Petals and Blood: Stories, Dharma and Poems of Ecstasy, Awakening and Annihilation is Released
HawaiiWith fierce courage, intimacy and candor, Gavin Harrison, author of Petals and Blood: Stories, Dharma and Poems of Ecstasy, Awakening and Annihilation opens up about his life providing a combination of page-turning personal stories with poems that inspire and awaken the soul. Harrison, who originally hails from South Africa, grew up gay in a deeply divided country. He dealt with pervasive sexual abuse and has lived with HIV for over half of his life. Through years of meditation, service and healing, he has lived a life full of compassion and his book truly evokes this. He is a true inspiration and has lovingly dedicated his newest book Petals and Blood to the orphaned and vulnerable children of Africa. Harrison will donate five dollars from the sale of every undiscounted book purchased via his website to The Woza Moya Project and Group of Hope in South Africa. Both organizations provide support to those affected by HIV, AIDS and poverty, an initiative that is near and dear to Harrison's heart. A recent Indiegogo campaign has already proved the success of this fundraising effort, as Petals and Blood was the second highest funded book to-date on this funding platform.
Each chapter in Petals and Blood begins with Harrison's personal stories, anecdotes and reflections related to the theme of that chapter's poems. The seven chapters of poetry included in Petals and Blood follow an arc that evolved from public gatherings led by Harrison in his current home of Hawai'i and former home, South Africa. This includes poems of INVOCATION, LONGING, FIRE, TOGETHERNESS, THE INDESCRIBABLE, LOVE and GRATITUDE.
"I am a student of my poems. The poetry within this collection is indistinguishable from the spiritual teachings I have offered over the last twenty years. While the vehicle of transmission might appear different, both forms carry an enduring invitation to awaken to the very deepest Truth of who we all are," says Harrison. "No longer rooted as the centerpiece within the story of my life, the poems track an evolution out of the fixated personal, into a largess of Self, way bigger than any story could ever be."
Harrison's story starts in his birthplace of Johannesburg, South Africa in 1950. When he was ten years old he was sent to boarding school, 300 miles away from home. This was where he endured bullying and further sexual abuse, which began in his first years. In 1974, he left South Africa to travel the world with his partner and eventually settled in Iran. On a return visit to South Africa at his first meditation retreat, he met his spiritual mentor, Joseph Goldstein. He chose to live at the Buddhist Retreat Center in KwaZulu-Natal for a year. Upon his return to the USA, he was unknowingly infected with the HIV virus before entering a monastery.
Harrison currently resides on the Big Island of Hawai'i and has followed the deeply rooted, ancient Hawaiian tradition of "talk-story", allowing listeners to hear stories of the elderly and well-traveled with all ears and heart. Harrison believes this allows that openness to reveal the depths of who we truly are. Undistracted by the details, Harrison wants to express that every human story carries intimations of The Infinite. From witnessing his friends succumb to a new disease known as AIDS to sharing his diagnosis with his mother, the healing of his relationship with his father, his celebration of original innocence, that innocence lost and then discovered again - Harrison bravely shares these experiences and his life story with readers. Along with this insight into his life, he has intertwined his poetry, and brief excerpts from the works of Sufi poets, Hafiz and Rumi. The magnificent photographs on each page of Petals and Blood express the beauty of the two places that Harrison's poems were created, South Africa and Hawai'i. Despite his hardships, Petals and Blood exudes a joy that is uplifting, contagious and courageous.
"The intersection of my life with the Sufi poets Hafiz and Rumi turned my world upside down. Their ecstatic poems are thunderbolts striking the depths of who I really am, challenging me to settle for nothing less than unbridled liberation, here and now," says Harrison.
A recipient of the Unsung Heroes of Compassion award presented to him by H.H. the Dalai Lama for "kindness and quiet dedication to others," Harrison has an extraordinary gift for offering teachings of awakening rooted in the Buddhist Insight Meditation Tradition. He is also the author of In the Lap of the Buddha (Shambhala Publications, Boston, 1994.)
Harrison's prayer is that the interweaving of ecstatic poetry and gritty humanity will provide evidence of what he knows to be true: No matter how dire and challenging the circumstances of our lives might be, the deepest truth of who we really are remains untouched and unsullied by whatever may befall us. Awakening to our essential nature and the very truth of existence is the birthright of us all.
Printing and binding is scheduled to be completed by October 7, 2013, when the book will be shipped, and available in the USA by mid November, 2013. To ensure donations are sent to South Africa via the Petals and Blood campaign, books must be ordered directly through the Petals and Blood website, here at http://petalsandblood.com/order/. Pre-ordering is available as of September 27, 2013.
Please visit http://petalsandblood.com/ for additional details about the book, as well as more on Harrison's background and the projects this book is benefitting. Also, please visit the Petals and Blood blog to track updates on the book and its availability. This blog offers new content that's posted every Tuesday and Friday since May 21, 2013, offering insights into the world of Petals and Blood.
About Petals and Blood
Petals and Blood weaves ecstatic poetry with stories drawn from the poet's stark, vulnerable and adventurous life. Defying apartheid, helping orphaned children in Africa, realizing Oneness with murderers in a maximum-security prison, uniting with The Infinite at the threshold of death, making peace with illness and betrayal, offering prayers to the Goddess Pele in Hawai'i and his devotion to Mother Africa. The stories and poems remind us that our Essential Nature remains unsullied and untouched by whatever may befall us, no matter how unfortunate the circumstances of our lives may be. For more details, visit http://petalsandblood.com/ and http://petalsandblood.tumblr.com/. Also, follow Petals and Blood via Facebook and Twitter.
About the Woza Moya Project
Woza Moya, a community-based NGO located in the Ofafa Valley of rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, began in 2000. Woza Moya's aim is to provide quality care and support to those infected and affected by HIV/Aids and poverty. Working closely with the community and using a holistic approach, Woza Moya offers services in the areas of home based care, food security, child and youth care, ECD, paralegal, youth and media, and water and sanitation. Additional details can be found at http://www.wozamoya.org.za/.
About the Group of Hope
This unique prisoner-initiated program began in Brandvlei Prison in 2002. This is a maximum- security facility near Worcester in the Western Cape, offering the only alternative to joining the notorious prison gang system in South Africa. The men of The Group of Hope have adopted many orphaned and vulnerable children from the surrounding townships. They raise money to help feed, clothe and keep these children in school by making jewelry out of recycled paper. The Group of Hope inmates also run HIV prevention campaigns within the prison, as well as workshops for troubled youths within the community. For further information about The Group of Hope, please visit http://www.groupofhope.co.za.