Press release: “Here for the Present: A Grammar of Happiness in the Present Perfect, Live from the Poet’s Perch”

For Immediate Release

Publicity Contact: Wendy Brickman

(831) 594-1500 or

Dr. Barbara Mossberg’s new book is a gift for all of us: “Here for the Present: A Grammar of Happiness in the Present Perfect, Live from the Poet’s Perch”

July 2021. Pacific Grove, CA. Dr. Barbara Mossberg has channeled her inner Thoreau in a timely and timeless new book, a comic Walden. In times that seem humanity’s new dark ages of uncertain and catastrophic climate and politics and disease—an imperfect present, Here for the Present: A Grammar of Happiness in the Present Imperfect, Live from the Poet’s Perch, is a perfect present for all of us. Internationally known as an inspirational speaker and cultural representative, she is local as an artichoke, particular to place as a Monarch, a troubadour singing of sidewalks and gulls and rain, forgiving and loving wildly her own and all of our worlds through a poet’ eye. 

A California laureate, Pacific Grove’s own Poet in Residence provides us a gift– a way to see our lives and space as a present. celebrating how a poet can transform what we think of as wasted time and space into treasure and infinite moment. PG and books themselves come alive as precious to us, in how we live and forgive our world. 

From her “Poet’s Perch,” we see what is hilarious, holy, and precious in the most usual, overlooked, unthought about, and even hard things. In flash memoir and poignant vignettes, Dr. Mossberg washes the dishes, imagines John Muir naked in a sauna, encounters bear terror, walks down the street and smells the roses, looks out the window on a rainy day, waits for a grocery to open, reads the local papers and finds her own epic story in the comic and doleful antics of her neighbors, visits her mother in hospice, comforts her child, “raises the dead,” and imagines herself a lady Thoreau while drinking PBR. The result is a wildly unique and profound vision—what reviewers call “rollicking grace”–celebrating the moments we fear, regret, or don’t even notice. 

An utterly unique voice, Dr. Mossberg draws from her experience over fifty years in roles ranging from actor, dramaturg, radio host, playwright, keynote speaker, cultural diplomat. A prizewinning literary scholar and teacher of epic literature and drama, Mossberg comes at experience with a lyric sweep and dash. But she’s also a performer, including of her own work, and the result is a wry, poignant comedian’s stand up and ballad. It’s a humble, funny voice we trust, a vision we need when the world seems scary and sad, and our lives uncertain and short. An Rx for the here and now, this book wraps and reveals experience as a gift.  

This book can change the way we appreciate what Dr. Mossberg calls the gift in being in the here and now— “the present.” In her imaginative creativity, great philosophical strength in life and death issues is seen as moments become momentous, trash becomes treasure, and gratitude for what we experience “is the least we can do” to embrace and honor consciousness. In Mossberg’s exuberant and rambunctious vision, combining magical realism and a dramatic poet’s voice, happiness is at hand in even an imperfect world. 

Mossberg explains: “When I was appointed Poet in Residence for the City of Pacific Grove, CA, I had to think: what does it mean to be “in residence?”—here?” What does a poet do with this experience? What do poets do and why and how can they matter, to a city, no less? I thought of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona the Pest. SO, Ramona aka the Pest, age 4, arrives for her first day of kindergarten, and her teacher tells her to “sit here for the present.” She’s delighted—she’s looked forward to school so long! She’s here at last and also there’s a present! But the day goes on without one and the teacher asks why she’s glued to her chair. For the present! she says. Alas—when told that means, for now, just temporarily– and yes, no present, sorry–she thinks school is not going to be all it was cracked up to be. 

So here we are, you and I, in this life—the here and now. My book is called Here for the Present, and it takes up this challenge of ours—living a life that is not only so imperfect, but will end. How can that be good—much less, a gift? I thought Ramona’s idea of being “here for the present” was just perfect. We are here just for now. How can we make our presence, our being present in the now, a present? There’s a grammar term, “the present imperfect,” something ongoing—that’s us—in this imperfect mess, this chaos– for now. How could I serve as a poet to give Ramona, in residence in her chair, a gift? How can we all be here for the present? As a Poet in Residence, I see my opportunity to show how we each are “poets in residence” on earth. I am striving to give to my community a way to find comfort and joy in daily experience.

In this “grammar of happiness in the present imperfect,” I strive to find consciousness of the present moment as a gift. Imperfect, yes—and strange and precious and hilarious and holy. I share with you my own wildly imperfect moments, naked and arrayed in pearls in hospice, as a poet in residence on this earth of ours. I’m walking down your streets, looking at you out my window of Poet’s Perch, dazzled, dazed, awestruck, grateful. In your eyes, as I imagine you with me on this journey, our time here is a gift. Here. Thank you for reading it and being with me–the gift of you!”

Kim Stafford, Oregon Poet Laureate 2018-2020, and author of Singer Come from Afar, comments about the book, “It has been said that Thoreau wrote not so much for his own time as for our own. His messages of simplicity, spiritual economy, and connection to the wild may serve us well in our present lives of crisis. We are fortunate that a voice in many ways heir to Thoreau and his message has composed this book, her own Walden in observation, meditation, exhortation, and companionable poem of invitation and praise. Singing lustily from her perch, Barbara Mossberg here offers myriad bold thoughts, musical hints, and resonant poems that call us to wake, wonder, and work for the better world within our grasp. May these empowered musings take residence in your heart and mind. Dip your cup here, drink deep, and be refreshed.”

As songwriter Paul Simon has eloquently stated in his song, ‘The 59th Street Bridge Song’, “Slow down, you move too fast. You got to make the morning last”, on which Dr. Mossberg bases her weekly hour radio podcast, The Poetry Slowdown ( Dr. Mossberg’s book will motivate its readers to do just that, enjoy life in a perpetual morning of joy and appreciation for the day. 

About Dr. Barbara Mossberg:

Professor Mossberg’s distinguished career of four decades as a prizewinning poet, author, and teacher, and honored educational leader, to promote the transformational role of poetry in people’s lives. President Emerita Goddard College, founding Dean California State University Monterey Bay, Professor of Practice at Clark Honors College, University of Oregon, and American Council on Education Senior Fellow, she has been recognized by National Endowment for the Humanities, American Council of Learned Societies, Mellon Foundation (Aspen Institute) and others, twice awarded the Senior Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer, and a Fulbright Specialist. Committed to arts activism in the public sphere, she created and hosts the weekly hour Poetry Slow Down (podcast, and publishes in journals, newspapers, Huffington Post columns, restaurant reviewer, books (Emily Dickinson: When a Writer Is a Daughter was named Choice Outstanding Academic Book of the Year; Sometimes the Woman in the Mirror Is Not You and other hopeful news postings was chosen for Dublin Writers Abroad), keynotes, organizes lit crawls, poetry slams, civic celebrations, and arts fundraisers, and serves boards for the environment, education, drama, and the arts. Her roles as scholar, writer, and poet “in residence,” include her federal appointment as U.S. Scholar in Residence for U.S.I.A., representing American letters in over twenty countries, Writer in Residence at Thoreau’s Birthplace in Concord, MA., and Pacific Grove’s California laureate Poet in Residence at the Poet’s Perch, for which she says, “Pinch me.”

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About the book:

Here for the Present: A Grammar of Happiness in the Present Perfect, Live from the Poet’s Perch 

Print length: 188 pages

Language: English

Publication date: June 4, 2021

Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.48 x 8.5 inches

ISBN-10: 1953120148

ISBN-13: 978-1953120144

Published: Pacific Grove Books

Available on Amazon, Ingram Spark, Barnes and Noble and other book distributors and retailers. 

A Donation is made to the Pacific Grove Library for every book sold.

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