What Is Justice?

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A Personal Exploration

Denham’s internal exploration, aided by poetry and letters and images, offers us a portrait of one man’s attempt to practice revolutionary love in response to murder. Wrestling with grief over the killing of a boy he loved as a son, Denham confronts his own impulses to condemn the ones who murdered him. With the courage to perform “open-heart surgery” on himself, Denham returns again and again to restorative justice as the only way forward. A solemn read, a quiet contemplation, a hopeful longing, What Is Justice? is a respite for anyone committed to labors of love and justice.


Wrestling with grief over the killing of a boy he loved as a son, Denham confronts his own impulses to condemn the ones who murdered him. With the courage to perform “open-heart surgery” on himself, Denham returns again and again to restorative justice as the only way forward. A solemn read, a quiet contemplation, a hopeful longing, What Is Justice? is a respite for anyone committed to labors of love and justice.

Valarie Kaur, Founder of the Revolutionary Love Project

There is a murder; there is a pending “execution.” There are victims and there are perpetrators. Into the midst of these deep contradictions, Bill Denham plunges with his honest, searing, hope-filled poetry. He dares to imagine that we are all bound together in this human crisis as one. We are not “over-against”; we are rather “with” and “belonging to.” That solidarity evokes compassion that presses toward restorative justice and away from revenge. Denham sees that it “falls to me” to do justice. Indeed, it “falls to me” and you and you and you. Those who enter Denham’s world of poetic imagination may be called to care in transformative ways. It is his hope. Indeed, it is our hope!

Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

What does it mean to love our enemies? I know of no better answer in our time than the care Bill Denham shows the men who killed his stepson. With vulnerability and courage, he uses a poet’s ear and a prophet’s eye to redefine justice. His story moved me deeply.

Bruce Murphy, retired as President at Northwestern College, a former Pastor at La Jolla Presbyterian Church and Bethany Presbyterian Church

Bill Denham has given us a gift in a few short pages. As he shares his experience of losing someone he loves to violent death, he invites us to accompany him as he searches his own heart and enters as he can into another’s experience. The insights he gathers into his poetry, prose, and the quotations he incorporates challenge us to do the hard work of subverting the systems that numb us by learning compassion for the other.

Becky Ankeny, Ph.D., Recorded minister in Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends

After the 2008 gang-related murder of his stepson, Bill Denham embarked on ten years of deep and profoundly revealing self-examination. This book is a compelling account of the results of that questioning. Here, in both prose and poems, Denham voices an impassioned plea for replacing our retributive justice system with restorative justice. Avowing that true justice “must come from an honest and humble place,” he bears wise and eloquent witness to “the excruciatingly hard work of forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita


Available from Fernwood Press: http://www.fernwoodpress.com/2019/04/01/what-is-justice/

Available from Barclay Press: http://www.barclaypressbookstore.com/What-Is-Justice.html

Why Ice Cream Trucks Play Christmas Songs

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A gentle wind blows through Paul Jolly’s poems, uncovering the gaps in our knowledge, our presumptions and assumptions, the spaces in which humor, creativity, and magic are born. The stories seem familiar, but the wind-blown words, unjumbled by Jolly, no longer say exactly what they’re supposed to. Alice escapes from a pack of Disney scouts. Over-inflated cows float over a squadron of slugs. Ice cream trucks play Christmas songs.

It is a collection that rebels against reality. Each poem performs a sleight-of-hand replacement of the objective and concrete with imagination and dream. What if? How come? Why not?

Read these poems. Read them carefully. Take your time. Inhale, exhale, and think. Why Ice Cream Trucks Play Christmas Songs is a work of art, and it is a gift.

“Delightful, essential, full of renewed wisdom and old magic, of the natural elements that sustain body and spirit. Paul Jolly’s poems are to be savored time and again, like the ice cream in trucks that play Christmas songs. Bravo! Encore!”
Lucha Corpi, author of Eulogy for a Brown Angel and Confessions of a Book Burner

“Paul Jolly’s consonance crackles but is seldom gnarled. His poems are funny but never cruel. Like Kay Ryan, he sees the universe in little things. Jolly’s tenderness is understated, his language unrestrained.”
Flossie LewisBrief but Spectacular (PBS)

“To read these poems is to enter a richly imagined world; brightened by dry touches of humor, parody, and wit. The poems are very much of the present day, both in language and in outlook. Though deeply felt, they contain nothing sentimental, let alone anything maudlin.”
Marie Borroff, Sterling Professor of English, Emeritus, Yale University

“Drawing upon a metaphoric area that hops nimbly from nursery rhymes to the spiritual lives of goats, from family history to the history of the zero, these poems surprise and delight. Jolly’s light touch and humorous outtakes remind us that language in poetry is an adult thinker’s playground.”
Johnna Schmidt, Director of Jimènez-Porter Writers’ House, University of Maryland

“I spent a first afternoon of immersion in this wonderful collection of poems, smiling with occasional outbursts of delighted laughter at the poet’s flights of fancy: Humpty Dumpty paired with Icarus, a Grandmother whose saliva does futile battle with her grandson’s cowlick, farmers who carbonate cows to get ‘bubble milk,’ a factotum who does the dirty work for God during the six days of creation. Throughout, zany humor and vigorous imagination construct send-ups that are not without compassion and insight. There is import here I cannot explain, but only nod, knowingly.”
Catharine Lucas, poet and professor of English, Emerita, San Francisco State University


Available from Fernwood Press: http://www.fernwoodpress.com/2018/11/26/why-ice-cream-trucks-play-christmas-songs/

Available from Barclay Press: http://www.barclaypressbookstore.com/why-ice-cream-trucks-play-christmas-songs.html


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A Go-To Guide for Caregivers of Traumatized Children, Families, and Communities

Trauma creates substantial pain and suffering and can inevitably create cycles of dysfunction that may span generations. We can and should break these cycles and build bridges of trust and empowerment that renew hope and help families heal, not just for this generation but for the sake of all those to follow.

The good news is that children are resilient and have innate abilities to recover from their painful past, heal the invisible wounds of trauma, and rebuild their lives. But this will not occur without the perseverance and hard work of good people who care deeply about children.

If you are a parent or caregiver whose children have been traumatized by events like war, forced displacement, disaster, abuse, neglect, or violence, this book is for you. This book will increase your understanding about your empowering role, what your children need, how they develop, how trauma interrupts their development, how to show your children healing love and attention, and how to use community resources to achieve that. It will also suggest ways to take care of yourself in the process.

If you are a mental health professional, a teacher, an advocate, or community leader, this book is also for you.


Dr. Omar Reda knows first-hand the impact of war and dislocation on families and children. But Untangled is not about extreme situations. It is about the lessons learned from survivors on how to cope with everyday life. It is impressive, not only in its scientific content, but also in its presentation. It is a poetical essay that highlights the importance of love and hope in our lives and in the care of children. These ideas are expressed in the metaphor of Untangled and in its mantra for families to recite, “This is us, together.” Dr. Reda brings to us beautiful ideas and images that can help us protect and heal our children, our families, and our communities affected by trauma. Thank you, Dr. Reda, for this excellent contribution.

—Dr. Richard F. Mollica, MD, MAR, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

In this book, Dr. Omar Reda offers a deeply compassionate exploration of trauma-informed parenting. His heartfelt dedication to improving the lives of children and families stands out on every page. Dr. Reda understands the needs of both parents and children, and he shares openly from his own parenting experience. The drawings from children are a beautiful touch. This book can have a powerful impact to improve the lives of people who have suffered and who can heal.

—Lisa Najavits, PhD, Director of Treatment Innovations and adjunct professor at University of Massachusetts Medical School

Dr. Omar Reda’s work is deeply compassionate, intelligent, and thoughtful. Untangled is a needed book that has the capacity to change the world one life at a time. By drawing on research and his extensive experience, both personal and professional, Dr. Reda has found the words that give voice to traumatized children and their families. Untangled is respectful, practical, and most importantly, hopeful. In his own words, because they are so powerful, “Trauma loses its power to ruin us when love and hope step in.” Untangled is this step in.

—Karen Young, author, speaker, and psychotherapist, specializing in childhood and adolescent anxiety

Trauma is one of the most impactful, isolating, and developmentally disrupting experiences humans face. It tears down, it injures, and its effects spread like a cancer when left unexplored. In his groundbreaking book, Untangled, Dr. Omar Reda gives parents and families the information and tools they need to address and work through individual and cultural trauma while, at the same time, offering a strong example of how to do so with his authoritative, yet deeply loving, voice. This is far more than a workbook. It is a guidebook, offering descriptions of what trauma is and how it impacts families and children in a language that is accessible to all. Guided explorative questions and surveys peppered throughout the book offer opportunities for reflection and application as well as planning and goal setting.

For parents facing the daunting task of helping their children navigate traumatic experiences well, this is an indescribable gift. I am a psychologist and yet, when my own family suffered a traumatic loss, I felt adrift and untethered, uncertain of how to help my children live through indescribable grief while I, myself, was also suffering. I wish a book like Untangled would have been available to me at that time. This book is part comfort, part authoritative guide, and wholly grounding.

If someone you love has experienced trauma, please read this book, take notes, use the worksheets, then go and put all you’ve learned into practice. In this way we could heal the world.

—Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D., Cinical Psychologist and author of Deviced! Balancing Life and Technology in a Digital World


Available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Untangled-Go-Caregivers-Traumatized-Communities/dp/1594980594

As Clean as a Bone

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Emmett Wheatfall’s As Clean as a Bone is a collection for both the heart and the mind, a collection seasoned with the vital and invigorating salt of poetry and of wisdom. This remarkable book questions history, memory, culture. Its poems don’t just talk: they wrestle with experience, they debate, they think and play, they sing out with love and pain. “Can we sing a new song?” Wheatfall asks. With their deft musical cadences and resonant depths, the poems in this new book answer back with a resounding YES.

Annie Lighthart, poet, author of Lantern and Iron String


From “the perspective that is black,” Emmett Wheatfall gives us this collection of evocative meditations on the African American experience, meditations “seasoned with / the salt of [his] poetics.” Ranging from a tribute to contemporary black women (“Election Evening in Alabama”) to a lamentation spoken to Langston Hughes, these are moving poems that compel us—all of us who call ourselves American—to “…sing a new song / for what we are now.”

Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita


“Do you know what I mean?” Emmett Wheatfall asks—a question he poses in poem after poem, sometimes in agonizing and sometimes in darkly humorous ways. Emmett calls upon us, his readers, to exercise our imaginations as we read As Clean as a Bone, to know what he means about the black experience in America and in the world.

Bill Denham, poet, author of death will come


Emmett Wheatfall’s latest book As Clean as a Bone is just that. Taking his title from James Baldwin, Wheatfall has produced a work that gets to the core of things. “I question myself,” he writes, and whether his subject is race, justice, inequality or a “little black boy,” his poems speak with power and credibility. Time spent with As Clean as a Bone is time well spent.

Tom Hogan, poet, author of The Promise of the Trail


Available from Fernwood Press: http://www.fernwoodpress.com/2018/05/04/as-clean-as-a-bone/

Available from Barclay Press: http://www.barclaypressbookstore.com/as-clean-as-a-bone.html

Because of This

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Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching: How to Live, Love, and Lead

While teaching English in China, Jim Teeters received a copy of the Tao Te Ching from a student. Jim writes that he was drawn to Lao Tzu’s ancient meditations on what it means to be a human instrument guided by the power of the right way. Drawing on his Quaker experience of submission to the Inner Light, “the voice of Christ who speaks to my condition,” Jim waited with each of Lao Tzu’s eighty-one wisdom poems, reading them over and over, listening both for meaning and for how he might respond.

In the first section, “How to Live,” Jim notes that we strive for success, we strive for satisfaction, and we strive for peace. But we can’t earn God’s blessings. We must simply accept them. In the second section, “How to Love,” Jim focuses on the importance of listening and of empathy, showing warmth in a nonpossessive way. In “How to Lead,” Jim suggests that seeking control results in loss of control, but trust empowers people to move forward together.

Keep your mind and heart open as you read and react. Peruse, ponder, and discover.


What we seek
existed before
the universe.

Calm existence.
Inexhaustible Source.
True guide
for soul’s journey.

We call her Mother,
unfathomable and comforter.
We arise from and return
to Her.


Available from Fernwood Press: http://www.fernwoodpress.com/2018/01/10/because-of-this/

Available from Barclay Press: http://www.barclaypressbookstore.com/Because-of-This.html

Practical Mystics: Quaker faith in action

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Are Quakers mystics? What does that mean? And how does it translate into how we are and what we do in the world? A book in the new series of little books about different aspects of the Quaker way, Quaker Quicks.

“Jennifer Kavanagh has written a lovely book which I found to be to be compelling reading. In a very practical way she explains the meaning of mysticism for Quakers and how an experience ,which some might regard as being esoteric, can be truly meaningful for many today.” Terry Waite

” [Jennifer Kavanagh writes] as vividly about spiritual inwardness as she does about the urgent, unstoppable impulse to give service to others. The result is an inspiring book about a wellspring of inspiration. I thoroughly recommend it.” Geoffrey Durham, author of The Spirit of the Quakers and Being a Quaker

The Silence Diaries

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Suzie and Orbs are in their thirties and have been together for a couple of years. Orbs reluctantly makes a living in the City and Suzie is a respected financial journalist, but each has another life hidden from the outside world.

Their secret existence is threatened first when Suzie is offered a highly visible job, and then by an accident that turns their lives upside down. The novel traces their struggle to survive as a couple, retain their privacy, and how each of them can find a new and more authentic life. This is a novel about voices and silence, truth and lies. The motivating factor is love, and the gift is finding a voice.

Death Will Come

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In death will come, poet Bill Denham attempts what is nearly impossible, coming to terms with the approaching end of life without nostalgia or sentimentality. And in this collection, he succeeds, offering his astonishing gift to the world, a testament to a life lived, suffered, and loved in open-hearted service and wonder. The poems are interrelated confessions that speak directly to Denham’s mother, to his father, to his estranged daughters. They reveal with painful, lyric candor, what it is to struggle with self-knowing in the face of death. A must read for anyone who will someday pass from this world.

This beautiful collection of poems tells its story through honest moments, both simple and shattering, reflecting a quiet redemption in which not all is lost and not all is found. – Kim Vanderheiden, owner, Painted Tongue Press

In death will come, poet Bill Denham attempts the near impossible, coming to terms with the approaching end of life without nostalgia, sentimentality, self-aggrandizement, or any of the other traps into which we mortals fall. That he succeeds so completely is his astonishing gift to the world, and a testament to a life lived, suffered, and loved in open-hearted service and wonder. A must read for anyone who will someday pass from this world. – Gary Turchin, author, Falling Home and The Healthiest Man on Earth

Honesty, struggle, and hope are words that describe Bill Denham’s poems in this collection of memories and confessions. Through the medium of poetry Denham holds up to the light stories of loss and death that in the telling become seeds of new life. “Telling stories is our most constant activity,” he writes, using the image of a Russian matryoshka doll, with our stories nesting inside the stories of our parents and their parents backward in time, yet emerging through to the present “to make a larger light against the darkness.” – Nancy Thomas, author, The Secret Colors of God and Close to the Ground

death will come is a book of poignant, interrelated poems, confessions that speak – in direct address – to the poet’s mother, his father, his estranged daughters. Grappling with knowing who he was and is, Bill Denham gives us the painful, lyric candor of someone who can hold himself “…in the light of/ that knowing/ and rejoice/ in that light.” – Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita

“Amidst this loss and sadness that lives where I live – always . . . another memory comes” (43-44): Denham’s self-elegiac poems hit you directin the solar plexus, resonatinguntil you find yourselfawash inmemory. Poignant free verse envelops you in connection, loss and the stickiness of memory. The beautiful mystery of life, even in sightof its end, is the gift of this movingcollection. – Chris Morrissey


Available from Fernwood Press: http://www.fernwoodpress.com/2018/03/08/death-will-come/

Available from Barclay Press: http://www.barclaypressbookstore.com/death-will-come.html

Going the Extra Mile

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Adventures with God in Seventy-Five Countries

Raised on a prune farm in rural Oregon, in a family with deep religious roots, Dr. Norval Hadley thought he might be a pastor someday. But after the farm boy and his friends won a barbershop harmony contest, everything changed. That foursome is remembered as the world-famous Four Flats, and in 1956 the quartet signed on with World Vision. They appeared with Billy Graham, performed on the ABC radio network, and led two evangelistic tours of Asia. Dr. Hadley made his way around the world, working with World Vision, Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends, Evangelical Friends Mission, New Call to Peacemaking, and the National Prayer Committee. In this collection of recollections, Dr. Hadley tells the story of how his decision to follow God no matter what took him into seventy-five countries and on a lifetime of adventure.


Available from Barclay Press: http://www.barclaypressbookstore.com/Going-the-Extra-Mile.html

Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Going-Extra-Mile-Adventures-Seventy-Five/dp/1594980470/ref=sr_1_1

A Long Road

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How Quakers Made Sense of God and the Bible

By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the effort to keep outside influences from impacting Quaker spirituality was clearly failing. Many Friends were impressed by the Enlightenment emphasis on reason in religion and commitment to religious and political freedom. Many others were caught up in Evangelical enthusiasm and commitment to social justice.

The result was a series of separations and divisions—Quakers disagreed about the nature of God, the atonement, and the function of scripture.

A long, rocky, even muddy road.

This is not the first time the story has been told. We find in the contemporary splits of one yearly meeting after another, the underlying issues are the same as they have always been. After all, the story of Quakerism is a story of divisions. It is also a story of creativity. And of hope.

Significant, original contributions by Quaker scholars to our understanding of the Bible suggest that there has always been tremendous vitality at the heart of Quakerism—a vitality that supports the claim that the Quaker vision is indeed a restoration of the earliest Christian vision.

Available from Barclay Press: http://www.barclaypressbookstore.com/A-Long-Road.html

Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Long-Road-Quakers-Sense-Bible/dp/159498042X/ref=sr_1_2

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