Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) writes, edits, and is a small press publisher; his spiritual path feeds his creativity. He is resident poet and essay contributor at www.axisoflogic.com and the author-editor of 17 books and has helped produce more than 70, plus an annual Haiku Calendar. Mankh enjoys music, meditation, munchies, and more. www.allbook-books.com. His most recent book is photo albums of the heart-mind. You may purchase it, read reviews and a sample here: http://www.allbook-books.com/html/photo_albums_of_the_heart-mind.htm.
Your work as a poet, writer, editor and publisher seems endowed with a sense of mission. Has your mission changed at all throughout the years? If so, how?
First of all, thanks for doing this, for giving artists another place to “speak.” As the website states: “Allbook Books was started in 2002 for the publishing of poetry and other writings that encourage one-world consciousness and respect for various cultures, lifestyles and spiritual traditions.” Doesn’t seem like that will ever change. It’s a guideline, so I’m open to the mission adapting to what’s needed, what can help people and to world conditions, and to simply fascinating literature that enhances the life experience or maybe simply articulates something in a way that hasn’t been read much before. My writings adapt and evolve somewhat beyond my control. After about 14 years of writing poetry and essays, suddenly they merged so that my previous book and new book, Photo Albums of the Heart-Mind, are a blend, yet the mission, the purpose is essentially the same.
When did you first become aware that the planet/Mother Earth was endangered? What are some of the projects you've been part of in an effort to transform our awareness and relationship to the planet?
I looked up the etymology of “(en)danger”: “from Latin dominus, lord, master, from domus house.” So, MotherEarth has been “endangered” ever since the system of domination and power hungry ego-maniacs, 2000-plus years at least. Modern “house” has little kings and queens in their castles, that’s the isolated American Dream which, if you consider the hardware store shelves lined with Monsanto Roundup weed killer, is a nightmare.
But it’s not some all of a sudden anomaly; boom-time capitalism has to bust so it is “suddenly” spinning its wheels in the mud. Personally, I’m not sure of any specific time. However, around 10-12 years ago, after reading lots of world news and assessing the situations, it occurred to me that issues related with the environment/Mother Earth and Native-Indigenous Peoples would need to/would become a focus for change. And that’s happening. I think each of us is aware at some level, even in childhoods of the 20th century, that some things were awry, and nowadays even more so. And all that became more of a focus for my writings and activities.
While having coffee with a friend this year, we spontaneously came up with a phrase that prompted doing a poetry reading series. So far we’ve done three and are open to doing more. The phrase/title: “disruptinG thE climatE changE statuS quO.” Some of what that means is: if you think recycling your plastics is going to “save us,” think again.
Also, as regards the phrase “greenwashing”... There are corporations and countries eager to sell “green” products which may improve things but if we just go along with that without changing the culture, if we just consume “green” but don’t give a damn about the overall process, it becomes a veneer. A Long Island deli has biodegradable to-go containers. Hey, that’s cool, but then the town doesn’t do specific recycling so probably the containers are going to the landfill. So that’s an improvement, but what we are not discussing enough is, what if the landfill becomes piled high with biodegradable containers?
The subtitle of the poetry series is a quote from Chief Arvol Looking Horse, the spiritual leader of the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Peoples aka Great Sioux Nation. Standing Rock helped bring about more of a global consciousness and if you read any other news than corporate, you need a notebook to keep track of all the pipelines, protests, and such like: “Everywhere is Standing Rock.”
Congratulations on your latest book, photo albums of the heart-mind (Book 2 of The Musings Series), which you describe as "nonfiction with a poetic touch" that is a "cry to wake up from technological transfixation and work with Mother Earth and each other." How does your book propose humans do this at this juncture?
Thanks, Arya. The flip (the pages) answer is, read the book. But since you asked : ), Photo Albums of the Heart-Mind proposes that people enhance their off-the-radar abilities, i.e. dreams, visions, intuitions, whisperings in the ear, heartfelt ways of being, etc.
Staying unified with the energy and rhythms of Nature is essential. People are Online at the expense of Circle and Spiral. The book explores the power of vision and image, showing people there’s a choice as to how they see the world and that they can actually see the world instead of just what’s on a screen, and of how one must continually look beneath the surface to get at truths.
Also the book encourages that people see within, which is mysticism and meditation and so forth... Essentially it’s about balance, whether technology or even meditation-- are you gonna just stare at the screen or your navel while those who are plotting to build another power plant or pipeline are importing the machinery parts from another country using slave labor and tearing-up and polluting Mother Earth?
We are separated by so much--space, language, ideas. Technology can serve to bring us closer, as for example your wonderful video readings, "Arise and Bow Down to All Nations" in Central Park. YouTube can be a great teaching and sharing tool. Does technology have to be completely excluded as a positive vehicle that can work for us?
Thank for mentioning that poem, which by the way was written in about three hours while walking through the park. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncS_Vuu4Zic Again, balance is needed.
Technology is wonderful in many ways, I spend a lot of time reading and researching online and watching Youtube videos, news, documentaries, comedy, music, etc. Yet as mentioned in the book: “Before the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, many animals and Indigenous Peoples saw and/or felt the signs and moved to higher ground ― and survived.”
Now with dramatic weather and terror vibes pumped into the atmosphere, I feel it is imperative to tune-in to Nature and Spirit energies. What good is a 100-percent sustainable energy house if it gets blown away by a hurricane? Of course sustainable is part of the solution to get off the fossil fuel and other addictions. Yet if it’s not done with consciousness...
I think of how cobalt is mined with child slave labor from the Congo because it’s used for lithium-ion batteries that power gadgets from cellphones to electric cars. The other night with the rain and windstorm, I stood outside and was wowed by the intensity. I communed with the wind, and the message I received was that I (and probably a lot of people) need to pay more attention to breathing and feeling-listening to all of Nature; the hyperization of society has people running to yoga classes to slow down and breathe deeply. That’s good but more of that slow deep breathing is needed in everyday life. The word “spirit” has breath in it.
What are your present aims as a publisher? As regards literature, what would you like to see more of? Less of?
Specifically, to get the projects am working on published and out there. Generally, to keep publishing good quality works that offer a fresh and/or ancient perspective. More investigative journalism, works that challenge, reveal, and allow unheard voices to speak. Less corporate media, as they are one of the biggest swayers of popular opinion, one of the biggest distractions from truth and empathy in human history.
Lastly, despite all you know, are you hopeful about the planet? In what ways?
One can get depressed yet because of the good stuff I know, I am optimistic. The word “hope” is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it expresses a feeling that conditions will improve, so don’t give up; for some people in dire circumstances it’s an emotional opening. I have two friends who do great work with children for organizations with the word “Hope” in it. On the other hand, Hope can get stuck in wishful thinking for the future without action or participation.
As I learned it from Tiokasin Ghosthorse (Lakota) — he hosts First Voices Radio, an excellent show: Hope is in Pandora’s Box so you don’t want to mess with it. As the story goes, Hope stayed in the Box, so Hope is a form of in-the-box thinking.
If I’m hopeful, it means I’m relying on someone else, so I prefer at least to send some good energy or pray, because that way I’m participating in some form. Also worth noting is that there is no word for “domination” in Lakota and probably many Native/Indigenous languages, so now we know which sector of humanity is doing the “endangering” and the reason that the masses are ”hoping” for breadcrumbs.
All in all, I see this as a time of great change... people working together... also sometimes seems like so many are reacting out of fear or tuning-out anything uncomfortable... One of my greatest optimistic views is mentioned in the book: “Since around the time of the millennium and then the Mayan prophecy of 2012 (a positive wake-up call), the words “apocalypse” and “armageddon” have become more prominent, conjuring images of End Times. But this traveler prefers to see it as the End Times of human stupidities, mistreatments, ignorances, disrespecting Mother Nature.”
These are intense times and there’s a lot of misery, yet also it is a time of wonder and deep changes, an opportunity to stop the havoc of institutional systems so we can make evolutionary leaps; what an honor and huge response-ability to, as Ram Dass reminds us, “be here now – remember”... and do something!