Superabundantly Alive: Thomas Merton's Dance with the Feminine
Superabundantly Alive: Thomas Merton's Dance with the Feminine is a unique, unified, multi-genre work that includes dialogue, imaginary letters, poems, and reflective essays by two established Canadian poets. Taking cues from Merton himself, Susan and John establish a playful, jazzy, dialogic tone - superabundantly alive. This book invites participation for those who already know Merton's work and for those who are meeting this whole and broken, prophetic, whimsical, paradoxical prophet and visionary for the first time.
Robert Lax once described Merton's poetry and the man himself as "superabundantly alive." McCaslin and Porter prove the truth of this description in their enchanting account of the writer-mystic who now comes into his second century of stature and significance, in the words of Boris Pasternak, "[a]live and burning to the end."
Published: November 12, 2018 by Wood Lake Books
Of Wine and Reading
The Alfred Gustav Press published my little chapbook, Of Wine and Reading, in May 2016, along with two other books. My book celebrates the reading life, which, in Alberto Manguel's affirmation, "allows you a sort of joyful immortality, and the illusion of limitless space and time as nothing else does on this Earth." The chapbook consists of notes on my reading Clarice Lispector, Hemingway, Coleridge, Raymond Carver, and Billy Collins, among others. It's not everybody's cup of wine, but maybe it's yours.
Published: 2016 by Alfred Gustav Press
Lightness and Soul
In Lightness and Soul: Musings on Eight Jewish Writers, poet and essayist J. S. Porter explores and reflects upon the writing of authors who demonstrate how reading - and by extension, the Book - fosters critical thinking and fires the imagination.
"I wanted to bring together some of the writers I've reflected on over the last ten years. I'd like readers to join me in celebrating these selected Jewish authors who, despite their many differences, are united in their passion for reading and writing."
From the enduring charisma of Leonard Cohen to John Berger's attentive response to conscience, from the austere minimalism of Robert Lax to the stormy poetics of Muriel Rukeyser, the authors discussed herein offer a collage of literary giants, a range of styles, and a blend of lightness and soul.
p.s. Susan Sontag, Simone Weil, Alberto Manguel and Harold Bloom also have a strong presence in the book.
Published September 1, 2011 by Seraphim Editions
The Glass Art of Sarah Hall
The Glass Art of Sarah Hall presents 27 beautifully illustrated art glass installations. Hall's work ranges from a solar tower in Vancouver to leaf patterns in an Arizona sanctuary, from whimsical prismatic glass in a children's centre to abstract designs at the Embassy of Kuwait and the jewelled splendour of the 'Wisdom Windows' at Massey College in Toronto. Her work combines joy with serenity and experiment with reverence. The book captures one of North America's finest glass artists at the peak of her technical innovation and artistic creativity. The text draws on biography, poetry, philosophy and art history in a style at once meditative and conversational.
Published 2011 by Glasmalerei Peters GmbH, Germany.
Thomas Merton: Hermit at the Heart of Things (Novalis)
Forty years after his death, Thomas Merton remains one of the most significant spiritual figures of our time. In this series of ten literary portraits, J.S. Porter explores some of the many facets of Merton: the contemplative and activist, the poet, the reader, the translator, the tone setter, the letter writer, the intellectual, the lover, the synthesizer, the journal keeper.
Thomas Merton: Hermit at the Heart of Things is a major addition to our understanding of Merton. This engaging work will intrigue those versed in Merton lore and fascinate those who are meeting Merton for the first time.
Published: March 10, 2008 by Les Éditions Novalis
In Spirit Book Word, J.S. Porter guides his readers through a set of 10 key words that capture the essence of the lives of some of the most compelling literary and philosophical voices of the past century and beyond. Included are Thomas Merton, Emily Dickinson, Dennis Lee, George Grant, and Flannery O'Connor. Porter has identified a special word that animates the life of each of his subjects and which casts light into the meaning of their life and work. "Quick" is the word-lens through which he views D. H. Lawrence and "Mercy" is the way he understands Thomas Merton. "Revelation" is his link to Flannery O'Connor, while "Love" is revealed in the poignant and grace-filled work of Raymond Carver. The writer J.S. Porter reveals himself as a supremely talented reader and guide to fellow readers as he explores some of the most spirit-filled writing of the last 150 years. "We readers are here to praise traces of the human spirit and the movement of the Spirit in the bookworld. Only the book recognizes that what is contained is more important than the container."
Published: January 1, 2001 by Les Éditions Novalis
Published by Moonstone Press, London, ON, 1988.
"The author has adopted the daring and risky strategy of making Merton himself the speaker of each of the poems. The blurb on the back cover claims, "this is his voice, reincarnated . . . to speak as he might have spoken today." It isn't; it doesn't. But the collection does provide flashes of insight which are genuine, even if not genuine-ly Merton, and offers an angle of vision on its subject which is consistently interesting and challenging..."