Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Naming Rites Blog Tour #poetry #giveaway

Welcome all!

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Gary Boehlhower author of Naming Rites and 
Marrow, Muscle, Flight 

Hi Gary, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

What were you like at school?

In kindergarten I ran away from school. When I got home, my mom made me pick some flowers and we walked back to school and gave them to the teacher. But I don’t think the teacher liked me after that. In first grade, the teacher gave me D’s and F’s—this was a time when students in first grade still got D’s and F’s. And she wrote on my report card that “He doesn’t play well with others.” I was pretty much a failure in every department. But then in second grade my teacher, Sister Michael, had me read some poems and I loved them. I even memorized a couple of poems and Sister Michael had me recite them to the class and then in upper grade classrooms. That experience gave me confidence and a purpose. I became a very good student after that.

So, what have you written?

I have written four recent books: two collections of poetry—Marrow, Muscle, Flight and just out Naming Rites. I’ve also written two non-fiction books—Choose Wisely: Practical Insights from Spiritual Traditions and Mountain 10: Climbing the Labyrinth Within. My poetry is also published in many anthologies and journals. My most recent book “Naming Rites” is about persons and things and experiences that name me, touch me, brand me, influence me, scar me. I am a soft clay vessel imprinted by the hands and objects and names of those who have been part of my life. I am who I am because of love and betrayal, because my mother taught me how to dig in the garden and plant seeds, because my grandmother taught me to lift my eyes to the stories of stars, because of bread and hunger, passion and assault, gay body and questioning mind. We only have one gift to give the world and that’s the uniqueness of our own voice, our own story, our own particular and unique way of being in the world. “Naming Rites” is a way of saying my name with full voice, and hopefully it might inspire others as well to continue to give themselves away.

Where can we buy or see them? 

Holycowpress.org and amazon.com

What are you working on at the minute?

I have three book projects on the burners. One is a book of non-fiction that deals with men’s circles or personal development groups. I have had a small group of men with whom I have met for over 20 years. The group has made a huge difference in holding me accountable to personal growth and goals. It is an amazing group of men who speak their own truth, listen deeply to each other, and love each other unconditionally. This book will tell our story of coming together, some of the stories from our own individual lives, and the processes we use to help each other delve into our own wisdom and values. The second book that is in the beginning stages is a collection of poems about living on stolen land—recognizing that the land I walk on every day belonged to the indigenous tribes who lived here with a sense of sacred trust and stewardship rather than the illusion of ownership. I hope to travel to sacred sites and have conversations that will help me understand more deeply my indigenous brothers and sisters and how I can step more softly on this land. The third book is a collection of poems written from the labyrinth—an ancient form of meditative walking that I use as a spiritual practice. Here’s a poem from the new collection:


If the way is lost in you
stop breathe pay attention.
Step again onto the path of your belonging
the path that calls from the center
of who you are and who you long to be.
Claim the journey that belongs to
your song, your story, your name.
Claim this day as the next step
this day as a promise
as a small hope that wakes up
something inside you that has been sleeping.
Step to the center of that hope
and let it surround you with light.
Let go of everything that doesn’t call your name
of all the baggage that keeps you in chains.
Let go of your certainty and your doubt
of your small plans and your grand designs.
Take this step
this one in front of you.
This breath this step is the only path
that brings you alive.

Why do you write?

The classic response of course, is because I have to. And I think there is something fundamentally true about that. People who are following their heart, no matter what profession they are in, say they have been called to do what they are doing. It’s part of who they are. Writing is that way for me. Along with being a teacher for 45 years, mostly in college, I have also been writing in one form or another all of that time. Some years the writing was mostly in my journal, some years it was predominantly scholarly articles or educational texts, but I have always been a writer. I love words, the process of finding the right ones to express the meaning, the emotion, or the story. If I had to say what I hope to accomplish in my writing it would be to encourage others to listen to their own inner wisdom, their own authentic self, and to live that out in the world. Every person is a unique and precious gift to the world and we need everyone’s voice, everyone’s passion.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

For me the hardest part of creating this collection of poetry was deciding what really belongs together, what poems support and reinforce each other, or take different perspectives on the same experience or idea. And the really hard part was cutting the 20 or 30 poems that I love that there just wasn’t room for. Another challenge that I took up in this book was to write about my own experience of sexual abuse for the first time. Through the writing, I learned again that it is possible to heal and also that healing is never over. I learned that I can be more vulnerable than I thought possible. I have read some of these very vulnerable poems to several audiences now and I have learned that I am still standing after I read them.

Title: Naming Rites
Author: Gary Boelhower
Release Date: May 16th 2017
Genre: Poetry


Gary Boelhower’s third collection of poems explores the ways we are named and branded with multiple identities, a clay vessel molded and imprinted from the inside and the outside by those who know us or think they do, by wounds, worries, stones, and nicknames, by place and absence, by teachers and traitors. Boelhower dares to name the body’s blows and pleasures and how they are celebrated in solitude and connection. His language soars with ecstasy and burrows into hidden places in the soul. His lyrics tell how the world’s pain lodges in the cells and how the fragrance of summer stars opens an aperture to healing. Boelhower is winner of the Foley Prize from America and the Midwest Book Award for his second collection Marrow, Muscle, Flight.

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK
(links will be updated on May 16th) 

Find Naming Rites on Goodreads


Naming Rites is such a generous collection it offers both blessings and confessions, dirt and bread, miracles and explosions, cruelty and mercy, great blue herons who resemble monks and blue jays clowning around, a lover's tender touch and the horrors of the nightly news. In second grade, Gary Boelhower admits, he won 'the glow-in-the-dark statue of Mary,' and his religious drive, now mature, is still alive in these poems. They aim for (and often achieve) not just a personal record but transubstantiation, transforming experience into wisdom, fear into freedom, language into song. Naming Rites is the autobiography of a soul, reaching out beyond the boundaries of the self. Bart Sutter, author of Cow Calls in Dalarna and Chester Creek Ravine: Haiku

Gary Boelhower's poems resist convention and confinement even as they speak deeply of and from history, family, and community. The persona names and narrates himself into being as he chronicles profound and tender encounters as well as 'tectonic shifts and betrayals.' Software engineers meditate, children go hungry, and faith is lost and reconfigured. 'Let me not forget to be what I have spoken,' Boelhower reminds himself and his readers. Naming Rites is an important and sustaining book for our times, with its 'cadence that calls us into the streets with voices/of protest and hope.' Julie Gard, author of Home Studies



footsteps crunch on the cold snow
heaven’s full of falling mercy
the big arms of the pine
spread in prayer shawled in white
the whole everyday machine muffled

if everyone could say their name
in such silence we might hear
each one might send their small swirl
of hopes and prayers
spiraling out like sufi robes
in the dervish dance
and we might all
hear each other’s hands rise up
and we would know the one world’s song

all our rituals are attempts at listening
all our songs a preparation
for emptiness when our words
have all fallen away because we know
we are all whirling together

wherever you are however you do it
notice how we are all whirling together
in the great round dance
on this tiny rock with fire in its soul
through the grand galaxies
spinning with mercy and wonder

GIVEAWAY: WIN a copy of Naming Rites and Marrow, Muscle, Flight by Gary Boelhower

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Author Bio

Gary Boelhower’s poetry has been published in many anthologies and journals. His second collection of poems published in 2011, Marrow, Muscle, Flight won the Midwest Book Award. He was awarded the Foley Prize in poetry from America magazine in 2012 and a career development grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council in 2010. His recent nonfiction books include Choose Wisely: Practical Insights from Spiritual Traditions, and Mountain 10: Climbing the Labyrinth Within,(co-authored with Joe Miguez and Tricia Pearce). His third collection of poems, Naming Rites, was published in April by Holy Cow! Press. Gary teaches courses in spirituality, ethics and leadership at The College of St. Scholastica where he is a professor in the Theology and Religious Studies Department.

Thank you for stopping by and reading!!

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