In this startlingly original collection, Jeffery Paine “does the voices” (to borrow Dickens' phrase), ranging from the intricate syncopations of the Renaissance lyricist Thomas Campion to the gruff staccato grumblings of a contemporary curmudgeon vituperating against pigeons from his park bench. Yet behind the bravura ventriloquy is a single, steady, and endearing sensibility, that of a playful yet deadly serious truth-teller finding and formulating his truth through the music of words. That music lingers in the ear, and even more powerfully in the mind’s ear, bearing testimony to a life lived deeply, openly, and bravely.
Jay Tolson, author of Pilgrim in the Ruins editor of The Hedgehog Review
Jeffery Paine's poems, with their philosophical agitation, erotic intensities, and abject melancholy, are clearly from an eccentrically modern sensibility, but their formal music and haunting locutions equally seem born of the l9th century. Please turn immediately to the poem "Jahrzeit", a stunning elegy to Paine's father. It waits only a stanza to reach its heartbreaking direct address. Paine is a writer of great originality and beauty. And this is an utterly memorable collection.
Howard Norman, author of The Bird Artist, I Hate to Leave this Beautiful Place, and What Is Left the Daughter
Jeffery Paine in his acclaimed prose works has always written lyrically. A poet too? Now he has let that Schrodinger’s cat out of the bag and box: He is definitely a poet and a good poet and a true one. Thoreau wrote, “Time is a stream I go a-fishing in,” and during the six decades Jeffery Paine was putting together this little book, his patience paid off with some rare colored fish. I most enjoyed the funny poems (“Waiting for Phil,” “Pigeons”, etc.) and the experimental forms (“Dada Lullaby,” “Papa’s Idea for Poetry,” “Neither Emily Dickinson,” etc.), but what I enjoyed best of all was the incredible range. Readers are in for delight and surprises.
Dana Sawyer, author of Aldous Huxley and Wisdomkeeper
COMMENTS ON PREVIOUS WORKS
"A groundbreaking work….an indispensable book. Bharati Mukherjee, San Francisco Chronicle
"I admire Father India immensely. I don't quite know how Jeffery Paine has done it except by subtle and provocative genius.…a splendid achievement." Denis Donoghue, Henry James Professor of English and American Letters, New York University
"Jeffery Paine's Father India is a work of extraordinary scope and quality.....Its pages breathe with the intelligence of an exceedingly good writer and a masterly critic." John Lukacs, author of 35 books, including A Thread of Years and Confessions of an Original Sinner
"A bold thesis, stylishly argued….a book both challenging and enjoyable." The Washington Times
Re-enchantment: Tibetan Buddhism Comes to the West
Jeffery Paine is an unusual voice in American letters—one steeped in the wisdom of the East and yet infused with a knowing and witty sensibility that is profound Western. Re-enchantment is a delight, a work of education and demystification that instructs and entertains on every page. Shashi Tharoor, author of The Great Indian Novel and Under-Secretary General of the United Nations
Marvelous! This is just the book on Buddhism I hoped someone would write but was afraid they never would. Paine captures the powerful, sometimes zany but electric atmosphere generated by the arrival of Buddhism on these shores….this is also a great read.—Harvey Cox, author of The Secular City and Hollis Professor of Divinity, Harvard University
Lucid and slyly humorous, Paine’s effortless prose is that of a writer who knows his material extremely well and can make thru reader share his respect and fondness for the practitioners of one of the fastest growing religions in the United States. Sudhir Kakakr, author of Shamans, Mystics, and Doctors
Jeffery Paine is a sharp-eyed and soul-active writer. Re-enchantment brings us a perspective we badly need in our unsettled hour. Sven Birkerts, author of My Sky Blue Trades
Adventures with the Buddha: A Personal Buddhism Reader
Paine’s real genius is constructing a coherent, potent anthology that informs, delights, and fires the imagination, a work that both recovers a lost world and illustrates its continued relevance today. Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Adventures with the Buddha eloquently distills the essence of Buddhism through nine of the greatest minds spanning three generations. Jeffery Paine, once again, offers an enchanting and powerful learning tools for students of Buddhism. Tulku Thondup, author of The Healing Power of Mind
Highly enjoyable….Recommended. Library Journal
Adventures with the Buddha is filled with stories of Westerners who have experienced mysteries, marvels, exotic discomforts, fabled temples, and that’s only the half of it. Then the internal adventures begin…as absorbing as stories from the romantic past, showing that the most exciting explorations take place within minds and hearts. Booknotes
In Enlightenment Town Jeffery Paine takes us on a journey to meet [the town’s] unforgettable inhabitants in Airstream trailers, disused mine shafts, and quiet retreats, across nineteen years. Fascinating, beautifully written, often funny, sometimes weird—you will love this modern Thoreau. Nigel Hamilton, award-winning biographer of JFK, Thomas Mann, Bill Clinton, FDR, and others
As Jeffery Paine insinuates, even those of us who are “postreligious” nonetheless seek some “hallowed understanding” of the human condition. Paine writes such vivid stories about Crestone’s eclectic spiritual characters that I have to confess, that I am charmed beyond belief. Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Robert Oppenheimer and Jimmy Carter
What if Thornton Wilder had read The Tibetan Book of the Dead before writing Our Town?... What if Billy Graham had befriended Allen Ginsberg and they had done ayahuasca together? This is the sort of wild nowhere/everywhere American landscape that Jeffery Paine describes with great flair, courage, and insight in Enlightenment Town. Dana Sawyer, author of Houston Smith and The Transcendental Meditation Movement
Enlightenment Town is a generous, delightful book, full of divine misfits and quasi-saints who have dared—or been forced—to widen their (and our) horizons. You won’t be able to resist Jeffery Paine’s openness to this community, nor his sly proposal that spiritual life can be gentler and quite a bit wilder. Kate Wheeler, meditation teacher and prize-winning author of Not Where I Started From and When Mountains Walked
Jeffery Paine, about the time he began writing poetry,
some of which is included in this collection.
This book of poems may be unique, in one way. Jeffery Paine spent nearly sixty years (!) working on this, his first collection—for six decades in odd hours writing and rewriting, reworking and revising, honing and beginning anew. JP decided not to publish a single poem till this small-scale whole shebang was ready; also he tried not to write what might be, in essence, the same poem twice. (JP, with the Nobel Prize-winning poet Joseph Brodsky, did however edit a fat anthology of modern international poems: The Poetry of Our World.)
In other genres JP published widely but he may be best known for ushering Eastern culture and spirituality to popular audiences in the West. “Jeffery Paine is an unusual voice in American letters,” so observed Indian novelist and Undersecretary General of the United Nations Shashi Tharoor, “one steeped in the wisdom of the East and yet infused with a knowing and witty sensibility that is profoundly Western.”
Although JP’s books Father India, Re-enchantment: Tibetan Buddhism Comes to the West, and Enlightenment Town were each named in various media a “Best Book of the Year,” they didn’t make him rich, i. e. provide a livable income. He thus indulged his penchant for working in older buildings.
JP helped manage the oldest hotel in Amsterdam (dating from 1654). He worked in advertising, partly because the office was the oldest house in San Francisco (converted). He edited a magazine in the Smithsonian Castle in Washington DC, his office being where once Abraham Lincoln came to view official parades. He taught specialized literature in Descartes’ bedroom. That’s about the respectable side of it.
Since Eternity, Speak with This Living Man took six decades, JP’s next book of poetry, if published, will be published in a parallel universe.