Michael Sowder

Thanks for visiting my blog-site.

I am a poet, writer, and professor at Utah State University, in Logan, Utah, where  I live with the writer, Jennifer Sinor, and our two boys Aidan and Kellen. usu

I’m the author of  the poetry collections, The Empty Boat, A Calendar of Crows, House Under the Moon, and the study of Walt Whitman, Whitman’s Ecstatic Union.   You can my essays in such places as the Buddhist magazine, Shambhala Sun.

Raised Catholic, in college in 1970s, I discovered yoga meditation, and became deeply involved in a meditation tradition called Ananda Marga.  I became a meditation teacher and nearly a sanyasi, a yogic monk.  However, after some seven years, I become disillusioned with that tradition, suffered a spiritual crisis (of which I’ve had several!), and migrated to Buddhism.   I practiced as a Buddhist for some fifteen years.  But in the last fifteen, feeling the lack of a devotional tone in Buddhism, I’ve returned to a yogic practice, after finding my spiritual teacher, and returning to a bhakti-yoga practice.

Bhakti is a devotional spiritual tradition, first mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita, which scholars think was written around 500 to 200 BCE.  In the ninth century, CE, a powerful bhakti tradition appeared in south India and spread throughout the subcontinent.  It is rose in many instances from the lower classes and in many forms tends to be anti-caste, anti-authoritarian, non-doctinaire, and iconoclastic.  Bhakti often incorporates poetry, music, singing, and dancing in its practices, as well as meditation and study of scriptures.  The famous poet Kabir is a good example of an iconoclastic bhakti-poet.   Mirabai and Tukaram are others.   Famous bhakti teachers include the nineteenth-century Ramakrishna, the twentieth-century Yogananda, Muktananda, Ma Indira Devi, and of living teachers, Mata Amritanandamayi, India’s “hugging saint,” is a good example.





11 thoughts on “About

  1. Nice blog, Michael. Good to know about your interest in spiritual places. If you want to know more about Science and Religion, you can try reading the books of Sri Ekkirala Bharadwaja, Master Garu, as everyone calls him fondly. He is the author of Sai Baba of Shirdi’s life history. If you have time and if you can visit, visit Vidyanaga, a place in Nellore Dt. of Andhrapradesh. This is the place where he resided forn several years and guided/inspired his students towards spirituality. He passed the Indian Civil Services examination (IAS) but chose to work as English Lecturer.


  2. Hi Michael,
    I came across your blog this morning, and have been reading it hungrily- to my husband, with pure joy and excitement! When he finally had to leave for work, he asked me to call and I continued reading it to him on the cell phone! Of course, it doesn’t hurt that you are such a wonderful and gifted writer that makes this such an enjoyable experience, but it’s the content of what you write that is so meaningful, it brought tears to my eyes many times. We are also taking a spiritual pilgrimage to India in July to Sri Ramana Maharshi’s ashram in Tiruvannamalai for 10 days. It has been a lifelong dream of mine, since I was 17 and came across the book of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha. My husband has been to India twice before we met, as he discovered Ramana Maharshi much earlier, and then told me all about him.
    We have been looking online for places to visit in India, but mostly have found the typical sites most recommended, so coming upon your blog was like hitting the motherlode! We will be in India for only 2 weeks, so our days there will be sacred (in so many ways). We are very appreciative of the experiences you shared with us during your trip.
    By the way, I am a 62 year old Jewish woman who spent 16 years in Duchesne, Utah, (now back in Massachusetts) and graduated from Utah State University (Extension courses offered in Roosevelt and Vernal, Ut.)!!! I laughed when I read where you teach and about the woman you met from Provo at the ashram! Small world, indeed! But I really loved the professors from Utah State University, and felt I received the best education possible from there!
    We have your blog bookmarked. Thank you again for writing it. It’s really beautiful.

    Marilyn Sandperl

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful and moving comments, Marilyn! I’m so excited that you are going to India and to the Ramanashram! It’s a magical place. Be sure to climb the mountain!
      I’ll be back in India this summer and writing on the blog again. Then, I’ll be back for six months next year on a Fulbright fellowship! So glad you found the blog! So glad you are on this wonderful path!
      Let’s stay in touch!

  3. It was wonderful to see your reply, Michael! My husband said the same thing about the ashram and India in general…that it’s magical! And we will surely climb the mountain! How wonderful that you will be returning and continuing with your blog, Michael. It’s true…we are very fortunate to be on this path. It’s the only thing that matters. By the way, although we have so many books on Ramana Maharshi, we didn’t have the one you posted on your blog, so I bought it. (Actually, I bought both books you posted!) Yes, let’s stay in touch!
    Marilyn Sandperl

  4. Hi Michael,
    Unfortunately, our dream trip to India was never realized because- idiots that we are- we never got a visa! Since I am a believer in the “if it’s meant to be…” philosophy, I found myself being sorely tested on that one! We did fly on as far as London and tried to obtain visas there, but since they had just outsourced the visa process, it wasn’t possible. So we spent a lovely 2 days in London and after crying my eyes out, pretended we were like the rich and famous…jetsetting off to London for the weekend!
    So we are hoping that British Airways will give us a credit so that we can give it another go. We are hoping for February of 2014. In the meantime, would love to hear about your travels and congratulations on the Fulbright fellowship!
    Marilyn Sandperl

  5. Okay! Trip to India, take 2! We have visas in hand and are scheduled to leave on February 14th! How have you been?

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