accentuates the condition of a man in the most dire of circumstances. My friend Pierre Delattre, author of Tales of a Dalai Lama, consider this work of mine to be a breakthrough into a new kind of literature.

MM: How long has Phantom Buddha been in the making?

ACH: I began to write Phantom Buddha decades ago but, for one thing, the painful nature of the experience made postponing and rewriting a matter of many years. The fact that my wife, Barbara McCauley Cardona and I, have started our own publishing firm, made me abandon any doubts and complete the work.

MM: What impetus fueled the writing of Phantom Buddha?

ACH: Phantom Buddha is essentially an expose of a man who has recently been exposed in the Buddhist community and by the New York Times for the moral fraud that he is. Zen is the clearest, most demanding, and most subtle paths to personal liberation that exists, and there is absolutely no room in it for scoundrels such as Joshu Sasaki who takes advantage of the cupidity of female students.    

I was able to overcome my initial disappointment and went on to study with Prabhassa Dharma Roshi, who some 14 years ago, before she died, named me a sensei, or teacher.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"A male 'Eat, Prey, Love.'"


Man in Search of His Anima, a.k.a. His Soul

Menopause Man-Unplugged 
reviewed by Elizabeth Clark-Stern

It was - in retrospect - a risky thing to do: reading a book written by my publisher. It is fiction, but every writer's soul and character comes through in their work. What if his book revealed a person different from the one I knew through phone calls and emails? What if I didn't like it? All reasonable cautions. But I was curious. As it turns out, so is Malcolm Clay, the protagonist. Curious, rebellious, always drawn to the off-center. Well, so was I, starting with the second book in the series, Menopause Man-Unplugged, after giving the first, LeRoi, to a friend.

"I loved it," he said, "A male Eat Prey Love."

I was intrigued. I learned from reviewing another Fisher King Book, Eros and the Shattering Gaze: Transcending (Male) Narcissism by Ken Kimmel, that a woman can learn a great deal about herself by reading books about men. I was still nervous. I knew Mathews' book wasn't academic like Kimmel's. Mel had to be capable of creating a fictional world I was willing to dive into, get lost in, and enjoy, or would I be lost in a quagmire of words and images I couldn't relate to?

Turns out, my worries were a totally ridiculous spinning out of my own "dark side." I fell right into this book - a true Page Turner. While it is technically fiction, it reads like the journal of a very real man, with all his quirks, complexities, and goofball humor, falling for the wrong women, drawn to the wrong situations while desperately searching for the light. I don't know if this was Mathews' intention, but it reads like a prose version of the goofy guys in movies like Hangover - with a very real quest at its core. He throws in poetic references that belie his superficial kick-back persona, such as a framed copy of 'The Definitive Journey' by Juan Ramon Jimenez, Spain's great poet and author of one of my favorites, Platero and I.

Monday, December 10, 2012

the song less/on - "some of the best ever written"

the song less/on

A book of poetry by Alvaro Cardona-Hine

“Some of the best ever written . . .” 

--Tom McGrath in The National Guardian 

reviewing the haiku in The Gathering Wave.

“Cardona-Hine is far more tuned to silence than Eliot; there are no phases to his theology. He offers no disciplines, nor even Zen vacancies; he offers arrivals . . . This gentle poet has little to do with the hysterical attenuated surrealism which has in recent years dominated the better little magazines. Or with archetypes of the Great Mother or other theorizing . . . It is understandable that poets want to move out into the universe, to dream of being moles, to sink into mineral veins, to make wild dissociated images that dissolve the self. But Cardona-Hine preserves the sense of human self-hood, human wonder, adventure.”
–Benjamin Saltzman in Kayak 
reviewing Words On Paper.

Alvaro Cardona-Hine was born in Costa Rica in 1926 and was brought to the United States by his parents in 1939. By 1945 he was writing poetry then went on to translate Cesar Vallejo, write novels, make a living as a painter, and compose music which has been performed in various parts of the country. He is the recipient of an NEA grant, a Bush Foundation Fellowship and a Minnesota State Arts Board grant. He lives with his wife, the poet and painter Barbara McCauley, in the small village of Truchas, in New Mexico, where the two manage their own gallery.

Product Details
* Paperback: 170 pages
* Publisher: il piccolo editions; First edition (Jan 1, 2013)
* Language: English
* ISBN-13: 978-1926715889
* www.fisherkingpress.com

Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
and a growing list of alternative titles. 
Mel Mathews, is the author of several novels (Fisher King Press). His books are available from your local bookstore, a host of on-line booksellers, or you can order them directly from his website at: www.melmathews.com © 2012 Mel Mathews

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Poetry for the Rising Tide


It is an honor to be the publisher of The Book of Now: Poetry for the Rising Tide. To Anita Endrezze, Crystal Good, Dunya Mikhail, Frances Hatfield, Jane Downs, Leah Shelleda, and Naomi Ruth Lowinsky, I would like to express my sincere gratitude, for allowing Fisher King Press to publish poets of such venerated caliber. It is my hope that your mighty voices encompass the entire world and your messages reach and touch the hearts of humanity as a whole. It is my hope that your most worthy offerings are genuinely received and deeply understood.
-- Mel Mathews, Publisher, Fisher King Press

Seven lyrical women poets, each accompanied by a study of their work, navigate our contemporary world. They travel to the depths of the psyche, experience exile, rhapsodize on the beauty of our planet, lament loss and celebrate renewal. These poets write courageously on what threatens us: climate change, war, mountain-top removal, loss of species, environmental damage, the scourge of cancer. They are witnesses, ‘Couriers’ who bring us their visions. As the tide rises they reach out to us in deeply personal and clear voices, each providing a unique experience in contemporary poetry.

The Book of Now: Poetry for the Rising Tide
* Paperback: 110 pages
* Publisher: il piccolo editions; First edition (Nov 1, 2012)
* Language: English
* ISBN-10: 192671590X
* ISBN-13: 978-1926715902

Friday, July 27, 2012

Solitude, Creativity, Opus House

Opus House
A place for Solitude and Creative Work

Opus House is a comfortable adobe home near the old Spanish village of Truchas in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Northern New Mexico. Sitting at 8300 feet elevation, 45 minutes from Santa Fe on the High Road to Taos, Opus House is offered to selected individuals of all callings and backgrounds as a place of solitude and creative work. It is seen as a place to be for a week or so to concentrate on a chosen creative process.

For those interested in exploring this offering, contact:
Opus House, 1671 State Road 76, P.O. Box 471, Truchas, NM 87578


A number of Fisher King Press authors have spent time at Opus House and Truchas Peaks Place. Patricia Damery and Naomi Ruth Lowinsky wrote the preface, the section introductions, and flowed together the essays that comprised Marked By Fire: Stories of the Jungian Way. Leah Shelleda, author of After the Jug Was Broken occasionally retreats to Opus House. Mel Mathews has completed a number of Fisher King Press titles while hiding away at this sacred place.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Timekeeper has come to Town

Timekeeper by John Atkinson

USA TODAY SAYS

Within the first few pages, John Atkinson's Timekeeper had weaved its essence around my heart and refused to let me go. Written in the same spirit as Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, Timekeeper is a magnificent tale of a young boy who can't read, or at least he hasn't found the means to do so up to this point in his life. Misunderstood by his teachers and elders, and physically beaten into the ground by his father, Johnnyboy runs away from home at the age of fourteen and sets off into the unknown to find himself. What he couldn't find in his own father, the universe provides for him in a multitude of miraculous ways. In spite of all his suffering and adversities, Johnnyboy's spirit remains in tact... better yet, like a boxer taking a relentless barrage of punches, he spits his beating into the ringside pail and comes out dancing like never before into the next rounds/chapters of this magnificent tale of redemption. Readers, Booksellers, Journalists, Reviewers, Critics, and even you Movie Makers, about all I can tell you is, 'Better get ready 'cause the Timekeeper is coming to town!'

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Freeing our Authentic Selves

Review by Mel Mathews

Filled with insight and wisdom, Free the Children is most unique and original in its own sense, yet equal in rank to the works of Carlos Castaneda and Don Miguel Ruiz. This beautifully written story is about a love shared between a father and son. Yet, it is not about a father ‘fathering’ a son. Quite the opposite – Boye, with an innocent wisdom that has not been distorted by the conventional impositions of social institutions, teaches, or better yet, ‘boys’ a Father. Bruce Scott reclaims and liberates his own lost innocent self as he and Boye travel the country, meeting up with bizarre people in the most uncanny places, and sharing profound experiences that bring about a shift in awareness and alters their way of seeing and being in the world.