Author-Signed Books; Native American Shawls!

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My wife Andrea and I will be in the United States from mid-January to mid-April. If you live in the States, this is your chance to get signed-to-order copies of my books and/or Andrea’s made-to-order traditional Panamanian shawls at a discount, because you avoid the international shipping and duty from the country of Panama!

Books and shawls make wonderful gifts for Chanukkah or Christmas. Your literate friends and family can warm up during a cold night with a shawl made on a hand-loom in the ancient style of the Ngäbe Buglé nation of Panama, and enjoying a good book!

Choose what books you want by using the drop-down menu in the black bar just under the photo at the top of this page to navigate to novels, nonfiction, and so on. Follow the links with each book to order the version you want (hardcover, paperback, etc.). Have the book shipped to this address –> 202 Wilmont Road / Syracuse, N.Y. 13219 <-- and also submit $12 per book to cover the cost of going to the post office and reshipping it back to you. Be sure to include your United States mailing address with the Paypal payment. The Paypal account is accessed by putting in this e-mail address: distant_e@yahoo.com - no e-mail to that address, please; this is just to deposit to the correct Paypal account. Or, for easy one-step signed books, remit through Paypal the cover price of the books you want plus $20 for the first book ($8 for subsequent books) to cover shipping to me so I can sign them and then shipping to you. Be sure to specify titles of books, which edition (hardcover if available or softcover), and provide a United States mailing address. DSCN4326

Our visit to the United States is also an opportunity to order one of my wife’s handmade shawls. There will be a limited quantity of these, as each one takes a few days to weave, so NO ORDERS WILL BE TAKEN once the maximum has been reached. If in doubt, send an inquiry through editor@audlinbooks.com

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You may specify what colors and style (see the photos) you would like for your shawl(s). Or, if you want to be very sure, you can always mail large skeins of the colors you want to the above address.

Each handmade shawl costs $80, which includes shipping to a United States address. Remit through the above Paypal account.

Poetry in a Nuclear Age

The following is the beginning of an essay written today that will eventually be included in my forthcoming collection of essays, Ranting the Truth, to be published later this year.

If one of the main poetic themes is the juxtaposition of evanescence and eternality, then we must recognize how quickly the one vanishes, to be swallowed up by the other.

All things pass, and most of them pass into oblivion, nonexistence so complete that they are not even remembered. But a few, thanks to poets, pass into a different kind of eternality: the immortality bestowed by art. The parting day that Gray eulogized and the daffodil that Keats described, for example, are no more, but they have been literally immortalized in poems.

This world, so bent on destroying itself, is the ultimate example of that theme. This mortal life was always evanescent and the world seemingly eternal; now not even the planet we walk about on for our day of existence can be expected to last very long. In every moment it is at risk of being destroyed by powerful madmen.

Many would think the poetic craft to be irrelevant, an absurd anachronism in an age in which communication is founded on accruing the capital of attention, power, and money. However, it is the work, indeed the sacred duty, of the poet today to immortalize not merely the ephemeral beauty of evenings or daffodils in this world, but the fragile and very mortal world itself.

Τhis poetic burden is intensified by the poet’s awareness that everything will be destroyed when the world is destroyed: including every poem mourning the imminent destruction of the world – along with every other poem, from the most brilliant to the humblest doggerel, and every poet and every reader, too.

Yet (as the Tree in my novel Rats Live on no Evil Star puts it) we must hope and believe and trust and keep faith that perhaps in some other world some other trees will be cut down in sacrifice and ripped apart into pulp and flattened into winding sheets and marked with the symbols that record the poem that mourns the world, and perhaps some other people in some other world or time or dimension will read it and memorize it and recite it to their listeners, and like that of the evening and the daffodil, the beauty of this our world will remain alive.

If it is our duty to leave this earth a little bit better, a little more beautiful, than when we first entered it, then this is not by our person that we shall do so, for our individuality is of very little account, but by the things that we say and do that are memorable, hence remembered, that we improve it: the things that have a benign effect on this world. No one has changed this world by who he or she was, but many have changed it, and all can potentially do so, through what they say and do.

This is what the poet accomplishes. In every moment the poet consciously seeks to observe the beauty, the wisdom, around him or her, and then to give it through beautiful words that memorability, that eternality. Gray and Keats succeeded. So too did Shakespeare and Neruda, Han-shan and Borges, Baudelaire and Basho, and countless others. These poets are not remembered for the persons they were or the lives they led, though these things may interest us, but because they succeeded in leaving beauty behind when they left this world, in observing eloquently the evanescence and bestowing upon it eternality.

Faced with its potential destruction at the hands of lunatics, the poet writes upon the world its own epitaph – and thus, though it may be destroyed in a hellfire of radiation, taking with it into oblivion all the evenings and daffodils, our little fragile world will yet exist in the greater universe of beauty and truth.

From the forthcoming book Ranting the Truth. Copyright © 2012 by James David Audlin. All rights reserved.