Janine Canan   Books

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New Books





Recent Books

by Mata Amritanandamayi

JanineARDOR: poems of life

WALK NOW IN BEAUTY, trilingual

Goddesses, Goddesses

Journeys with Justine

Other Books

Changing Woman

In the Palace of Creation

Star in My Forehead

Rhyme of the Ag-ed Mariness

Goddess Poems

She Rises like the Sun


Her Magnificent Body

Shapes of Self


Who Buried the Breast of Dreams

Love, Enter

Of Your Seed



My MillenniumMY MILLENNIUM: Culture, Spirituality, and the Divine Feminine, by Janine Canan, illustrated by Cristina Biaggi, cover art by Barbara Brooker, foreword by Laura Amazzone, published by Regent Press, Berkeley, 2015, 121 pages. Available at Amazon. 

In her second volume of essays, Janine Canan—visionary poet, psychiatrist, and follower of the Indian saint Amma—explores, from West to East, topics of human culture, spirituality and the divine feminine, writing as only a poet can....

As I continued along the silvery Seine, I actually saw the Divine Mother dancing in her white gown, clinking her golden cymbals. My Millennium, She sang with a throaty laugh that rolled like the waves of the ocean, her superhuman eyes shining with love’s blissful honeyed light, her voice softly echoing in the minds of billions of living beings, My Millennium.

"The luminous voice of Truth and Love comes through this beautiful book. Through Janine’s words we are led into the Great Mystery of Life and Death.“ —Laura Amazzone, author of Goddess Durga and Sacred Female Power



Mystic BlissMYSTISCHES GLUCK/ MYSTIC BLISS is a collection of  inspiring poems by Janine Canan, translated by Peter K Geiger into German, published by Emily Dickinson Press in a bilingual edition, 2015, 108 pages. Available at Amazon USA & Europe for $5.5 and in English-only on Kindle.

Foreword by Andrew Harvey

Mystics of all traditions know that the secret of the universe is the Divine Light consciousness that is being-awareness-bliss and that at once transcends all things and lives in them as their essence: they know, too, that the secret of human life is to connect in awe and rapture with this primordial bliss-consciousness and then embody it increasingly and enact its truths and laws in sacred service to all sentient beings.   These two inter-related and universal truths dance together at the heart of all authentic revelations.

They dance together also in the fiery sacred heart of Janine Canan, my friend of many decades now, and a visionary intellectual and poet of incandescent authority and depth.  Janine’s work has many qualities to celebrate—rigor, range, exuberance, rich passion—but what I most admire about Janine’s poems is their simplicity, their naked directness of utterance that jets from a long and deeply lived union with the Mother.  This simplicity, so luminous and radical, is the Mother’s last and highest gift to devotee, to the one brave and wild enough to be burnt away in her furnace to become one of her embodied flames of love and sacred passion.

I am honored to celebrate Janine Canan’s Mystic Bliss and to recommend it unstintingly to all those who long to awaken to the joy of their true divine nature and enact its radiance in service to the world.

                                    —Andrew Harvey, Author and Founder of the Institute for Sacred Activism


by Mata Amritanandamayi

Available at: theammashop.org

108 sayings by the renowned international humanitarian and spiritual leader from India, selected by American poet and psychiatrist Janine Canan MD for inspiration and contemplation in a small handy book with photos of Amma.

Embodying the selfless love, miraculous energy, dazzling grace, pure joy, and unfathomable mystery of the Divine Mother, Amma embraces and comforts millions of people around the world, providing food, housing, medical care, education, and spiritual values. Compassion, she says, is the only power that can save the world. Her longtime follower Janine Canan MD, offers this fresh garland of Amma’s most penetrating and beautiful teachings.

"Amma has done more for humanity than many governments."
—Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus


Under the AzureARDOR: poems of life


Pilgrims Press, Varanasi, 2012, 250 pages
$10 paperback, $15 hardback.

ARDOR is the culmination of half a century of creativity by California poet Janine Canan, whose roots reach into the traditions of the world. This is an inspired poetry of passionate engagement, contemplation, spiritual ecstasy, and prophetic wisdom, abounding in natural majesty, intimate lyricism, and a searing vision of human life. Janine’s poems overflow with devotion to the word, breath-taking imagery, courageous truth-telling, piercing grief for our world, deep love for Nature and the Feminine, and luminous all-encompassing mysticism. How Janine combines these is the mystery of her unique gift.

Janine Canan’s book Ardor is a beautiful and fantastic collection of ponderous poems with lots of things to think about, swirled together with a delightful, yet skillful, composition of words arousing a wonderful sense of, as titled, ardor when read. Janine Canan’s poems argue nature’s needs, longings and pains, and explore the spiritual side of women’s history and legacy. Several gods of an exotic nature are mentioned throughout the book and lovingly sewn into the poems, serving as steppingstones toward the true meaning of each of the masterfully crafted stanzas. The poems awaken a sense of wonder and mysterious curiosity within the reader as they are read, and one can not help but feel wiser after reading Ardor. I feel truly blessed to have had the privilege to review such a wonderful, skillful, joyful and wise book. —Kamilla Bøgedal, beggingtodifferbypoetry.blogspot.com

Tower Journal Video & Review: www.towerjournal.com/fall_2012/index4.html

“This book is inspiration itself dressed as a poet—Janine’s best book ever. A perfect work—exquisite—a crowning achievement!”  —Linda Johnsen, author of Lost Masters: Sages of Ancient Greece
“Janine is a contemporary mystic whose soulful weaving of words evokes the divine love, passion and devotion of the medieval Mirabai, Lalla, Teresa, and Hildegard. These poems are profound offerings of fierce Mother wisdom.”  —Laura Amazzone, author of Goddess Durga & Sacred Female Power
“In a time where poetry has become largely mindless word games, the sacred pure and simple work of Janine Canan rings with the startling rounded clarity of a temple bell. The rapture that runs like a golden river through it has been earned—by suffering, by long devotion, and by cherished and matured revelation.” —Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism
“Astonishing poetry....very pure. A book you keep by your side like a bible. These poems shine the inner mirror of self. They powerfully show that women are the sun, flowers, moon, and muse.” 
—Barbara Brooker, author of The Viagra Diaries

 “Is Janine enlightened? All I know is that there is a lot of light in her and it streams in and out of her poems. When you read her poems, you feel better....”
—Andrei Codrescu, author of Whatever Gets You Through the Night: a Story of Scheherazade & the Arabian Entertainments

  Read extensive reviews and poetry from Ardor, poems of life.





Translated by JANINE CANAN

With foreword by Mireille Jammes, introduction by Janine Canan, photos of poet and translator, 196 pages, Littlefox Presss, Melbourne, 2015. Available in a second, revised, hardback edition at Amazon.com, $21. First edition out of print.Under the Azure

The work of Francis Jammes, one of France's great poets, is spiritual and attachingly personal. Jammes sang of his mountains, of the waterfalls, the sheep and the shepherds; he sang of his love for life, of his lovers, and his humility before the Divine. In this highly sensitive and poetic translation, American poet Janine Canan brings to English speaking readers, what is to date, the most extensive collection of Jammes' work in the English language.

"You don't read Francis Jammes, you breathe him, you inhale him... In Jammes' s work, there is nothing but poetry and perfume... once you have abandoned yourself to him, you will think he is the only poet there is.” André Gide

"Francis Jammes made music of his sorrow and delight, a music both simple and mysterious. Janine Canan makes you hear the whoosh of the angels' wings in his poetry, a whoosh that is the same in every language,but yields only to the highest art of translation." Andrei Codrescu

"The poetry of Francis Jammes is one of the spiritual glories not only of French language but of world literature. In Janine Canan's tender and profoundly lyrical and transparent translations, it is now available to all English speaking readers and seekers. This book is radiance and revelation." Andrew Harvey

“Not only are Janine Canan’s translations in Under the Azure: Poems of Francis Jammes gorgeous throughout—but she includes a forward by Jammes’ granddaughter, and a great introduction that illuminates the life of Jammes, “poet of the Pyrenees.” Katherine Hastings, Word Temple


Under the Azure Excerpt: The Dining Room          click to read

There is a cupboard, faintly shining,
that once heard the voice of my great-aunts,
heard the voice of my grandfather,
heard my father’s voice—
and to their memory is still faithful.
Do not assume she is always silent,
for we talk....

There is also a wooden cuckoo.
I do not know why he no longer has a voice.
And I do not want to ask.
Perhaps it broke—the voice that once
was in his spring—quite simply,
like the voices of the dead.

There is an ancient buffet, as well,
scented with beeswax, preserves,
meat and bread and ripe pears.
He’s a loyal servant who understands 
he must never steal anything.

Many people have come to my house
who do not believe in these little souls.
Whenever a visitor comes in saying,
“How are you, Monsieur Jammes?”—
thinking I live alone—I smile.

—Francis Jammes, translated by Janine Canan



Walk Now in Beauty: the Legend of Changing WomanWalk Now In Beauty

The Legend of Changing Woman


Camina Ahora En La Belleza:La Legenda de la Mujer Cambiante

Retold by Janine Canan

Translated by Reiko Imanishi,Tania Rosario & Carla Godreau

Regent Press, Berkeley, 2007, 38 pages, with illustrations by Ernest Posey, $15

Hand-colored copies, signed by author and artist, $50

The story of the Navajo Creation Goddess, Changing Woman, by poet Janine Canan, exquisitely illustrated with contemporary "sand paintings" by renowned artist Ernest Posey.

Walk Now In Beauty is being used in the Navajo Nation Literacy Project.


Walk Now in Beauty: Trilingual Excerpt          click to read

Beauty before you,
Beauty behind you,
Beauty above you,
Beauty below you.
Walk now with Beauty
and your way will be Beautiful.


Belleza frente a ti
Belleza tras de ti
Belleza sobre ti
Belleza debajo tuyo
Camina ahora con la Belleza a tu alrededor
y tu camino será hermoso.



Goddesses, Goddesses

Goddesses, Goddesses coverEssay/Memoir

Regent Press, Berkeley, 2007, 305 pages, Photographs $15

Award-winning author Janine Canan offers her lyrical reflections on art, nature, history, masculine and feminine, the Great Mother, spirituality and love. Journeying with Canan, we meet Iris Murdoch, Else Lasker-Schüler, Marija Gimbutas, James Broughton, Diane Di Prima, Alma Villanueva, Ali Akbar Khan, Mata Amritanandamayi, and other visionaries of our time.  

Many of these essays are about the friendships of this remarkable woman poet, author and psychiatrist, with an array of cultural luminaries…Canan offers us the gift of encountering these wonders of the human spirit, as if she had arranged a special party of her friends and invited us all to attend.”
Mara Keller, California Institute of Integral Studies

I especially enjoyed Canan’s stories of meetings with Iris Murdoch, Amma, and her historical sweep through the poetic renaissance of feminism.” Ellen Bass, The Human Line  

“I read Janine Canan’s book of essays…engrossed in her interactions with those who have inspired her…and the small, important details of her life, its adventurous, productive creativity and the decades in which it matured. A psychoanalyst as well as a poet, her insights stunned me…And I loved the quotes from the streams of her gorgeous lyric and prose poetry. Her work reflects her view of the art as 'a calling, a gift, a devotion, a duty and, finally, a mystery.'" Brava!
Phyllis Koestenbaum, Doris Day & Kitschy Melodies    


Goddesses, Goddesses: Excerpt          click to read

We drive up to Grizzly Peak and wind along the top of the hills, overlooking the silver-blue bay, Mount Tamalpais and the Golden Gate. “I like that bridge,” Iris says solemnly. Walking to the house, she gravitates toward the cat seated on the mailbox, the golden harp by the door, the stones and shells strewn over tables and ledges—“A petrophile!” she exclaims—and pauses under Picasso’s pale blue portrait of lovely, thinking Dora Maar. Leaning over the huge Webster’s Third International Dictionary, she says, “I thought this was your Bible.”

“It is,” I reply, already in the kitchen.

Janine Canan, from “A Visit from Iris Murdoch”


Introduction by Mara Keller           click to read

First of all, the title, Goddesses, Goddesses, boldly intimates that in our contemporary Age torn apart by adherents of warring Gods, we may expect to find here something unusual, culturally rare, and doubly spirited and pleasurable. As in much of her other work, Janine Canan manifests for her readers the presence of the Sacred Feminine, the “other” deity who has been so strictly suppressed from the domains of acceptable public discourse. And yet, as her work indicates, there are increasing numbers who are willing to call out the name of Goddess, seeking to make known, to share and to nurture a growing community among women and men who seek an alternative to the domineering male-centered religions of not only the modern era, but the past two and more thousand years in much of the West and the East.

Goddesses, Goddesses is about the celebration of the traditions of the Feminine Divine that stretch back into the earliest traces of human memory. It is also about cultural dimensions of life that interface with the spiritual or religious considerations of Canan’s search for her own life’s meaning. The contemporary Women’s Spirituality movement is very much about an embodied, Earth-based, Nature-embedded and relational sensibility and practice, and these values are to be found in this book of essays from the first to last page.

Many of these essays are about the friendships of this remarkable woman poet, author and psychiatrist, with an array of cultural luminaries, mostly of the late Twentieth Century. These include philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch; beat poet Diane Di Prima; mystical love-lyricist James Broughton; archaeologist and mythologer Marija Gimbutas; sarode player and teacher Ali Akbar Khan; lesbian poet Lynn Lonidier; early Twentieth Century German lyric poet Else Lasker-Schüler; the dazzling array of poets collected for her anthology, She Rises like the Sun: Invocations of the Goddess by Contemporary American Women Poets, including Maya Angelou, Susan Griffin, Joy Harjo, Linda Hogan, Audre Lorde, Mary Mackey, Paula Gunn Allen, Carol Lee Sanchez, May Sarton, and more; the Yaqui Indian poet Alma Villanueva; the “hugging saint of India,” avatar of Divine Mother and major philanthropist, Amma; and herself as poet and essayist. Canan offers us the gift of encountering these wonders of the human spirit, as if she had arranged a special party of her friends and invited us all to attend.

The Women’s Spirituality movement is also about women including ourselves in the story, in the bigger picture, and not always leaving ourselves until last, or neglected altogether. And this is perhaps the most intriguing part of the book—that Canan weaves her own personal-cultural-spiritual autobiography through the essays so as to allow us to come to know her, slowly, enjoyably, over the years, until we finally glimpse the shape and flow of her own lifetime of searching to affirm and honor the beauty of nature, the feminine, the use of language itself. As she interweaves her personal feelings, political events, and encounters with great minds of our times, she also mediates and midwives the deepening of self-knowledge and self-understanding of those of us who listen to her closely, as if in conversation with a good friend.

This book is not only a treasure-trove of stories about famous people from an avid admirer and literary portrait artist, and a moving memoir of a multi-faceted and talented woman poet and channeler of psychological wisdom, it is a treasure-trove of poetry and prose linked by the common threads of love of language and love of life. Whether Canan sings to us in prose or poetry, or recites for us the poetry of others, these two great loves of hers are poured onto every page for our pleasure and inspiration.

Mara Keller, PhD

Director, Women’s Spirituality, Philosophy & Religion
California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco


Midwest Book Review          click to read

Poet, psychiatrist, and award-winning author Janine Canan presents Goddesses, Goddesses, a memoir comprised of essays recounting her encounters with visionary writers and poets. Among the individual whose lives touched hers are Iris Murdoch, Else Lasker-Schuler, Marija Gimbutas, James Broughton, Diane Di Prima, Alma Villanueva, Ali Akbar Khan, Mata Amritanandamayi, and more. Poetic snippets written by these illuminating individuals intersperse the thoughtful discussion, fond memories, and moments of epiphany. An enlightening amalgam of reflections upon spirituality, feminism, the Great Mother, and the nature of love itself.


Journeys with JustineJourneys with Justine

Fiction/ Spirituality/Women

Regent Press, Berkeley, 2007, 165 pages
Drawings by Christina Biaggi, $15

Journeys with Justine is a stunningly original collection of tales describing the adventures and epiphanies of Justine, a contemporary seeker who travels from California to the Olympic Peninsula, New York, France, Bali and India, in search of her Self. On her journey from disillusion to illumination, she encounters artists, lovers and saints, death, Earth and the Goddess. Canan’s sensuous, lyrical and revelatory stories are warmly illustrated by Cristina Biaggi.

“Reading this book is like savoring a tasty dish. Every sentence, like every bite of a gourmet dinner, is a pleasure. What an impact language has when a poet writes prose!” Linda Johnsen, Daughters of the Goddess

“Journeys with Justine has all the feminine sensibility of Canan's poetry...an inspiring and most unusual spiritual novel sparkling with tender irony, sweet humor, and disarming intelligence. Canan gently invites the reader to journey in a world made meaningful by the search for wisdom and softened by the light of kindness and beauty. ” Christine Mathieu, Leaving Mother Lake

“Every woman who lived through the Sixties—or wanted to—should read this book.” Nancy Leatzow, Yoga teacher  

“Canan’s stories are light as a feather: lyrical, fresh, unadorned, and often surprising. Each touched me to the pleasure point, some bringing a smile of delight—others a slight lump in the throat—and always a thrill at the subtle use of language in her telling of the story. I didn't want the book to end." Vicki Noble, Shakti Woman

“The Journeys are a pure delight—mystical, magical, metaphorical, metaphysical, philosophical, spiritual, inspirational, illuminating, whimsical, poignant, and so beautifully crafted—like a gloriously polished string of pearls….These adventures and, yes, escapades build and build to a joyous ending: The suffering and pain of life comes through strongly, but beautifully tempered by the joys that are there if we have the courage to seek them.” Darlene Phillips, attorney, teacher

"Justine is gorgeous. There is so much perfect about it. I kept finding stories I thought would be my favorite, and then there was a next one!" Batya Weinbaum, author of Islands of Women & Amazons


Journeys with Justine: Excerpt          click to read

As she continued along the silvery Seine, she actually saw the Divine Mother dancing in her white gown, clinking her golden cymbals. My Millennium, She sang with a throaty laugh that rolled like the waves of the ocean, her superhuman eyes shining with love’s blissful honeyed light, her voice softly echoing in the minds of billions of living beings, My Millennium

Janine Canan, from “My Millennium”


Table of Contents          click to read

Table of Contents: Journeys with Justine


Chapter 13, "A Good Laugh"          click to read

13  A Good Laugh

Justine knocked several times on Plum’s door. When he didn’t answer, she pushed it open and stepped inside. “Plum, are
you here?” she called.

“Upstairs, dear. Come on up.”

Justine took the stairs two at a time and strode swiftly into the room.

Plum sat on his bed surrounded by collapsing piles of books. “Now you see why an old man needs a queen-sized bed,”
he chuckled with a twinkle in his eye. Justine sat down on the edge of the bed, and Plum took her hand in his, squeezing it.
“To be honest, I prefer these dear friends to the poverty people around me call relationships—doings based primarily
on convenience, finance, vanity and lust. Arrangements in which each person is scarcely aware of the real existence of
the other. And these,” now his voice turned tender, “what are they?” His trembling old hand swept over his books as if
it were conducting an orchestra. “Little boxes that contain vast worlds. The outer manifestations of inner life.”

Justine got up and paced around the room, surveying the thousands of volumes that filled the surrounding shelves. Beautiful artifacts from Plum's travels—bronze statues, clay pots, hand weavings—were wedged in between them. “No, I never became a writer. Never had the time. Too busy thinking. I could spend ten lifetimes thinking, there is so much to think about. And sometimes lately I think I'm beginning to have my first real thought. When I finally get my thoughts, I'll be able to begin my philosophy.”

Justine settled down into the worn dark leather chair across from him. “What do you think life is all about, Plum,
really?” Her tone was serious now. “Why are we here?”

“According to my books,” he answered without a pause, “there are three theories. Love, Power, and Work. The Love people believe that the universe has a heart, that all of creation is nothing but a vast Goodness machine invented by God for our own good. The Power people, on the other hand, believe that the universe is founded upon supreme Malevolence and has an emptiness at its core which human beings must resist falling into with every dyne of their life force.

“Whereas the Work Theory proclaims that human beings actually make a difference in the final outcome of Creation, depending on whether they choose good or evil. This is where morality comes in—a word, incidentally, I positively abhor, for it has been used as a synonym for hate more than any other word I know. That's why I say, just give me my beloved books, my thoughts, my dreams, my observations and endless ruminations, but please  keep that obscene word out of it.”

Justine's attention was riveted. “And which theory do you believe in, Plum?” she asked with intense urgency
rising in her voice.

Her friend leaned back slowly until he touched the wall. Suddenly he looked hundreds of years old. Something like a tear was pressing itself out of the corner of one dim blue eye. He had little hair left, and what there was of it was white as a ghost's. He clasped his wrinkled hands together. “Naturally, I'd like to believe in the Love Theory—like all those fortunate saints who see nothing but Love everywhere, in every frown, under every rock, as if the whole cosmos were nothing but a gigantic gorgeous flower, pulsating with triumphant joy.
—And I'm working on that.

“Meanwhile, until Grace reveals herself to me naked, until She comes and tells me personally that God really is Love, I'll keep on believing in the Work Theory. It gives me sufficient hope and seems to agree with both my optimistic nature and all the suffering I've been through and seen with my own eyes.

“Ah, let us not even speak of those demons who say that existence is nothing but an empty power game in which the petals of the cosmos are made of plastic and even the skin of the Gods is fake.

“My dearest Justine, the universe is most certainly a three-ring circus, with a ring for love, a ring for power, and a ring for work. And I wonder how many other rings there may be as well. The universe is like one of those busy yet harmonious Tibetan paintings, with agnostics hanging around the periphery burying their heads like ostriches in the sand, and just beyond them the tormented crazies buried up to their necks, their mouths producing a ceaseless cacophony of petty resentments.

“You see, the older I get, and the weaker my outer eyes become, the more I can see. Oh, It has curves, all right. It has the power of an eternal thunderbolt. It is happening. Beauty is created constantly everywhere. And love—I am sure of it—is yet to come. There are ideas, like the idea of love, that connect us. And mystic streams that heal us. And there is never-ending harm. The whole is a splendid vast writhing joyous and suffering Serpent, shedding her skin as She wiggles along, perpetually revealing a new Self that arises out of her own pure delight.

“Ah Justine, It is luminous, explosive, awesome and miraculously funny. Do you get the incredible joke? Can
you hear the roaring gusto of the laughter? There is really nothing but this sound, my child. Awful perhaps, but
listen closely.” Plum stood and moving toward her fell down at her feet. “Can you hear all of the voices—each one different yet all of them laughing? In that laughter is everything. How important it is to laugh along and never stop laughing. There simply isn't time for anything else.

“So take my hand, dear, and join me in a good laugh. It will add a little spice to the sidesplitting symphony of laughter. Oh, let the tears of laughter roll shamelessly down your cheek, as the skins keep falling away. For laughter is the very sound of change.

—Now there's a thought.”




Review by Carol Fabric          click to read

I loved Janine Canan’s Journeys With Justine. I’ve already sent it to my daughters and close friends. It’s a wonderful, witty, playful, yet penetrating inner travelogue of a brave young woman’s spiritual journey and the people she meets who are the catalysts of her realizations. Canan beautifully describes her inner processes each step of the way. 

I’m in love with Janine’s poetry, but in Justine she takes the reader with her and offers the actual Shakti filled experience. As you read Justine, you feel the divine touch of the scintillating Shakti yourself.

I have just read Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestseller and wonderful Eat, Pray, Love, and was totally startled when I found such synchronicity in the journeys and lives of these two women writers who live a continent apart from each other.

Hurrah to both of them for offering us a glimpse of the breakthrough in consciousness that we experience when we read Rumi or Hafiz.

—Carol Fabric, MFCC




Messages from Amma: in the Language of the HeartMESSAGES FROM AMMA

In the Language of the Heart

Penguin-Random House/Celestial Arts, New York, 2004, 177 pages, color photographs, now available on Kindle.

Known to millions as Amma ('mother") or Ammachi ("beloved mother"), the Indian holy woman Mata Amritanandamayi is one of the most extraordinary forces healing our planet today. Born in 1954, Amma has spent most of her life traveling the world offering her message of love and compassion, bestowing an estimated 30 million hugs and blessings, and creating a vast network of charities for the poor. In 2002 she received the Gandhi-King Non-Violence Award. With Amma's permission, Janine Canan has collected and poetically translated quotations from her public talks, personal dialogues and songs. This stunning edition includes 125 examples of Amma's timeless teachings with fourteen beautiful color images of this great modern-day saint.

"Amma's spiritual hugs and charitable works, including orphanages, women's shelters, hospices and vocational education for the poor, have helped her to become what many Hindus and non-Hindus consider a living saint."
The Lost Angeles Times

"Amma has comforted with her wonderful hugging ... more than 21 million people.....She stands here before us: God's love in a human body." Jane Goodall, author of Reason for Hope

"Amma's warm, powerful words are gifts for people who need their spirit lifted."
New Age Retailer

"Janine Canan has gathered some striking quotations from Amma's talks, songs and writings. The short, pithy reflections are organized thematically around topics such as the divine mother, spiritual education, surrendering the ego and seeing the good. Publishers Weekly


Messages from Amma: Excerpt          click to read

Choose a path
that benefits others
and serve with selfless love.

The supreme Reality is Love—
this is the message Mother sends you
in the language of the heart.



Author's Introduction          click to read

.....The divinely beautiful, dark Indian holy woman lovingly known by millions around the world as Amma, the Hugging Saint , Mother of Compassion, and Mata Amritanandamayi, Mother of Immortal Bliss , is one of the most extraordinary forces healing our planet today.

......Born in 1953, in a poor fishing village on the tropical coast of Kerala, South India, Amma's first sound is said to have been not a cry but a laugh. She was an intensely spiritual child who spontaneously meditated and composed songs to God. Though remarkably gifted, she had to leave school at age nine when her mother became ill, and she took over the care of the family. Joyful and energetic, Sudhamani, as she was called, worked from dawn till midnight to feed and clothe her brothers and sisters, and care for the animals. At night she poured out her heart in prayer and song and dance. Unable to bear seeing old people and children go hungry, she gave away family food and prosencephalon which she was harshly reprimanded and beaten. But her acts of compassion continued, until finally her family threw her out of the house.

......Under the coconut palms Sudhamani lived in ecstasy, conversing with Mother Sea, hugging the trees, kissing the flowers, and rarely sleeping, eating only the milk brought by a cow, the rice delivered by a dog, and the fish dropped into her lap by an eagle. At age twenty-two, she experienced a brilliantly luminous, spinning red globe approaching her; out of it emerged the glorious form of the Divine Mother, crowned and smiling with love. The young woman's whole being rushed toward Her vibrating with the mantra, Amma, Amma, Amma (Mother, Mother, Mother). From this time on, Amma saw everything as divine. Eventually, the Goddess reappeared and, dazzling like a thousand suns, merged into her totally, revealing the purpose of her life: to worship God in the hearts of all beings, and to relieve the suffering of humanity.

......Today Amma devotes every moment to loving and serving others. Several times a week, in cities around the world, she receives people for darshan, wearing a simple white sari, or on special occasions dressed as the Divine Mother in a gorgeous colorful sari and crown. All day and all night, Amma receives people by the thousands—sometimes tens of thousands—hugging and blessing each one individually, answering their questions and wiping away their tears. Regardless of a person's race, health, wealth, education, religion or lack of it—each is accepted with the same fierce motherly tenderness. So far, she has embraced over thirty million people.

......Out of her compassion Amma has created a vast network of charitable activities for the poor and suffering. In India she has established many innovative temples with female as well as male priests, and dozens of schools to further the integral development of creativity, academics and character. The Holy Mother has created colleges of medicine, pharmacology, engineering, management, and computer science, as well an outstanding vocational training center. Hospitals and clinics have been built, along with cancer and AIDS hospices, orphanages, and residences for the elderly. Amma and her foundation have established legal support for the poor, housing projects for the homeless, earthquake reconstruction for devastated villages, pensions for destitute women, rehabilitation for prostitutes, and large-scale food and clothing programs. She has inspired the creation of Center, the internationally renowned Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, giving state-of-the art treatment to the very poor, as well as Amrita Ayurvedic Research Center, specializing in traditional Indian medicine. She has inaugurated a spiritually oriented television station, and numerous spiritual centers around the world that teach the principles and practice of Universal Love , or Universal Motherhood .

......In this Age of Doubt, the miraculous life of Amma is a heart-rendingly inspirational example of real love, beauty, sacrifice, and consciousness. "The radiant smile and total sincerity in Amma's interaction with every single person, continuously for hours," wrote one of many stunned reporters, "is astounding; the experiences of this day will remain forever etched in my memory." So moved was the President of India by Amma's work that he donated most of his annual salary. Several North American cities have honored her with special commendations . She has been invited to address the Parliament of World Religions, and Interfaith Celebrations in honor of the United Nations 50 th Anniversary. At the United Nations she addressed the Millennium World Peace Summit of World Religious Leaders, and the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders, where she received the Gandhi-King Award for Non-Violence.

......When Amma speaks—whether in public talks, interviews with the press, dialogues with students, personal letters, or hymns to God—it is generally in Malayalam, the beautiful mother tongue of the traditionally matriarchal Land of Kerala. Her words are transcribed and translated into English (as well as many other languages) by a variety of devoted followers, most frequently Swami Amritaswarupananda, the editor of a nine-volume series entitled Awaken, Children!: Dialogues with Sri Mata Amritanandamayi. From his books and others, from the M.A. Center magazine, Immortal Bliss, as well as the biographical video, River of Love, are derived the quotations in this book. Passages have been selected to represent Amma's core teachings, re-translated from the original translations, organized for accessibility and arranged for daily contemplation.

......Like her love, Amma's words flow directly from the heart. Her speech is direct; and just as she wastes not a moment when she acts, she wastes not a word when she speaks. Her words are profound, often piercing, and sometimes deceptively simple. A short passage may contain truth sufficient for a lifetime. In this confused and turbulent world of ours, agitated by fear and animosity, marked by self-centeredness and violence, and starved for the all-embracing wisdom of the Mother, Amma's words come as healing balm. Speaking directly to each of us as our own mother, as our teacher, and as the voice of our own higher Self, her words have the power to awaken, nurture and guide us toward that truth which already lives within us all. "Love is the supreme Reality," she writes, "this is the message Mother sends you in the language of the heart."

......Offered here with humility are the inspired teachings of a modern-day saint who will undoubtedly come to be known as one of the truly great spiritual leaders of all time, a woman whose life is the very incarnation of compassion. As Amma mothers the world, may we all learn to follow her extraordinary example of Love and Service.

Janine Canan, MD




Messages from Amma: in the Language of the HeartIN THE PALACE OF CREATION
Selected Works 1969-1999

Scars Publications, Chicago, 2003, 146 pages, $15
Illustrated by Meagan Shapiro

"A rich collection of poetic genius...A wonderful opportunity to see the world from the eyes of a prophet"
Jaylan Salah, Synchronized Chaos

Janine Canan is a poet of questing imagination and seemingly endless originality. For over thirty years her poetry has appeared in magazines, anthologies, and in her ten published collections, beginning in 1977 with Of Your Seed( Oyez: Berkeley) and ending with her incomparable Changing Woman
Scars: Chicago, 2000.

Now with the publication of In The Palace of Creation, her readers can for the first time experience the full range of her poetry in a single collection. Wisely selected by poet and editor Susan Hahn, the poems in this volume bear witness to the evolution of Canan's creative voice from 1969 to 1999.

Here the reader will find simple poems like "Before the Storm" which testify to Canan's enduring love of nature; metaphorically complex poems like "The Abandoned Garden" which are both erotic and sorrowful; poems like "Wild Music," modeled after the lyrics of the great Hindu mystical poet Mirabai, which reveal the most intimate depths of Canan's spiritual life; and poems like "At the Vulva Stone," written to the Great Goddess and ardently feminist while never ceasing to be sensuous and lyrical.

Canan has been influenced by Sappho, Emily Dickinson, Anna Akhmatova, Carolyn Kizer, and Denise Levertov. The reader will find poems to all of them here as well as Canan's translations of poems by Else Lasker-Schüler, Marguerite Yourcenar, and Mirabai.

This is an unusually rich collection. Perhaps Canan herself best captures the spirit of it when she says in her long prose meditation "A Good Laugh": "beauty is created constantly everywhere....The whole is a splendid vast writhing joyous and suffering Serpent, shedding her skin as She wiggles along, perpetually revealing a new Self that rises out of her own pure delight.
Mary Mackey (from the Introduction)


In the Palace of Creation: Excerpt          click to read

When in France, sing your desire
with your entire choir.
A mousse à l’amour
will send your coloratura even higher.

When in France, stay longer than you can—
lay your fortune on the wheel.
And let this incarnation sweeten
like a fat pink carnation.

Janine Canan, from “When in France”


Introduction by Mary Mackey          click to read

Janine Canan is a poet of questing imagination and seemingly endless originality. For over thirty years her poetry has appeared in magazines, anthologies, and in her ten published collections, beginning with in 1977 with Of Your Seed (Oyez: Berkeley) and ending with her incomparable Changing Woman (Scars: Chicago, 2000).

Now with the publication of In The Palace of Creation, her readers can for the first time experience the full range of her poetry in a single collection. Selected by poet and editor Susan Hahn, the poems in this volume bear witness to the evolution of Canan’s creative voice from 1969 to 1999.

Here the reader will find simple poems like "Before the Storm" which testify to Canan's enduring love of nature; metaphorically complex poems like "The Abandoned Garden" which are both erotic and sorrowful; poems like "Wild Music," modeled after the lyrics of the great Hindu mystical poet Mirabai, which reveal the most intimate depths of Canan's spiritual life; and poems like "At the Vulva Stone," written to the Great Goddess and ardently feminist while never ceasing to be sensuous and lyrical.

Sappho, Emily Dickinson, Anna Akhmatova, Carolyn Kizer, and Denise Levertov have influenced canan. The reader will find poems to all of them here as well as Canan's translations of poems by Else Lasker-Schüler, Marguerite Yourcenar, and Mirabai.

This is an unusually rich collection. Perhaps Canan herself best captures the spirit of it when she says in her long prose meditation "A Thought": "Beauty is created constantly everywhere . . . The whole is a splendid vast writhing joyous and suffering Serpent, shedding her skin as She wiggles along, perpetually revealing a new Self that rises from her own pure delight."

—Mary Mackey

Mary Mackey


Messages from Amma: in the Language of the HeartCHANGING WOMAN

Poems 1986—1998, Scars Publications, Chicago IL, 2000, 172 pages,
contains three award-winning poems, $13

"One poet's penetrating journey through the metamorphic realms of bewilderment and bliss." James Broughton, poet

"Canan shows us the wild imbalance of our planet—forgotten Mother of us all….Some of the best and strongest poems Canan has ever written."
Mary Mackey, novelist

"Canan's poems breathe with wild and fertile imagery, energy and wisdom, reflecting an inner purity and goddess essence." Mish Bertrand, Goddessing

"A journey that could only be made by a mature poet." Alma Villanueva, Kalliope

"One of the most affecting poets I read today." Robert Hawley, publisher

"Pick of the Month" Small Press Traffic


Changing Woman: My Heart          click to read

My heart is pouring itself out of me.
My heart is soaring toward you over thousands of miles.
My heart comes nearer and nearer.
My heart longs to enter...

Like ten fingers running over the keys,
like a powerful stream that has always been flowing,
like a flock of night-birds lit by the moon—
I am flying after my heart.....

Janine Canan


Review by Alma Villanueva           click to read

Changing Woman is one of Janine Canan's newest books of poetry published in 2000—the other is a wonderful book of translations, Star in My Forehead: Selected Poems by Else Lasker-Schuler. In this review, I'll concentrate on Changing Woman . Poetically, it's divided into five sections, beginning with "In The Country of War" to the final "In The Mother's Heart". It's quite a journey—one that could only be made by a mature poet. From "In The Country of War": "Once the world was wild./ Mother drenched her darling boy in milk and honey./He built the house, the road, the car—and woman/made their home, their conversation during the long journey./Now he, for millennia worshipped with flowers and fire,/must retreat in silence, smoke and shame..../He gives his sons weapons and teaches them to kill./He imagines he is bigger than God.'

Then the poet enters the "Fathers' Night"—she encounters, wrestles, rages and warns us all in our new century of this deadly night we sleep and dream in...from "Radioactive": "Chernobyl, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Pakistan, Spokane Reservation, Three Mile Island—/radioactive forever./The feminization of everything/is required."

The path of transformation has begun to the "Journey to the Root" (third section)—here there's human love, joy, bliss, the erotic. And then, human pain, betrayal, loss of Paradise. Each poem guides the way like firm, well-made stepping stones in a lush, almost wild garden. As you pause after a poem (standing on a stone), you see the garden is well maintained, maybe a patch of wilderness there at the edge. This is one of the hallmarks of Canan's poetry: a well maintained, wild passion. She ends this series of poems with a wise song of despair, from "Epilogue": "I thought you were my Love,/but you were only a lesson../I thought you were my Goddess,/but you were only human."

In the short fourth section the poet takes refuge in the Goddess of this continent, Changing Woman—she enters the Native American myth-truth-ancient story of transformation: "Beauty before you,/Beauty behind you,/Beauty above you,/Beauty below you...."

And in the fifth and final section Canan reveals her hard-won transcendence—the culmination of her half century wisdom, attended by a newborn's heart (from "My Heart"): "My heart is pouring out of me./My heart is soaring toward you over thousands of miles.../like a flock of night birds lit by the moon-/I am flying after my heart." These poems, stepping stones, reveal a mystical part of the well maintained garden, probably once gated, guarded. Now, fully revealed. Each poem reveals a spiritual secret, and we are grateful. She sings, affirms and celebrates the divine feminine, the Goddess in us all.

At the far end of the garden, Changing Woman's garden, there's a soft grassy spot to sit in the twilight. Venus begins to appear in the quickly changing violet night sky. Read this poem, now...

A Poet's Journey

I was born chewing
on the spines
of my Mother's volcanic tits.

Shedding skins, cold
and embrous, I journeyed
through betrayal and love.

Surrendering into
Her molten Body, I entered
the heart of cosmic light.

—Alma Luz Villanueva, Kalliope, Summer, 2001




Messages from Amma: in the Language of the HeartGODDESS POEMS

Sagittarius Press, Port Townsend WA, 1997, 20 pages, $7

Six poems from Changing Woman, printed on letterpress.



Goddess Poems: Excerpt          click to read

A woman buried herself in the garden.
Now out of a poppy field—roaring red,
tender pink, burnished green—she rises.
Mauve and blue trees enter her
as she spreads in the wide gold dusk.

Janine Canan, from “Mysteries in the Garden”




Messages from Amma: in the Language of the HeartStar in my Forehead


Translations, bilingual edition with illustrations by the poet,
Holy Cow! Press, Duluth MN, 2000, 123 pages, $12.95

"Else Lasker-Schüler's poems are small red fires of passion in a time of total darkness. At great cost, she rescued her innocence from the brutality of the nazi age and tested the resilience of her Jewish soul. In these translations, Janine Canan renders into English both the lyrical intensity of that endeavor, and the palpable danger and mystery that made it possible. This is travel at root-level." Andrei Codrescu, author

"Through Janine Canan's translations & this beautifully arranged & illuminated book, we get the best glimpse yet of one of the key figures in the early transformative poetry of the century now ending. Else Lasker-Schüler was an extraordinary & "unerringly" original poet - "the greatest lyric poet Germany ever had," Gottfried Benn had called her, "[one] who took the grand and reckless liberty of being totally in charge of herself, a liberty without which there can be no art." Jerome Rothenberg, author

"Canan offers a rare and unexpected blessing of a poet who shares a deep affinity for another poet and is able to translate her work from one language into another without erasing those essences structuring the original texts. Her translations are impeccable—and never fail to touch me by their poignant strength and wise muscle."
David Meltzer, author

"One of the year's 'must get' books….A rescued classic."
Hugh Fox, Small Press Review, Book Sense 76, Independent Booksellers Association


Star in my Forehead: Excerpt          click to read

Into my lap a great star will fall—
let us keep watch all night,

pray in the tongues
which are carved like harps.

Let us make peace with the night—
so much God overflowing.

—Else Lasker-Schüler, from “Atonement,”
   translated by Janine Canan





Read review by Ruth Brin          click to read

New Translations Catch Feeling of Else Lasker-Schüler's Poetry

These short, lyric poems are heartbreakingly beautiful examples of the work of a woman who ought to be much better known to Jewish readers. Born in the the Rhineland in 1869, Else Lasker-Schueler became first a painter and then a poet, often illustrating her own books. She was called the "greatest lyric poet of modern Germany" in the 1920s and won the prestigious Kleist Prize in 1932—at the age of 62.

Her early poems appear in two books, "Song of the Blessed" and "Hebrew Ballads." While written in German, they strongly reflect her Jewish heritage as well as her Expressionist style; in fact, she was part of that movement, which flourished in Berlin in the early years of the century.

By 1932, Lasker-Schueler had lost not only her parents and sister, but also her husband and only son. When she was struck by a Nazi with an iron bar—in the very year she had won the prize—she didn't even go home. Instead, she ran to the railway station and arrived penniless in Zurich. After she was arrested for vagrancy, the Swiss literary public organized benefits for her.

By 1939, Lasker-Schueler had moved to Jerusalem, whose fantastic image had been the dream of her childhood and the subject of her prayers and poems, but without an appreciative or understanding public, she was neglected. She died there in 1945.

Besides being an artist, she costumed herself as many characters as she went about her daily life. When reading her poems, she often dressed as "Prince Jussuf of Thebes" and accompanied herself with flute, harmonica, and bells.

The poems in this volume are printed with the original German on one side of the page and the English on the facing page. There have been earlier translations, but these seem to me to catch the music, rhythm, and mystical feeling of the original. Here is a poem written before 1920 from her book
Hebrew Ballads:


God, I love you in your gown of roses
as you step from the garden, Sabaoth.
Oh my young God,
my Poet—lonely
I drank from your fragrance.

The first bloom of my blood
craved you, so come,
my sweet God,
my playmate God.
Your golden gate melts in my longing.

Ruth Brin, American Jewish World , 9/2000




Messages from Amma: in the Language of the HeartThe Last Poems of Lynn Lonidier

Editor, Station Hill Press, Barrytown NY, 2000, 112 pages, $13

"Strength, courage, humour and magical word weaving are long time characteristics of Lynn Lonidier’s poetry. This remarkable book brings together her last writings

"Lynn Lonidier’s last poems take the reader on a wild ride into a rich, multi-leveled world of wit, beauty, and breathtaking linguistic abundance. Her best are reminiscent of a Joyce gone lesbian and lyrical, yet at the same time the originality of her voice—particularly her experiments in Spanglais—place her firmly in the uniquely bilingual, rapturously political landscape of fin de siecle San Francisco." Mary Mackey, novelist

"From beginning to end, Lynn Lonidier was an original. A witty angry passionate poet committed to love and poetic justice, Lonidier leaves us this last flowering of her outrageously open-hearted poetry, charged with the ecstasy of woman-centered consciousness." Janine Canan


The Rhyme of the Ag-ed Mariness: Excerpt          click to read

 I have
     to have faith our race with
     the end of the earth will turn out

Lynn Lonidier, from “Rhyme of the Aged Mariness”




Invocations of the Goddess
by Contemporary American Women Poets she rises like the sun

The Crossing Press, Freedom CA, 1989, 226 pages, $22

Out of print, after selling over 10,000 copies,
but a few last copies are available from Janine Canan.

"One of the best books to come from the Women's Spirituality Movement." Booklist

Susan Koppelman Award for best-edited feminist work.

Columbia University Granger Selection.


She Rises Like the Sun Excerpt          click to read

Poetry, that quintessential literary art form, has always expressed humanity’s current religious musings.  The poems in this anthology  constitute a new body of Western religious poetry. They announce the return of the Goddess and contribute to the creation of a new religious myth that revives a vast network of old ones. In this new poetry, women experience the timeless Goddess in themselves and the world, and address her as a potent spiritual and moral force. The morality for which She stands, and has always stood, is gratitude for the inexpressibly great gift of life. She is love of life, love for the planet on which we live, and love for all the beings that live upon it. Without this love, the human race cannot survive....

—Janine Canan, from “Introduction”



bodyNew & Selected Poems

Manroot Press, San Francisco CA, 1986, 107 pages, $9

"Whether naturalist, surrealist, mythic or imagistic, the finely attuned sense Janine Canan displays of the inner relation between self and the other has made her unique in the art of verbal portraiture.
Gary Gach, San Francisco Review of Books

"Janine speaks beautifully from ‘solitude to solitude’, as well as from the point of view of ‘All That Is’." Jack Foley, KPFA Berkeley


Her Magnificent Body: Excerpt

Earth body, brief spouse, what a strangely
inconvenient marriage. Yet you are my only
true support. And though you may never
fathom what I secretly am, may you—
who accepted the nature of existence itself—
stay with me in your lovely halo of death
till I depart, dearest Body, my slave, my queen.

          —Janine Canan, from “Dear Body”



shapes of selfSHAPES OF SELF

Prose poems, Emily Dickinson Press, Berkeley, CA, 1982, 109 pages, $9

"Told with the lulling, incantatory charm of The Arabian Nights. A joyous and lusty book." Andrei Codrescu, The Baltimore Sun

"Remarkable—searing—portraits." Elsa Gidlow. author

"The language is stunning." Phyllis Koestenbaum, poet

Shapes of Self: The One I Love          click to read

Long ago I vowed to accompany this river to its end. I love this river that is like a silk ribbon laid across my heart. I never forget it. Its voice hums a little song in my blood. It rushes forward. I love to follow wherever it goes. It is the one I love the most.

Janine Canan




Poetry illustrated by Donna Brookman

Emily Dickinson Press, Berkeley Ca, 1981, 43 pages. $9




Daughter: Excerpt          click to read

...she looks
to the edge of vision

a gray
that grazes an azure blue

and yet the voice
is calling still

my daughter
my love


—Janine Canan,  from “A Woman Is Walking Toward the Ocean”



Emily Dickinson Press, Berkeley CA, 1981, 45 pages. $9
Includes Pushcart Prize nominee poem.

"Distinguished poems." James Laughlin, Publisher & Poet

"Absolutely excellent." David Meltzer, poet



Who Buried the Breast of Dreams: Excerpt          click to read

Old Oak,

eye now closed for winter
that silently braids
your dream,

when the mists fall
you are there,
when the rains fall
you are there,
when the snows fall
you are there,

whenever someone steps near.

—Janine Canan, from “Your Pictures”



of your seedOF YOUR SEED

Oyez Press, Berkeley CA, 1977, 60 pages, $9

Canan's first book, published through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

"In the best of these poems the language is both skilled and emphatic, touching its subjects like a soft, revealing light."
Richard Silberg, Poetry Flash


Of Your Seed: Excerpt          click to read

Your unborn head is pulsing,
pushing out. In a spray
your arms flop down,
you swim into air. A sleeper,
you wake, you stretch, you wail.
Beautiful breather, you pale.
From florid fish to flesh, your fluid skin
dries out to touch. Your eyes look round,
staggering widen. Your ears are
spiraling, your mouth untwists.
Oh, you are open now!

—Janine Canan, from “The Act”


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