Claudia Jensen Dudley’s recent book: Poetry. Book + CD. WATERS IN THE AFTERNOON is a poetic and musical journey into the heart of a great question. Both intimate and epic in scope, it echoes Eliot’s Four Quartets, Tagore’s Gitanjali, and Rilke’s Duino Elegies. But WATERS IN THE AFTERNOON stands unto itself. Three powerful stories unfold in narrative poetry and prose, concluding with eight “Canticles” (set to music on an accompanying CD, sung by Lori Hedrick Helfand) of lyric intensity. The seemingly unanswerable question of maya, or Illusion, resounds through them all. As in chiaroscuro painting, WATERS IN THE AFTERNOON uses shadow and light to create a third dimension. Its haunting rhythms, its riveting narratives evoke the ineffable in the silence beneath words. It calls us to face without fear both the mystery inherent in our personal journeys and the Mysterium Tremendum that is beyond telling. (from Browser Books Publishing)
Here is a personal response to Claudia’s book by James George, a retired Canadian ambassador with a long-standing record of service concerning environmental issues. He is also the author of Asking for the Earth and The Little Green Book On Awakening:
I have just read, avidly, your three-part poem extrapolating on the great insight of the ancient Egyptians that, if you know that you ARE everywhere at the same time, you can be conscious of God now. Of course this is also what St. Augustin is trying to express when he says famously that “there is nowhere that God is not.” But neither statement can be parroted mentally; it must be felt and felt deeply, in silence and awe. For here we are in front of the ubiquitous mystery of Life, of Consciousness.Your three stories take us by very different routes to the threshold of that delicate edge of human awareness, and thankfully without commentary. Beatrice did no less for Virgil, according to Dante. Your poems follow gracefully in their footsteps, supported by your music.
With gratitude and love…
Lastly, a poetic meditation on the art of writing by Claudia Jensen Dudley, courtesy of Works & Conversations:
Writing in May
Now that the early morning overcast has lifted, this day’s warmth, the scents of new growth everywhere, the jasmine on the fence, irises, the wet ground, fresh grass, are almost too much. Too much to take in; so overwhelming to some unknown body in myself that they almost literally make my heart hurt. I wonder how I can ever digest this; the food is too rich.
Then I sit in front of this paper, trying to relate this, thinking there’s no way written words can possibly vibrate as the body does when touched by vibrating Nature in May. But what there is at times during the process of writing—it’s happening now—is a kind of hovering, a silence as the words emerge. This can happen because luckily, it takes more time to write these words than to speak them. It is during this time, this hovering, the almost leisurely space of time needed for words to flow into ink, that something extraordinary can happen. I can dwell in the true energetic echo of impressions as I write about them-allowing them go on working in me, in this stolen, sacred hovering, this waiting.
Then the words are something alive, really breathing. Maybe they even become a kind of holograph of the meadow, the trees, path, creek-which needs the writer for its full processing. I realize that this is why I write: for this truly alchemical process.
—Claudia Jensen Dudley from “Why Write?”
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