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All I Feel Is Rivers

Dervish Essays

Robert Vivian

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 03/2020
Pages: 128
Subject: Literary Collections
eBook ISBN: 9781496221025


All I Feel is Rivers is a collection of a new hybrid writing that, though spiritually akin to prose poems, retains an essayistic form. After several life-changing trips to Turkey, Robert Vivian took up a deep study of Rumi, the thirteenth-century Sufi mystic, poet, and founder of the religious order that performs the now-famous dervish dance. Vivian's fascination seeped into his writing, and his newly conceived dervish essays reflect the dynamic movement and ancient symbolism of the ritual dance with wild lyricism, sometimes breathless cadences, and mesmerizing unspooling.

Utterly fearless in their passionate avowals of life's many manifestations, these essays showcase the surprising connectivity between the sacred and profane, uncovered by associative drifting. Vivian's essays take on grief and loss, the natural world and climate, spirituality and ecstasy, all while pushing the boundaries of what prose can do.               


Robert Vivian is a professor of English and creative writing at Alma College in Michigan and teaches as a core faculty member in the low-residency MFA program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is the author of four novels as well as two essay collections, Cold Snap as Yearning and The Least Cricket of Evening, all available from the University of Nebraska Press, as well as the collection of dervish essays, Immortal Soft-Spoken.  


"Line by line, image by image, essay by spiraling essay, Vivian awakens us to the grace of the infinite moment: the shaft of morning light, the teaspoon of honey, the spider on the north-facing wall. All I Feel Is Rivers is a wondrous, transcendent book. Let its currents take you."—Harrison Candelaria Fletcher, author of Presentimiento: A Life in Dreams

"This is the work of a Sufi master of rapturous prose, who dances until his feet do not touch the ground."—David Wojahn, author of From the Valley of Making: Essays on the Craft of Poetry

"There is a wild innocence in Vivian's headlong rush to get the language right, but don't be fooled. These are words spoken by a man who has seen the whole spectrum and who chooses—is it even choice?—to be immersed and re-watered again and again, to make each sentence feel like class V rapids through which we readers, boatless but safe, feel transported, not just from one place to another but from one realm to another. These essays are an exhilarating achievement."—Barbara Hurd, author of Listening to the Savage: River Notes and Half-Heard Melodies