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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - ISSA's Seasonal Haiku - on Mini Cards!

January 25, 2018

Tags: Poetry Friday, artsyletters, haiku, cards, poetry, Issa, seasons, poem cards, pocket poems, David G. Lanoue

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

I hope your year is off to a good start. With the turn of the calendar, I got inspired to create some mini haiku cards - one for each season. Each card features a poem by haiku master Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), translated by Dr. David G. Lanoue. (Hint - need to peruse Issa's seasonal haiku? Just go to David's, find the Kobayashi Issa website page, and type in the season - or any subject - you're looking for, and you'll be rewarded with relevant results from David's 10,000-plus translations! You can also learn how to sign up for "Daily Issa" - a haiku each day in your inbox. I love these and I know some of you are seasoned fans, too.)

Here are the haiku I selected to feature on the cards. Let's start with spring,which, if I understand the Japanese calendar in Issa's time correctly, would be just a week or two away right now and which would herald a new year.

the mountain sunset
within my grasp ...
spring butterfly

summer mountain -
with each step more
of the sea

from leaf to leaf
tumbling down ...
autumn dew

first winter rain -
the world fills up
with haiku

Poems by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue. Used with permission.

For the cards, I lettered each haiku in an italic hand. Then I scanned an antique map (Rand, McNally & Co.'s Map of the World, from an 1885 Business Atlas) into Photoshop as a background, making sure Japan was included in the small section. I digitally adjusted colors to suggest each season - pink for spring (cherry blossoms, after all!), green for summer, browns for fall, and an icy blue for winter. The back of each card is the same, acknowledging Issa as poet and David as translator. I had the designs commercially printed onto 2-inch by 3 1/2-inch cards with gloss coating on the fronts.

I'm making these available in little gift bags with one of each card, or for sale as individual designs. This week I tucked a little bag into a friend's birthday card before mailing! And, well, there's Valentine's Day coming up... click here if you'd like to see these in my Etsy shop.

And be sure to click over to Beyond Literacy Link, where the lovely and tireless Carol has this week's Roundup. She has a call to participate in her Winter Wonderland Gallery, too - check it out for lots of cozy company in poetry and art!

Before you go, what is your favorite season? Can you pick a favorite haiku from the small sampling above?


  1. January 25, 2018 9:03 PM EST
    If I had to choose, I would pick spring - I love the image of the mountain sunset and the spring butterfly, though summer is a close second!
    - Jane the Raincity Librarian
  2. January 25, 2018 9:24 PM EST
    I do not have a favorite season....but I am swooning over that winter haiku. You are so clever, my friend! xx
    - Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
  3. January 25, 2018 9:25 PM EST
    These are so gorgeous, Robyn and so YOU! I love the autumn dew best of all... and whatdoyaknow, I prefer the season of autumn best of all, too. xo
    - Irene
  4. January 25, 2018 9:42 PM EST
    Robyn, the choice is difficult because I honor each season. I would like to add the winter haiku to my gallery with compliments to your finding of this inspiration. Thanks for the link to the haiku site. I am totally happy searching through it.
    - Carol Varsalona
  5. January 25, 2018 11:25 PM EST
    Thank you for sharing these. Fall is my favorite season, but I really enjoyed the spring themed haiku.
    - Rebecca Herzog
  6. January 26, 2018 12:12 AM EST
    Hi, Jane - thanks for weighing in! And I wonder, are you perhaps craving warm weather just a bit? :0)

    Hello, Dear Amy - that winter one is definitely swoon-worthy. I just love it for so many reasons! Thanks for coming by.

    My favorite season, too, Irene - and I do love the autumn poem. I'm not sure I could pick a favorite among these!

    Carol, First - thanks so much for hosting! Second, I can send you a file with that winter haiku on its blue background tomorrow. Glad you are enjoying David's website - you can get dreamily lost on there for sure.

    Rebecca, thanks for visiting! That sunset/butterfly haiku is attracting fans... glad you enjoyed.
    - Robyn Hood Black
  7. January 26, 2018 8:15 AM EST
    These are beautiful! I am so grateful you shared the Daily Issa instructions awhile back. I've been receiving a haiku in my mailbox every day ever since. It's just right.
    - Kay Jernigan McGriff
  8. January 26, 2018 9:53 AM EST
    And this is why Issa is a Master. Beautiful - especially the first two.
    - Matt Forrest Esenwine
  9. January 26, 2018 10:53 AM EST
    HI, Kay - glad you enjoyed,many so happy you are a fellow Daily Issa fan! Those inbox treasures always enrich my day.

    Hey, Matt - thanks for stopping by. The "more/of the sea" image in the summer one is clever & brilliant, isn't it?
    - Robyn Hood Black
  10. January 26, 2018 11:46 AM EST
    What lovely choices of Issa haiku for the cards. Fall is my favorite season (and my fave of these four haiku). Going to check out your Etsy shop now . . .
    - jama
  11. January 26, 2018 11:59 AM EST
    Jama, glad you like these selections! It was a challenge to choose, but these seemed universal and each called to me. THANK YOU for clicking over to my shop, too! :0)
    - Robyn Hood Black
  12. January 26, 2018 12:43 PM EST
    Lovely, Robyn. So creative.
    - Brenda
  13. January 26, 2018 1:32 PM EST
    Thank you, Brenda!
    - Robyn Hood Black
  14. January 26, 2018 2:56 PM EST
    So much to love here. Each season has it's own treasure so I would want one of each season. Lovely! Thank's for sharing.
    - jone
  15. January 26, 2018 3:07 PM EST
    Thanks for the lovely words, Jone - very true that each season brings its own magic! I just personally wouldn't want the winter magic for too long... ;0)
    - Robyn Hood Black
  16. January 26, 2018 5:37 PM EST
    Loving these tiny treasures, Robyn! Just signed up for the daily haiku. Thanks for the tip! :-) -- Christie @
    - Christie Wyman
  17. January 26, 2018 9:01 PM EST
    Elegant little cards to tuck into a gift...or as a gift! What a special way to honor haiku.
    - Donna Smith
  18. January 26, 2018 9:11 PM EST
    Hi, Christie - that's great! You might find yourself, like I do, actually looking for your daily Issa haiku dose in your inbox. Enjoy.

    Thank you, Donna - I really enjoyed making these. Happy Winter - come down South if it gets too cold! ;0)
    - Robyn Hood Black
  19. January 27, 2018 5:58 AM EST
    You remain, the one and only, haiku queen. These are beautiful. This is what resonated most with me:
    summer mountain -
    with each step more
    of the sea
    -- my spirit longs for the sea and mountains. :) and ponds and lakes!!
    - Myra from GatheringBooks
  20. January 27, 2018 7:37 AM EST
    I love the idea of starting the year based on season rather than calendar page.
    - Mary Lee
  21. January 27, 2018 9:58 AM EST
    That Spring haiku speaks to me the most, Robyn - perhaps because I am sick of winter already!
    - Tara
  22. January 27, 2018 10:04 AM EST
    Myra - Thank you for bringing your wonderfulness by. That haiku is just magical to me, too - we make lots of trips between mountains and sea, living at the coast and with our kids hours away in the hills!

    Hi, Mary Lee - I think it makes sense to start a new year at the doorstep of spring rather than in the hard chill of winter!

    Tara, sending warmest wishes - including birthday ones! Thanks for coming by.
    - Robyn Hood Black
  23. January 27, 2018 12:55 PM EST
    Oh, I love each season! But, I really like the one about fall you shared. Thanks for the haiku inspiration, Robyn!
    - Kiesha Shepard
  24. January 27, 2018 12:58 PM EST
    Hi, Kiesha - thanks on all accounts! Fall is my favorite season - I love saying Issa's "from leaf to leaf/tumbling down" out loud; such a lovely translation by David.
    - Robyn Black
  25. January 27, 2018 5:06 PM EST
    Lovely set, Robyn! I always enjoy hearing about your artsy process.
    I can't settle on a favorite season. They all have their charms.
    - Tabatha
  26. January 27, 2018 9:13 PM EST
    Merci, Tabatha - and glad you are one to enjoy each season as it comes! :0)
    - Robyn Black
  27. January 28, 2018 8:31 AM EST
    Your creativity abounds! Lovely cards and such a clever idea. Thanks for sharing.
    - Margaret Simon
  28. January 28, 2018 11:57 AM EST
    Thank you, Margaret! Glad you enjoyed. :0)
    - Robyn Hood Black
  29. January 28, 2018 2:48 PM EST
    Love these, Robyn! What a great way to celebrate both poetry and the change of seasons. (And masterfully designed too, of course.) Although spring has always been my favorite season, I love the smell of autumn and usually am wearing its colors! Don't know that I can choose which of these haiku is my favorite. David does such a brilliant job, doesn't he?
    - Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
  30. January 28, 2018 7:19 PM EST
    Thank you for steering me to the Daily Issa -- on Twitter, even! What a website chock full of resources. You give so much, Robyn! Thank you! (Love the cards too, clever lady!)
    - Keri Collins Lewis
  31. January 28, 2018 9:11 PM EST
    Thanks so much, Keri, and happy to steer anyone to ISSA! The world needs more Issa. [Thank you, too, for being an artsyletters supporter - :0) ]
    - Robyn Black
  32. January 29, 2018 12:49 AM EST
    Lovely Robyn, I like the winter card and the "world" filling "up with haiku"

    - Michelle Kogan
  33. January 30, 2018 3:04 PM EST
    Thanks for dropping by, Michelle! That's such a lovely image, isn't it? :0)
    - Robyn Black

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