Wild Gods


Over 100 works of poetry and lyric prose tapping into the ecstatic tradition from across the globe.

Buy Now

Categories: ,


Wild Gods: The Ecstatic in Contemporary Poetry and Prose

“There’s something about ecstasy that scares us. It scares me. Perhaps it is the fear of losing control, or the fear that maybe we never really are in control, that all the learning, and reading, and studying in the world can’t lead us any closer to wisdom or to God. That there is something we are missing, that exists at the corners of the eyes, that is right there, but sneaks up from behind as we reach for it, then overwhelms us like a wave. We crave it and fear it. The ecstatic is not something we can control or construct or will into being; it comes from wilder places and speaks to and from and out of chaos: the irrational, the intuitive—the LSD experiments of the ’60s, the raves of the ’90s. It is the burning bush. It is the passion. For me it was a night in Jordan in a hospital after waking up to find out that I had been in a car accident and lost my oldest child and my wife, Susan. My hip was shattered. I was sweating with pain and morphine and grief and I screamed and writhed in it, never more fully in a moment my entire life, never more at the mercy of the world—so in my body and yet so beyond it.”
—Joel Peckham, from the Introduction

“Ecstasy, joy, the deep grief and surprise of being alive and losing the ones we love, the electromagnetic tug of the earth (the scientist Gregg Braden says our hearts are electrically 100 times stronger than our brains and magnetically over 5,000 times stronger), laughter so deep and full it scrapes away at our ribs, dancing all night at a writer’s party, catching a 20″ brown trout in a Michigan stream in the dead of winter, holding hands for the first time with the one who will become our life partner, a 1,000 ways to kiss the ground, as Rumi once said in a poem (the original said 100 ways to kiss the ground, but I keep adding a few more ways—I hope and trust Rumi wouldn’t mind). My own profoundly limited sense of the ecstatic is that nothing can prepare you for it except profound openness itself, which is not the usual way people seem to operate in the West or anywhere else for that matter. Most of us hide behind roles, test the winds of fashion and popularity, worship at what Marcus Borg calls the three primary idols—Affluence, Achievement, Appearance. But ecstatic experience doesn’t seem to have time for these—any happy child can teach us this as we watch her build a sandcastle on the shores of Lake Michigan.”
—Robert Vivian, from the Introduction