A NEW LIFE: Poems by Ralph Dranow
THE 76 VIVID POEMS IN A NEW LIFE BY RALPH DRANOW
offer us a unique and compassionate view of what it is to be human.
"The word glimpses, like snapshots, of everyday experiences, are like sweet-sour candy melting on the tongue." — Shonen Bressler
From The Poetry of Ordinary Life series in the Rose Press Collection.
The beauty, wonder, and poignancy of life are right here, right now — if only we are present to see it.
Print edition, $14.95
RALPH DRANOW is a widely published poet with a lifelong fascination about people's life stories.
In this collection of poems, the old life becomes the new life through the poet's discovery of the mystery and wonder that lie just beneath the surface of our everyday lives.
People on the fringe of society reveal their humanity and touch the poet's heart, as do ordinary people doing seemingly ordinary things, whose goodness could easily be overlooked except for the poet's discerning glance.
A father spending hours looking for his young daughter's toy in “Professor of Patience” achieves a modest nobility, as does the family sloppily but joyfully playing Frisbee in the park in “Happiness.”
Here is a taste of what's in store for you inside this wonderful book.
RALPH DRANOW: BEHIND THE SCENES
"I love stories. They give our lives feeling, shape, and texture. People have been telling each other stories for thousands of years. Stories can celebrate the human spirit, giving us hope, especially in difficult times. They can express awe and wonder at being alive in a vast, mysterious universe.
"Stories can also allow us to express the pain in our lives, enabling us to feel heard with compassion by ourselves and others. And they can help us puzzle out the meaning of our lives. Almost all of my widely published writing, poetry and prose, has consisted of stories, other people’s and my own."
"WRITING POEMS SAVED MY LIFE”
An Interview with Ralph Dranow by Barry Barkan
For most of his life, Ralph was a writer who aspired to be a poet but who continually fell short of his aspirations.
"I always wanted to write poetry. I would try. But it just wouldn't happen," he says.
Then, at age 50, at a time when he was feeling depressed and in a lot of pain and he was barely hanging on after a painful divorce, it happened.
"The pain and suffering opened me up emotionally and the poetry started happening to me. It was like a blessing from God. It made life worth living again."
He says that at first his poems weren't very good: "I just started by getting down feeling. I didn't have the craft or the skills yet. Gradually, as I started getting more and more poems published, the development of the skills and the craft turned out to be my personal mastery path. At first I just wrote poems and then I realized that a craft requires revision and patience."
Dranow didn't realize it at the moment, but it was the beginning of a journey towards the realization of a freer and more open life that has reaped many more benefits:
"I started to open up to new things. I joined a men's' group, practiced Tai Chi and meditation and began to tap into my ability to connect with people on a basic heart level."
He met and married Naomi Rose and assumed an active role in the life of her son, Gabriel.
"It wasn't easy and it wasn't instant magic, although both relationships are quite wonderful now. The journey has been slow because I am very humble about my shortcomings."
Ralph’s story is revealed (both directly and obliquely) in A New Life, a book of poems published by Rose Press.
Barry Barkan is the co-founder, with his wife Debbie, of The Elders Guild in Berkeley, California.
They're playing Frisbee in the park,
Husband and wife,
Three skinny young girls.
The woman is pillowy,
Plump like a dumpling.
"Mama!" one of the girls,
About six, calls,
Tossing the Frisbee to her.
Mama lunges at it,
A lead-footed dancer.
Gleeful laughter bubbles
From the older girls
And Mama joins in.
A compact man,
Tosses the Frisbee
With elegant nonchalance.
The others, though,
Never catch or throw it right
But it doesn't matter.
Each errant toss,
Is a new adventure,
Cause for fresh merriment.
The smallest girl,
Struggles with the Frisbee.
Her father stands behind her,
Tenderly guides her arm
And the Frisbee
Until she can throw it
A few feet
To giggles and applause.
Afterwards, the family
Lies down together,
A tight circle,
Draped against one another,
The father leans lazily
Against his younger daughter.
Watching all this,
A window into
Something simpler, gentler,
I feel a flutter
Caressing my chest.
The Invisible Orchestra
The invisible orchestra
Plays in hushed tones
For an infinite audience.
It's easy to dismiss
As background noise
Or ignore altogether,
Until you realize
That its muffled music
Into this world,
And one day
Will usher us out.
“I've been slowly savoring and loving your book. What a great gift to the world!”
— Charles Burack, author, Songs to My Beloved and Leaves of Light
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ralph Dranow is a poet, writer, ghostwriter, writing mentor, and editor residing in Oakland, California, USA. His mission is to help people express the poetry and beauty of everyday life through writing. His website is: www.ralphdranow.net
"Although I've a very prosaic nature, not given to poetic rapture, I've been touched and inspired by Rumi and by Ralph.
"Both paint for me such clear and intense images that open my heart and bring a magic to the scenes of life they portray." — Shonen Bressler
A NEW LIFE: Poems, by Ralph Dranow. Trade paperback, $14.95
RALPH DRANOW reads a handful of poems from his book, A NEW LIFE: the title poem, "A New Life"; "Over-Readers Anonymous"; and "Feeding the Homeless."
And in this video, Ralph reads three more poems from A NEW LIFE: "First Love," "Atheists Anonymous," and "Professor of Patience."
(Apologies for the sideways angle. I'm working on that. You can close your eyes if you like.)
“Although I've a very prosaic nature, not given to poetic rapture, I've been touched and inspired by Rumi and by Ralph. Both paint for me such clear and intense images that open my heart and bring a magic to the scenes of life they portray.
“Ralph's poetry is tender and honest and bittersweet. He shares the raw truth of human experience with us from childhood to seniority, and the word glimpses, like snapshots, of everyday experiences, are like sweet-sour candy melting on the tongue.
"For me, Ralph's poems open the heart to embrace our shared mundane world with surprise and delight. Even when he is describing a painful moment or memory, his view is compassionate. He is a keen observer of human activity, feelings, and relationship,
"and his poems nestle into the heart in a genuinely comforting way."
— Shonen Bressler
“I've been slowly savoring and loving your book. What a great gift to the world!
"I admire your courage to keep opening and exploring the depths of your own soul, and to share the vulnerabilities and strengths, uncertainties and wisdom you find."
— Charles Burack, author, Songs to My Beloved and Leaves of Light
“I bless the day I met Ralph. Working with him on my poetry has taken me to a deeper understanding of expression.
“His insight reinforces my confidence.”
— Flo Oy Wong, artist and poet
“Ralph Dranow’s editing of my memoir in poetry helped me do deeper work through revision and additional writing. He has the insight and understanding of a poet and writer.
"He is compassionate when reading sensitive material and skillful in noting strengths and where a story can be improved.”
— Jeannie Lupton, Poet, Memoir Writer, Reading Series Coordinator
A bit more about the author
Ralph Dranow was born in the East Bronx, New York, in 1939. He worked for a long time in Oakland, California as a bookstore clerk (which led to his book of poems, Sunday Ritual, which won first prize in Nerve Cowboy's chapbook contest, 2000). He has also been a Reading Series coordinator, introducing local writers as well as such literary luminaries as Isabel Allende, Terry McMillan, Gary Soto, and others. As a child, Ralph knew he wanted to be a writer. He began with prose, but later specialized in poetry. His poetry tends to be narrative, telling the stories of the people who are at the center of the poems. Well over 100 of his poems have appeared in over 60 publications. As well as poetry, his essays, articles, and fiction have been widely published, including in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Montclarion, The East Bay Monthly, and many other publications. Professionally, he works as a poetry mentor, writer, editor, and ghostwriter. He can be reached at www.ralphdranow.net.