Poet Robert Bly stands out even among the celebrated, revolutionary generation of American artists who burst forth in the 1950s; A Thousand Years of Joy charts Bly’s singular path from farmer’s son on a wintry Minnesota farm to radical anti-Vietnam War activist to wild man of the 1990’s men’s movement. The bespectacled, white-haired Bly is every inch the politically and spiritually engaged mystic, seeking each moment’s fervid heart as well as the eternal, intuitive bedrock beneath our cultivated ideologies and “personas.” He was one of the first to translate Pablo Neruda, Rumi and other ecstatic Sufi poets, and his work with Joseph Campbell—exploring the metaphorical, psychological terrain of myth and ritual—led to the unexpected pop culture phenomenon of Iron John. A confounding whirling dervish, Bly’s life embodies the quest for personal honesty and shared truth.
Filmed over four years in five states and two countries, the film features Louise Erdrich, Jeff Gordinier, Donald Hall, Edward Hirsch, Jane Hirshfield, Garrison Keillor, James Lenfestey, Philip Levine, Michael Meade, Mark Rylance, Martin Shaw, Martin Sheen, Gary Snyder, Tracy K. Smith, Gioia Timpanelli, Lewis Hyde, Martin Prechtel, Roger Bonair-Agard, and other luminaries from the world of culture.
Director Haydn Reiss has made a series of documentaries on poets that have aired on PBS, including William Stafford & Robert Bly: A Literary Friendship and the award-winning Rumi: Poet of the Heart. Reiss’ 2009 film, Every War Has Two Losers was a 2011 winner at the Canadian International Film Festival and an official selection of the 2011 United National Film Festival.
Alan Ruskin, PhD, is a licensed psychologist and Jungian analyst in private practice in San Francisco and Mill Valley. As a member of the C. G. Jung Institute of SF, he frequently teaches for candidate seminars and public programs. His areas of special interest are Dreams, Synchronicity and Dissociation.