Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Interview with Poet and Publisher of Shivastan Press, Shiv Mirabito

Be: Shiv, you recently came to my attention through mutual friends. I read in an interview that you are American born. What was your journey to acquire the name “Shiv.”  

Shiv: When I first went to India in 1988 - and almost every winter afterward - I studied with the Naga Babas who worship Shiva the god of transformation, yoga, meditation, and nature. I was initiated into the Anand Akhara of Naga Babas and was given the name Shiv Bharati - this is a more studious and scholarly branch of the Das Nami Shiva Babas and I was told to visualize that Saraswati the goddess of wisdom, poetry, and music is constantly sitting on my tongue constantly guiding my communication.

Many people who don't know me think I may be Indian or Nepali with my dark complexion, big beard and six foot long dreadlocks but this is the influence of 33 years of traveling to these places.

I am actually a 3rd generation Sicilian-American from a middle class background born in a small town in upstate NY.

But I do find it offensive when people say "but what's your REAL name?" It's like asking a transgender person what type of genitals they really have. People should accept whatever name (or gender) anyone wishes to use without scrutiny.


 Be: You seem to have a real respect and fascination with India. What drew you to India and ultimately to Kathmandu?  Could you find something there you couldn’t find elsewhere? 

Shiv: I studied and lived in Allen Ginsberg's farm in Upstate NY in Cherry Valley - I was introduced to Hinduism and Buddhism there as a teenager. In 1988 I spent a semester studying in India and Nepal through the State University of NY. I've tried to go back every winter since and usually spend 4 months there studying, writing, and publishing every year January through May - last year I was stuck in Kathmandu until October and this year I am not traveling because of the pandemic. In Woodstock NY I have a small bookshop focusing on poetry, Hindu/Buddhist tantra, the occult, art, history, lgbtq studies, my small press, etc.

    I love India and Nepal because of the ancient culture that is based on more pagan concepts of worshipping nature - rocks, trees, rivers, mountains, etc- and the profound respect for poets, poetry, spirituality, and those who are focused on the sacred in all aspects of life. I continue this sense of ubiquitous sacredness in every waking moment and interaction with myself and others - but I do not consider myself "religious" - I am much more of a hippie than a devotee. I feel everything is an illusion - and at the same time a teaching - so why take life so seriously. Life is to enjoy. I also drink, smoke, experiment with psychedelics, and engage in polyamory and sacred sex - like many of the beat poets did and still do.


Be: When did you start your Press and what motivated you to do it?

Shiv: I started publishing in Kathmandu on handmade lokta paper with my small press because I wanted to self publish my own poetry. Someone asked me "you have a vanity press?"  and I hate that term so I started offering to publish books and broadsides for other poets as a service to the greater community. I engaged in a wide correspondence with many poets and have published about 70 publications since I started in 1997. I was also inspired by Ira Cohen, Angus and Hetty Maclise who published poetry on handmade paper in Kathmandu in the 1970s.


Be: What type of work does Shivastan Press publish?  How do the find your authors?

Shiv: I open the possibilities to any poets & writers - I prefer unusual "beat" or "alternative" poetry but I don't limit the press to any labels. The main requirement is authors must pay for printing and I facilitate all the rest in Kathmandu. The possibilities are endless.


Be: Who are some of the well-known poets you have worked with or published?

Shiv: Here is an abbreviated list of some of the fine poets I’ve published.

Shivastan Press {Woodstock~Kathmandu} Limited Edition Chapbooks, Broadsides and Wildflowers Woodstock mountain anthologies, craft-printed with handmade paper in Kathmandu Nepal:

#1, 2001: Ira Cohen, Andy Clausen, Janince King, Phillip Levine, Paul MacMahon, Shiv Mirabito, Dina Pearlman, Ed Sanders, Marilyn Stablein, Christina Starobin, Palmer Shaw, Janine Pommy Vega, Sue Willens.

#6, 2005: Ira Cohen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Roberta Gould, Hetty Maclise, Robert Kelly, Donald Lev, Richard Livermore, Taylor Mead, Shiv Mirabito, Erik La Prade, Tom Savage, Anne Waldman, Chavisa Woods, Ziska, review of Atlantis Manifesto by Robert Kelly.

Andy Clausen: Festival of Squares, 2002.

Andy Clausen: Songs of Bo Baba, 2004.

Ira Cohen: Whatever You Say May Be Held Against You, 2004.

Enid Dame: Where is the Woman? (Edited by Donald Lev), 2006.

Shiv Mirabito: Transcendental Tyger, 2004.

Ed Sanders: Stanzas for Social Change, 2004.

Janine Pommy Vega: The Walker, 2003.

Anne Waldman: Ceremonies in the Gong World, 2007.


Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Allen Ginsberg Dying, 2005.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti: Pity the Nation, 2008.

Allen Ginsberg: Why Fuzz, 2017.

Allen Ginsberg: A Mountain Outside, 2018.

Ed Sanders: The Bookstores of New York, 2018.

Anne Waldman: Manatee Humanity, 2008.

Anne Waldman: Vatsala Devi, 2018.

I would like to mention that anyone in the area is welcome to visit my groovy little bookshop The Woodstock Shivastan Poetry Ashram Bookshop - we have many open poetry gatherings with a bonfire & vegetarian potluck in a beautiful secret garden + everyone who comes to visit receives free gifts like prints of my collage artworks, books, seashells from the beach in Goa India, etc.

- and please visit my pages on Facebook for information about the bookshop & my small press Shivastan Press (Woodstock-Kathmandu). Publications from Shivastan Press are available on my Etsy page.

Thank you Belinda - peace & love from Woodstock- Shiv

No comments:

Post a Comment