Mark Nepo has taught in the fields of poetry and spirituality for more than 30 years. Nominated for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, he is the author of 12 books including The Book of Awakening, one of our award-winners as a Best Spiritual Book of 2000, and The Exquisite Risk, one of Best Spiritual Books of 2005.

This collection of poems is the latest from LaurelBooks, CavanKerry's Literature of Illness imprint. The poems by Nepo emanate from the transformative experience of his close encounters with death and cancer 18 years ago. In his brief note "About This Journey," he states:

"I have, quite frankly, found death at my shoulder earlier than most. Yet I have also been touched by a relentless, mysterious grace which surfaced briefly to restore me. Now I find myself tied to a fathomless place where I had not dared to voyage. I call that reservoir God, though you may call it something else."

In "Fires Looking for a Sea," Nepo writes: "All my life I've tried to lessen what stands / between my heart and the world, between my /  mind and the sky, between my eye and your eye." A noble mission for a poet and philosopher who is always breaking down the barriers: that is why the poems in this paperback about disease are intermingled with reminiscences about family and friends, magical moments of insight, personal epiphanies, and a respect for inner exploration.

One gets the distinct impression that Nepo has become a more sensitive soul thanks to his ordeals of the flesh. These poems attest to the quickening that comes with a spiritual love of life and all its manifold mysteries.