Advance Praise for And Now, Still
“Openhearted, rich in detail, and wildly irreverent, Reggie Marra’s And Now, Still celebrates the sacred everyday connections among the living, the dying, and the dead. This intimate moment, son holding father – I learn how heavy/ your living dead weight can be/ face to face, chest to chest – is one example of the brave, unflinching nature of Marra’s work.
“And from the title poem these lines – I feel etched stone’s/ temporary permanence, / time, laughter, conversation,/ …first and final truth/ lost shinanklefoot,/ …two key turns, a silent sister – reminding us that all emerges from and gives way to silence, the mysterious center point, this moment. And so the poet mourns and sings. Lyric to narrative, journal entry to rant, his layered language, its poetic intelligence, invites deeper presence. A generous collection that defies being boxed, this book is a healing journey offered by a kind, resilient, skillful and eloquent guide.”
– Janet E. Aalfs, author of Bird of a Thousand Eyes, founder & director of Lotus Peace
Reggie Marra’s poetry speaks to me deeply of hope and joy, beautifully woven into the context of grief and loss. As a holistic nurse, reading Reggie’s poetry reminds me of the humanity in every person. Through his life I see my life and the lives of the many patients I have touched. Reggie has the ability to gather precious moments and offer them as a gift to the reader. I recommend slowly sipping and savoring each word that it may touch and magnify your life.”
– Joanna Burgess-Stocks, BSN, RN, CWOCN, Patient Advocate
“When the soul needs to be fed or held, only music and poetry are capable. I have no idea if Reggie Marra sings or plays anything – but oh, the poetry.”
– Ian Percy, author, Going Deep: Exploring Spirituality in Life and Leadership.
Praise for This Open Eye
“This Open Eye is a powerful, devastating, and stunningly beautiful book. Reggie Marra has unfalteringly absorbed the images and voices of the war in Iraq, pared them down to the bone, and handed them back to us that we, too, might bear witness to our times. Not in any of these poems, or the essay, has he taken the easy way out. Like Breyten Breytenbach, Nelly Sachs, and Antonio Machado before him, Marra reclaims the essentially human from both the brutal and the brutalized.”
– Trebbe Johnson, author of The World is a Waiting Lover: Desire and the
Quest for the Beloved
“Reggie Marra writes with stunning, graphic precision—brutal scenes the American news skips over, scenes of endless sorrow that politicians bury under false phrases like ‘total victory.’ I read these small but huge poems with a chill of recognition and gratitude—thank goodness for poets like Reggie Marra who look deeply and care even more deeply about telling the truth. These poems are tributes to the nearly-invisible wounded and the honest humanity so many of us yearn for now.”
– Naomi Shihab Nye, author, You & Yours (2005); National Book Award finalist, 19 Varieties of Gazelle (2002)
“Reggie Marra captures the tragedy of war from all angles. His vision expands beyond gender and race to embrace the humanity of us all. Unafraid to depict the graphic consequences of hate, uninhibited in his words by the politics of aggression, Reggie bravely steps into the epicenter of world conflict and individual suffering. He captures the colors of youth and the mud of death, creating a dichotomous reality that has brought poets and artists to their knees since the dawn of civilization. Reggie is the journalist of our times….”
– Eileen Albrizio, author, Messy on the Inside (1998); Rain—Dark as Water in Winter (2002); and On the Edge (2003)
Praise for “11:43, Saturday Night”
“This poem meets head-on an example of the disastrous conditions of contemporary urban life; in laying down one raw, unchaperoned fact after another, the poet achieves a truth that too often lies buried under lyric exaggeration or the flat drone of reportage.”
– Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003, on “11:43, Saturday Night”
On the First Edition of Living Poems, Writing Lives
“Traveling with Marra is like following a wise teacher down a long hallway as he keeps opening doors for you, saying ‘Maybe this is the one for you… or would you rather take a look at what’s in here?’
“….So, like the best of poems, Living Poems, Writing Lives is a work that will speak to readers in different ways…. Is it a guide to a greater appreciation of poetry? Will it help you find new poems to write, and more tools to employ in your writing? Will it teach you about new ways to appreciate the world we live in and the people we relate to? Yes, yes, and again, yes.”
– Mary Caprio, in The Museletter: News and Resources from the
National Association for Poetry Therapy | The full Museletter review is available here.
“Marra writes with intelligence, compassion, and humor. If you’ve read Natalie Goldberg, Julia Cameron, and John Fox, you will still want to read Living Poems, Writing Lives…. [He] approaches writing as a practice with depth, breadth, and focus….[and] offers us a treasure trove of rich resource material in psychology, spirituality, history and literature. Living Poems, Writing Lives is not just about poetry; it’s about personhood, vision, consciousness, and transformation.”
– Dr. Sherry Reiter, Director, The Creative “Righting” Center, in The Journal of Poetry Therapy | The full Journal of Poetry Therapy review is available here.
“Living Poems, Writing Lives is inspired, creative, deep, and original in its scope and breadth.”
– Dr. Michael Brant DeMaria, Composer, Musician, Author
On the Workshops
“I would do this again—what comes next? Thank you for making me write something down on paper to prove to myself that I could do this. You significantly raised my level of understanding about the place of poetry in understanding Life.”
– T. Walman, Physician, Annapolis, MD
“You left a lasting impression….a clear cool drink for a thirsty soul, that’s what you gave. You’ll always have a welcome in the North Country.”
– Olga Morrill, Program Director, Conway Public Library, New Hampshire
“I entered into this weekend workshop thinking I’d lost my Muse. I found my Muse was not lost, but rather I was failing to engage her. The exercises to engage the poet within were highly effective and served me throughout the weekend. More importantly, they will serve me going forward if I find myself ever thinking I’ve lost my Muse again. I found the workshop engaging, encouraging, profound and self-enlightening.”
– Jason Hill, Richmond, VA
“It is a true art to watch Reggie work his magic…His gentle manner and wonderful sense of humor invite honesty and remove fear….He has the type of persona that crosses all age, race, and educational barriers.”
– Sue Cavanaugh, Educator, Regional School District 15, Middlebury, CT
“Excellent classroom management, great rapport and discussions with students, bringing their thinking to a higher level. Most importantly, Reggie taught me the importance of teaching various forms of poetry with my students to improve writing. Each year I continue to incorporate activities he taught in my classroom. Not only did he touch the lives of 22 students while he was here, but he has influenced the lives of all the students I’ve had since. I am a better teacher of writing after working with him.”
– Mary Ann McAndrew, Pleasant Valley School, South Windsor, CT
“You were extraordinary! … I wanted an opening very different from anything our members had ever experienced, and you delivered on that vision.”
– Lenora Billings-Harris, CSP, 2006-2007 President of the National Speakers Association; author of The Diversity
“Reggie Marra is absolutely brilliant—a genius at painting word pictures that reflect and give meaning to our world.”
– Randy Gage, author, Prosperity
“…majestic and mind-stretching. I find Reggie’s work mesmerizing…”
– Ian Percy, creator of The Infinite Possibilities Initiative, author of Going Deep
The above comments refer to my presentation of the poem at the 2007 National Speakers Association Convention in San Diego.
See below for a video from a later rendition of the poem for a gathering of artists, educators and arts administrators in Connecticut.