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Book Reviews


Legal Tender: Women and the Secret Life of Money (2019)

“If money talks, it is with our voice,” writes Lynne Twist. Christian McEwen has been listening to women tell their money stories for more than a decade. This book is the fruit of more than 50 of her interviews. Lively and surprising, with a focus on childhood memories, adult challenges, the joys of generosity and abundance, and the inequities of race and class and gender, it has been edited and arranged by McEwen herself.

“Money was invented to facilitate the transfer of goods and services when bartering became difficult to manage. Since then, we have imbued it with all sorts of meanings that were never intended, and wrapped it in multiple layers of secrecy and shame. Christian’s book, Legal Tender, helps disentangle money from its shroud of confusion and mystery. Reading these stories is a healing process, and an invitation to consider how we would tell money stories of our own.”

—Megan LeBoutillier, PhD

“Anyone who reads these stories will find in them aspects their own reality —a gentle path to reckoning with one’s own money story. The portable design makes this an ideal pocketbook to access what’s really in one’s pocketbook.”

—John Bloom, Vice-president, Organizational Culture, RSF Social Finance


World Enough and Time

World Enough & Time : On Creativity and Slowing Down (2011)

“World Enough & Time is a wise book—a quiet feast, a daydreamer’s manual, a work of mindfulness, which teaches us to slow down and see the world anew. Read it slowly and come to your senses.”

Edward Hirsch, author of How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry 

“World Enough & Time is, above all, simply one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. Christian McEwen’s prose is pure poetry. …This is not just a good book. This is a book that should become a classic.”

John de Graaf, editor of Take Back Your Time


Sparks from the Anvil


Sparks from the Anvil : The Smith College Poetry Interviews (2015)

“In his interview, Patrick Donnelly suggests that in the deep core of everything we experience, ‘there is light, there is luminosity, there is tenderness.’ These words aptly describe the fundamental gifts to be found in Sparks from the Anvil. Sixteen of our finest poets shed abundant light on the poetic process. They also offer luminous observations on how and why a person might devote a life to the practice of poetry. Above all, these interviews affirm the worth of tenderness — the openness to feeling — as the sine qua non of art. Friend, this is a book you will love as you love poetry itse

Fred Marchant, author of The Looking House


The Tortoise Diaries

The Tortoise Diaries : The Smith College Poetry Interviews (2014)

The Tortoise Diaries is divided into the twelve months of the year with illustrations by Laetitia Bermejo. The structure is transferred from the longer book to this one, focusing on a different theme for each month. January introduces “the art of slowing down,” and February is to “consider good company and conversation,” while March is to investigate “child time” and April “the joys and relaxation to be found in walking.” The entries have been arranged to flow smoothly from one to the next, helping to deepen and clarify each particular theme. You can keep reading without stopping at just one entry per day! The book offers support and encouragement for our own creative practice.

Mary Ann Moore for Story Circle Book Reviews reviewing books by, for, and about women.


Music Hiding in the Air (2013) : “…is a tender retrospective of artist and musician, Rory McEwen, a very dear uncle and mentor to niece and author/poet Christian McEwen. It is a memoir for a man whose life was over too soon, taken in his 50th year in 1982 by cancer. Growing up in Scotland, the story begins with the author’s own childhood memories of her uncle, and throughout this precious book the reader is transported to a place which is full of nature, poetry, music, art and a world filled with the human spirit. One gets swept away with McEwen’s poetic reverie as she speaks of her uncle: “… he was someone who knew in his bones the world that we were part of, with its tidal pull of class and family loyalties, its fierce old-fashioned obligations. But he was also a professional artist, deeply committed to his work. He painted every day. He got things done.”

Johanna, a PhD student in Transformative Studies at the California Institute for Integral Studies

In the Wake of Home (poems 2004) : “In poems that search, name, nab and unsettle, Christian McEwen excavates loss – and discovers evidence of love. Many of the poems make poignant use of the rich iambic throb and dangerous lilt of nursery rhyme, while others follow instinct and let mystery do the singing… I am grateful for these voices’ testimony, fierce and gentle.”

Ellen Doré Watson, author of Dogged Hearts, director of the Smith College Poetry Center.

In the Wake of Home : Poems (2004)

The Alphabet of the Trees (2000): A Guide to Nature Writing (2000)

Jo’s Girls : Tomboy Tales of High Adventure (1997)

World Enough & Time Audio (2014)

Tomboys! Feisty Girls & Spirited Women  : DVD (2004)

Sparks from the Anvil : The Smith College Poetry Interviews (2015)


Readers Write:

“Thirteen thank yous for World Enough & Time. It is a beautifully written, touching, and profoundly helpful book.”

Paulus Berensohn, artist, potter, dancer, and author of Finding One’s Way With Clay

“I offer and present poem-making circles as a way to form community, pay attention to our lives, listen inwardly, and practice what we learn… and have always woven into the workshop time an opportunity to reflect on the process itself and what it can reveal to us about living, caring, creation. The intersections between poem-making and prayer are part of the conversation (as are matters of craft, but in a very light-touch way) and your books have been so helpful.

I am taking the liberty of passing along an excerpt from a recent email I received from a circle member.”

Kimberly Cloutier-Green author of The Next Hunger (re. World Enough & Time).

“I’ve been having my ‘morning sit’ in my favorite chair, watching the light come to this day… and in this season of ever-growing gratitude, here’s yet another thing I’m grateful for; how you begin our poetry-circle each time with a reading… and how it’s always from some source or writer I’ve never read, often never even heard of. Like this time with Christian McEwen…. And so often I run out straightaway to by the book (or this time, bookS) – which I then dive right into to discover all manner of riches. And so it was with World Enough & Time, as I now sit with it luxuriously propped on my lap, pen in hand, legal pad and journals at the ready, happily underlining (yes, I sheepishly confess to mutilating – personalizing? – all my books, and jotting down so many gems of wisdom.”

Kimberly’s student

“I am dreaming, writing, listening, and watching more. I finally faced my creative self, who was asking to get out of darkness. All started with reading your book.”

Fumiyo K.

“Christian, About 10 years ago I was in a writing workshop you taught for high school and college newspaper writers at Columbia University. Soon afterwards, I got a copy of Jo’s Girls, and have reread it about once a year since then. I find the stories help me to re-ground, re-find whatever part of me is resurfacing that I am reconnecting with. I can definitely say that for me your workshop left a strong and formative impression on me, strengthened by the presence of your book. Thank you for being an inspiring teacher, and for being the conduit for teachings that continue to unfold in my life.”