Amy Elizabeth Robinson

I am a poet, mother, historian, editor, and many other things, living in the hills of Sonoma County, California. Each one of my personas has taken me by complete surprise. Taken together they feel like a life.

I came across Taoism in college, Buddhism later, maybe when I bought myself a small, cheap, bronzey statue of Hotei in an Eastern exotica-type store in London. It reminded me of my grandfather, who had a big belly and loved to laugh, and whose friends had bought him a Hotei statue as a joke. I thought, why not me?

But Buddhism did not yet mean Zen (god forbid!), and therefore I knew nothing of koans.

I came across John Tarrant’s work in a local paperback bookstore. The koan about Turtle Mountain opened my heart. It took me four more years to stumble across the threshold of Pacific Zen Institute, though, because I had a tiny baby and a burning feeling like I had to save the world, not myself. After I walked in that door, it took me less than a year to start pouring out poetry.

Now I dream of fusing all those years of knowing—studying history at Princeton and London and Stanford—with the passion and surprise of Zen and writing and the messiness of my ordinary life. And I am filled with both love and uncertainty.

Pieces by Amy Elizabeth Robinson