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Robert Epstein

Robert Epstein, a licensed psychologist, haiku poet and anthologist, lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the author of two books of haiku: A Walk Around Spring Lake: Haiku; Checkout Time is Noon: Death Awareness Haiku; and a chapbook, What My Niece Said in My Head.


FROM MIDDLE ISLAND PRESS:


Haiku Days of Remembrance: In Honor of My Father (2018)
ISBN: 978-1-7325023-0-7
By Robert Epstein
Paperback; 290 pages. $17.

(Soon to be available at Amazon.)

From the back cover:

Haiku has the power to heal great loss, because it reveals to one’s heart the midnight truth about life-and-death, which our everyday consciousness relegates to the margins.  In the poems here that honor my father’s life, the gap appearing between life and death is diminished.  My father lives on in these haiku, which were mainly (but not exclusively) written in remembrance on his death day: the second Sunday in June over the past sixteen years.  My father is your father is every father.  Walk with me in haiku remembrance of my Dad through which the unbreakable bonds of love point us all back in the direction of wholeness.
As novelist Thornton Wilder observed: “The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.”

Dad as a boy
there’s ingenuity
in those eyes
*
crickets
w/o 
my father
*
tall grass
so dry it hums
Dad’s death day
*
Father’s Day
birds he imitated 
at the cemetery
*
Dad, are you back?
that red cardinal
in the branches


Free to Dance Forever: Mourning Haiku for My Mother (2018)
ISBN: 978-0-9994939-8-4
By Robert Epstein
Paperback; 204 pages. $18.

(Available at Amazon.)

From the back cover:

Illness, aging, dying and death are inescapable facts of human existence. Resisting or denying the existential reality adds a level of suffering to the pain associated with change. In grappling with my dear mother’s slow decline due to dementia and cancer, I turned to haiku as a means of apprehending the midnight truth about birth-and-death. There are no definitive answers to be found that lie outside one’s own search for insight, understanding, wisdom and liberation. This is what I offer in these pages: glimpses beyond the pain and suffering, accessible through love, which enable us to bear the unbearable. Please join with me in mourning––and celebrating––the life and death of my beloved mother. In this act of sharing and bearing the universal loss of loved ones, I pray we may all feel a little less alone, a little more uplifted.

November afternoon––
Mom tells me her brain
has floated downriver

***

walking cancer my mother the rain

***

63rd birthday––
a Japanese maple leaf
Mom’s next world greeting

***

waking up
in my baby picture
Mom smiling forever

***

They Gave Us Life (2017)
ISBN: 978-0-9980732-9-3
Edited by Robert Epstein
Paperback; 252 pages. $20.

(Available at Amazon.)

From the back cover:

There is no greater gift than the gift of life. For this, we owe our parents an eternal debt of gratitude. The collection of English language haiku and related forms in your hands is a celebration of mothers and fathers. Contributors from around the globe pay homage to their dear parents as well as stepparents, in-laws, and parent substitutes like mentors. May the poets and artists here help you to count the myriad ways in which your mother and father have nurtured, supported, and enriched your world in both big and small ways. Even if things between you and your parents have been difficult at times, the poems in these pages might prompt you to open your heart, paving the way for forgiveness or reconciliation. Itʼs never too late to take a breath, contemplate your love and appreciation, or realize––despite their human frailties––the true blessing your mother and father have been in your life. (Cover art by Ron Moss.)


Every Chicken, Cow, Fish and Frog (2016)
ISBN: 978-0-9980732-2-4
Edited by Robert Epstein and Miriam Wald
Paperback; 218 pages. $20.

(Available at Amazon.)

From the back cover:

All life is precious; thus proclaimed Albert Schweitzer, the 20th century humanitarian. Yet, humans around the globe continue to daily mistreat and murder countless numbers of animals, fish, fowl and insects with reckless abandon. This must come to an end. Collectively, the contributors in this anthology, from Croatia to Indonesia, speak out poetically and passionately on behalf of ending nonhuman suffering. Join them in bringing more compassion, kindness and appreciation to our fundamental relationship with nonhuman beings, who deserve to live free of fear, enslavement, torture, violence and slaughter. Perhaps a newfound reverence for all life will become your lasting message to the world, just as Mahatma Gandhi’s embodiment of nonviolence became his.

crimson dusk–
the cowbells tinkling along
their last journey

~ Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy

a caged chimpanzee
injected with hepatitis
signs hello

~ Allan Burns

Every Chicken, Cow, Fish, and Frog is a special compilation tribute to animals. The magical place where human and non-human animals briefly connect, and share an understanding, is here, in this powerful book.”

~ Hope Bohanec, Executive Director of Compassionate Living, Projects Manager of United Poultry Concerns, and author, The Ultimate Betrayal: Is There Happy Meat?

Every Chicken, Cow, Fish, and Frog presents us with a unique, engrossing and deeply thought-provoking anthology of poetry and haiku from a global authorship for the animal- and planet-conscious reader. The subtle power of this word art will inspire many to think with greater clarity, vision and focus about some of the greatest challenges we face today.”

~ Robert Grillo, Executive Director of Free from Harm, and author, From Farm to Fable: The Fictions of Our Animal-Consuming Culture

Robert Epstein, a licensed psychotherapist, haiku poet and anthologist, has been a vegan for ethical and spiritual reasons since 1975. He lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. His latest book is, Turkey Heaven: Animal Rights Haiku.

Miriam Wald, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, is an animal rights activist who cares for rescued chickens, goats and other companion animals on her mini-sanctuary in Sonoma County, California.


Turkey Heaven: Animal Rights Haiku (2016)
ISBN 978-1535070829
By Robert Epstein
Paperback; 156 pages. $15.

(Available at Amazon.)

From the back cover…

“Growing up, I relished hamburgers, chicken, steak, fish as well as dairy, and never gave any of it a momentʼs thought. Everyone I knew were avid meat-eaters. It seemed un-American to not eat meat. Then, one day, a young woman confronted me with an obvious question, as I was stir-frying ground beef for dinner: “What are you eating tonight, cow?” I was struck as if by lightning; the question cracked my consciousness wide open. Within a monthʼs time I vowed to become vegan: I gave up meat, fish, fowl, and all animal by-products, forever. Family members poked fun at me; my beloved grandmother predicted that the meatless diet I adopted was nothing more than a fad. I have lived that so-called fad for more than 40 years. Why? Because I love animals, and take seriously Dr. Albert Schweitzerʼs clarion call to embrace a reverence for life––all life. We are all related––no exceptions––human and nonhuman alike. Will you dare to take the bold step of embodying a reverence for life in your own daily living? On your deathbed, you may breathe your last with a quiet dignity and peace for having extended love and compassion to all living beings.” This book is 137 pages of mental wheel-spinning persuasion combined with the interior and cover artwork of Ed Markowski.

roadkill
is that what youʼd call
your dead uncle



Beyond the Grave: Contemporary Afterlife Haiku (2015)
ISBN 978-006925-4767-0
Anthology, ed. Robert Epstein
Paperback; 248 pages. $20.

(Available at Amazon.)

How much thought have you given to whether there is life after death? Some religions, like Christianity and Hinduism, posit the existence of heaven and reincarnation, while others are silent on the question. Those not guided by faith are inclined to relegate this haunting mystery to the outermost margins of their lives. In these pages, contributors from around the world have trained their poetic eye on this all-important quest. Relying on the power of intuition and creative imagination, the poets in this collection give us a glimpse into the great mystery of life after death. Suspend your skeptical mind and accompany the poets here on the adventure into the afterlife; you may not only be surprised, but forever changed.



fragrant wind
my mother’s voice calls
from beyond

~ Roberta Beary

a deceased friend
taps me on the shoulder –
plum blossoms falling

~ Chen-ou Liu

In this collection, poets share brilliant and moving glimpses of immortality and continuous renewal. To read these poems, therefore, is to accept death as the watermark on every one of life’s pages. It is to feel at home in the vastness of existence.

~ Sheila Bender, Author of A New Theology: Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief, and Founder of http://www.writingitreal.com

Epstein’s collection is a treasure pot of tiny jewels. Because haiku conveys experiences of the ineffable, it is perhaps the best vehicle for transmitting the impact of encounters with the mysteries that lie beyond the grave.

~ Julia Assante, Author of The Last Frontier: Exploring the Afterlife and Transforming Our Fear of Death

Cover art by Ron C. Moss.



Haiku Edge: New and Selected Poems (2015)
ISBN 978-0-6924-7693-2
By Robert Epstein
Paperback; 136 pages. $26.

(Available at Amazon.)

Most of us are taught from an early age to look on the bright side and to maintain a “positive” attitude toward life. For those who are cheerful and upbeat by nature, this Pollyannaish perspective is easy to come by. For others, perhaps with a darker temperament, the happy-clappy approach takes strenuous effort to sustain, especially given the daily exposure to violence, crime, natural disaster and economic calamity that permeates the media today.

In this unblinking collection of haiku, Robert Epstein drops the scales from his eyes and stares straight into the dark side of life. From a certain angle, reality is harsh, tragic, cruel. . . even ruthless. The tragic side of life needs to be faced and if there is any truth to be distilled, let it be revealed through the lens of poetry–the haiku edge. The result is often poignant, sometimes light-hearted, truth about the absurd world we are thrown into and manage to survive, despite. Remember that the truth, however difficult to bear, strengthens, even ennobles, the soul. You may be surprised to find yourself leaning into life with a little more courage, even compassion.

the phantom
limb of believing
war is over

Cover art and interior art provided by Ed Markowski.



Haiku Forest Afterlife (2014)
ISBN 978-0-6922-2170-9
By Robert Epstein
Paperback; 132 pages. $13.

(Available at Amazon and the CreateSpace e-store.)

Most religious traditions have some fundamental belief about what happens to us after we die. Heaven and reincarnation are just two such notions with regards to the soul that offer comfort to those who fear death or have lost a loved one. In truth, we, the living, cannot say what happens to us after we die because, by definition, we are not dead yet; what happens after death remains the great mystery. At the same time, the human imagination is capable of venturing out into uncharted territory–the landscape of posthumous consciousness. In this book, Robert Epstein explores this landscape through the poetic lens of haiku. Suspend your rational, scientific mind and join him in contemplating the afterlife where the invisible and unknowable take poetic form. If time stops, what then?

ball
no
chain
after
life

Cover art provided by Ron C. Moss (www.ronmoss.com).



What My Niece Said in My Head (2014)
By Robert Epstein
Chapbook; 50 pages. $9.

(Contact Christina at middleislandpress@yahoo.com to purchase copies.)

This book is a collection of fifty poems (haiku & senryu) from Robert Epstein to his niece for her tenth birthday. Beyond personal value, each page contains wisdom, humor, or both in a priceless marriage of pragmatism and wonder to serve as a guide as one treads through life. It serves also as a reminder that there is no harm in the inevitable; that there is beauty to be found in all aspects of life. Practical yet delightful for readers of all ages.

(Some examples…)

my niece wants to know
if the sun loses patience
waiting to go down

in my dream
I saw the tooth-fairy
she’s toothless too!

my young niece asks
where we go when we die…
right here

I don’t mind spills
I think that’s how God
made the stars

From the inside back cover…

Nobody understands life better than little girls and boys under the age of ten. For them, the world consists of one revelation after another. After ten, we forget what we know in order to get along and to fit in. The door to mystery and wonder is sealed and papered over with one too many norms, expectations, and disappointments.

If we’re lucky, the miracle of love throws the door wide open again, if only for a fleeting moment. Don’t wait for romantic love–colored as it is by infatuation–which can be readily blown out by a single gust of wind to a flame. Preserve your wild mind that is the birthright of our human incarnation. That’s what my niece–in all her fresh enthusiasm–represents for me. She is an artist, naturalist, and magician all rolled into one, as are we all.


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