How can a book of poetry bring magic into your life? Louis Alan Swartz has done this, writing of life and death in a way that stirs your soul and makes your heart sing in Magic Realized and Other Poems on the Human Spirit.
Reading this volume from beginning to end, you feel like you’ve had a glimpse of a blessed life, as the author touches on Love and Marriage; Children; Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Mothers and Fathers; Human Sanctity; Aesthetics; Ideas, Images, and Places; and Death, the Spirit and Immortality.
Each section has an intriguing note under the title. For instance, Love and Marriage is subtitled, “I intend to make you ridiculously happy.” Under the section title Ideas, Images, and Places, are the words: “Living is the finest art.”
I found all of the poems uplifting, even when I skipped ahead to read about Death, as I mourned the loss of a dear friend. In Eulogy, I resonated with his words: “I do not mourn a loss. I protest an interruption.”
All of the poems gave me another way to look at things, “An idea of what living could be. A small inkling of infinity.” ~ from Claire at the Piano
The poems in Magic Realized are accessible, their meaning, their message, instantly clear and full of color and feeling. The author even provides definitions of words at the end of some poems to make sure they are not misconstrued. And the beautiful poetry is embellished with beautiful illustrations throughout the book by Diane Woods.
Here, Louis Alan Swartz answers my questions about Magic Realized:
What message would you like readers to take away from this book?
My overall intention in writing is to draw out the magnificence in individuals. It is my firm certainty that each person is an immortal spiritual being. I also believe that each human is possessed of abilities much greater than they have been permitted to believe. Their ability to perceive, understand, create, love, help, know and do good is for each one beyond our current earth imaginations. There is a Hindu myth about the god, Shiva and the goddess, Maya. In short, they had a loving relationship for 9000 years and then they ran into some trouble and things got a bit rocky. First of all, I believe that story is true and second of all, I believe that a “regular human being” here on this earth is capable of a love of that duration and magnitude. I won’t go into all the other legends and myths. Suffice it to say, it is very real to me that these things really did happen and that we can return to that level of intensity of life.
What I want the reader to take away from this book is that he is wiser, kinder, more loving, more creative, more useful and more beautiful than he ever imagined. I want to help him regain his capacity for amazement, astonishment and awe. My purpose in writing this book was to speak to the miracle each person reading it is.
Is your poetry based on your own life experiences?
Definitely. I have travelled widely to South America, Europe, The Middle East, Africa, India and back and forth across the U.S. countless times. I saw many things. I learned many things. I know that each individual, living being has great value because I observed them at their work and lives. I listened to them. I eagerly heard their stories. I witnessed their suffering and their elation. I tried to save a young boy from dying for no reason along the Nile in South Sudan. I saw a food riot in India. I ate with the farmers in Madhya Pradesh in India. I told them about the miracles of America. They brought a child to me and asked me to cure her of polio. I could not.
I have been married for 30 years. I have a joyous marriage. My children are walking miracles. It is all there in the writing.
Why did you select the title – Magic Realized?
It is my belief that there is vast magic in each individual. By magic I mean able to create things not explained by nature, even able to create miracles. I am talking about the outrageous expression of genius. I do not believe this is limited to a gifted few but that each person walking this earth has these abilities inherently. I use both definitions of realized in the title. The first one is to become aware of. I want them to become aware of their own personal magic, such as He realized he could sing. The second meaning is to accomplish or achieve as in He realized his goal to be a concert
pianist. I am looking to accomplish both meanings in the reader. I want him to become aware of his personal magic. Then I want him to accomplish magical things in his life. Thus – Magic Realized.
Why do you think people these days need to hear that “You matter.”?
I think that in the main people have lost belief in themselves. I found this by listening to people. I have been told too many times to count things like “I used to have a dream but I lost it and it’s too late now.” That is plain not true! And it pisses me off. They might as well tell me that they are dead and would I please close the coffin. Each individual on this earth does matter! You cannot tell them that too much. My tenth grade English teacher, Miss Helen Hilliard, got up in front of the class with a paper I had written and said, “This kid can write.” That changed my life forever.
Why did you select poetry as your means of expression?
I believe poetry is a concentrated, fine language with which, if you make yourself very understandable, you can communicate directly to the spiritual being.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get it by looking and listening. I look at wild flowers like the bright yellow California Poppy or the blue Mountain Lilac. I look at the Maple trees and Birch trees in the New England Fall. I listen to the old man from Italy in the restaurant telling me about the Second World War as if was yesterday. I devour what has been said and written whether it’s good or bad. I do not wait for inspiration. I go find it and eat it up.
How would you recommend someone read your poetry?
It doesn’t matter to me in which sequence they read my books. Sometimes they may have need of a poem about love or loss or death or immortality. I am thrilled if they find the one that helps them. It is important to me that they understand the words in the poems. I recommend having a dictionary at your side and using it.
Can we expect a Volume 3 of your Magic poetry?
Yes, there is a Volume III in the works. I am well into it and very excited about it. It goes deeper down into the themes of the first 2 volumes.
Do you have a favorite writer or poet who has influenced you?
The poet I most admire is Rainer Maria Rilke, a German poet who lived at the end of the 19th Century, beginning of the 20th Century. My favorite work by him is The Duino Elegies. It was from this book that I got my first inkling that a spiritual world existed. By the way, the best translation I have read is by Stephen Spender and J. B. Leishman.
What advice do you offer to aspiring poets?
Write! Write a hell of a lot! Don’t worry if it’s good or bad to begin with. Just write, write tens of thousands of words, even 100,000 and more. Read, live, see, hear. If you’re going to be a poet read all kinds of poetry. See what you like, what you understand and most importantly what moves you. Listen to the people, children, old people, people of all ages.
What I feel is most important is to make your poetry very understandable. It is my personal viewpoint that cryptic, obscure, vague and esoteric poetry is garbage and has given poetry a bad name and turned people off to it. MAKE YOURSELF UNDERSTOOD!
Magic Realized and Swartz’ s first volume of poetry, Constructed of Magic and Other Poems on the Immortality of the Human Spirit, are both available on Amazon.com in Kindle and paperback.