This week Eleanor Wray sat down with Shane Jagger, a month after the publication of the second edition of his book: 'My Heart is Too Big for my Pacemaker'. His powerful words and gentle simplicity have charmed the hearts of many.
This week Eleanor Wray sat down with Shane Jagger, a month after the publication of the second edition of his book: My Heart is Too Big for my Pacemaker. His poems release a message of love that can be understood by any one of us, and his powerful words and gentle simplicity have charmed the hearts of many.
What was the first poem you ever wrote?
The Angels, it was a surprise
Have you wanted to be an artist all your life?
Of sorts, either a painter or a writer
What is your definition of poetry?
How do you even define poetry? God. It's a way of saying something which gives a magical twist the things you want to express without being dishonest. You know, you don't have to make it up. It just comes from the heart.
What does poetry mean to you?
It's my legacy, it gives meaning to my life, and shows something for it.
How does a poem begin for you?
It's a kind of agitation and a compulsion.
What conditions help you with your writing process?
Concentration, quietness and happiness
Where does your influence come from?
Oh, many things. Some poets I've read in my youth like Dylan Thomas, Christie Brown, T.S. Eliot and the rhythms of popular music. And I want to keep it simple and clear.
Did you learn anything when writing these poems?
Yes, I surprised myself and realised that these poems are beyond me. And I feel these were inspired rather than constructed. And that I am loved.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep it simple and say what truly moves you towards a state of happiness.
If you had to convince a friend to read this book, what would you tell them?
If you'd look at it, you'd want to read it. Just by looking at the production of the book and you'll find it's quite a beautiful thing in itself. If I showed you a copy now, you would be like 'wow, this is great', and you would be inspired to read it.
Is there a sequel to come?
I think this book is a one-off, and I haven't felt able to write since. One – because I was asked to write it, and two – because I'm either satisfied or something's changed for me.
Order Shane's book for £10 plus p&p from Beshara Publications
Announcing the new edition of Shane Jagger's poems
Beshara Publications is delighted to announce the 2nd edition of My Heart is Too Big for My Pacemaker, by Shane Jagger.
This beautifully presented edition includes a review by Alan Williams and an interview with the author by Christina Mark.
About the poems
Shane Jagger was drawn to poetry early in his life. Influenced by the work of Dylan Thomas, Christy Brown, Wilfred Owen, TS Eliott and Walter de la Mare he wrote a number of poems but, deciding that they were too self-centred, burned them and planted potatoes in their ashes. When he dug up the potatoes he boiled and served them with mint and butter and remembers them as the most delicious he had ever eaten.
Shane says that the words came easily as if writing for someone he loved. He believes that the inspiration came from something far beyond him. When he reads the poems he asks himself ‘How do I know that?’ Shane acknowledges this mystery saying: ‘I don’t own these poems, they come through me, rather than written by me’.
This new edition is now available from Beshara Publications for £10 plus p&p.
Order your copy here
Prof. Alan Williams reviews Shane Jagger's poetry.
My Heart is Too Big for my Pacemaker
by Shane Jagger
White Stone Publishing, 2016
Reviewed by Alan Williams, Senior Lecturer in Comparative Religion at the University of Manchester and the translator of Spiritual Verses: Jalaloddin Rumi, (Penguin Classics, 2006)
I cannot think of another book of poetry that has made me well up just as I came to the end of it, but Shane Jagger’s slim volume did, and quite unexpectedly with his last poem, ‘Three Words’. By this point, after having read 25 of his other poems, I thought I had become familiar with his voice. But the sincerity of this short poem grabbed me by the collar, and still makes my hair bristle to recall it.
Shane was asked to write these poems by Richard Gault, the Principal of the Chisholme Institute. They seem to be collected from a long and much-lived lifetime: some are almost diary entries, one – the enigmatic and beguiling ‘Visiting’– with an actual date. In so many ways these poems reflect Shane’s love of Chisholme, the people and what he has learnt there. The title of the collection tells it as it is – it’s an unlimited heart he has. He locates it as a spiritual organ in the first poem ‘The Heart’, in six double beats. Many that follow are little jewels of reflections, like ‘Love’, ‘The Moment’, ‘Stars’, and ‘Winter’ – the last of which uses such a singularly poignant and esoteric word, ‘mercified’, which takes it to a new level beyond the personal. In fact many of the poems are like this. Some are quite imperative, and tell us, from what he has come to know, just how it is, even with a line or two in italics from which the poem flows. In the short poem ‘Compassion’ there are six commands! No, Shane’s poetry is not as simple as it might first appear, and it demands our attention. In ‘Moments Between’, for example, there is a wonderful balance between personal reflection, and a more commanding observation of our state. To take another example, I think ‘Onion’ is delightful in formal terms, and must be quoted to allow any comment:
Today I’m like an onion
Sad with separation
Grief makes me cry
Chop and cook me gently
Add a little saffron
for joining together and laughter
Serve me to those whom I love
With breath-taking speed he gives us the image, and moves from vegetable to kitchen chopper, cook, to the table and the guests who will consume it – all with a simple plea for tenderness. Here is optimism that is a lifetime of pain away from naïveté, sensitised by his vulnerability and the caring he has received, and which is acknowledged on every page of this wonderful book. It is a lesson about love – thank you, Shane.
Alan Williams, July 2016
Order the book here
£10 inc p&p worldwide
Read the review by Christopher Ryan
Read more about Shane Jagger on beshara.org
The author Roger Norman reviews 'My Heart is too Big for my Pacemaker'
My Heart is too Big for my Pacemaker : poems by Shane Jagger
Reviewed by Roger Norman
This little book of poems arrived out of the blue one morning, at a postal address where nothing ever comes except gas bills. I read the first poems to see what was afoot and was caught by these lines: ‘Soon they visit some hearts / though they won’t find them / except by singular / intention and concentration on the giver of hearts’. There was no mistaking the weight of singular intention and concentration, as the seven ‘n’s sounded their gong-like chimes. By the end of the poem, we still don’t know who are ‘they’ of the first line, but we suspect that it might be ourselves – the uncertain ones, the seekers. Probably it is of us that the ‘singular intention’ is required.
Wary of false prophets, we require in return a sense of authenticity. For me, it was the appearance of the angels that decided it. Of these angels, ‘they say some don’t even know / of the existence of humankind’. Angels unaware of us? We have been led to think we created them. But ‘they exist you know / out of the corner of your eye / as perceived by the ill and frail … Oh yes they whisper / clear inspiration like / an idea half-remembered from childhood / they listen to hearts / and without judgement / watch the human failures pass away.’ Watch the human failures pass away? I’m reminded of a peremptory line from one of the Desert Fathers: ‘The whole active life is regarded by God as nothing but leaves on a tree which bears no fruit.’
In another of the poems came this, about death: ‘Each aspect of a person is / taken on a return / to its origin. / Death then / is returning to / that single point / where the request to / live began.’ The idea of death as return is familiar, but ‘each aspect … is taken’ is surprising and ‘the request to live’ is astonishing. The voice of Shane Jagger, Wakil as he is known, acquires authority as he treads untrodden ground.
His angels appealed to me at once, perhaps because the angel Gabriel had caused me problems years ago. He’s the only magical being in the Christmas story – I mean wholly fantastic – big muscular wings, a shining light. When the rule of reason reared its head in my life, it was the angel in the Christmas story that stood out. The rolling away of the stone from the crypt might have been a tall story issuing from the imagination of the disciples, but the angel? It’s like a Harry Potter phoenix. Wakil’s angels are deft, silent, nearly invisible.
As I read the poems I found myself thinking of Rumi, Anatolia’s greatest poet. The association may have been triggered by a reference to the ‘essential friend’, which to an admirer of the Mevlana recalls the amazing Shams of Tabriz, Rumi’s teacher and soulmate. But there was a sense in other poems too of that mixture of the devoted and the unpredictable that is characteristic of Rumi, especially if read in the Coleman Barks translation.
Wakil’s poems are followed by a short life of the author, who ‘found his way to Chisholme House, a school of esoteric education’. The internet reveals that this school was founded by Bulent Rauf, a Turkish mystic. Rauf published books on the sufi sage Ibn Arabi, who in the 13th century AD taught the oneness of being. This pedigree sheds light on Wakil ‘trying to understand / there is only one thing going on / nothing else’ but the poems need no positioning within this or that tradition. ‘Keep sharp and awake,’ the same poem exhorts. They all said that, didn’t they? From Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane to Buddha under the pipal tree.
Back to the poem I started with – visiting the hearts. Free of worry and clean of all clutter ‘these hearts are blessed / with eternity / and extraordinary happenings / will subtly occur’. How I love that ‘subtly’! That whole sentence! It is what I have wanted, all these years.
Order Shane's book here
Read the review by Christopher Ryan
Read more about Shane Jagger on beshara.org
The new book by John Brass is now available to order
by John Brass
Mallet Press, Oxford
£10 plus p&p
Order from Malletpress@yahoo.co.uk
"Through the works of two of the finest intellects from the Medieval era, Jalalu'ddin Rumi (1207–1273) and Muhyiddin ibn al-'Arabi (1165–1240), a conservator comes to understand the changes he has to make in facing himself so he is able to restore a 14th-century Sienese Renaissance masterpiece of The Annunciation... one that is not what it seems.
Does the restorer restore? Or, does the restoration restore the restorer?
Tales of selflessness and heroism from Peru to Constantinople drift through the refined settings of an enigmatic country house while the conservator works on… Then an unexpected and astonishing configuration begins to reveal itself, throwing all those present into awed perplexity."
The Red Sail
Katharine Tiernan writes about St Cuthbert's years
in retreat, for Beshara Magazine
The Twenty-Nine Pages
An Introduction to Ibn 'Arabi's Metaphysics of Unity
is available from Beshara Publications