This January our editors are feeling especially filled with gratitude, in the present moment as well as looking back and forward. New Pages’ recent fine review of our Fall-Winter issue and of our short publication history acknowledges the skill and accomplishment of our contributors.
Much of this interview with Paul Hostovsky covers his initial fascination with the system of Braille and his ongoing study of the code that blind readers (and Paul) read with the pads of their fingers. (In his Leaping Clear essay, “A Different Digital,” Paul reveals his secret delight in reading Braille in spite of his being sighted.) We also discuss Paul’s work as a sign language interpreter for the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
It’s hard to believe that two years have passed since we began publishing works by artists and writers whose lives and art are informed by contemplative practice. We received hundreds of submissions for this issue and we want to thank all who contributed.
In the process of assembling all the pieces for this issue we discovered, purely by chance, that certain harmonic resonances began to arise between, say, this essay and that poem; this story and that image; this poem and that piece of music. It was as if we’d constructed a gamelan composed of poetry, prose, images, and sound. Sympathetic chords are struck on the themes of social justice, the transformative power of nature, the liberating effects of present moment awareness, and more.
Two pieces in this issue perform a duet on the score of social justice. Roshi Joseph Bobrow’s essay, “The Beating Heart of Standing Rock—Walking the Great Mystery with All My Relations,” takes us right into the fray at Standing Rock in November of 2016. Here we meet activists of all sorts who join hands with Native water protectors in their fight against the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Margaret Rozga’s patchwork postmodern poem “Difficult Sermon at Barcelona Cathedral / Difficult Lunch the Next Day” is like a broken mirror reflecting the commingled images of globalization, the Occupy movement, homelessness, Donald Trump, and Marine Le Pen.
Several pieces in this issue remind us that the calming and transformative power of nature can provide a refuge from the relentless stress of our lives. Poet and novelist Christien Gholson will introduce you to the tenacious, desert-dwelling pinyon pine, the horned lizard, and share the breath-taking effects of a meteor shower alongside 8th century Chinese poet Li Po. Switching mediums, you might want to gaze at one of Linda Laino’s mesmerizing nature mandalas as an object of meditation, or listen to the melodic accumulation of tonal resonances in Suss Müsik’s vibrational healing audio “03 Euclidean.”
When we find ourselves spinning out in an endless feedback loop of anxiety or worry—or, for that matter, even excitement and anticipation—often the best thing to do is drop into the present moment, ground ourselves in awareness of the body and the senses, noting what is happening this very moment. . . and the next. There, we’re open to the freshness of life.
Several authors in this issue do just that. In her essay, “Cake or Death,” H. Ní Aódagaín confronts her fears, and, while on a solo a trip to Europe, learns that being alone in crowds of strangers results in a kind of transformational freedom. Author Doreen Schweizer’s essay, “Finding Refuge in Daily Life: It Takes Practice,” illustrates how being in the present moment while dealing with the death of a friend leads to a feeling of “deep gratitude and awe for any number of things.” In “The Only Work,” author and yoga instructor Jesse Curran—mother of two children—is able find release from the pressures of motherhood by focusing on one. . . breath. . . at a time.
Please, immerse yourself in this issue of Leaping Clear, and journey with our contributors to places of compassion, beauty, mystery, appreciation, and abiding calm.
As we continue into our second year of publication, we’re reaching more and more people who tell us that Leaping Clear’s celebration of the arts and meditative practices nourishes both their inner and outer lives. Thank you for joining us and for sharing the site.
We’re delighted to feature one of our favorite poets, Jane Hirshfield, in this issue. The power, insight, and beauty of her poems and essays amplify the deep place poetry holds in human history.
Music is another, perhaps prehistoric, ancient art. Roseminna Watson’s “Limbic Hymnal,” touches the embodied and moving power of music with violin and voice.
“Black River,” a video by Georg Koszulinski, uses what would be conventionally called a newer medium. In this piece, however, we’re brought to focus on a primal sense—seeing—and the interplay between seeing and perception.
We’re refreshing the site itself, so you can more easily visit or revisit previous issues. They’re under the new Archives tab. And the Links tab now features contributors’ sites, as well as other sites of interest.
Wherever you choose to dive into Leaping Clear, we believe you’ll find that the artists and writers offer gifts of fresh viewpoints, emotions, perceptions, and understanding of what it is to be humanly alive.