Greetings, Poetry Lovers!
Happy Spring! It's a comfort that the seasons still appear in turn.
"Surreal" is definitely the word which keeps popping up like the daffodils. I hope you and yours are well.
If you're shuttered and going a little stir-crazy, maybe you're tackling that big pile of books on the bedroom nightstand? Or ordering new books? You might recall being curious about David G. Lanoue's HAIKU GUY series, after reading about it here somewhere, or maybe even half a dozen years ago in a column I wrote on Janice Hardy's Fiction University blog. Well, good news! To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the series, David has JUST released the HAIKU GUY OMNIBUS!
This hefty, handy paperback features HAIKU GUY, LAUGHING BUDDHA, HAIKU WARS, FROG POET, and DEWDROP WORLD, all in one place.
The back cover copy explains it well:
Five interconnected narratives explore the art of haiku by following the adventures of Buck-Teeth, a fictional student of haiku master Cup-of-Tea (the historical Issa). Sliding easily back and forth between Old Japan and contemporary New Orleans, between the unfolding stories and the author's writing group commenting on those stories, the five meandering narratives reflect on the meaning of life, the purpose of poetry, and the search for enlightenment. Though each little novel stands alone, together they form parts of a greater whole that, author David G. Lanoue suggests, can be discovered in the same way that one finds shapes in midsummer clouds - hence his advice to the reader with which he ends his Preface, "Squint hard."
These stories are both entertaining and inspiring, and unlike anything you've read before! If you haven't read them, I know you'll enjoy the journey.
Many of you know David through his "Daily Issa" contributions to your inbox. I don't know about you, but in these more-than-challenging times, I lap these up like a hummingbird at a trumpet flower. Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827) is beloved as one of the early haiku masters who found beauty in and connection with all living things despite a life full of hardships. (Here is info about David's Issa books.)
David teaches English and world literature at Xavier College in New Orleans and is a translator of Japanese haiku as well as a writer. He was president of the Haiku Society of America from 2013 to 2015. In addition to poetry and these unique haiku/fiction combinations, his books also include scholarly criticism, and the wonderful WRITE LIKE ISSA how-to guide, which I'm thrilled to have a poem in.
Thursday's "Daily Issa" haiku was perfect for the first day of Spring:
at my dinner tray
a sparrow chirps...
I featured a few of David's Issa haiku on some seasonal business-card-sized poem cards in my Etsy shop, including this one for Spring:
the mountain sunset
within my grasp...
(I've also featured this particular card in a Send Spring Cheer pack I've just come up with. My idea is to encourage folks to send notes to those who might be feeling especially isolated right now. The pack includes my wren and book note cards, eight first-class flower Forever stamps, eight spring Issa cards, and a sheet of sparkly red heart stickers. It's listed at just a feather above my cost with free shipping, ready-made with all that's needed for sending, except the writer's personal note and the walk to the mailbox.)
Many thanks, and hearty congratulations, to David for the new book! And much appreciation for the beauty and kindness added to the world through so many works.
Sending love to all in these trying days. I hope the chatter of birds and the surprise of new blooms can cheer your heart as you venture out for some fresh air and Vitamin D each day. (And for those of you in snow, I hope Spring arrives soon!)
For more poetry (and art!) to help you through, please visit the lovely and talented Michelle Kogan for this week's Roundup.
All in this together. XO