Interview, Books and Reviews, Vietnam Docupoem

 "Mt. Hood in My Eyes"
appears on the back covers of Alla’s iUniverse books.

Why write? To pay the debt I owe to our ancestors who have suffered and become wise~ to teach myself what I know, to integrate what I think and feel~ to learn something new each time I write~ and to contribute what I’ve learned to humanity to help it amend and mend itself as I continue to amend and mend myself. 

Order any of Alla’s titles through your favorite
neighborhood or Online bookstore or as indicated 
in the specific book information section.

To go directly to the Interview, click
 To go directly to Books and Reviews, click
To go directly to the Vietnam Docupoem, click
Books and Reviews~
The subjects range from healing through grief, spirituality, biography, scholarly books, feminist theology and philosophy, love poems, poetry and painting collaboration and more. To view book covers of Alla’s prose and poetry books and audio cassettes, with excerpts or chapter headings and some reviews, scroll down past the Interview.

To view titles by Alla Renée Bozarth that have helped people navigate the journey through grievous loss, scroll down beyond the opening Interview until you see images of book covers and highlighted text in chronological order of publication, oe click here to navigate to a resource page: 

Books concerning the grieving process are Life is Goodbye/Life is Hello: Grieving Well through All Kinds of Loss  (seventh title) and its smaller, easy to read pocket book companion for when one is in raw grief and reading a larger book is impossible~  A Journey through Grief (ninth title).

Other helpful resources listed for spiritual and emotional recovery are Lifelines: Threads of Grace through Seasons of Change and Wisdom and Wonderment: 31 Feasts to Nourish Your Soul.

This Mortal Marriage: Poems of Love, Lament and Praise, is a comprehensive poetry collection with related sections on loss of loved ones and the mystery of the relationship between spirit and body and its healing after grievous loss. 

Other blog entries that may be helpful for gently moving through the process of reshaping one's heart and life around grievous loss, with blessing poems~

All Souls Day~ This is My Beloved

Blessings for the Journey 
Love Mantra for Letting Go 

I bless you
I release you
I set you free
I set me free
I let you be
I let me be

 Alla Renée Bozarth

From the books~

Life is Goodbye/Life is Hello: Grieving Well through All Kinds of Loss                        
A Journey through Grief
Lifelines: Threads of Grace through Seasons of Change
Love's Prism: Reflections from the Heart of a Woman                                                 
This Mortal Marriage: Poems of Love, Lament and Praise
Dance for Me When I Die: Death as a Rite of Passage [audio cassette]

The Vietnam War
At the end of everything (Books and Reviews section) you can find a lengthy
docupoem about the history of the Vietnam War from the Paris Peace talks
after World War I to the election of President Obama and certain recent 

events in 2012 which demonstrate how history tends toward repetition.

To view only the poem itself, see

A reader's response: 

"You draw on waters of a well you have dug and filled, with a lifetime of spiritual reflections and observations about the cosmos and the human condition within that cosmos– emerging as  truth  dressed up in the magnificent language of poetry. You minister to us with poetic soul-talk of the highest order. Thank you for finding such a distinctive way to touch and teach me ~ us ~  in so many remarkable ways with your extraordinary spirit."
"Love, blessings, and shalom, Rolf Menachem Gompertz"

Books and Authors Interview 
with Alla Renée Bozarth, 2004~
Edited and Revised June 6, 2010,
November 11, 2011 and March 2012

The introductory section below originally constituted the publisher’s biographical note in Life is Goodbye/Life is Hello: Grieving Well through All Kinds of Loss.  Both the introduction and the interview itself have been edited by Alla, as indicated in brackets.

Alla Renée Bozarth (Alla Bozarth-Campbell  1971-1986) 

Alla was one of the first women to be ordained priests in the Episcopal Church. She the first woman to be ordained a deacon in the diocese of Oregon on September 8, 1971, and on July 29, 1974, she was one of the Philadelphia Eleven: [eleven ordained women deacons in good standing who were prepared and qualified but irregularly (without local permission and breaking with exclusionary custom) ordained to the priesthood in an “underground” service, by one locally resigned diocesan bishop and two retired bishops of the church, the canon laws] of which declare that “a priest is a priest forever.” 


She prepared for ordination by reading for Holy Orders at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, while earning a Ph.D. in Interpretation, Hermeneutics and Aesthetics (speech and drama) with a fellowship from Northwestern University, where she also received her M.A. and B.S.S. degrees. As recipient of a Bush Foundation Leaders Fellowship, she was trained and certified in Gestalt Therapy at the Gestalt Training Center in San Diego [in 1977-78].
Since 1986, after thirteen years in Minneapolis, she practices [the liturgical, spiritual and healing arts of soul-mending and soul-tending as priest and counselor/consultant] at Wisdom House in Sandy, Oregon. Wisdom House with its small chapel is a center of serenity and creativity for friends, colleagues and those with whom she counsels or consults as a colleague mentor.

Alla Renée Bozarth was born in 1947 in Portland, Oregon. Her father was an Episcopal priest; her mother an artist and writer who had emigrated from Russia as a young woman in [1928.]  Brought up, as she says, "in the luminous shadow" of the Pacific Northwest’s majestic mountains, transplanted for a time to Minneapolis in the flatlands of the Midwest, Dr. Bozarth returned to her beloved mountains and now lives "in the bright shadow of Mt. Hood."

She speaks and writes about the grief journey from personal experience, as one who has lost, among others, both of her parents and her husband. The Rev. Phil Bozarth-Campbell, also an Episcopal priest, died suddenly in 1985 at the age of thirty-seven.

Alla experienced a cerebral hemorrhage while in an upside-down position immediately following her Caesarian birth, and from this one-minute old trauma she developed lifelong fibromyalgia with multiple complications. She claims the event as a stroke of lightning to her psyche, opening it up to the depth dimension of eternity. It left its visible mark in her drooping left eyelid, increasing the natural asymmetry of her face.

Facing the Lightning Stroke~ 
   Double-Sighted Mantra

I have a global,
one might say,
ecumenical face~
My nose is a bridge
between East and West.

   Alla Renée Bozarth

At the Foot of the Mountain
CompCare 1990, iUniverse 2000
My Blessed Misfortunes
Copyright 2012

The Interview  Where did you grow up, and were reading and writing a part of your life? Who were your earliest influences, and why?

Alla Renée Bozarth:  I grew up near Portland, Oregon, with Mt. Hood always my focal point, along with the rugged Oregon Coastline. [When I was tiny and long before I could read or spell, my mother gave me her old Underwood typewriter to break me of the habit of “writing” all over the wallpaper in the rooms of our house with bright colored crayons, just above the baseboard where I could easily reach, imitating what I saw her doing on both paper with pen and easel with paints.

Mama put her hand to writing novels but painting was her great gift. I can’t paint or perform hand crafts, but I love color and admire all art forms.] Oregon grows writers and artists as prolifically as it does trees. It rains a lot. We read a lot.

As a child, I mostly watched old movies on television, and was introduced that way to history, drama and literature. I was home more often than most youngsters [because of illnesses and nine eye surgeries from eighteen months to eighteen years of age to correct left eye damage from a cerebral hemorrhage that occurred within seconds following my birth. Except for those times when my eyes would be bandaged,] this allowed me to read voraciously.

I raided my father’s library and read Freud and Jung when I was eleven and twelve, the Spanish mystics at thirteen, Greek mythology, Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, and so forth, but also and more importantly, the poets. [Poetry of America’s great, richly lyrical Walt Whitman and the sensuously beautiful divine love poems of sixteenth century] Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross ignited the first impulses toward poetry from me when I was thirteen. But I didn’t start writing free form poetry until I was eighteen. By then I had read Teilhard de Chardin and fallen in love with the green world of Nature.

I wrote what I consider to be my first real poem, [a series of three, really,] while sitting on a rock in the MacKenzie River [during a visit to a Dominican Retreat Center in Western Central Oregon. I think it was drawn out of me by the energy of light on brilliant green grass and  wet rocks and the river, and especially by the music and power of moving water.]  What is it about poetry you enjoy the most? How many poems have you written? What do you hope to share with your poetry?

Alla Renée Bozarth:  I enjoy the plunge into the Unknown that happens with poetry. The composing process is a little dangerous, risky, exciting. It makes me flush all over. It comes up from somewhere under the earth through my soles, or hits like lightning. I must be responding to it erotically, to the process itself, for I love the surrender to it, the tending of it, the engagement of all my experience and senses, thought and feeling, but also the need to stretch beyond myself all the time, open a door to my core being and say, “Yes, I’m here. Take me. I’m yours for as long as you need me.”

This is what I call an infinitely repeatable sacrament, with no sense of possession but free, mutual self-giving— it comes to me and I give myself to it. [Though I admit to sometimes asking the Muse for a vacation! The process can be like the river that first inspired it— it surges on and on relentlessly, and my mind and body get too tired to keep up.]

[I don’t know how many poems I’ve written, or have written themselves through me or tried to, but I’m guessing something like 6,000, more than half of which I’ve deleted or tossed into the recycle bin.

What is shared with others is simply what each poem presents of itself, and each one is different. Whatever that poem says, that’s what I hope is shared. Overall, I hope that the poems, or whatever they are, communicate one or more of these gifts to others, the gifts that I receive from them when I read them later—insight; pleasure or disturbance depending on the subject matter; information about historical events or people presented in a context of meaningful imagery or interesting relationships, or with striking thematic contrasts or resonance; encouragement, empowerment, comfort, inspiration; a demand for accuracy when it’s relevant, and an authenticity in myself, the text, and both the creative and interpretative processes. Though I always demand these things, I don’t know to what extent they are present.]  Stars in Your Bones: Emerging Signposts on Our Spiritual Journeys, is a wonderful book— How did this book come to be? Tell us about this book and the people with whom you collaborated.

Alla Renée Bozarth:  Stars in Your Bones, was a collaboration that seemed to make itself, but was really the result of the idea and effort of Terri Hawthorne, our cultural historian and commentator, and the artist Julia Barkley. Terri was a feminist film maker in the Twin Cities where I lived at the time of the Philadelphia Ordinations in the seventies. She wanted to photograph and interview me. She also invited me to send her new poems regularly, for her personal use— empowerment, inspiration, I don’t know. I’m told that people pray my poems, which makes me happy because I think all true poetry and art are forms of prayer, ways of relating to and expressing the human essence to the Great Mystery. Meanwhile, Julia Barkley, a feminist painter in Minnesota, wrote to me and asked me to lead an invocation at her coming art show at the Women’s Art Registry of Minnesota. The show was called “Energy of Miracles.”

Julia brought six powerful, exquisite paintings to my home in a furniture truck. We moved out some furniture and in they came. I sat down with them and the artist and pulled poems I’d written over the preceding decade before we’d met. There was a perfect match.

[Our first show was in three movements—the paintings alone, then a group of dancers expressing them in powerful human movement accompanied by music, and finally my performing poems that were the vocal twins of Julia’s large and vivid images on the surrounding walls.] After that, [paintings and poems] would spark each other back and forth.

Our second show was “Circle of Fire,” [which is the name of Julia’s painting that had inspired the poem by the same name, both shown in Stars in Your Bones, along with many paintings and poems from both shows and more recently.]

Even if we don’t visit for months on end, when we do we are still amazed to find that we unconsciously continue to create in parallel. Julia will be painting and I will be writing about the same theme, image or motif. It’s wonderful, this synergy between the forms of our art.

Terri met Julia and they also were mutually inspired by each other. Lasting friendships have endured. The book was Terri’s idea, [I believe, and she identified the themes and wove them together. Julia and Terri selected the poems to include in the book and decided on their placement.] The poem, “Transfiguration,” and some of Julia’s paintings from Stars in Your Bones, are in the permanent collection of the Peace Memorial Garden in Hiroshima. [“Transfiguration” was transliterated into Japanese, and together with Julia’s “Chinon” or “Dragons of Compassion for the Grief of the Soul” series, constituted the first works by foreign women artists to become part of the permanent collection in the Peace Memorial Garden.]  In your book At the Foot of the Mountain: Nature and the Art of Soul Healing, you say, “ . . . it has no plot. My life and soul have no plot—only themes.” Please explain.

Alla Renée Bozarth: When a human being is creating a life, there isn’t a sense of beginning, middle and end, because one can’t know where one is in the unfolding. My favorite movie, “Paint Your Wagon,” has a song whose lyrics are, “Where am I going? I don’t know. When will I get there? I ain’t certain. All that I know is, I am on my way.”

I can’t identify the whole design at any given phase of its development until I’ve moved on a little from where I am [to a place of reflection]. Even between times of reflection, I’m very aware of themes that I’m always moving through. These are basic themes of a human life—the conflicts [or balance and proportion] between solitude and intimacy, autonomy and limitation, eros toward places and eros toward persons— the balancing act we must achieve to fulfill goals or be happy [and healthy]. The soul has to learn how to respond when bad weather comes, as well as sudden bliss. I think all my books are about that, one way or another, even my scholarly book, The Word’s Body: An Incarnational Aesthetic of Interpretation, which is about embodying the word [whether in performance, simply reading aloud, or even as a silent reader, and how one interprets a text through one’s kinesthetic response to it]. You were one of the first eleven women to be ordained as Episcopal priests in 1974—Tell us about this journey and achievement. Your father and late husband were Episcopal priests as well?

Alla Renée Bozarth: As the only child of remarkable parents, my mother a painter, [designer,] actor, humanitarian and Russian emigrée , my father an aspiring artist and priest, I was immersed in adult culture from the beginning. Art and Spirit were my soul’s food, natural as breathing. As I matured, I continued to integrate them. The focus of my childhood combined humanitarian service, creativity and worship. I became a celebrant of the mysteries in my work as a poet, and I wanted to be a complete celebrant, a priest who offered the poetic structure of Thanks in the Divine Liturgy.

I’d been preparing for it since I was [four] years old and my father became a priest, with me often at his side throughout my childhood. Early in July, 1974 the invitation came to those of us women who were already ordained deacons and had been working politically for the legislative body of the Episcopal Church to approve the ordination of women to the priesthood. This was a tedious [and we believed it to be a persistently futile] process, which three bishops decided was unnecessary, since there was no actual written canon law prohibiting [the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate]. They decided simply to break with custom and do the right thing.

On July 29, 1974, eleven women were ordained priests at the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia. [My beloved husband, ordained a deacon the summer of 1973 and a priest in March, 1974, and his mom, my brave mother-in-love, stood up for me as my priest and lay presenters. My own mother had died in March, 1972, six months after our wedding. The love and support of Phil and his family from the beginning made everything possible for me.]  What do you feel makes good poetry?

Alla Renée Bozarth:  Good poetry happens with practice, openness, playfulness, insight, and an ear for the natural music of language. Poetry that makes one respond physically, in a positive way, or hits like lightning with an Aha! of insight expressed in some surprising way— that’s the work of the inner daimon, the creating spirit beyond a particular human being, but needing that particular human being and no other in order to be born.

[The following are different ways of talking about writing and reading poetry.]

What is the Difference Between
          Poetry and Prose?

Galway Kinnell says
“Prose is walking,
poetry is flying.”

Flying or swimming.
Dreams allow these
ground-free elements,
and buoyancy above,

As dreaming to waking,
so poetry to prose.
As wisdom to knowledge,
so poetry to prose.

Prose is a green pasture,
poetry a wildflower field.

Anna Akhmatova, an exile
in her own country, sits
at a kitchen table in her
friend’s apartment — She writes
a line on a sheet of cigarette
paper, hands it to her friend.

They both memorize the line,
then roll a cigarette and smoke.
This is the hard way to get published —
blowing smoke rings out the window
printing poems in the air that people breathe.

Prose is Akhmatova standing in line
to visit her son at a Soviet prison.
Poetry is her saying “I can,” to another
mother who asks, “Can you write this?”

Prose is sending poets to prison.
Poetry is the poet in prison secretly
composing poems by heart,
going right  on with the truth.

Prose is noon, poetry dawn.
As singing to talking,
so poetry to prose.

Prose is walking, poetry is dance.
You can do it in the sky,
or in a cave under water.
You can do it lying down.

You can do it in loving arms
or any kind of prison cell,
in union or in solitude.

Poetry lets you walk through
all the walls.

Poetry moves.
It takes you
where prose cannot go
or dare not go.

             Alla Renée Bozarth

From Accidental Wisdom, iUniverse 2003

Or, to put it in prose language:

Poetry is a form of writing or speaking created to evoke emotion and illuminate perception
              through the concentrated use of language,
              combining sound
                                          (such as slant rhyme {assonance/consonance},
                                          certain rhythms and word juxtapositions~~
                                          and vocal-prompting, meaning-suggesting
                                          line divisions)
              and  imagery

         to produce a sensory, emotional or cognitive affect,
         and sometimes a stirring spiritual recognition
         or a heightening of awareness.

A relatively short narrative poem can sometimes capture the essence of an entire novel or history by these means, and a carefully constructed dialogue poem can express and summarize the meaning of a lengthy essay.

My poetry wants variously to delight, disturb, comfort, encourage, relieve and sometimes inform or inspire the reader, including myself as reader, which is less mysterious to me than being the writer. Sometimes, in a distillation of insight or inquiry, I am working to promote or provoke the insight or inquiry of others. Being visible and audible, the poem by its nature invites engagement. Poetry roves the gamut of lived experience, from lamentation to celebration, from outrage to affection, from a playful conversation to a solitary reflection. It can be purely sensual, it can be richly meaningful, or a combination. It is the language of the soul, music in the medium of words.
This is how it comes sometimes . . . Refer to to the photo and explanation following the biographical note above, "Facing the Lightning~ Double-Sighted Mantra."

Poems Like Lightning

One Easter night thirty years ago
after seeing the movies Becket, The Wizard of Oz
and Paint Your Wagon in sequence, the model
for how our individual lives can be mirrored
in art and clearly perceived came into my mind,
complete with metaphor: Good Dragons and Guide Dogs.

It came as a gift of illumination to unlock the story
of my life and family, making it clear how certain real people
came together to play certain roles. Once aware of being under
the spell of the director, they could decide for themselves whether
or not to play it out or resign. To recognize the presence of personal myths
is to be able to change them.

Others said I should write a book, but I was not called by Psyche
to write that one. Struggling to comply with publishers’ proddings,
I finally said, “No,” but did write the poem, which seemed to be
a concise way in which it all could be saved for the use of others.

Meanwhile, within a year fine books on personal myths were written
by other authors. To say No, Not Me, Not Now to a soul’s potential
creation in time frees it to find another source of entry.

On a January night 3 years earlier during a tell-a-vision commercial
two prose books about grief and love came to consciousness and
I quickly wrote down their names* with two short sentences each
to hold them together.

During another commercial a little later
a third book** about conflict and transformation
came with a name but no notes.

*Life is Goodbye/Life is Hello: Grieving Well through All Kinds of Loss
and Love’s Prism: Reflections from the Heart of a Woman

** Originally, “Broken Light,” then “Biopoetics,” then published as
At the Foot of the Mountain with the subtitle given by my publisher:  
Discovering Images for Emotional Healing, and later with my own subtitle:  
Nature and the Art of Soul Healing 

Afterward, I wrote copious notes for the third book
because it was the shortest and least revealed, and
therefore elusive, of the sweet trio.

The few names and notes for the books
were the passwords that would open their files
in my mind when life let up on me long enough
to write them the following spring.

The first book was born over three weeks on three hundred
well-organized pages as I typed the dictation, and the second book
followed on a hundred pages in three days in June.

The third book, being the most concise and concentrated
and still deeper in my mind and less formed, needed more life
and time for experiences that would give it cohesive substance and form.
Six years later it was finally born. +  +  +
This week in present time
it is still happening like this
on a smaller scale.

Poems prefer water, the shimmering of air
in which visions and fairies and
wake-dreams appear.

There in the parking lot
under the open sky of rainy night
between the store and my car
came November lightning—

Strike! poem one
As my hand reaches
for the door handle
covered with water drops—

Strike! poem two
The door opens—

Strike! poem three
Oh no, not now,
this is no place
for water to break,
in a moving car
and me at the wheel . . .

By the time I’m at the light
in the parking lot waiting
for green to give me go ahead
for the highway to home,
only two poems are left—
for water is a slippery medium.

But then as soon as the car straightens on the road
and picks up speed going east—  Strike! Strike! Strike!
Three more makes six poems in all
with five to take home.

Twenty miles forward and
at the back door I try to say
all their names out loud, but now
the last three have flown or been pulled
by electromagnetism down into my primitive brain stem—
for water is a swift and transient medium.

Inside, I leap to the computer keyboard 
and play out their words,
saving two of five.

Swept up in the current
of the rest of the day’s demands,
I resume attending to the tasks of normal life
between the tasks of inspiration.

Meanwhile, over the next three
busy days, tucked down between
the layers of living and the folds
of substance and form stored
and shaping into themselves,
four forgotten poems break slowly
open from a slit of buried seed
and begin to germinate.

I work like a crow
on a narrow edged windowsill,
straddling two different dimensions,
a wing in each world, tending them both—
the inner and outer equally needing
my precise touch and surmising eye.

On the third day, unfolding wings shiver,
suggesting readiness.

Crow rises
while the human I
tends to the needs
of the human body.

Under hot water in a healing shower
where inspiration comes as in rain, inconveniently—

Strike! “Life is My Labyrinth”
Strike! “The Id Will Out”
Strike! “The Distortions of Night”
Strike! “Dancing in the Ruins”—

Then as I step out of the shower with wet skin
and hair raining on the purple prayer rug
beneath my feet, the bonus poem strikes in full bloom—

“Poems Like Lightning,” up from under the brain
and its body, from inside deep earth, in sequence
like lightning, thick from the electric soul, bolt for bolt—
and I boldly leap again to the electronic keyboard
to hear how the poems sound in living concert, wishing I had,
not the life or mind or job, but a staff of scribes such as that of
Catherine of Sienna who had two amanuenses take dictation for 
different letters to two popes written at the same time, or Napoleon 
who recited letters and notes while bathing, as five secretaries took dictation 
discreetly from behind a screen so he could compose five different documents 
at the same time from his non-sequential, luminous and adamantine mind—
so unlike mine except for an irresistible liking for water,
for water is a creative medium and pearl mine.

                                         Alla Renée Bozarth

                               My Blessed Misfortunes c. 2012  

This is the poem in lieu of the book that others urged me to write,
the distillation that came of the weekend movie experience:

                                          Good Dragons and Guide Dogs —
                                                                          The Inner Bestiary
1.   Prehistory: Parental Myths~    
       The Dinosaur in the Living Room

In the living room
of your soul
there is a dinosaur
standing dead center,
blocking your route
to anywhere.

It is so big
you underlook it.

It is each parent’s
personal myth
from his or her
own experience. 

It is not yours. 
It is theirs —
hers on one side,
his on the other.
Look.  Discern.  Decide.

Its left message
might be: Life is

Its right message
might be: Life is a misery or
reveal what’s inside and die.

Get this old, long-dead
thing out of your
life: Knock down
a wall and let it
move into the sunlight
and biodegrade.

Let in large light. 
Let the past naturally
disintegrate, return
to earth and take its
proper new form
to fertilize and fuel
the future.

Move freely
for the first time,
perhaps, in your life. 

You have at last . . .
breathing space.

Remodel and redecorate
your new and more
living room! 
2.  Transference: Accepting Projections
       The Iguana in the Passageway
                                                                In the hallway lurks
this cold-blooded descendant
of the dinosaur — iguana,
slippery but not so large,
straddling the thresholds,
cluttering the borders,
obscuring safe passages.

It is each parent’s
message to you
about yourself
as they make you
the blind mirror
of their projected myths: 

You are untrustworthy.
You are a misery.
Tell your truth and die.

Open a door.
Let this current
slow-living creature follow
its extinct ancestor— out. 

3.  The Soul Sickens: Ingesting the Lie~
The Chameleon in the Cereal Bowl

In the kitchen
hides the chameleon
in the cereal bowl.

It is the introjection
of your parents’ lives
which you translate to yourself:

I am untrustworthy.
I am a misery.
If I declare who I am I’ll die.

It is not true.
It is not your truth.

When you swallow it whole
every day, you might say serially,
you become your own
soul’s serial killer.

The Lie gets inside and
bites and scratches
and hurts and makes
you bleed because
it does not belong
there.  It is the message
you can never truly digest. 

It is shifty, changing colors. 
It makes you change colors
in ways you cannot understand. 

It is your disguise,
it devours your dreams
and destroys your loves. 

Cough it up and spit it

Tell your loved ones
to clean it out
of their cereal bowls,
for it has climbed
into them when no one
was looking, and
made them sick, too. 

Grow your own garden. 
Choose your own food. 
Share only what you
choose and know to be
good and pure to take in
to yourself and share
with others.

Invite them to help you
sometimes, in tending
the garden that will
give you glad abundance,
the feast you were born for. 

You must
get both hands and
your feet and knees
in the ground of
this good, good
garden. Other creatures
will help — ladybugs
and butterflies and
honeybees and hummingbirds
and the best healthy
fat worms and other
air-giving farmers.

Welcome them!
Promise them
they will not be
harmed by stray

4.  Divine Intervention: Your Truth~
       The Good Guard Dragon Bows, 
          Honors You, Sees All

Your guard dragon,
the seer, will show you
the whole picture
in which your life

Your good dragon
will circle above
and give you perspective. 

Flying over and into far hidden
corners, your angel dragon,
the seer, will show you the patterns . . .

And help you to choose
what you can keep
from the past that will
enable you to live
a full-throttle life—

And also to give back
what cannot serve
your existence,
because it comes from
other realities,
and forcing a fit
causes harm.

Refuse what confuses.
This work is redemption. 

Your dragon will show you
where the weeds are
and the predators also. 

                                                5.  Integration and Inner Authority:
        Coming to Your Senses Where All is Well~
                             The Guide Dog

Your guide dog
will help you
while you open
your eyes and
return to your senses. 

Warm-blooded beast
with four sturdy feet
in the present,
it serves,
it follows
your need
and leads you
away from the damaging
past into your full
present reality,
and works beside you
to shape your future.

Your guide dog
loves you and
is faithful
and responds
to your friendship.

You are so well

Absolve the past
and resolve the present
in excellent partnership
with this inner bestiary. 

It is a way to trust your own life,
your own being here,
well come.
                                                                        Alla Renée Bozarth
                                       Revised from Accidental Wisdom, iUniverse 2003      
A word on poetry as sound:

Poetry Appreciation

“Read it out loud,
if you please.”

“Why do that, then?”

“Because I’m sure
that the words will taste
as good in your mouth
as they sound in my ears.”

        Alla Renée Bozarth

The Frequencies of Sound c. 2012

Poetry Farm Charms

I meant to write “ farm chores”
but wrote about farm charms
instead. All the visits to the critters,
the privilege of offering them food,
not that they need it, but something extra,
a special treat on a daily basis,
as they offer me by allowing my presence.
Knowing any animal’s bond is the mouth,
I open mine to speak praise and affection
while they open theirs to accept my homage.
How I admire them, and wistfully wish I, too,
did not have to think about such things as health
insurance and Advance Directives, and whom to choose
to be my medical representative in the event of need.
One by one, I check off the answers~~
no intubation, no invasion, no resuscitation.

No more diminished capacity. 
Let Nature have its way with me.

After all, the question is really~~
At what cost to my life and soul
am I willing to keep my body alive?
God forbid it will ever be a relevant question.
Out here, it is not.

The other animals and also the trees and flowers
and so-called weeds and the very mountains
ask one simple question of me each day,
sometimes articulated by the river or wind,
or the water falling over rock in my backyard~~

Friend, it says~~ What does Life ask of you today?
               Alla Renée Bozarth
       Purgatory Papers c. 2012

Poetry that Doesn’t Rhyme
    Rhymes a Little
         to Explain Itself

This is the only song I can sing,
this is the only joke I can tell,
this is the only play I can act,
this is my only chance for a spell,
to tell of the world of life and the soul,
to speak for all the living and half of the dead,
to invite the spirits of all creatures on earth,
to give them voice, to let their cry be mine,
I am a mother always giving birth
in the bed of her head.

No matter the cost, no matter the toll,
only a few are blessed with the means,
obliged to use it for those without,
a way to turn the tremors of time
and the horrors and joys that they know~~
everything lost and everything broken,
mirrors and all~~ and let them become,
in alchemical fires of words gone wild,
crystal goblets and light-holding windows
in a way that sings, to give color and shape
and blessed redemption, the promise of more
and the hope that it brings~~ from the daily feast
of plain bread or a shattering joy, a prayer of thanksgiving,
and from scarring wounds and unbearable burdens,
a weigh of wings.

                                Alla Renée Bozarth

                  My Blessed Misfortunes c. 2012

Poetry Pills

Poems are strong medicine.
Take them a few at a time,
or only one for your daily dose.

Soul supplements of truthful words,
revealing words, right words ~ work
deep down like high potency
time release capsules.

They can fortify your spirit
from the outside in and inside out.
They can clarify your self to yourself.
They can make the world more digestible.

If you take too many at once
you could get spiritual indigestion.
You could get drunk on an overdose.
But poetry won’t kill you, no matter
how much you take in, unless
you’re the one living it.

                    Alla Renée Bozarth

       My Passion for Art copyright 2012

Poetry Like Poetry

Nothing inspires poetry like poetry.
Poets who have never heard of each other
and will never meet accidentally find
one another’s poetry in their hands,
or more likely, one will find the other’s
and that will be that,
except that the given poem will come
to the receiving hand
and mind of the poet’s eye
like a magical hummingbird,
honeybee or butterfly, and
just like that a new poem will burst into bloom.
                      Alla Renée Bozarth 

        The Frequency of Light c. 2012.

The Interview Resumes~  Who are your favorite writers and why?

Alla Renée Bozarth:  [The prose writer who comes to mind is the naturalist, Loren Eisley. I love everything by Neruda, so full of the reality of conflict and compassionate wisdom.] I love Walt Whitman for his shameless expansion, and Emily Dickinson for her brilliant concision. I love William Stafford for so simply making my heart happy and my hair shiver, with lines like these [in the poem framed by my typewriter hot from his own, with the handwritten corrections he made on the thin, aging white paper with pen:]

[from “Gaea” by William Stafford]

“And sometimes, not to know, but to spend
the time learning, I make the guitar say
a certain tone again and again
till it all adds up and becomes
what God intended from my part
of the world today. Then I pause,
and what follows that sound I make is music.”

I love Naomi Shihab Nye’s words, saying it differently but expressing what
I feel about it: “Our friend from Turkey says language is so delicate he
likens it to a darling—                                                             

“We will take this word in our arms.
It will be small and breathing.
We will not wish to scare it.
Pressing lips to each syllable.
Nothing else will save us now.”  What’s next?

Alla Renée Bozarth: Next for me is the publication of [fourteen] big new books and perhaps [six or] seven small ones, including two childrens' stories, plus two audio CDs. I’ve been living with and learning from  a chronic illness [(fibromyalgia with ramifications such as migraines and other nuisance factors)] that has caused all sorts of physical limitations because of pain and fatigue, but . . . the more limited my body has been, the more I’ve written. I suppose it’s sublimation. I intend to [feel better] and relate largely and more directly with the world again, and that will be a celebration, a reverse sublimation, as in a poem from Soulfire: Love Poems in Black and Gold—“The Poet to Her Love,” which describes how my life has been a kind of volcanic eruption of poetry for five [now ten] years, but soon will settle into a more balanced form:

I am about
to become
a monkwoman
a nunwoman
an animalwoman
a witch
I am about to pour
my sex into
this living
this poem.
Later, mark me,
I shall be
the world’s best
lay, pour
all my poetry
into you.  What was the last book you read?

Alla Renée Bozarth:  I just finished reading two beautifully written books: 19 Varieties of Gazelle, by Naomi Shihab Nye, and N. Scott Momaday’s In the Bear’s House.  Do you have any hobbies? What are they? How do they enhance your writing?

Alla Renée Bozarth:  I love dressing up in luscious gowns and going to the opera and ballet, theater, dining elegantly, and more casually I love to go to the movies and eat a really great hot dog. I haven’t been able to do those things for some time, except for the occasional movie in my small town, so I enjoy watching old black and white movies on television again, and yes, they do produce poems. I love to watch the birds, weather, flowers and deer in the garden, and they all wind up transferred to the heartmind of my readers also. Besides that, I love to play my Steinway grand piano when I can, and dance. Sometimes when I can’t walk very well, I can still dance, and the dancing heals me [for its time].

I love to play with my friends, too, and am blessed beyond measure in our participation in each others' lives. And I still celebrate the Eucharistic Mysteries of Great Thanksgiving. Always, always that. My garden has put a camera in my hand and the thousand pictures I’ve taken of the wildflowers, Mt. Hood, the Pacific Ocean, my roses—these, too, become poems, for image and word do love each other.

All that follows is from the June 6, 2010 revision six years later, 
which I've edited and added to again on November 16-17, 2011 
and during the last week of March, 2012.

Postscript: I edited this interview as indicated on Sunday, June 6, 2010. I am aware of this being the 66th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied Forces’ Invasion of the Beaches of Normandy. On June 14, 1940, Paris was overtaken by Nazi tanks and fell under Occupation. In July 1944, plans for the Battle for Paris began. Liberation was achieved on August 25 and on August 26, 1944, the 24th anniversary of Women's Suffrage being written into the United States Constitution,  the Americans entered freed Paris to Victory Parades. I glanced at the calendar to see the date and it all came to mind, crucial events that determined the course of our lives before I was even born.

It hardly seems fitting to refer to my life at all by working on such a small personal thing as revising (and clearing the many editorial typing errors in) the original transcript of this interview taken six years ago.

On the other hand, these more recent events, in their way, by virtue of their small part in the worldwide effort to heal  the world being possible because of the outcome of that hellish war, are a tribute to the Normandy Invasion Allies—both those who lived to see their homes again, and those who did not. Time and its human record called History have mirrors. We sense this in the importance of anniversaries. Often, there is a folding over of juxtaposed meanings that emerged on the same dates of significance over a span of years. Irony or victory are remembered, usually with a cascade of conflicting emotions as we feel simultaneously the impact of events which we acknowledge sequentially. [In 2012 following certain events in the War in Afghanistan, I added my long personal history of the Vietnam War integrating past and current events to show the nature of the human addiction to war. The docupoem follows the Books section as the last part of this entry, highlighted at the end of all else in case you'd like to read it.]

Women Have No Country ~ We Are Global People       

She holds a cup of golden-tipped Assam tea
with dark leaves from East of the Rift Valley.
She wonders how a man, ostensibly a human being,
could be either so irrational or so selfish as not
to regard his mother, daughter, wife or sister
as worthy of being a citizen of his country.
That is what she wonders. It is his country.

As far as the immature man among men is concerned,
with government, with ownership, with personal identity,
it’s Women Keep Out/No Girls Allowed. Men get to have names.
Men get to own property and try to own everything, including other people. 
Men get to be in and run government. Men are for themselves, 
and expect women to be for them as well. Only for them. 
This is an absurd state of affairs, thinks the woman sipping her soothing tea.

She has just gone with her three sisters to register to vote.
She is Susan B. Anthony. The year is 1872. There are fifty women behind her.
She finds three men officiating as registrars at the office of voter registration.
She demands her voting card along with the other citizens present.
She carries The Constitution of the United States of America with her, 
tucked reverently and safely under her wing.
She is proud to be an intelligent and responsible citizen. 

She came as a citizen to contribute her intelligent vote to her country. 
First the men trying to police the polls in advance laughed at her.
Then they ignored her. Then they were just plain rude,
and sulked morosely until she left. But she would not leave defeated,
or allow her country to be deprived of her intelligent vote.
She began to quote The Constitution.

Accepting unchallenged custom, she had allowed that the so-called generic 
masculine linguistic device included and meant all men and women, and
having conceded that much to the dominant male linguists and grammarians,
when she went to act on the principle that all men are created equal
and shall be entitled to vote, she was laughed at and denied.

She pointed out the rational points, the logical sequence,
her arch compliance with the fine points of the law
such as residency requirements, but the men acted miffed
and took her irrefutable argument as personal insult.

Seeing they could not comprehend logic and reason, and didn’t have
sense enough to realize how foolish and immoral the raw, irrational
selfishness of their undignified, self-demeaning and childish behavior
looked, the woman who was the lone voice of reason there observed
that they would not listen, they would not concur with the obvious truth.

Only one thing made them listen, and that was when Miss Susan B. Anthony
promised them something. She promised them that she was prepared to file
criminal charges against them in court, and to sue every last one of them,
and win. She had the best lawyer around on her side.

She said she would sue each man present for violation of The Constitution
of the United States of America, and she would win. That got the men’s
attention. Without further word, they registered her to vote, and she left
believing she had done it— won the precedent proving women’s equality
under the law, as she had come to do.

They let her vote, but before month’s end, they arrested her.
Miss Susan B. Anthony, orator, scholar and political leader,
went to trial, where her eyes were opened and her work began.

Her clear-thinking, clear-speaking lawyer defended her brilliantly
but his eloquent reason fell on deaf ears. Before a full defense could be heard, 
the judge stopped the proceedings, pulled out a paper written up in advance 
with a guilty verdict and threw womankind out on its ear one more time.

The gesture to “allow” the logical and right thing to happen
was not a legal precedent, but a wild fluke to avoid further female fussing.
It didn’t work. No woman on Earth could accept the decision that she
is not a legal citizen, being a woman, and therefore she can’t vote.
In a word, she has no country. She belongs nowhere, other than
in the service of the man who owns her. Miss Susan B. Anthony demurred.
She refused the preposterous conclusion.

She persisted and prevailed in teaching the facts and winning the verdict
for decency, reason and truth, and her postmortem success countermanded
the shameful proceedings in court. She broke through the layers and lines
of mock lawyers attempting to bar all the sisters from what’s rightfully ours.

This is our country and we are its citizens.
This is our women’s country as well as our men's country
and we are our country’s women.

And the ignorant and selfish, no matter how rich or educated
they claim to be,  will not be allowed to interfere
with our citizens’ rights any more~
For we see the whole sky, and hold the fractured world in our arms.

                           Alla Renée Bozarth 

                  Purgatory Papers, c. 2011.

Women’s Suffrage Day
On August 26, 1920, at eight o’clock in the morning, at home and after
his wake-up cup of strong coffee, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby
opened the certified record of the Tennessee vote to ratify the Suffrage Bill,
which had passed House and Senate but nearly missed with the states.
Young Harry Burn, 24, of Tennessee State Legislature, cast the deciding vote
because his mother had asked him to, in the name of human decency,
and it was sent forthwith to Washington. When Mr. Colby read the result,
he picked up a plain steel pen, in unconscious honor of the steel backs
of plain women who had given their disenfranchised lives to serve 
their families and country, and with their sisters everywhere 
to create and protect civilization.

In the name of them and their daughters, he signed the document 
that officially wrote the Nineteenth Amendment into the Constitution 
of the United States of America. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, 
Antoinette Brown, Elizabeth Blackwell, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman
and Susan B. Anthony were not visibly present, though together they guided
his hand, as did all the women of the New World going back to the first mothers 
who crossed the Bering Straits on foot from Asia to colonize the human-free
wilderness of the verdant Western World some ten to twenty thousand years
before, all of their hands on each other’s shoulders in relay line up to this
moment of, at last, recognition.

And their daughters and all their great-great granddaughters
reached from the future to lay their hands of thanks alongside them.
No one photographed the event. As he laid down the pen,
Bainbridge Colby spoke these words: I turn to the women of America and say:
“You may now fire when you are ready. You have been enfranchised.”
We could cheer and raise our steel fists in our velvet gloves and declare,
with undeniable justification, “First, we’ll fire all the men!”

But instead, we embrace the freedom our blood, sweat and tears
have bought, and then we embrace each other, and finally
we embrace the men who helped us, with all our mighty hearts.

                         Alla Renée Bozarth

Purgatory Papers and Diamonds in a Stony Field
copyright 2011

Miracles Happen After Hard Work

Miracles happen—
the French took charge and cast out the Nazis
from the City of Lights when the Occupying Germans feared
the approach of the Allies and tried to force a 9pm curfew
on the citizens of Paris.

Occupation, if it is benign, is one thing, but a curfew is an outrage.
The police took over a building opposite the Cathedral of Notre Dame
and then the women and children came out and started hurling their rocks
and the men shot tanks with small guns, and de Gaulle begged Eisenhower
to bring in the Allies, which he had formerly refused to do.

Impressed with the suddenly aggressive valor of the French,
the General agreed to follow a band of French troops into Paris,
and when they arrived, a Victory Parade was already underway
as the Liberation of Paris had officially happened the day before.

A distant humming reached the ears of the Americans,
a strange sound rising to a low murmur as they came nearer,
then erupting into an overwhelming roar of jubilation.

The people of Paris rushed on foot to greet them, women kissed them,
some offered wine to the soldiers, they climbed up onto the tanks,
hailing the Liberation of the City of Lights in the summer of 1944.

On the same day, August 26, twenty-four years before,
the Women’s Suffrage Amendment was written into the Constitution
of the United States, a victory for humanity created by the relentless
courage, effort and suffering of American women for generations.

By virtue of those heroic Suffragists, on June 4, 1919,
the Nineteenth Amendment had been passed by both
the House and Senate of Congress,
but it needed to be ratified by state legislatures.

Over a year later, on August 18th the deciding state
was Tennessee, the 36th state to cast its vote in favor,
and the deciding vote was cast by Harry Burn,
at twenty-four the youngest state legislator.

That morning he’d opened his mail and read a letter
from his mother, in which she said she’d been watching
to see him declare his inclination toward Suffrage for Women,
but so far she saw nothing. She ended her message,
“Don’t forget to be a good boy . . .  and vote for suffrage.”

Supporters of suffrage wore yellow roses and filled the balcony
while opponents wore red roses on the main floor.
Harry Burn walked in wearing red, but when he voted,
he said “Aye.”

All the women in the balcony threw down
their flowers, and on that day,
there was a beautiful storm of yellow roses
raining all over the representatives
of the state of Tennessee. 
         Alla Renée Bozarth 

Purgatory Papers, c. 2011.
I'm reviewing and adding to the June 6 revision now in the week of Veterans' Day a year later, seven years since the original interview. War is rampant in the world. It seems always so. Daily I hold all those who suffer because of war in my prayers for healing. That includes all living beings made to endure the consequences of human conflict, not just those directly involved in combat or even all human beings, but all beings, including the other animals who flee human violence in terror, but for most there is no place to go~ and also the afflicted living earth and waters. With the destruction of libraries, museums and artifacts of history, we are robbed of our own best resources for the mind and soul. Whether by loss of life or bodily or mental function, loss of loved ones, heirlooms or habitat, we afflict our kin and in war, we destroy our heritage when we aggressively harm one another. This poem came from a sense of how deeply the hidden wounds can go in those trained for battle.

The Veteran         
What is admirable on the large scale is monstrous on the small. . . .
Since we give medals to mass murderers, let us give justice to the small
entrepreneur.   Dialogue in the film, “The Night of the Generals” 1967.
If you know someone and sooner or later discover
that he or she is a veteran of war, look into that person’s eyes
and learn your first lesson of war—
that there is more inside the skull
of someone who has been in combat
than can be known by anyone,
including the warrior.
The secrets held in the skull have to do with the essential conflict
never being over— the personal conflict, the conflict that goes on,
sleeping or waking every hour of that person’s life—
the memories,thoughts, eruptive emotions that go unexpressed 
lest others be overwhelmed, lest the veteran be misunderstood. 
The horrible Thing Itself that cannot be told, the compelling intensity
of the experience, the faces, the images~ as the medic’s memory
of a woman’s corpse found without her head, but both her hands still
wrapped securely around the body of the baby she was holding in her lap~
the two young “enemy” warriors lying side by side, twelve or fourteen years old, 
rifles still clutched in their hands or lying beside them, each shot through
his thin wool cap the day before, the blue matter of their brains
still coming out of a nostril or oozing from under a cap . . .
the urgency to continue issuing strategic orders from inside the ruined castle
when, a second before, a bomb has come through an opening in the stone wall
and blown a colleague across the desk from you to high heaven, splattering
his brains on your face and the maps at your fingers, but you must not stop 
telling those in the air what to do because more lives are depending on you
to do your job, and soon the medics come to remove the body parts
of the person who was helping you five minutes ago and wipe them
from your face and from the maps while you go on talking
into your telephone to those whose lives depend on
your full focus and intelligent attention  . . .
The secrets are a mixture of guilt with glory,
dread and terror and the thrill of the compelling intensity
known only in the extreme circumstances of war—
The addictive drama of danger, the intimate devotion
among comrades tenderly serving each other’s broken,
infected bodies and minds, a familial intimacy not possible to express
or experience anywhere or anytime or with anyone else on Earth.
The puzzling bitterness and rage of hate and desire for revenge that mingle 
with an increasing repulsion to the slightest violation of another living being.
The nausea of combat conditions and the heartbreaking courage
of those who sacrifice themselves to save others.
The sheer human anger and shame, the bewilderment
that come from being raised to follow the Ten Commandments
that say, “Thou shalt not kill,” and then trained and paid to be
a legally licensed professional killer for as many years as are necessary,
obeying orders to kill while praying for protection and victory, followed by
the shock of going home to a peaceful, harmonious place innocent of war 
where you would be arrested, imprisoned, tried and executed as a mass murderer 
or serial killer for doing the same things you did every day in the years before, 
the things for which your government perhaps gave you a medal, knowing 
that this same government would now shame you and kill you for any number
of things that it trained and paid you to do. 
No one else can go into a veteran’s dreams
but another veteran who has lived the same nightmare
and shared the same quirky joys. 
Remember a little of this when you look into a veteran’s eyes,
and before you speak, and do not ask any questions unless you are
truly willing and able to listen, and for as long as it takes,
without judgment or fatigue.
If you look inside yourself you will find the willingness and the ability
when you discover the cowering hero that lives in us all,
the ashamed, frightened and vulnerable soldier who may hide but gives all
to serve the greatest good for the greatest number, or for just one child.
Images are from veterans’ memories of World War II as told in the documentary,
The War,  produced and directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick  for PBS, 
October, 2007, and from unforgettable scenes in several other films.
         Alla Renée Bozarth
Purgatory Papers, copyright 2011.
 . . . Shifting from the moving breadth of collective history in dramatic times, personally in the here a now a few things have changed in my life since the interview. Stars in Your Bones is no longer in print, a sad fact which I hope soon to rectify. I’ve had to sell the Steinway I played for 22 years, once owned by Grace Coolidge and a posthumous gift from my father.

                                                 The Shamantool

To play the happy medium
to Chopin, Grieg, Beethoven —
my fingers dance possessed
across a black and white pattern,
creating color between the counted lines.
So it comes,
the sought release,
the finding
of one’s soul,
coming home
to center
a cold winter’s
To move out of spin
slowly, widening the angles
of one’s space, returning
to one’s own rhythm,
at rest in stillness— 
and then take off
with grace
in the remembered

The power and sound
of the hands’ dance!
I could not play so well
by working at it —
I could not play so well
for ego or for others’ ears.
I play to lose myself.
I play to die to pain.
I play to the enfolding
silence, self-forgetting.
I play myself alive again.
              Alla Renée Bozarth
The Book of Bliss, iUniverse 2000
Missing Gabriel ~ 
   I Felt Grace Beneath My Fingertips 
I’m missing my piano. I’d named it Gabriel for the angel of glad tidings.
Today is the Feast of the Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary
concerning her pregnancy with the Christ Child.

Perhaps I am full like Mary with mysterious things, and missing my angel 
of music which allowed me to play out my unspeakable feelings. 
My piano originally belonged to Grace Coolidge, an animal rights activist,
teacher and founder of a school for the deaf and President’s Lady. 
Calvin went fishing at their summer cottage in Spooner, Wisconsin,   
while Grace played her beautiful Steinway grand piano all summer.
When they sold the cottage and auctioned its contents, the piano went
to a man who bought it for his two daughters. One daughter inherited
the piano and raised her ten children to its music. They all grew up
and married and time came for her, my friend their mother, to retire to Hawaii
with her post-widowhood husband. My father died and with his inheritance
I was able to adopt her piano, at once bonded and beloved to me.

I recovered from my academic doctoral education with ragtime tinkling 
on the keys, sang Easter hymns and the psalms and Christmas carols 
with friends sitting beside me on its floral needlepoint bench.

I played out my griefs with it, and all of my victories and joys,
wooed my husband with sonatas and concerti and Classical Gas
and the songs of Broadway, while he wooed me with his folk guitar.
Then my young husband died and the piano carried me over his River Styx
and filled like a field with my tears. 
Whenever I played in the middle of the night especially, to cure a migraine
when nothing else could, I felt Grace beneath my fingertips, her animal-loving spirit of generous humanity holding a blessing for me in the keys, with Divine Grace also.
And then, going on two years ago, a series of financial crises and losses
had rendered me drowning in debt and cornered. After five years
of increasing distress but refusing to sell the piano and selling everything else,
I finally had to do the unthinkable. 
Gabriel’s gone. I made the dealer who bought it promise to let me buy it back
when my ship came in, after he’d rebuilt and refinished it. 
But my ship has not yet come in, and my soul has lost its voice. 
For the first time since I was nine years old I am without a piano. 
And that is why I wake up feeling full of things even dreams can’t remove, 
hurtful free radical memories that need to be purged on return, but only
the magic of music coming from that mysterious dance between my body
and a graceful structure of strings, brass, copper and wood~~
mahogany and ebony ~~ and yellowed old ivory keys could unlock
my heartmind and find what was hiding there needing to come out and away, 
with the sounds of Grieg or Chopin, Tchaikovsky or Mozart, Rachmaninoff 
or Liszt, touched alive by my eyes, ears, fingers and whole-body nerve. 
My soul is mute and I’m missing Gabriel,
and even my bereft tears are without healing sound.
                   Alla Renée Bozarth
My Blessed Misfortunes
Copyright 2012

After Gabriel had been gone for two years, a friend gave me her spinet
which I named Angelina, meaning Little Angel, a lovely stand-in for Gabriel,
named for the Archangel who brought Glad Tidings to Mary.

I call this portion of the longer room the Piano and Poetry room, referring to the computer behind the piano where I compose poems and letters and this blog. Partly hidden beneath the purple drape on the right is a Gazelle exercise machine. The red Roman bench on the right of the top photo is the Little Russian corner because there are Russian icon eggs, books, art pieces and my photo album from St. Petersburg and Moscow on and around the bench, and Chagall art boxes on the floor in the foreground beside it.

Sound Mind      
it waits to sound
at my touch
at my touch
it finds its voice
at my touch
it becomes
my voice
it sounds
my mind
my mind
through hands,
arms, skin, nerve
and blood of a human
body, the same as
the bodies which
gave it form and
taught it to find
its own true spirit
which becomes
one with my true spirit
forests began its life,
trees gave it its body
I give it its breath
and it becomes
my breath
mute, I long
for it alone
mute, it waits
for me, keys poised
in welcome, ready
to open the soul
      Alla Renée Bozarth
The Frequencies of Sound
Copyright 2012 
Since late in 2004, because of health realities, the only meaningful work I have steadily been able to do is continue to write, revise and edit my books and engage in a large correspondence. And another great personal loss has occurred—Julia Barkley has died. On February 1, 2010, her daughter Mary Barkley Brown ended her presentation of Julia’s life and art to the Annandale (Minnesota) History Club with these words:

Julia Barkley died at age 81 on November 22, 2005, after a long struggle against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. An Annandale Advocate article stated:  “Friends remembered Julia Barkley last week as an artist who lived to paint, a crusader who wasn’t afraid to stick her neck out and a woman who was deeply involved in the community and world around her.”
She is deeply missed.

Again, thanks to Terri Hawthorne and Mary Barkley Brown, Julia's daughter, Julia and I were able to have one last show together a month before her death, though neither of us was physically able to attend it. Paintings and poems were displayed and my poetry was included as a prayer led by the Women in Black at a candlelight vigil for peace in the undercroft of St. Mary’s Basilica in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 16, 2005. Afterward, a group of participants visited Julia at her hospital bed in the Benedictine Health Center of Minneapolis, to thank her for being faithful to her art and giving the world so much spiritual enrichment and beauty. Some of her vibrantly intense “hypercolor” paintings were displayed in the lobby and hallways. Refreshments were served. The Benedictine Health Center informal gathering was the last art show reception for which she would be physically present. Terri and Mary each gave me a full telephone account.

Mary described her mother's Celebration of Life service, too. One thing I never knew about Julia during our shared time was that she played the trombone. Musicians in her family gave her a sendoff which included the powerful sounds of her instrument. Honored by Lakota Medicine People and Pipe Carriers as spiritually one of them, her birthplace and later her geodesic dome studio were in the heart of the Black Hills in South Dakota.  She frequently presented Art and Spirit courses on the Pine Ridge Reservation with Warfield Moose, Lakota Medicine Man and Episcopal Priest, and her colleague Sister Judith Stoughton, a painter and professor of art history at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul. Julia was buried with sacred feathers and shields, with seeds and stones, and Mary told me she tucked one of my poems (which was among the many I sent for our loving friend and Stars in Your Bones collaborator, Terri Hawthorne to read to Julia in her last months) under her head to go with her back to the earth and sky and into Paradise.

This painting below represents Julia as well as her body of work in vibrant color. When we went on our poet's and painter's pilgrimages to Russia, Paris and Bern, Switzerland, she sought out the great colorist painters, especially the Fauve group of artists among the post-impressionists, led by Matisse. Julia's art was painterly. She loved to get as much paint on the canvas, paper or metal base as possible. She would delight in showing how she would, in the tradition of Jackson Pollock, splatter, drip and throw color over thick brush work to create a textured effect and bring the image alive. Her paintings can be viewed and purchased at the website her daughter created for her:

I am blessed to have known and loved her and worked with her for so many wonderful years. I am honored to be her forever friend, and bless her for taking her Dragons of Compassion for the Grief of the Soul paintings along with my poem "Transfiguration," commemorating the bombing of Hiroshima, to present to the Mayor of that again beautiful city. They were the first works by foreign women artists to become part of the permanent collection in the Peace Memorial Garden. I was told that the poem has been transliterated into the Japanese language, though I have not seen it. My heart is glad for it to be there. In return, among the Christian and Buddhist Japanese artists visited by Julia and Sister Judith Stoughton, her friend and art teacher from the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, there was a Buddhist gentleman who had been injured during the bombing. He gave her gifts of his own art to share. On my wall there is an exquisite painting of purple irises on a gold background which Julia promised him she would give to me.

Irises symbolize Good News. I call them the Gospel flower, for Gospel means Good News. . . . The luminosity of the painting and of tall irises growing in water at the ends of bridges as they are so often depicted in art suggest to me the breaking of light in diamond prisms, which could also make them symbolic of the Diamond Sutra, whose Sanskrit title literally translates, "Diamond Cutter of Perfect Wisdom." A copy of a Chinese version of the text, classified as in the Perfection of Wisdom genre, was found about a hundred years ago, and dating to 868, it has been described by the British Library as "the earliest complete survival of a dated printed book."

Word and image do love each other, poetry and paintings, enhanced when performed with music or dance, can impart wisdom through two or more senses all the more effectively to make sense of life and death to the soul, even when these mysteries are beyond the mind's rational capacity alone, without being in conflict with reason. They are a route to the Holy Spirit by whatever name. Einstein and Escher shared with Picasso, Dante and Bach the sense of sacred mathematical proportions across the borders of intellectual disciplines.

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid  . . . is a book by Douglas Hofstadter, described by the author as "a metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll" ~ Gödel the great theistic logician, Escher the painter and Bach the musician, all in concert as harmonic masters of wind, brass and strings, standing for the core music of color, of mathematical correspondences and of language in varied rhythms of sound and meaning known as poetry, each within each, as intellect, intuition, emotion and sensation correspond in expressions of both language and number, art and science, each within each, a creative, holotropic gestalt of performance.
Both word and image evoke music, so ear and eye are involved in the experience of both genres, and they also evoke a philosophic point of view which may or may not be directly expressible through any genre. In these ways, Painting and Poetry are self-transcending multimedia, non-linear, non-dogmatic sermons for the intuitive senses and the feeling mind.

2010-11 revision copyrighted by Alla Renée Bozarth with all rights reserved. For permission to reprint any portion of this interview for any reason other than personal reference, please contact Alla by email at

Alla— Thank you for these, thank you for watching the world for us.

Ruthanne Bullock, teacher, Damascus, Oregon

Alla, what a gift you are to my life!  Thank you so much for pushing me further towards greater integration, greater wholeness and a bigger perspective.  Your  words illuminate, challenge, provoke and awaken.  You address both the sacred and mundane! Thank you! Warmest big hug.    Lyndall Johnson, founder and director of The Aslan Institute, an integrative mental health and wellness clinic, Minneapolis, Minnesota 

How I Work to Shape a Poem or Book~ a (short-enough) lifetime overview

This Hermes 3000 represents the era when I began to write, not counting the 1930s model small Remington Monarch which my mother passed on to me to break me of writing on the walls in crayon when I was four. A similar model typewriter ~ imagine the black and red ribbon!

By the time my books were published and for all the papers I'd written for my bachelor's, master's and doctor's degrees, including my 400 page (manuscript) doctoral dissertation, I used an IBM Selectric on a flimsy metal typewriter stand down in my private but windowless basement closet office in the house where I lived near the Northwestern University campus, and later on my desk by a window in my husband's and my Minneapolis doublebungalow and the 40 year old house we later purchased. I also hauled that heavy instrument to my three days of doctoral qualifying written exams and to take my three day long type written canonical exams for ordinations to the Episcopal diaconate and priesthood. After 30 years of excellent service I traded it for an even heavier model (it felt like a 30-pounder but maybe I was just getting tired), replacing the cute rotating ball with a bulky cartridge that included correcting tape. It did the job, but for 34 years my fingers were periodically ink-messy from cleaning balls and changing cartridges on those fine work horses.  Here's a tribute to them~

International Typewriter Day  2013   
In the Pearl District of Portland there is a type-in today
at the Richs’ Oblation Papers and Press store, in honor of 
the anniversary of the first patent for typewriters  in the U.S. 
on June 24, 1868. 

The shop began to sell refurbished typewriters late last year,   
and yes, there is a healthy market for vintage machines,   
writes Grant Butler in The Oregonian.

Arthur Springer traveled a hundred miles to participate   
in the informal festivities. In a blue fedora, checked shirt   
and white beard, he points to one of many noble manual   
machines on display. “I own eight typewriters,” he says.
“I use at least one of them every single day.”
Mr. Springer carries a portable Hermes Rocket 
with him as he drives throughout the Willamette Valley 
repairing  espresso machines at coffeehouses.  He says that the typewriter is the most efficient 
and reliable  machine for writing invoices.
Co-owner of the Oblation Papers shop, Jennifer Rich, 
sets up  a 1940s Smith Corona under a patio umbrella 
on the sidewalk  and invites passersby to stop and type 
a note to a loved one  to share in the fun 
and tender meaning of the type-in. 

She generously provides paper, envelopes and stamps.
Jennifer says, “We support public typing.”

A typed note begs for a handwritten signature,
 something else one doesn’t give or receive via computer. 

Different machines might have idea signs in front of them,   
such as Poems, Jokes or Love Notes, inspired by   
Mr. Kevin Devaney, who sits on a crate in front of his 
portable typewriter at the Santa Cruz Market    

a spell south of here, with a sign over his head   
that harkens to "Lemonade," saying Poems

The actor Sam Elliot was one of Oblation’s 
first typewriter customers. His choice, a Hermes 3000, 
was the same model used by Larry McMurtry to write 
Lonesome Dove and the Brokeback Mountain screenplay.   
When he accepted a Golden Globe Award for Brokeback,   
he thanked his faithful Hermes.

Oblation’s co-owner, Ron Rich, said of these lovely sea green models,   
“They’re incredibly graceful. They have a sculpted look that’s just gorgeous.”  Grace attracts grace, and words composed on such instruments 
must truly be worthy of them.  

                                   Alla Renée Bozarth 

My Blessed Misfortunes Copyright 2013  

In 2003 came The Lagonda, my sleek, complex and magical (though delicate and subject to confounding distress) computer, ready for poems~ shown here with the corner of Angelina the spinet piano and the covered Gazelle exercise glider in my living room. My desk top image from the garden shows a dahlia named Coral Gypsy to invite my soul to play this modern instrument. The next 14 as yet unpublished books were and are being made on The Lagonda (named for the elegant, aristocratic, pre-Astin Martin 1930s British car driven by Dorothy Sayers' hero, Lord Peter Wimsey), though many individual poems originated on my faithful IBM Selectric. The Lagonda has five components: C3PO, the sleek notebook for carrying into the garden, though that's proven too hard on the battery. C3PO holds the hard drive and rests on a docking station to which everything else plugs in. In the middle is his charming  and ever-helpful stout friend, R2D2, who lifts everything up to my eye level on the monitor screen so I don't have to strain my neck by lowering my head. His feet are the wireless keyboard that can sit on my lap to keep my arms close to my sides and reduce shoulder and back strain. To R2's left is Bunter, the All-in-one printer, copier, scanner and fax machine. Bunter was Lord Peter's majordomo who could do everything perfectly and discreetly, from preparing late suppers and driving the Lagonda to helping solve crimes and clean up the world. When I turn on C3PO, I say, "Bunter, launch the Lagonda," to alert him to be ready for anything. When we're done, I say, "Bunter, tuck in the Lagonda." Zzzz.

Oh, the final key parts are Miss Mousy who sits on her various prayer rugs awaiting my touch,
and me, Captain Princess Alla at the controls~  
Though The Lagonda and I work hard preparing books for publication by professional companies, the Vietnam Docupoem was the first (and last) book we actually created via Google's Blurb Smart Books software, which proved to be incompatible with our inner workings. The process of repeatedly correcting the software's insistent and chaotic default to an incorrect format was a tedious, life-sapping ordeal. We struggled through that for an entire summer after three seasons of creating the blogs, which had a life and length of their own. I'm all blogged out and happy to return to the modest work of taking dictation from poems as they come up. From now on, we'll only work on correspondence and copying new poems to books and sometimes to blogs. Then again, each of the blogs is a book unto itself.  Whew.

Whenever I am too frustrated by computer problems I realize that The Lagonda has allowed
me to revise, edit, proofread and create attractive enough presentations of poems and books in only a few months, a monumental job which would take at least a decade of constant mind and body breaking work if I had only my old Selectric. God bless evolution after all. As long as it manages to keep the best of the old forms accessible to us for things which they still do best, it's fine and wondrous to add new and interesting models to the mix.

Here are the published books so far, from my typewriter era. The computer is holding another 14 unpublished poetry collections ranging from one under a hundred pages and one closing in at 860 pages so far, to others averaging between 300-450 pages.

Books and Audiotapes 
in Chronological Order ~ All Titles

 Sometimes the date may seem out of order, 
which indicates an original first edition not shown.
To contact Alla for permission and procedure/protocol information to reprint or otherwise use her words, or for other reasons pertaining to her writing, please email her at Type “Permission” in the subject line.

Order any title available from your local bookstore,,, the publisher listed or your favorite Internet bookseller. For an inscribed book, type "Book Order"  in the Subject line and write to Alla Renée Bozarth at A few titles will only be available through her. They will indicate, “distributed through Wisdom House.” 

All books still in print (excluding Gynergy, In the Name of the Bee & the Bear & the Butterfly and Stars in Your Bones) can also be ordered through Bear Blessings Soul Cards. If you don't see a title posted, use the Contact email to make a special request. Any title can be ordered with an author's signature or an inscription of your specification is you choose. Prices are listed in the brochure below. Bear Blessings has also published the long commemorative poem, "Passover Remembered" as a chapbook which can be found here as well:

Stars in Your Bones: Emerging Signposts
on Our Spiritual Journeys
by Alla Bozarth (poems), Julia Barkley (paintings)
and Terri Hawthorne (feminist cultural commentary)
North Star Press of St. Cloud 1990

The Titles


In the Name of the Bee & the Bear & the Butterfly                                                                            
Poems by Alla Bozarth-Campbell with Drawings by Julia Barkley
Wisdom House Press 1978
Out of print. Search Internet.

Poems by Alla Bozarth-Campbell
Wisdom House Press 1978
Out of print. Search Internet.

Womanpriest:  Personal Odyssey  

by Alla Bozarth-Campbell 

First Edition: Paulist Press 1978

Hardcover. Out of Print. Search the Internet.


Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey
by Alla Renée Bozarth
Revised Edition: Luramedia 1988
Distributed by Wisdom House
To order, type “Book Order” in the subject line
and write to Alla at~


Morality in the Christian community flows spontaneously out of a shared perception of Christ’s love. It is a shared attitude of desire for the common good, an attitude of well-wishing toward life so forceful that it shapes the good it intends. Genuine morality is the actualized overflow of the love of Christ into the world; it is an acted yearning for the wholeness and well-being of others. It is, finally, a mutual empowerment toward wholeness in creation.
Chapter Headings

Part One: Dancing in the Dawn Light

Wisdom House
Priesthood Frustrated
Priesthood Fulfilled
Christian Feminism
We are the Church
God is a Verb
Part Two: Dancing Under Burning Stars [revised edition]
This is My Beloved
Coming Home: Jerusalem

Readers' Reviews

Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey  [First Edition 1978]

Alla Bozarth-Campbell (Alla Renée Bozarth) was the first woman to be ordained deacon in her home diocese of Oregon, and three years later, one of the first women to be ordained priests in the Episcopal church. She was one of Philadelphia eleven: eleven women deacons ordained “underground” by two retired and one locally resigned diocesan bishops of the church, the canons of which declare “a priest is a priest forever.”

The Church General Convention, consisting of bishops, laity and priests (but at that time, not of deacons), had several times voted to accept women as priests, but the bishops continually blocked the ordinations by very slim minorities. Some young male candidates for ordination were “striking,” refusing ordination, until the Church at large allowed women priests.

These eleven women pushed the matter from hypothesis into reality, and forced the Church to deal with it.To be one of these eleven required courage, and faith, but also a sureness of vocation. How Bozarth-Campbell came to have these qualities makes a remarkable biography.

Bozarth-Campbell is a gentle writer: she is neither a braggart, nor cloyingly modest. Her writing suggests that she is soft-spoken, but nonetheless certain of herself. She is also never at a loss for just the right word; altogether, this story is gripping. Even though we know how things turn out, there is suspense; we don't know the details, and I, myself was on the edge of my chair waiting for them.

Anyone interested in women’s spirituality or church history must read this book; people who enjoy biography in general will not be disappointed either. And those who just enjoy good writing should like this book.  

Rivcah Maccaby Bloomington, Indiana

Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey [revised edition 1988]

I have been spending time with you as I read Wisdom and Wonderment and Accidental WisdomA few days ago I read a news article about the plight of the Catholic nuns who live in the real world as they minister to people who also live and function in today’s world.  Yet they are being censured by Bishops who live in their own little make believe world/ivory tower of their own construct and are berating the nuns for their lack of obedience and acquiesce to their male domination which they present as “God’s will”.  That evening I read your poem The Annunciation which in two pages addresses this issue with precision.  “And Christ will live again in every woman’s resurrection.”  I marvel at your wisdom.  Your books are aptly titled.  I can’t begin to imagine what you endured as one of the Philadelphia Eleven . . .  

I marvel as I read your books that you reveal yourself in such a bare-bones fashion.  There are your feelings, your desires, your wishes and your actions, your joys and your disappointments and your struggles – right there on the page, in printed words that can’t be taken back or obliterated or recanted if you have second thoughts about making such revelations about your deepest self.  I am most deeply touched when I read about your marriage.  Your love for Phil, your struggle to remain true to yourself within the marriage, your courage to move to Oregon, your ability to withstand the wonderings of others about the choices you made.  And finally, as the two of you connect in love and joy within each of your own comfort zones – poof – he is gone and grief is the new path to travel.

Powerful stuff!

Marlys Collom

Two Responses specifically to the poem, "Passover Remembered" in Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey, revised edition 1988.

Dearest Alla, I met you almost twenty years ago to date. I was a junior in college at Mount St. Mary's in Los Angeles. Never in my life had I seen a woman who was ordained within the church. Since then, my feminist consciousness has evolved, so much so that I am in a doctoral program now at Claremont Graduate University in the Women Studies in Religion program. I am writing this note because, along the way, I have kept your poem, "Passover Remembered," close to my heart. When I am distressed or need to be comforted that the days are long and the work to be done is too much, I can look at your poem and find comfort. Along the way as well I have shared it with women, who like myself, are engaging in the feminist task of hearing ourselves into speech. For twenty-years, indirectly, you have been a conversation-prayer partner for me, through this poem. For that, I wish to thank you today.     

Theresa Yugar

Fantastic! This is what we need. Like a pen to write the fireworks, vivid and outstanding.
Louis Vuitton

The Word's Body: An Incarnational Aesthetic 
of Interpretation by Alla Renée Bozarth
University Press of America 1997,  
Impint of Rowman and Littlefield.. 
This is a reprint of the original hard cover book 
published under the name Alla Bozarth-Campbell 
by the University of Alabama Press, 1979. 


Introduction: Toward an Incarnational Aesthetic of Interpretation

Metaphor and Interpretation
The Art of Interpretation: Creation, Incarnation, Transformation 

In the Beginning Is the Word

Interpretation As the Embodiment of Literature
Hermeneutics and Interpretation
Toward an Erotics of Interpretation 
The Word Becomes Flesh

And Dwells Among Us


Conclusion: An Incarnational Aesthetic of Interpretation


Notes, Bibliography, Index

Read Review >

The Word’s Body:
An Incarnational Aesthetic of Interpretation 

The Word's Body integrates depth psychology and linguistic philosophy to illuminate a metaphor of the creative process, specifically the performance of literature in public or private as “the word becoming flesh.” This book expands the Johannine metaphor to describe the artist/performer/preacher's work of embodying the Word: Creation, Incarnation, and Transformation/Communion: The Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. It is an answer to Susan Sontag’s call for an erotics of interpretation.

Anonymous reader

Sparrow Songs: A Father-Daughter Anthology Poems by Alla Bozarth-Campbell and René Bozarth Wisdom House Press 1982
Out of print

A few hard cover and soft cover books can be purchased 
from Alla at Wisdom House. To order type "Book Order" 
in the Subject line and write Alla at~ 


Life is Goodbye/Life is Hello: Grieving Well through All Kinds of Loss by Alla Renée Bozarth 

Zigzagging the Grief Terrains           
No matter what you read
or what the experts tell you,
there are no stages of grief.
There is only the landscape
of the soul and its varied terrains.
Navigating hard rock to ocean froth
through the surreal days, weeks, years or decades—
believe me that will be a far more impressive feat
than merely walking on water.
Some say, Grieve hard and be done.
Some say, Grieve hard and long.
Some say, Grieve gently for as long as you must.
Some say, Grieve quickly and privately, or not at all.
Only this can be authentically and generally said~
Grieve in your own true way.
Riding the ruling currents of the moments and hours
will be all that some can manage, more than others can imagine,
and unnecessary to others while essential to a few.
Though the raw pain of grief will not last forever,
it can return from time to time, even many years later,
as some loss is, from the beginning, nearly past bearing. 
You need not anticipate its return,
but neither be overly dismayed by
the crack and bleed of old scars. 
Like a virus that sleeps in the spinal fluid for a lifetime
and may or may not awaken to sicken the body all over again,
it could happen to anyone or anyone’s body, spirit or mind. 
In the beginning of grief it can seem
as though the world has broken apart, and
most of it will be out of synch with your fragile heart.
Out the window it may be springtime sunny
and breaking into bloom,
but still be bitter winter inside the soul.
This will confuse and anger you.
You will want the world to be in a state of suspension
and wait for you, for your world will still be inside its deep winter.
You will say to the sun, How dare you shine? Stop it right now!
And to the garden, How dare you burst into bloom? And to the green,
Go back into gray. For living color and most music will shock and insult you.
You may be like Crow and live in two worlds, back and forth
in rapid succession between them— the outer world, which will now
seem a foreign country whose language you dimly remember but must
make every effort to use in order to talk to the grocer, the lawyer,
the child or the dog, though you hear yourself
as from the end of a long narrow tunnel or underneath water. 
The other more dominant world will be the ethereal,
the broken open and shattered world within psyche,
where you will simultaneously do anything to escape,
and also do anything to roam homelessly, endlessly there~
to serve, protect and preserve the sacred story.
If memories rush up to flood through the mists, they will likely
be non-linear and ghostly fragments~ or vivid as blood.
Things will get better and then get worse, up, down
and every which way. Over time things will change,
but some will take more than years to heal.
More energy than usual will be required to move, to speak.
From now on the stories you tell may lack sequence,
and you will often leave out the middle, end or beginning.
Don’t worry. Whatever is true for you is your truth~
a spiral path, a labyrinthine terrain, a mountain goat’s climb
on precarious rocks, a solitary place to sit by a body of water 
or beneath a tree, a dolphin’s blue ocean deep or a salmon’s 
leaping up rivers against all currents and odds to come again 
to true home~ it will be your journey, and the home of rebirth 
that you alone come to, though you may find and love 
kindred hearts along the way and there also at journey’s rest.
Others similarly injured may take very little time
to heal and will have little understanding of those
who need long or recurrent mourning. 
Simply this, then~
Blessed are those who are as fine as they say.
And blessed are those who are not, though they will be.
Blessed Be.

           Alla Renée Bozarth

Diamonds in a Stony Field
Copyright 2012.
When Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was an instructor at the University of Chicago Medical School, she undertook a study based on her interviews with dying people. Through these conversations, she learned that people respond in a variety of ways upon being told that they are terminally ill. She outlined five emotional responses as examples of the variations experienced among those who told her certain aspects of their processes. Dr. Kübler-Ross did not intend that her transcription of these accounts be interpreted as a formula for how to grieve, and certainly not as chronological rules for grieving, but rather that they be received as specific examples of some of the emotional responses persons had when confronted with their own deaths. Nor did she intend that they be extrapolated to describe the grief one feels after someone has died or when one has lost something precious, which is a different experience altogether. Sadly, her intentions have not been honored.
The sacred stories entrusted to her were given to the world to sensitize readers to the delicate and unique experience of first learning that one is going to die. These processes are not the same as what those same people would have experienced in after-loss situations. In the spirit of respect, the following resources describe various deeply human responses as individual people experience loss, and in most cases ultimately integrate meaning for themselves, after they have lost someone or something dear to them, including the absence of something or someone longed for but never attained. Always, what is honored and supported is the unique experience of the individual person.
The grieving process is on some levels lifelong, as we continuously interweave new threads into the entire tapestry and rearrange or eliminate old threads, linking them all together with past, present and future in the everpresent Now. It is not a linear process, not even a neat spiral, but more of an ever-changing labyrinth or irregular and uneven, multi-level zigzag. It is complex and simple, it is paradoxical and poetic and as ordinary, commonplace and colloquial as getting up, cleaning up and changing clothes from night to day every day. Working it through is the living process that enriches our lives.
Life is Goodbye/Life is Hello: Grieving Well through All Kinds of Loss
Alla Renée Bozarth 
(First Edition CompCare 1982, 
Revised Edition 1986)
Hazelden 1993

Chapter Headings: 
Attitudes about Grieving
Loss of Part of Oneself
Grieving: How It Feels, What It Does, What You Can Do about It
Four Styles of Grieving
Life is Goodbye/Life is Hello
Birth and Parenting
Essentials of the Art of Grieving
Life is Goodbye/Life is Hello:
Grieving Well through All Kinds of Loss

Best book ever on grieving over anything! This book has helped me so much during a very rough time in my life where I’ve split from my husband, lost my house that I dearly loved, and move to a place that I hate. It helps you understand what you're going through, and it gives you things to do that can help. An amazingly good book!

Anonymous reader

Alla Renée Bozarth is an excellent resource for anyone experiencing grief. This book is a profound mingling of sound psychological education and the emotional depth of one acquainted with grief. While she does not focus on the details of her story, I enjoyed the personal element of her personal grief poetry being interspersed throughout the book. Bozarth is both a priest and a therapist, yet she says her own grief journey was taken as only a broken human being.

The book is very thorough in its coverage of the various aspects of grief. She addresses cultural aspects of grief and how the loss of a significant person in our lives causes us to grieve other losses related to one’s self. She talks about how grief feels, its symptoms, and what you can do about it. 

She also includes chapters on the grief caused through other losses in life such as change, separation, sickness, and even things we normally consider good such as the birth of a child and success. 
One of the best things about the book is her reminder that suffering in and of itself has no value, yet we have the choice to teach ourselves and grow through our suffering. Bozarth shows her reader how, in the midst of their loss, they can teach themselves to have a new kind of joy and wholeness.

Anonymous reader

Five stars—An excellent guide for all kinds of grief journeys! I read this book in 1994 to help me with the loss of my grandmother to cancer. As I was reading the book, I began to understand how many other ways I had experienced grief in my life and never even knew it because “we don't talk about things like that.” 

I understood how changing jobs, moving to a new state, and giving birth are all moments in my life when I experienced change, and as a result, grief. I learned/understood that my emotional responses to each of these situations were not crazy but normal, and that awareness allowed me to work through the grief process much better. 

I was also better able to support myself in healthy ways. Because of the chapter on personal illness or the illness of a loved one, I have been sharing this information with the patients at my hospital ever since. The patients (and their loved ones) are experiencing grief as they learn to cope with a temporary or permanent disability as the result of illness, accident, or surgery. I am truly grateful that I found this book so that I can heal through my own grief, as well as support the people I meet on a daily basis. 
Many of the patients and their loved ones have thanked me for sharing this information with them and commented on how much the information has helped them to begin healing through their changes.

Anonymous reader

I discovered this book in the early 90's after my Father passed away from cancer. There had been many deaths in my small family—a sister at 19 (auto crash) and 3 weeks later my first husband committed suicide several years ago. This book enabled me to work through the grief that had been unresolved for a long time and regain self-esteem which tragedy destroys. 

I was so impressed that she didn’t “preach”—she shared her own experience. I have used this book through the years for reference and have passed it on to friends. I have bought 3 copies just for myself because no one wants to give it up after they read it. My present copy is dog-eared and highlighted throughout. 

My husband and soul-mate died almost 2 years ago—also from cancer. Once again, this book is helping me, especially when I learned that Bozarth . . . had lost her husband after writing it. She had added an epilogue describing the additional grief she suffered. I am now ordering a copy for a friend who is also going through grief. 

I highly recommend Life is Goodbye for anyone experiencing grief of any kind. It doesn’t have to be a death. Thank you Dr. Bozarth . . .  for saving the sanity of many.    

Carolyn G. Wright

Bozarth walks you through all kinds of loss. Loss is of a friendship, a job, an age, or a beloved person or pet. This book is conclusive evidence that we will encounter many deaths within our lifetime, and as long as we have faith, we will survive intact. 

The trick is to acknowledge the loss, allow the grieving and looking ahead once again with trust. This book is a great restorative. I bought it first for a sociology class, then bought four more copies to give.

Anonymous reader

My husband of 46 years committed suicide 3 months ago. While reaching out to every resource available to me, I came across this book. After reading it, I went back through and highlighted it everywhere it hit the mark. It took two days. 

This is the most astoundingly helpful book I’ve seen and I've read a lot of them. I’ve also recommended it to my therapists as a wonderful source of wisdom, insight, and understanding for those who are dealing with all kinds of grief: death, divorce, job loss, giving birth and many other events.

What a lot of helpful insights Dr. Bozarth offers! I recommend it unreservedly to all who are traveling down this road. God be with you.    

Elizabeth J. Riney, M.D.

I read this book after my mother died 16 years ago and I still recommend it when someone I know has lost a loved one. It really explains the grief process and lets you know that no matter how you feel and how you respond, you’re not losing your mind. I found it very comforting. I also pulled it out and reread it after having a miscarriage. This book is full of wisdom that will help with any loss. I highly recommend it!     

Carleen Brice

I purchased this book after the sudden death of a friend. I was at a complete loss as to how to deal with it, and had never experienced this type of loss before. I was shaken. 

I can’t believe my good fortune to have this book. It taught me so much about the role Grief plays in our lives, as well as it's not just limited to the loss of a person or relationship. Grief can come in all forms from all things. I found it very comforting to discover this and it actually helped me to embrace grief as a natural precursor to healing.

This is definitely a great book to have around, and it did give me some tremendous insights. I highly recommend this book for anyone having experience a loss or a feeling of loss that you can’t seem to attach to anything. I really feel like this book was a sanity saver in a sense, as it helped me identify something I would have never recognized as ‘grief-worthy.’ 

C.K. Ogi

At a time when I had lost 3 people that I loved very much over a period of only 6 months, I was not sure where to turn. Friends, family and co-workers said, “just take it one day at a time.” Although this is a very true statement, understanding the emotions you are feeling and why can really, really help after a loss. 

This book doesn’t just touch on death, it encompasses all losses from a job or divorce to the loss of a loved one. There are so many different things to consider and this book helps to drill down to your connect to the job or person and why the loss if effecting you in the way it is. I highly recommend this book, it does have a bit of a religious spin but not as a turn off, as a warm welcoming feeling that someone else understands.   

K. Haynes

A guide to help you through life's rough spots.

This book was an excellent guide for me when my husband came out of the closet. I felt like I was lost, floating in space. I was so scared to face what was happening to me. 

This book gave me the courage to face my worst fears and continue on. This book helped me at the worst time of my life by giving me a map to follow to get through. Thank you Alla writing such a readable book.

Anonymous reader

I marvel as I read your books that you reveal yourself in such a bare-bones fashion.  There are your feelings, your desires, your wishes and your actions, your joys and your disappointments and your struggles – right there on the page, in printed words that can’t be taken back or obliterated or recanted if you have second thoughts about making such revelations about your deepest self.  I am most deeply touched when I read about your marriage.  Your love for Phil, your struggle to remain true to yourself within the marriage, your courage to move to Oregon, your ability to withstand the wonderings of others about the choices you made.  And finally, as the two of you connect in love and joy within each of your own comfort zones – poof – he is gone and grief is the new path to travel.

Powerful stuff!

Marlys Collom San Diego, California

Love's Prism: Reflections
from the Heart of a Woman
by Alla Renée Bozarth
Sheed and Ward 1987.
Out of print. To order, contact Alla
Type "Book Order" in the Subject line.

Chapter Headings:
Loving Myself~ Dear Stranger, Dear Self
Loving Women~ Dear Mother, Dear Sister
Loving Men~ Dear Other, Dear Brother
Loving Children~ Dear Daughters, Dear Sons
The Other Side of Love~  Dear Flesh of My Flesh and Soul of My Soul 

A Journey through Grief by Alla Renée Bozarth 

Here with Death Begins~
  On the Death of a Cherished Companion
here with death begins
the long trail of tears,
traversed up and down
on your knees
for grief is a wet journey
where the soul is stripped bare
and chafed, where, through rips
in the core, blood mingles
with the ocean that overflows
from the heart through solo eyes
           Alla Renée Bozarth
The Frequency of Light, copyright 2012

A Journey through Grief 
by Alla Renée Bozarth 
(First Edition CompCare 1990)
Hazelden 1993—book only.

The Audiotape is distributed by Wisdom House.
To order audiotape (or book with inscription), 
type "Book Order" in the Subject line 
and write Alla at 

A Journey through Grief
This book was the most helpful I found when dealing with deep grief. It’s short, to the point, and hits the key heart strings with great simplicity and clarity. The idea that tears are what you do when you can’t do anything else was such a relief to me—knowing I could cry for as long as I needed and it would pass. And the idea to be gentle with myself allowed me to go through all the stages of grief undisturbed. I recommend this to every person who goes through a significant death such as the death  of a parent. 

Anonymous reader

A Journey through Grief—5.0 out of 5 stars.
A wonderful book to share with anyone who has had a loss.
I found this book quite by accident, but the timing could not have been better. After reading this book I felt as though I’d received a much needed hug. It is short, to the point, very gentle, and beautifully written. The author is a true poet. I have given several copies to friends and relatives. I could not give a higher recommendation.

Anonymous reader

A Journey through Grief— 51 pages says it all!    5.0 out of 5 stars. 
As much as I can't stand to cry, I have learned it is as important a release as is laughter. Unfortunately and especially for the male sex, we are, still to this day, taught that this act of crying is unbecoming to children, adolescents, and adults who "have their act together." And this misnomer taught by the very folks who do not have their act together.

As a reader you would never know that this book is written by a Doctor. All that is needed is to know that this person speaks of what she herself has been through. That is what makes the book valuable. The publishing industry is grossly mistaken by the belief that credibility goes hand in hand with a scholarly degree. It does not. Experience is the only true credibility. This author has real experience. The only way to know this is to be in the process of grieving and read this book, which proves to us through its compassion and understanding, that this is the way it is done.

I am disappointed by the plethora of published authors who think that we, the reading public, need to be exposed to endless pages of type in order to get something out of the work we are reading. For me, the opposite is true. There are many books I do not purchase because all too often I find the author has severe difficulty getting to the point of the matter. You will find this book to be a refreshing change. 
If you have ever felt sad and more importantly if you have ever been depressed, my advise is to get your hands on this book. It will not take too much of your time and I believe you will benefit tremendously. This book is most valuable to those of us who have suffered from bouts of depression, as we all do in varying degrees from time to time. This book will help you to move through the emotion of grief so that your life is not a repeated adventure in something you are unable to overcome. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Paul Fucich

Dance for Me When I Die: Death as a Rite of Passage (Audiotape only)
Alla Renée Bozarth CompCare 1990
Distributed by Wisdom House.
To order type "Book Order" in the Subject line  

and write Alla at 


Dance for Me When I Die is Alla’s address to the Minnesota Coalition on Terminal Care, November 1985, three weeks before her own husband Phil’s sudden death.  The following story is not on the tape, but explains its significance.
I Bless You, I Release You . . .
Phil accompanied me to the conference and taped my talk
on his personal recorder, which rested on his lap throughout.
There were about 500 professional people in the room—
oncologists, surgeons, nurses and nurse practitioners, hospice
workers, therapists, grief counselors, funeral directors and clergy.
At the end of the talk, I led a guided imagery meditation.
I invited the individuals present to close their eyes and visualize
something or someone they were ready to and needed to let go of,
and to bathe the image in gold light. . . . Then I asked them to
visualize the image diminishing and finally dissolving into the light
while they said, “I bless you, I release you— I set you free, I set
me free— I let you be, I let me be.” Then I asked them to
imagine that they themselves were being bathed in soothing pink
light flecked with gold. The gold was meant to represent Divine
Grace and the pink to represent Divine Compassion.
Phil was sitting on a center aisle seat toward my right from the podium
and about three rows back, and the co-keynote speaker, Comparative 
Religions scholar Huston Smith, was directly behind him. During my talk,
both of them, Huston much older than Phil, had radiant smiles on their 
faces as they leaned forward from time to time, as if it was all they could 
do to keep from saying “Yes!” or “Oh!” out loud.

On the way home in the car I asked Phil if he would feel all right
about telling me what he let go of during the meditation. He said,
“I let go of the last vestige of my lack of self-acceptance.” Phil also
told me that I had been his priest and a source of spiritual counsel and
wisdom throughout our marriage, as of course he had been for me, which
I told him in turn. Then Phil said, “It's because of your relentless acceptance 
of me that I've finally been able to accept myself.”
The conference had been around the fifteenth of November, and the day after 
Thanksgiving at the end of the month, Phil took me to the Twin Cities airport 
to fly to Oregon for my writing retreat. I was going to be gone until just before 

On December 8, Phil called me. We'd been talking so much on then
expensive long distance that we'd agreed to wait four days until 
Wednesday for our next visit, but Phil called the next day, Sunday,
the First Sunday of Advent. He was too excited and happy to
wait. He wanted to tell me all about the Advent service that morning.
Everything was gorgeous~ the altar, the flowers, the music. He sang
and played his guitar with the choir. His sermon was called, "What
are You Waiting For," and he was very pleased with it. I delighted
in hearing and imagining all this. 

Then I said, "I'm so glad you called because I wanted more than 
anything to call you and tell you something. I read in the Sunday  
Parade Magazine this morning. Toward the end of Franklin's life, 
Eleanor Roosevelt wrote him a love note and tucked it in his coat 
pocket for him to carry around. It said, 'You are the best husband 
in the world.' I wanted to say that to you, Phil. For all our years 
together you've worked hard and you gave me the courage to
work hard with you so that we could truly achieve marriage 
together. Now I can say it to you with all my heart, Phil. 
You Are the Best Husband on Earth." I could hear him purr . . .

When he had proposed to me on February 27, 1971, after a kiss 
good night in the front seat of my 1968 Plymouth Valiant, he
asked rather casually, "Will you marry me some day, Hon?"
And I even more casually grinned and said, "Uh huh," and
kissed him again. Nearly fifteen years later on the telephone
I playfully said, "Will you marry me someday, Hon?" and he
said, "Uh huh." Then in turn he asked, "Will you marry me?"
and I exclaimed, "YES!"  

While in Oregon I had gone Christmas shopping and wrapped 
presents for the family on December 6, St. Nicholas Day. 
They were in big canvas shopping bags and ready for my return 
trip around the 20th.

But on December 9, I was awakened from sleep by the telephone.
It was Phil’s mom calling from the hospital to tell me that Phil had
just died. I had been dreaming. I dreamed that a man in a United
Parcel Service uniform had asked me to witness and bless his saying
Goodbye to the woman he loved. It was like a wedding, and later
I realized that I was both priest and bride, and the groom was Phil,
declaring his eternal love. And then the phone rang.
I was still half-asleep when I heard the words. I fell out of bed onto
my knees and wailed the single word, “NO!!” My mother-in-love said,
“Call your neighbor right now.” My dear neighbor came and wept with me.
Then she called two other friends. Soon, three women were with me.
One packed. One drove me to the airport. I lay across three seats on
the plane and quietly sobbed myself half asleep again. How else could
I endure those horrible hours? The family met me at the airport where
less than two weeks earlier Phil’s bright loving eyes looked into mine
and we blessed and kissed each other for the last time on Earth.
Phil was a 37 year old man in robust health. He had the sniffles and was
getting ready to go to work. Suddenly he had an absence seizure but
couldn’t bring himself out of it and called 911. He died in the ambulance.
The autopsy revealed that his heart was strong and healthy but his lungs
had filled with blood clots. It happened very quickly. It was 20 years
before we knew why it happened. His younger brother had a routine
physical and during the history he’d mentioned Phil’s death. His physician
ordered a blood test, suspecting a genetic clotting mutation {Factor V 
Leiden disorder} that had only been discovered and named in 1994, nine 
years after Phil died of it. His brother had inherited the mutant gene from 
one parent, but by deduction, Phil was posthumously diagnosed as having 
inherited it from both, increasing the likelihood of a fatal episode five 
hundredfold. It can be triggered by a virus, and as his physician explained 
to me when reviewing his autopsy report, “a virus can take a detour 
anywhere it wants to in the body, and his had gone to the clotting centers 
of his brain.”
Three years earlier I saw my father at the same airport and kissed him
Goodbye for the last time also. After recovering from a long illness, he
had gone on a tour of England and Normandy called “In the Footsteps
of Thomas à Becket,” in celebration of his new freedom. He had called
us from London to say that he would be flying home to California the
next day and that Northwest Airlines had changed his Customs entry
city from Denver to Minneapolis. We accepted his invitation to meet
him at the airport and spend an hour with him at the gate before his
final flight home. 
During that last sweet hour he showed us maps and told us about
his glorious pilgrimage, the people he’d met— about how a few nights
earlier when they’d crossed the Channel into Normandy their bus driver
got lost in the rain, and for two hours they drove around in would-be
frustration. Tired and hungry, the pilgrims and driver felt every jolt
and curve of the ride along narrow French roads, until my father took
charge. The next two hours flew by, at least for the passengers, as they
sang show tunes to their hearts’ restoration. {I later learned how much
this meant to them from the people themselves when I phoned to let 
them know what had happened.}
Papa told us that the next morning he got up early to take his first
walk in France by himself. They would be going back to London and
then fly home the next day. He started that last portion of his pilgrimage
by walking down to the river. He found a small bridge over a rivulet
of the Seine and from there he watched the dawn mists rise from the
river. He said he took a picture that he was sure would capture the
beauty of light on the water as silver gave way to pink, then gold. He
patted his overcoat pocket and said, “The picture’s right here on my
last roll of film.” 
Phil had to leave for a meeting, and as we walked down the corridor
from the gate I said, “I forgot to tell Papa that I’m proud of him.”
Phil said, “Call him tomorrow and tell him.” I turned and Papa was
watching us, so we smiled warmly and waved to each other. I let him
rest the next day and planned to call him the day after. That night,
he died in his sleep. When I arrived at his place I saw my new book,
Life is Goodbye/Life is Hello on his nightstand. I’d inscribed an advance
copy for him and mailed it so it would be there when he got home.
It said, “Thank you for all you have given, all you have taught me.”
Knowing that he’d read it as was his custom before sleep, I felt like
he’d hugged me from Heaven. I vowed never again to delay saying
words of praise when I felt them. And yes, I found the roll of film
still in his pocket and had it developed immediately. I enlarged and
framed the picture he’d described in an antiqued gold frame. It was
on my wall for many years, an icon of his last deep vision, one which
he experienced with the eyes of his soul and passed on to me as a
beautiful legacy. I am so glad that we got to hear him describe it in
his own voice. . . .
The night of Phil’s death I sat in his big leather chair and remembered
that he had made his own recording of my talk three weeks earlier.
I put his tape recorder on my lap and played the closing meditation
as I visualized him lying on the beautiful emerald green carpet of our
living room, but I hadn’t anticipated what would happen when I pressed
the “Play” button. Since the recorder had been in Phil’s lap during the
meditation, his voice was the primary sound when those 500 people said,
“I bless you, I release you— I set you free, I set me free— I let you be,
I let me be.” In that way, transcending time and space and death itself,
Phil and I said Goodbye out loud to his body together. 
Six months later, my doorbell rang back in Oregon. I had driven back
and forth to Minnesota to pack up our things and bring them all to
Oregon with me, as I had to sell our condominium in Minneapolis. 
I’d packed everything but furniture in 27 United Parcel Post boxes
and sent them to meet me by truck. When I opened the door,
standing there to bring me the last of our life together was a man
in a United Parcel Service uniform. I gasped, remembering the dream
Phil had sent me as his spirit was flying on its way Home to God.

Water Women (audiotape only)
by Alla Renée Bozarth
Wisdom House 1990
To Order, type “Book Order”
in the Subject line and write
to Alla at~

Poems Included:
Bakerwoman God
Blackberry Zen
Blessings of the Stew Pot
Chambered Nautilus
Cosmic Child
Cosmic Circus
Country Life
Family Reunion
God is a Verb
In the End When Life Begins Again
In the Name of the Bee & the Bear & the Butterfly
Loving in the Open
Mame Sea and Mama Rock
My Solitude Means Plenitude
Nobel Woman
Passover Remembered
Prayer to the Holy One
Religious Manifesto of a Grown Woman
Sunday Memory
The Elements are In Charge
This is How Women Get Lost
Water Women
Where Did You Go?
Women at Play

Reading Out Loud to God  (audiotape only)
Poems by Alla Renée Bozarth
Wisdom House 1990
To order, type “Book Order”
in the subject line and write
to Alla at~

Poems Included
A Poem Heard
Arctic Quest
At the End of this Road
Belonging [Stars in Your Bones]
Burning Bush
Conscientious Objection
Country Cousins
Creature Coveneant
Cygnus X-1
Dinner at the Alexis Esplanade
Easter Wisdom Rite
For Adults Only
Grandfather Lover
Hymn to Gaea
I Am Your Poem
Inanna in Hell
Loving the Body
Medicine Bear
My Yoga Teacher
No Failed Magician
Novaya Zemlya
Pure Lust, Perfect Bliss— Holy Communion
Sabbath Light
Smart Luck
That’s Life
The Flower that Sees
The Night I Sang at the Paris Opera
The Shamantool
To One Whose Sacred Map Was Stolen
What Jesus Really Said
Where Life Begins

Stars in Your Bones: Emerging Signposts on Our Spiritual Journeys
Poems, Paintings and Commentary 
by Alla Bozarth, Julia Barkley and Terri Hawthorne
North Star Press of St. Cloud 1990
(temporarily out of print~ search the Internet) 


At the Foot of the Mountain:
Nature and the Art of Soul Healing
by Alla Renée Bozarth 
(First Edition with subtitle: "Discovering Images for Emotional Healing"
by Alla Bozarth-Campbell CompCare 1990)
Current Edition iUniverse 2000

From the Introduction:
   "This book catches me on the wing. It is a book of Between. So it is a true-to-life book, a soul-making book. But unlike tidy fiction, it has no plot. My life and soul have no plot~ only themes. Here are themes of flights, as in music, as in a fugue.
   "When I wrote these themes into form some years ago, I was
on the way. I was up in the air. My only map was faith. I had
embarked on a destiny journey with no idea of my destination.
I was telling a true story, but I was in the dark about its plot,
its details, and its resolution. Now some of these things have been
revealed because I have lived through them.  . . . The light breaks
through into what is essential for me~ the sweet and stinging
divine Mystery.  . . . [It] includes the limitless importance of people
in my life. The themes of my sense of exile and homecoming are
present in this book, but locked inside them are deeper themes . . . "  

Of Nature as teacher and healer, death as utmost transformation~ of Grace, 
of courage, of willingness, surrender, wonder, of breath-taking moments of 
splendor in the lives of Creation around me . . . 
the salmon's steadfast swim out to sea and heroic return at life's end to the 
finger lakes where it was born, diving up waterfalls on the way and trying 
not to be eaten by bears or ripped in human machinery . . .  then love and 
rebirth at the end.

Chapter Headings
Before the Beginning and After the End
The Mountain
My Eye
The White Deer
The Salmon
The Well
The Great Bear
Chambered Nautilus
Seven-petaled Lotus
Invisible Wings
A Happy Childhood
In the Beginning

At the Foot of the Mountain: Nature and the Art of Soul Healing
This remarkable work proves that a time of devastating change can result
in magnificent growth and illumination. In these intensely personal—
and universal— ponderings, Episcopal priest, author-poet and therapist,
Alla Renée Bozarth, relates the wrenching decisions that caused her move
from her “exile” I the Midwest back to Oregon, to her place “at the foot
of the mountain.” She takes us through her grief at the death of her father
and of her young husband, then shares her gradual healing through the
creative process of writing this book. At the end, nature and art and the
human spirit make a union with the whole. 
Anonymous Reader
All Shall Be Well, All Shall Be One (audiotape only)
Alla Renée Bozarth
Lecture delivered to the Womanspirit Conference
in Los Angeles, 1991.
Wisdom House 1992.
Out of print.

Six Days in St. Petersburg
A Chronicle of Return

Poems by Alla Renée Bozarth
Purple Iris Press 1993
Out of print. Search the Internet. 
At the Ballet

In Petersburg
at the Little Ballet
a large while angel flies
in each corner of the state,
blessing the wings
of the theatre and all
who lap and exult there,
all who  fall weary
into the wild ovations
of entranced audiences
like me, unable to move
or acknowledge it's over,
refusing to go home,
at dawn still sitting there,
throwing roses at the dancers' feet. 


Olga, Tanya and Vladimir
entertain us expansively
in their two-room flat.
The children, Vasya and Irina
are out taking music lessons
and studying.

We eat potatoes from the country
and cucumbers from town.
Red tulips we have carried
through the deep Underground
open in full glory, yellow
stamen against the gold wallpaper.
Iced cake and samovar tea.
Apples and currants in tall glasses
with fresh sugar just purchased dearly.

On the way back in the taxi,
Olga whispers when we pass
a medium-sized grey building, "KGB."
I look up as we turn the corner,
see a green plant growing
in a fifth floor window,
white curtains.

The old functions change.
What oppressed now seeks
to protect.

Sometime soon, let freedom
and security breathe as one.


The affable
young man
who speaks
for his country 
and teaches
strangers its ways
gives us a link:
there are no natives

He, after all, is
a true Russian:
half Tartar, a quarter
Kurd, a quarter Jewish.
Naturally, he mixes
his religions also.
He is an honest citizen
of the world.

Wisdom and Wonderment—
Thirty-one Feasts to Nourish Your Soul
Alla Renée Bozarth 
Sheed and Ward 1993
(Now an imprint of Roman and Littlefield)

A Reader's Response:

Wisdom and Wonderment was, I’m convinced, written especially for me.  Page after page are now marked with post-it-notes for me to reread as the lessons penetrate and reveal themselves.  I discovered parts of myself within these pages.  Wonderings about myself and some of my interactions with other people have been illuminated.  I have looked into a mirror and seen myself more clearly as the fog is dispersed from the glass by your words and insights.  Thank you for your gifts of writing and wisdom and self-revelation in honesty~  

I am thankful that you are a part of my life. 

Marlys Collom  San Diego, California

Meditations for every day of the month:

Thirty-One Commandments or Flavors of Grace 
     Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.
                                 Native American Saying

Thou shalt not insult thy Creator by hating, abusing or 

disrespecting thy Self.

Thou shalt not insult thy Creator by hating, abusing or 
disrespecting any Other Child of God.

Thou shalt not bore thy Creator – by reading from a script 
to converse with Same– unless it be to share good literature, 
for the Creator loves a good read.

Thou shalt not grovel.

Thou shalt not whine.

Thou shalt not repeat thy sins and irritating habits 
over and over again in word or deed.

Thou shalt relinquish thine addiction to perfection, 
for it will only harm thee.

Thou shalt not cling falsely to any other of thy delusions, 
nor to thy tedious disbeliefs for safety or stubbornness’ sake.

But thou shalt not be afraid to ask questions.

And thou shalt learn to ask the truly helpful questions, and 
to live them patiently.

And thou shalt remember that it is all right to be wrong and 
to admit it.

Thou shalt not be afraid to be foolish, for Wisdom loves 
the honest risk taker, and thou shalt laugh gently with her.

Thou shalt not, however, keep doing the same dumb things 
without learning gratefully from the gift of thy mistakes.

Thou shalt relinquish thy rage after listening to thy hurt 

child within, and learning what thou needest to feel safe.

And thou shalt focus and use thy righteous anger against 
injustice well, to change reality for the greater well being 
of all.

Thou shalt raise hell, from time to time, for heaven’s sake.

Thou shalt not be afraid to ask for forgiveness, and to forgive.

Thou shalt remember the obvious, and not belabor it.

Thou shalt not underestimate thy power nor minimize 

thy pain, but learn to use both compassionately.

Thou shalt fret not thy gizzard.

Thou shalt not forget to celebrate and practice happiness 
and breathe in and out with a grateful heart every day, for 
all God’s gifts to thee and in thee.

Thou shalt remember to take long walks out of doors and 
to listen to the birds and smell the flowers and trees and 
to touch the Earth and sing to her, and to have picnics 
whenever possible.

Thou shalt not literalize thy metaphors, nor shalt thou 
absolutize them into idols, for they merely attempt to 
describe the indescribable.

Thou shalt not hold thy brokenness against thyself, 
nor others’ against themselves.

Thou shalt be creative and playful in thine own special 
idiom, and delight thy Creator with thine ingenuity,
which comes naturally and needs little cultivation.

Thou shalt trust in thy Self as God trusts in thee, 
to fulfill thy destiny and live thine experiment 
with life lovingly.

Thou shalt trust in God in thee and in all creatures.

Thou shalt be tenderly kind to thy Self and to Others.

And thou shalt remember to rejoice in thine intellect, 
senses, and holy emotions, and to make mutually 
beneficial contact with all holy creation through them,
relying always on thy creative power to heal thy Self 
from within, which is God’s birth gift to thee. 

And thou shalt remember to ask for help in thy healing, 

and thou shalt not be afraid to fulfill thy heart’s desire; 
and thou shalt in all things be willing for the divine 
reality to be born in thee and to move through thee, forever.

From Accidental Wisdom
iUniverse 2003.
All rights reserved.

Though the entire piece is not printed in  Wisdom and Wonderment, 
the thirty-one meditations in that book are based on the individual 
commandments or flavors, shown here as a unified text.

Mantras as Needed—
Pace yourself lovingly.
Make merciful revisions of everything, from shopping lists to your past.
Find the hidden gift in frustration.
Find the hidden gift in pain.
Find the hidden gift in despair.
Celebrate the hidden gifts in everything.

                                      Alla Renée Bozarth                  

Lifelines—Threads of Grace through Seasons of Change 
Alla Renée Bozarth 
Sheed and Ward 1995
(Imprint of Roman and Littlefield) 

Chapter Headings: 
Transition~ A Time of Trust and Grace 
Make Friends with Your Fear
Praying Your Way through Pain
Meeting Your Inner Healer
Healing Addiction to Perfection
When  Good People Do Bad Things
When Love Means Letting Go 
Meeting Death Can Mean Living More Deeply

Soulfire: Love Poems in Black and Gold
Alla Renée Bozarth
Yes International Publishers 1997

Distributed exclusively by the poet at Wisdom House
For price information and to order, 
write Book Order in the subject line to

"This is a rare and wonderful gift of love. Poems of wonder 
and longing, loss and pain, desire and inestimable joy flow 
from the pen of a priest and psychotherapist who helps heal 
the rift between religion and the erotic." Anonymous reader~

Turn your face
to the firelight,
Beloved, and rest
your head against
my breast.
How perfectly we fit
when I stand, you sit,
your ear leaning
on my heart.
When you listen,
do you hear
my whole life
singing to you?
My body's breath
carries your mind
like waves, up and
home again.

You are the waterbird
riding my rhythm.
When you listen,
do you hear
the winds of all
the oceans, and within,
the drumming wings
of all the birds
that fly them?


The Book of Bliss 
Poems by Alla Renée Bozarth
iUniverse 2000

The Night Gardener

This is my bliss time.
I water under the moon
while the world sleeps.
Awake with owls and bats,
moths and cats and
the worker bee who never sleeps~

I give grasses their drink,
kiss the night-blooming flowers
whose moon-drenched yellow scent
surrounds the garden, whose round
blossoms glow in the the dark, dancing
like drunkard angels.

The Book of Bliss

These 220 poems are mystic chalices, each filled to the brim with practical elixirs for improving one’s daily engaging of “ordinary” life. Drink deeply with  this poet’s deft assistance. Whether you begin your “inner adventure” by consulting the stars or the flowers, you will spend many delightful hours returning  to these luscious words of wisdom from the founder of Wisdom House. (I have.)

Alla’s own life story (her early widowhood, priestly duties, piano playing) weaves in and out of these prayerlike poems, touching time and again upon our universal and cosmic encounters with imperfection, blessing, loving and letting go, and daily bliss. For those who are guided by the Word, it is here in abundance and for every flower you pick in this garden, two will blossom in your heart.

Ann Knight White Rock, British Columbia


Moving to the Edge of the World 
Poems by Alla Renée Bozarth
iUniverse 2000


You blow yourself up
to nurture your children,
to draw attention

to a larger reality
than human history,
to teach us

that Earth is alive
and every day of bearable 
light is a gift.


Accidental Wisdom 
Poems by Alla Renée Bozarth
iUniverse 2003

Reader's Response:

I have been spending time with you as I read Wisdom and Wonderment and Accidental WisdomA few days ago I read a news article about the plight of the Catholic nuns who live in the real world as they minister to people who also live and function in today’s world.  Yet they are being censured by Bishops who live in their own little make believe world/ivory tower of their own construct and are berating the nuns for their lack of obedience and acquiesce to their male domination which they present as “God’s will”.  That evening I read your poem The Annunciation which in two pages addresses this issue with precision.  “And Christ will live again in every woman’s resurrection.”  I marvel at your wisdom.  Your books are aptly titled.  I can’t begin to imagine what you endured as one of the Philadelphia Eleven . . .  

I marvel as I read your books that you reveal yourself in such a bare-bones fashion.  There are your feelings, your desires, your wishes and your actions, your joys and your disappointments and your struggles – right there on the page, in printed words that can’t be taken back or obliterated or recanted if you have second thoughts about making such revelations about your deepest self.  I am most deeply touched when I read about your marriage.  Your love for Phil, your struggle to remain true to yourself within the marriage, your courage to move to Oregon, your ability to withstand the wonderings of others about the choices you made.  And finally, as the two of you connect in love and joy within each of your own comfort zones – poof – he is gone and grief is the new path to travel.

Powerful stuff!

Marlys Collom San Diego, California

Dancing the Labyrinth

There is a way
to begin —
meaningful movement
is the child of stillness.

See where you are. 
You do not have to be
anywhere else
or better
than you are.

Feel the Grace
of the Earth and God
through your soles. 

This is the pathway
of soul.

And it is
a constant

Let your feet find the ways
to Oneness and lead
your dancing heart.
It is play.

The way allows
wings and those
who lumber.

The way allows
the bleeding
and broken as well
as the fit and strong.  

You may be feeble
and frightened or
you may feel

Either way
your inner angel
will be the one
to carry you.

The way is black
and white and also
living colors —
all suggesting

It is paper.
It is words.
It is silence
and snow.

The way is
from the mountain’s

It is desert floor
and water.

It is body
and spirit.
The way is

It is the soul’s
and the body’s

It is the cleansing
of the mind’s eye.

Simply begin.

At the center
you will find
your truest self
and your birthplace
at the heart of the rose. 

In the phoenix nest
at the center
you will die and
be touched by fire.

When you return
we will know you
truly for the first time. 

We will welcome news
you bring from home. 
Food you bring
will ready us to follow. 
Songs you sing
will call us into Mystery.

The only reason
for going into
the open heart
of the labyrinth
is to let your heart break
so that you can hear
the first cry
of creation
when God birthed
the universe,
and you can
large enough
to respond,
let your whole
life unfurl
in all
its magnificence
and purity,
and cry back
to the Holy One
with the beauty
that will rise
within you.

    Alla Renée Bozarth

    Accidental Wisdom


This Mortal Marriage~ 
Poems of Love, Lament and Praise  
Alla Renée Bozarth
iUniverse 2003

 . . . A star seems
to slip secretly
over the mountain.
A river sings
a new song of never-before
and always. 
You look into the eye
of a deer and see
the whole forest,
a star on each tree.

It could be morning.
It could be night.
The push is over.

At last
you remember
whose you are.

This is My Body— Praying for Earth, Prayers from the Heart
Poems with prose by Alla Renée Bozarth
iUniverse 2004

O Earth, Wrap Me in Your Leaves

O Earth, wrap me in your leaves~
heal me.

Let me fall 
on your Earthbresat~
feed me.

Sing to me
under the round nests
in your cedar trees . . .

Let my wounds
and empty

Into your wonderful
compost heap . . .

Let my wounds
become fertile
gardens and

Let me be.
Let me live

Vietnam Docupoem~ Veterans Day Commemorative Perspective 

To view Vietnam Docupoem blog:

To order in hardcover or softcover book form:

This new edition is dated Sunday, November 11, 2012, Veterans' Day. It is the fourth anniversary of the question I posed which began the research for this book, Vietnam Docupoem, as a Veterans' Day Commemorative. I dedicate it to all who suffer because of war, especially veterans and their families. Few of us are left personally unaffected in times of war. Some carry it with them all their lives.

The Veterans’ Day edition has only a few changes~ an additional link to young veteran John Kerry's powerful address to the Senate in 1971, and information with links concerning parallels between the War in Vietnam and the War in Iraq, both of which began on the basis of false intelligence. The latter revelations call us to consider the fact that more fabrications than facts are told during torture, a common phenomenon increasingly recognized which has strangely not led to a universal end of the specious technique. Habit and sadism along with more nuanced reasons cause it to be continued, with tragic consequences, not just for the torture victims but sometimes for thousands of others affected by military reaction to false information given under extreme duress.

The plague of our era, associated with the mental disorders of neurotic and narcissistic personalities,  is misperception of reality with subsequent over-reaction to misperception, which then escalates back and forth to more and more horrific outcome. Domestic battles begin and grow in the same way as wars between nations by this same destructive dynamic. Alienation and breakdown of any kind of relationship often begin in the same way. The replacement of cooperation and trust by resentment and revenge is a form of torture for those involved. Rational interventions time after time are ineffective and increase frustration and despair. The mind can sour to the point of refusing to give up its ill will and sense of umbrage, and it is not interested in being reasonable. Reason has no bridge to anger addiction, and aggression is as hard to harness and contain as physical addiction to methamphetamine or heroine.


Other than blood and soundness of body and mind, the main thing extracted during torture is a story that will stop the pain, and seldom is it factual. The desperate lie confirms what the torturer expects, making the practice seem justified, and what follows is more aggression and destruction based on that initial reactive, naive and ego-driven misperception. The primary principle of Chaos Theory is that everything depends on sensitivity to initial conditions.

"Extraordinary rendition," the practice of war against individuals by relocation to secret detention houses designated for torture, is new to civilians in the curriculum of war tactics. Waterboarding became a standard household word in association with espionage only in the past decade.

See for a sense of perspective on this subject.


One can't write a book about historical process, from memoir to an essay about an event or circumstance, and ever be able to say, It's Finished. It continues daily, which is why we have newspapers and broadcasts as daily sequels to a book having to do with current events or even the past. I don't anticipate publishing more editions of Vietnam Docupoem, but one never knows. How can I know that I'm done with writing about something? Perhaps as long as I live, I'll never be done. But one must move on to new projects because, after all, there is so much more to experience, discover, read, study and write about, and only one tired brain and two sore hands for any one of us to do it. In humility and realistically then, I can only say I'm done for now.

Original publication announcement, August 17, 2012: 

This book emerged slowly with many revisions and checks for accuracy between Veterans’ Day 2008 and Independence Day with “The Poem Hats of Vietnam” added on August 6, Feast of the Transfiguration, 2012. It began with the question, “How and when did Americans get into a war in Vietnam?” I was surprised to learn what I learned in pursuit of information. What followed was a chronology lifted from two military history websites provided by the veterans themselves [cited at poem’s end], with my own chronology and references to other things happening in America woven in for perspective from time to time, ending with the other side of war~ the compassionate response that sometimes
miraculously comes forth in the face of overwhelming suffering.

It became clear that the roots of the Vietnam War went back to the end of World War I when Ho Chi Minh first begged Western nations to help the people of his country to achieve independence and democracy. The branches of this war extend into the present, illustrated by the witness for economic justice made by Vietnam veteran and former Episcopal Bishop to the Armed Forces George Packard through his leadership in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and by our continued aggressions in the Middle East with incidents echoing Vietnam.

Vietnam Docupoem~ A Veteran’s Day Commemorative Perspective takes the telescopic view of a Hundred Years War. The optimism of that is the implication that we are near the end of it . . . for now. Human history is a tragedy that can be described as one long war with occasional outbreaks of cease fire here and there. In those periods of relative peace, seeds of redemption are planted and grow. They sprout sometimes in the midst of the wounds of war in wonderful ways, and help both innocent victims and wounding and wounded warriors keep or get back their souls.

While all around bodies are being killed and souls murdered, saving Grace can arise, and it can show itself many years afterward. The book tells the story of one such instance, manifested by friendships extending over two continents~ as it honors and demands respect for the veterans themselves, and celebrates human beings, women and men, whose lives are constant songs of justice, mercy and peace: activists such as the McDonald Sisters of St. Joseph, priests poets Dan Berrigan and Thomas Merton, and especially the hero of Myanmar and democracy, Dr. Aung San Suu Kyi. Their strength and courage are blessings for us all. May we learn of them and be heartened again.

Excerpts from three poems in this book, copyrighted 2012 by the author with all rights reserved:

From “The Veteran”~

“ . . . No one else can go into a veteran’s dreams
but another veteran who has lived the same nightmare
and shared the same quirky joys.

Remember a little of this when you look into a veteran’s eyes,
and before you speak, and do not ask any questions unless you are
truly willing and able to listen, and for as long as it takes,
without judgment or fatigue.

“If you look inside yourself you will find the willingness and the ability
when you discover the cowering hero that lives in us all,
the ashamed, frightened and vulnerable soldier who may hide but gives all
to serve the greatest good for the greatest number, or for just one child.”

From “The Spirit of Sojourner Truth”~

“. . . Let their sons dream dreams and their daughters
have visions, and let them work effectively and sing
harmoniously together, in strength and respect,
to restore conscience, truth and hope,
to transform all the bound and broken world. . . .”

From “The Poem Hats of Vietnam”~

“. . . For a thousand years human beings have sustained their spirits
on just one poem well-felt, thought and spoken, and by this secret gift—
in contrast to the sufferings, horrors and hardships of war— by this gift
of poems ancient and new, more priceless than pearls, equal in pleasure to
rice wine and mangoes from one’s own tree by the window, tenderly planted
by an ancestor, people have endured long chronic wars and kept hope alive.

“By these poems, the souls of weary soldiers are healed and revived.
Poems do not deflect true stories and feelings of anguish, but simultaneously
direct the mind to pear and orange blossoms, the scents of all the beautiful
lands and waters of Earth, our shared island home, from which our souls
take succor as our bodies enjoy sweet grains, star fruit and tea at our tables.

“In this way, we require beauty and meaning to be safe-kept
as a permanent medicine for the psychoses of ongoing war,
so that we will remember the whole reality,
without letting painful memories blot out the rest
of our lives~ memories of laughter, the essence of childhood
in peacetime, or what it is to bathe in a pristine river
on a perfect spring morning.

“As necessary as medicine and food, sweet wine and a fresh garden,
the poem is ever-near, sung out and honored.

“People in the fields around a town or working in the city
refresh themselves by lifting their protective cone poem hats
up to the sun, and poems woven and inlaid onto the fabric
reveal themselves, illuminated and transparent by sunlight. . . .

“In like spirit, these words come to you, speaking of Vietnam and America,
speaking of people from several lands across the Pacific waters, a poem
that calls to people with eyes wide open to the sorrow of shared histories,
hearts wide open to weaving peace together, to teaching mutual respect
between people, and to passing on the gift to our children, to be for them
a cover of inspiration, like the protective poem hats that people have worn
for a thousand years of yearning, through war and peace in Vietnam.”

Alla Renée Bozarth, Ph.D.

To order a soft or hard cover copy of the book~
or type Vietnam Docupoem in search box at:

To view the entire book in website presentation, see:


Forthcoming poetry collections:

Protected by copyright, 2011—All rights reserved

Winterfire: The Rebirth of Love
Love’s Alchemy
My Passion for Art
Purgatory Papers
Postcards from Paradise
Falling in Love with Fire
Falling in Love with Light
Kissed by Lightning and Left for Dead
Learning to Dance in Limbo

My Blessed Misfortunes
Diamonds in a Stony Field
The Frequencies of Sound
The Frequency of Light
Also to be published over the next few years~ 

Two children’s stories with CD 

A third edition of: Womanpriest
A reprint of: Six Days in St. Petersburg
     with a CD of Alla reading the book
A reprint of Stars in Your Bones

Image of Alla with Mt. Hood in her eyes at the very beginning of this three part
entry is by John Jarman.

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