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Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief
Perlman, Deborah Cooper, Pamela Mittlefehldt,
and Mara Hart
|Every human must face loss.
Poetry has the potential to exist within that same transcendent sphere.
That place of truth holds more than pain and more than grief. This art
touches complex reality with the comfort of community and remembrance.
Beloved on the Earth fulfills its potential with poetry about
grief and gratitude. These poems give voice and meaning to the complexities of loss. Everyone
who opens themselves to the verse of Beloved on the Earth will
connect to the most difficult reality of humanity by way of poetry's
*from the preface by Pamela
Interview with Jim Perlman, Co-Editor of
Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude and Founding Editor and
Holy Cow! Press
Why did you and your co-editors choose
to connect the words
grief and gratitude in your title?
*Grief and gratitude seem like the two necessary and healthy
perspectives to hold while moving through the loss of a
loved one. We feel sadness but perhaps that loss gains a
better balance when we also recognize the gratitude we feel
for having experienced another person's close relationship.
I also like the music of the phrase, "grief and gratitude,"
as if the near rhyme reveals that the two viewpoints can go
hand in hand.
How did the compilation of this anthology, and the reading
and review of so many poems about loss, affect your personal
journey with grief?
*By reading and meditating on the poems, I came to
understand that I wasn't alone in my grieving. I gained
profound insights into the mysterious realm between living
and dying. We were deeply moved by the myriad responses to
grief and gratitude, and the unique ways people wrote about
this. We were also impressed by the powerful dynamic between
personal experience and poetic expression that allowed grief
and gratitude to be shared.
Who do you envision as an audience for Beloved on the
*This poetry anthology has many potential readers: those who
are moving through grief and loss; health care workers in
the field of hospice and grief support; doctors and
physicians; clergy who look for meaningful readings for
memorial and funeral services; readers of contemporary
With several co-editors you must have dealt with differences
opinion in some of the selections. What factors guided you
in making your final selections?
*As expressed in Pamela's preface, we strove to select poems
that moved us emotionally without excessive sentiment, that
allowed the reader to easily enter the poem, and that were
written out of love and respect for whomever the poem
addressed. For us, there was a remarkable lack of difference
of opinion or tension in the selection process--in large
part because of the quality of the poems that were selected.
The poems themselves seemed to resolve almost all
differences of opinion, thus making the decisions for us.
What is the relationship between poetry, grief, and
*This is a very complicated question. I think that the best
poetry, with its subtle use of language, image, music, and
emotion, can explore the relationship between grief and
gratitude in ways that are both profound and mysterious.
What question do you wish I would have asked?
*Why are almost all the poems written by poets of our
particular time frame? Why not include writing of more
traditional poets like Dickinson, Millay,
Shakespeare, et al?
Then I must ask: how you would answer?
We wanted a contemporary chorus of voices and we wanted to
stay away from poems that have already become familiar.
Thank you Jim.