Sheppard Kominars: Portal Poems
When we get the opportunity and permission, we like to highlight the projects our clients have worked on; we take pride in our clients and enjoy when they share personal successes with us! Most recently we’ve explored Sheppard Kominars’ personal journey throughout the past couple decades of his life exploring transitioning to the next phase of life through a book called Portal Poems: Perspectives on Aging (available for purchase on Amazon, as well). He has also written Write for Life: Healing Body, Mind, & Spirit Through Journal Writing (available for purchase on Amazon, as well), a book dedicated to educating readers on the immense benefits journaling can provide in every aspect of life.
As detailed in his biography in “Portal Poems”:
Sheppard Benet Kominars was born in Philadelphia in 1932, attended Central High School, and has lived in San Francisco for the past 27 years. He has been writing poetry since 1943…. He has also written 5 novels, half-a-dozen plays. He began writing journals in 1955…. In 1976, when he was Vice President at George Mason University, he sustained a life-threatening injury that resulted in a major career change… In 2000, he was diagnosed with cancer and is a grateful survivor…Poetry writing has been a vital source of expression for him over the years, through good times and bad…
Kominars explores the many facets of aging, all through his very own lens as he lives the experience. As mentioned in his biography, Kominars uses poetry writing as a source of expression and healing; it supports him in times of need and in times of celebration. We feel this excerpt, by Jesse James Johnson, poet and author of the introduction for Portal Poems, explains the book and its premise wonderfully:
He acknowledges the “the fragility of my tethered mortality.” He looks directly at what we seem to fear most about old age – the certainty that it is followed by death. Thus the title of this collection “Portal Poems.” In a Haiku entitled “Diagnosis” he writes “Sharp wisdom is there/In knowing the truth of one’s/Own mortality.’ This is the premise of this work: looking at old age truthfully; countering fear with wisdom; countering despair of death with a joy for life.
And Robert Harry Rovin, owner of WRITE ON!, explains his work: “Dr. Sheppard Kominars’ poetry is a hymn to the wonders of aging that sing in concert with the biological limitations which visit us all. Unflinchingly, he looks at the process with compassionately objective eyes that inspire the mind and open the heart.”
We thoroughly enjoyed many of the poems but wanted to share one of our favorites – “Otters Are Playing” – for all those who have been to California (specifically Monterey Bay, where Dave and Elissa were married!) or hope to travel there one day.
“Otters Are Playing”
Otters are playing out therein the swells of Monterey Bay
where they sport themselves
like impish elves in the cerulean
waters surrounded by mountains
and the sky, carefree and careless
of time and anyone’s agenda.
I watch them and applaud
their performance as if I had
attended their afternoon games
for centuries instead of now
for the first time – which it is.
California is an incomparable
experience of place and alsoof the mind, and no matter
where I may live after this,
or even if I will live at all,
I have known here the magic
of being where nature is always
waiting for me to be touched
by her and be filled with the
breath of wonder that helps
me find my way in this oh-so-
joyful world I might otherwise
forget that I inhabit.
Some others we enjoyed include:
– “Seeking Serenity” (page 21)
– “Certainty” (page 69)
– “Connoisseur” (page 76)
Write for Life
“Storytelling is one of our most fundamental and enduring needs. Our stories define us. We all consistently tell stories that shape virtually every human activity, from our emotions to our personal relationships and our politics. Writing our stories introduces another dynamic: Most of us find that putting our thoughts and feelings down on paper helps to give us mental and emotional clarity (page vii).”
This book focuses on how journaling can be a window to healing and explores the directions in which you can choose to take your journaling – self-care, nourishment, travel, dreams, meditation, prayer, or the experience of joy, for example. As the cover mentions, this book helps “discover the healing power of our own narratives. When we express our pains, our aches, our illnesses in writing, it has the ability to mend – no just spiritually or emotionally but also physically.”
As someone who resisted journaling when it was originally suggested to him as a form of therapy, and as someone who journaled every single day for over 50 years, Kominars shares a wealth of information from how to begin journaling to the extensive mind/body/spirit/emotional benefits that can be gained by beginning a journaling practice to the best tips for how to continue your practice for the many years to come.
If you have ever been interested in journaling or are intrigued by this book, we highly recommend it. Even if you have been journaling for years, you may be surprised what you can glean from the tools contained in these pages.