Review by Anita Neilson

Letters to My Oldest Friend
by Janavi Held (Goodreads Author)

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Anita Neilson‘s review

Nov 04, 2017
This is simply glorious. The words flow gently across the page in a waterfall of despair and hope, grief and faith, pain and joy. Together with beautifully crafted photographs of the natural world, it is a wonderful, precious undertaking. The poems will resonate strongly with anyone afflicted by a chronic illness or spiritual malaise. Quite breathtakingly haunting in their longing for God. The pull between enjoying the delights of this Earth and the soul crying for greater meaning is much in evidence. For example, in the poem “Eternity”, the poet says, “in this world of change I am longing for You yet I am drawn again and again to the shiny fortunes of this shallow world.” This reduced me to tears, so near was it to my experience of life. These are the sweetest, most poetic, most haunting of verses, to be savoured again and again. Buy a copy and keep it close to you, so that each time you feel sorry for yourself, or angry at someone (even God), open it and read a verse or two. Your spirits will be lifted!
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Hide a book day with The Book Fairies!

#Goodreads is celebrating its tenth anniversary and today is #hideabookday! They have gotten together with The Book Fairies, who have been hiding books all over the world! I had my own personal book fairy Karen R Tarnower take two copies of my recently published book of poetry and photography and hide them. I hope they find their way to many poetry lovers!

Here are a few reviews of the book:

In praise of Letters to My Oldest Friend

Like many God-inspired poets of India’s Bhakti or devotional past (Mirabai and Chandidas come easily to mind), Janavi Held—writer, photographer, cineaste, observer of small miracles—chronicles the arrhythmia of a heart in love with Divinity. Letters to My Oldest Friend is a revelation. In elegant, spare verse and contemplative visual imagery, she gently cautions that we are victims of speeding postmodernism at risk of losing our souls, and that we will find the tools of our salvation in the quiet, unassuming details of everyday life. Here is a much needed roadmap to our inner geography, chartered by a gifted voice of conscience and our own better selves. Read, look, savor, and be inspired.

Joshua M. Greene
author, Swami in a Strange Land: How Krishna Came to the West 2016

In her beautiful debut collection of poems, Janavi Held takes us on a journey of awakening, as she explores the ways in which her relationships with struggle, time, nature and beauty in this world, relate to her burgeoning relationship with the divine. From a restless: “there are so many stories in my lost heart” to the epilogue’s triumphant: “the heart speaks softly now,” her poems and photographs artistically chart the course of a soul moving gracefully through existential angst, as revealed to us in this prayerful dialogue with her “oldest friend”.

Catherine Schweig
Founder of Journey of the Heart Poetry Project
Editor of Poetry as a Spiritual Practice (Golden Dragonfly Press, 2016)

“Letters to My Oldest Friend” is a classic spiritual journey, starting with the anguish of her losses – of mobility, of mind (she says, but the poem belies it), “wrapped in a blanket of thorns”, then to the longing for the spirit, the Friend, and finally a joyous reunion with spirit through nature. I read these poems almost with tears. I also thought of how poems like these, especially the opening ones, could create compassion in the reader for all the sick and disabled from whom we tend to avert our gaze. Janavi Held’s language is beautiful and evocative, as when she writes, “remembering is a lost art/in the mind of these misshapen times.” The book is, quite simply, a gem.

Nina Klippel
author,”Tricks of The Light and Other Poems”, 2010
editor, The Village Zendo Bulletin

Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Letters-Oldest-Friend-J…/…/0986240338

and Apple iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/letters-to-my-olde…/id1273048675…

 

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Review of “Letters to My Oldest Friend”

Review of “Letters to My Oldest Friend: a book of poetry and photography by Janavi Held

How many of us have had or taken the chance to dialogue with our soul, our maker, the deep slope of annihilation? Every poem and photograph in “Letters to My Oldest Friend” is such a dialogue. Inspired by her own devastating illness, Janavi Held, long a spiritual devotee, cuts through veils of hope to directly address her God: “the heart inquires–answers blur en route to thoughts.” The intensity of her passionate seeking allows the reader to share the moments of transcendence as well as the pain. Her questions are our answers.

Marcia Newfeild
Poet, teacher, and author of books for children

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2085836692?book_show_action=false

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