The Part Time Shaman Handbook

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A collection of prose poetry, exercises, lists and visual art that both lampoons and fully embraces self-help techniques. Michael Gillan Maxwell has found a balance between the absurd, the beautifully profound and the crushing. The Part Time Shaman Handbook, is just that, a handbook for the person who doesn’t take themselves too seriously, but who also likes to dance naked in the dark, make music, commune with crows, cats, loons, coyotes, packs of wolves and other power animals, spirit guides, passing trains, cars on the distant highway, stars in the heavens, waves crashing on the shore, thunder and lightning and all of the above. The mix of Maxwell’s original artwork with pieces of writing are moving, but also gut-busting at times. Perhaps even a few tears will be shed by the aspiring part- time shamans who fall under the spell of this wonderful book. There’s nothing like it.

Here is a partial review from Blotterature Magazine 

“Broken up into Exercises, Maxwell simply lays it all out on the page, poignantly stating what needs to be done to live, love, succeed, and give well. He covers all the essential lessons to living the life of a “shaman”–which is to say anyone and everyone can do this, no need to be an actual shaman. Maxwell takes us back to our youth when we all kind of kept it simple. Take “Exercise 6-Things To Do Before Going To Bed” for example:

“Walk down to the lake in a blizzard
leave poems in public places
Make up your own words
turn off your cellphone
Make nonsense noises
chant incantations
Take photographs
Bang on a drum
Sing”

This youthful message spreads. It is infectious because the message isn’t just for ourselves but to share with others. Maxwell says to “Go to Walmart, smile at the cashier. Buy a pencil from a blind man, adopt a highway, help a  punk rocker cross the road with a chickn stapled to his chest.” By god, “Put more effort into figuring things out.” Can I get an Amen to that? And we shouldn’t just let the words sit there on the page and stiffen from our lack of action. Poetry exists to move us into a new place and Maxwell’s theme throughout is pretty apparent when he offers this little ditty in one of the many untitled prose pieces scattered throughout the collection:

“Message in my Fortune cookie: Wake up, pay attention, celebrate small things.”