Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet, artist

Hannah enjoying poetry workshop

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Hanging with fellow Georgia writers (from top, l-r) Tracy Walker, Heather Kolich, Donna Bowman, (bottom, middle) Janice Hardy and Paula Puckett
photo by Steve Kolich

Susan Rosson Spain, Robyn Hood Black, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Myra Meade at the Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville, Ga.
photo by Mel Hornsby

Southern Breeze Kudos Kites 09 - Donna, Robyn, Heather, Sarah, and Peggy

Robyn with Kathleen Duey, author extraordinaire

Robyn with Alaska Nature Writer Debbie Miller

photo by Robyn Hood Black
Paul B. Janeczko

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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Book Giveaway! WRITE LIKE ISSA by David G. Lanoue

June 15, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, haiku, poets, poetry, David G. Lanoue, Issa, teachers, students

Happy Summer-ing, Poetry Lovers (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway)!

Are you a haiku fan, or would you like to learn more about how to write – and/or teach – haiku? I have the PERFECT book, hot off the press and not even “formally” released yet, for you to tuck into your beach bag.

It’s Write Like Issa by one of my favorite champions of haiku, Dr. David G. Lanoue. (You’ve met David here before. Poet, author, and internationally recognized Issa scholar, he’s been the RosaMary Professor of English at Xavier University of Louisiana since 1981 and recently served three terms as president of the Haiku Society of America . Learn more about David at his rich website, . For more about Issa, click here, and to search through an archive of more than 10,000 of Issa’s haiku translated by David, click here.)

Now for a little gushing about this new book. Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) is beloved around the world, partly because he’s, well, so much like us. Fellow haiku masters Bashō (1644-94) and Buson (1716-1784) have lifetimes of wisdom to teach, of course. But Issa, whose personal history included much hardship, loss, and tragedy, captivates us with his compassionate, down-to-earth poetry, which also still somehow conveys joy and humor.

In a little more than 100 pages, Write Like Issa offers the reader six lessons highlighting Issa’s approach to haiku, in easy-to-navigate chapters. Issa’s own poems serve as guides, but so do poems by contemporary poets – 57 of them – who have either participated in David’s “Write Like Issa” workshops in recent years, or whose writings exemplify an Issa-like sensibility.

Here are a couple of examples from Lesson 3 – “COMIC VISION. COSMIC JOKES”:

baby grass–
the stylish woman leaves
her butt print

Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

The author writes:

…the woman, we can imagine, is young, attractive, elaborately coiffed, and wrapped in a brightly patterned kimono of the latest style. The two images exude freshness and beauty, but surprisingly, when the pretty lady rises from where she has been sitting, she leaves an imprint of crushed grass. The “delicate” woman reveals herself to be, in fact, a gargantuan smasher of grass blades, viewed from the grass’s perspective….”

One of the contemporary poems offered to illustrate this approach is this one:

dinner time–
the old cat regains
his hearing

©Stanford M. Forrester. All rights reserved. Posted with permission.

David writes,

Poets who follow [Issa’s] lead find their own revelations of odd concatenations: a “deaf” cat that miraculously hears the call to dinner, [and other examples]… .

What’s a concatenation, you ask? I looked it up. “Concatonate,” which means “to link together in a series or chain,” was actually Merriam Webster’s “Word of the Day” on May 27. Here’s a short podcast explaining it.

(And if you can’t get enough cat haiku, check out our own Diane Mayr’s new series for summer launched last Friday.)

I’m honored to have a poem included in Write Like Issa, one of the most personal poems I’ve written. It appears at the end of Lesson 4 – “BOLD SUBJECTIVITY – THE ‘I’ HAS IT:

robin’s egg blue
how my father would have loved
my son

©Robyn Hood Black; originally published in Acorn 29 (Fall 2012).

If you’re serious about haiku, I heartily recommend reading as widely as you can in scholarly anthologies and books and journals to understand the history of English-language haiku and to inspire your own writing. BUT - whether or not that is your cup of tea, you can also start RIGHT HERE with this very accessible, hands-on, how-to volume full of insights and mentor poems to get you going.

If you’re a teacher, just a few enjoyable sittings will yield a greater understanding of haiku as you introduce it in the classroom, whether in an elementary school or a university. [Note – Some lessons explore Issa’s acceptance of all aspects of human and animal life – “potty humor” and lovemaking and flatulence not excepted! These discussions here, and in workshops I’ve taken with David, are actually helping me be a bit less uptight; in case you are on the somewhat reserved side like I am(?), I thought I’d pass along.]

By the way, have you had your Issa today? You can go to (Groups) and subscribe to the DailyIssa Yahoo Group to have a randomly selected haiku, translated by David, appear in your inbox every day. (This is always the first email I open!) You can also follow @issa_haiku on Twitter .

In a note with one of this week’s poems, David writes:

Part of Issa's genius is his ability to imagine the perspective of fellow creatures.

In Write Like Issa, this idea comes to life in poem after poem, whether ‘fellow creatures’ are human or non-human. I dare you to reach the end of the book without trying out your own pen, writing like Issa to capture some honest moment experienced with sensitivity and compassion, or subtle humor, or delight.

Bu wait – there’s more! I love this book so much I bought an extra copy to give away in a random drawing. Just leave a comment below, and you’re entered! Make sure it’s connected to a valid email address (not published), so I can track you down for your real-world address.

[UPDATE: Just realized I never gave a "deadline" for adding a comment to enter the drawing. Let's say Wednesday, June 28, and I'll announce on Poetry Friday the 30th.]

Can’t wait? I understand. Order here at CreateSpace or here on Amazon, where an e-book is also available.

For more great poetry of all kinds today, pay a visit to the ever-curious Carol at Carol’s Corner for this week’s Roundup.


  1. June 15, 2017 11:10 PM EDT
    OK, so I'm fingering my debit card, thinking I definitely need this book. It sounds wonderful. And congratulations on being one of the authors published in the book!
  2. June 15, 2017 11:18 PM EDT
    Robyn, congratulations on having a poem included! This sounds like a book I need to read. I've been writing haiku, tanka, and other Japanese poetry forms for years. I'm also going to check out the links in your post. Thanks for these!
    - Linda Kulp Trout
  3. June 16, 2017 6:53 AM EDT
    I am all about mentor poems these days, so I rushed over to put this book in my shopping cart.
    Your haiku is very touching, Robyn.
    - Tabatha
  4. June 16, 2017 7:43 AM EDT
    Hi, Carol - It's a terrific addition to the bookshelf, and thanks for the kind words. And thanks so much for hosting today!!

    Linda, thanks - haiku is addictive, isn't it? If you click over to David's site, you might not emerge for a while... ;0)

    Hi, Tabatha - this volume is chock-full of them! It's a workshop in a book. Thanks for dropping in, and for your warm words.
    - Robyn Black
  5. June 16, 2017 7:43 AM EDT
    I'm an Issa fan and can't wait to read this book. Love the comic examples. I guess the season reference can be omitted. I'm always unsure how firm that rule is.
    - Brenda
  6. June 16, 2017 8:05 AM EDT
    I love it! What a great idea for a book and beautiful book in real life. Can't wait to get my hands on this. It amazes me how much there is to learn about what on its face looks like a simple form.
    - Linda Mitchell
  7. June 16, 2017 8:06 AM EDT
    Thanks for the shout-out Robyn! "Dinner time," would fit right in with the Katku series! Wow, what an honor to have your poem included in Write Like Issa. Congratulations.
    - Diane Mayr
  8. June 16, 2017 8:45 AM EDT
    I learn a little haiku each day by reading the work of others. Thanks for a great column.
    - Amy Losak
  9. June 16, 2017 8:50 AM EDT
    This book sounds amazing--especially as your excitement for it and for haiku jump off the screen this morning. Thanks for sharing the Yahoo signup for a daily haiku. I think that would be a great way to start each day!
    - Kay Jernigan McGriff
  10. June 16, 2017 9:53 AM EDT
    Congratulations on your poem included in this book, too, Robyn. I did see about it on David's Issa site, glad to have your recommendation, too.
    - Linda Baie
  11. June 16, 2017 10:28 AM EDT
    Hi, Brenda - Thanks for visiting! Sometimes the seasonal reference is very subtle, or tied to cues in Japanese haiku that we might not recognize. I'd have to ask David, but in the Issa poem above I think the "baby grass" would suggest a precise time of year. In my poem, those robin eggs are found in spring, of course - I'd found a cracked one on the roadside when I wrote it. And in Stanford's poem - well, I guess old cats are hungry year-round. ;0) (This kitty, of course, is in a certain "season" of his life, too.)

    Linda, I think you will really enjoy! This new book offers such an accessible approach.

    Thank you, Diane - can't wait to follow your haiku kitties through coming weeks. Mrrow.

    Hi, Amy - I find that is the best way to sharpen my own haiku skills, for sure! And, it's in your blood, too, because of your mother's work, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing it with the wider world.

    Thanks for stopping by, Kay - especially with all the current news, I sure enjoy reading what Issa had to say a couple hundred years ago. It helps my day. ;0)

    Linda, whenever I read "Daily Issa," I love thinking that you are reading it too, states away. I think you would really enjoy David's new book, whether your name is the lucky one here or you pick up for yourself later. ;0)
    - Robyn Black
  12. June 16, 2017 11:11 AM EDT
    Thanks for this lovely post about David's new book. Enjoyed the sample poems and David's commentary. Also LOVED your poem, Robyn, congrats on being included! I've been especially enamored of Issa's work since reading and reviewing Cool Melons Turn to Frogs! :)
    - jama
  13. June 16, 2017 11:15 AM EDT
    Oh, I need this book for sure! I am really interested in learning more about the haiku. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the book, Robyn!
    - Kiesha Shepard
  14. June 16, 2017 11:23 AM EDT
    I reviewed one of Lanoue's Issa anthologies for Frogpond. I'm so glad he was able to translate his work into craft lessons that we as poets can learn from. I'm very excited about this new book.
    - Joshua Gage
  15. June 16, 2017 11:51 AM EDT
    Sounds like a great book! I always love your haiku.
    - Ruth (
  16. June 16, 2017 12:03 PM EDT
    Hi, Jama, Isn't COOL MELONS... a wonderful book? Thanks for the kind words & insights!

    Kiesha, this is a great title to add to your haiku stash! Thanks for swinging by.

    Hello, Joshua - welcome, and thanks so much for commenting! I've been fortunate to be in some workshops with David, and many of his books grace my shelves. This book really is like a workshop in book form - you can tell I'm thrilled to recommend.

    Many thanks, Ruth - hope you are having a good start to your summer!
    - Robyn Black
  17. June 16, 2017 4:53 PM EDT
    I think I need this book - thanks for the informative post, Robyn.
    - Tara
  18. June 16, 2017 5:49 PM EDT
    Glad you enjoyed, Tara - thanks for popping in.
    - Robyn Black
  19. June 16, 2017 6:53 PM EDT
    Applause! So sweet that another poem published for you reflects sweetly back to your Father & connects him with your Son. LOVE!
    - Bookseedstudio/Jan
  20. June 16, 2017 6:57 PM EDT
    Love your haiku, Robyn! So many levels of meaning captured in 3 lines!
    - Maggie
  21. June 16, 2017 8:17 PM EDT
    I'm so excited to read this book, and thrilled you brought it to our attention. I've had so much fun sharing my love of haiku with my Kindergarten poets this year. Your haiku are fab. Don't you love how animals regain their hearing when it's dinner time? Yup! P.S. I think I'm going to start writing found poetry using CAPTCHA privacy words! Yours game me "defense" "sawpit" ! LOL! -- Christie @
    - Christie Wyman
  22. June 16, 2017 9:49 PM EDT
    Hi, Jan - thanks so much, my friend. And I guess that is a fitting poem to revisit here on Father's Day weekend! Wishing you and yours a happy one.

    Hello, Maggie - many thanks for coming by and leaving such a lovely comment! :0)

    Christie, so glad this book appeals to you. And yay you for sharing haiku with kindergarteners; I've done that some in school visits and they are wonderful. You never know what they'll come up with; always a new way to see the world. Love the CAPTCHA idea... I actually recorded a ton of them to do something similar once but never got around to it. "Defense" and "sawpit" do have possibilities... ;0)
    - Robyn Black
  23. June 16, 2017 10:58 PM EDT
    I really appreciate how accessible this seems to make haiku - when I was a student, haiku always seemed like something only the masters could really do, and which always had to be deep and profound and serious. But haiku can be cheeky and irreverent, too!
    - Jane @ Raincity Librarian
  24. June 16, 2017 11:38 PM EDT
    What a moving haiku of yours he chose for the collection!
    - Violet N.
  25. June 17, 2017 6:54 AM EDT
    I almost took the bait when he announced the publication on Daily Issa. I could totally take the bait now that I know I'll find you in the pages and after reading this great review...but I'll wait until I find out if I've won!!
    - Mary Lee
  26. June 17, 2017 11:12 AM EDT
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book. It sounds delightful. And congrats on having a poem included in the book. I'm glad Carol and Linda sent me your way. I sent belated bday wishes to Issa and wrote about the picture book Cool Melons Turn to Frogs this week.
    - Ramona
  27. June 17, 2017 11:46 AM EDT
    Hi, Jane - terrific description. Haiku can offer up a gamut of emotions, and much depends, of course, on a reader's take at a particular moment in his/her own life. :0)

    Thanks, Violet - wishing you a wonderful weekend!

    Mary Lee - ha! Well, you're hooked one way or another, so that's good. ;0) Thanks - and good luck!

    Hi, Ramona - thanks on all accounts! And I'll go check out your review; that's a book I enjoy sharing in schools.
    - Robyn Black
  28. June 17, 2017 1:13 PM EDT
    Chipmunk scampers
    Outside his window--
    Another nut job.

    Great post Robyn, i want to read this book. Issa's haiku is fun. Thanks for bringing the book to my attention.
    - Joy Acey
  29. June 17, 2017 6:26 PM EDT
    Sounds like an intriguing book. I also have been writing haikus for many years, and would definitely like to look this over.

    I like your enchanting haiku, congrats on having it in the book!
    - Michelle Kogan
  30. June 17, 2017 7:00 PM EDT
    Joy! Thanks for scampering by & leaving some yummy morsels. :0) Glad you enjoyed.

    Thanks, Michelle - & I hope you get a chance to read this terrific volume.
    - Robyn Black
  31. June 18, 2017 5:44 AM EDT
    Congratulations, Robyn! I love your bittersweet haiku. I've often thought the same thing about my own father as my boys have grown into men.
    - Catherine @ Reading to the Core
  32. June 18, 2017 7:18 PM EDT
    Catherine, thanks for coming over and thanks for sharing that. {{hugs}} from me today. :0)
    - Robyn Black
  33. June 19, 2017 8:11 PM EDT
    I popped over here looking for something else and found this post and a giveaway! Yoo-hoo! My lucky day! Congrats on having a poem inside.
    - Margaret Simon
  34. June 19, 2017 8:40 PM EDT
    Hi, Margaret - I'm happy whenever you pop over, for any reason! ;0) Thanks much and Happy Summer!
    - Robyn Black
  35. June 20, 2017 12:02 PM EDT
    I learned so much from David at the Earth Day conference! I really like how he structured this book, and I love the haiku you shared from it today— especially Stanford's and your own raw beauty. Please don't include me in the drawing since I was already fortunate enough to win one of David's books at the conference. I'll happily purchase a copy myself! xo
    - Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
  36. June 20, 2017 4:54 PM EDT
    Hi Robyn -- I'm a subscriber to David's daily email, but didn't know about his book. Thanks for letting us know!
    - David Jacobson
  37. June 20, 2017 10:40 PM EDT
    Thanks for stopping by, Michelle - and I can hear that same chorus from the conference who defended your drawing win when you were out of the room unwilling to accept your kind offer to sit out this drawing.... ;0) There are still lots of David G. Lanoue books for you to buy.

    Hi, David - so great to see your name here in the comments! It's a terrific new resource and fun to read.
    - Robyn Black

Quick Clicks

bio, photos, interview links, etc.
Explore a poem or two or five....
Explore this genre of sparely crafted poetry which offers endless depth. Resources for students, teachers, and writers.
Author visits
In schools or other settings, Robyn shares her passion for writing and encourages creativity. Presentations for all age groups.
In addition to writing books, Robyn has sold her writing to major children's magazines.
A rhyming tale of a young boy's knightly adventure with an imagined dragon.
Nonfiction, interactive book on wolves featuring giant pop-up and tons of info!