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:
Every Chicken, Cow, Fish and Frog (2016)
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.
the cowbells tinkling along
their last journey
~ Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy
a caged chimpanzee
injected with hepatitis
~ 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)
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.
is that what youʼd call
your dead uncle
Beyond the Grave: Contemporary Afterlife Haiku (2015)
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.
my mother’s voice calls
~ 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
(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.
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?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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…
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.