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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday is HERE with Haiku Society of America President David G. Lanoue

David G. Lanoue shares some of his favorite poems by Issa at the 2013 HSA SE Ginko Haikufest in Atlantaphoto by Raymond French


Greetings, Poetry Friday Friends! I'm hosting today from my soon-to-be home of Beaufort, SC, where we're slated for sunshine and highs in the 70s today. I send this freely to those of you whose windows are caked in ice and snow.

It's my great honor to continue our "We Haiku Here" series today with Haiku Society of America (HSA) president David G. Lanoue. He delivered a reading of Issa's work at our recent HSA Southeast Region's"ginko haikufest" in Atlanta. I've been featuring our speakers and their poetry the last few weeks. We'll welcome a special student guest next week, and then regional coordinator Terri L. French will round out the series.

Our gathering was called "gazing at flowers," in honor of haiku master Issa's 250th birthday, and it was a special treat to have our HSA president participate!

David G. Lanoue is a professor of English at Xavier University of Louisiana. He is a co-founder of the New Orleans Haiku Society, an associate member of the Haiku Foundation, and the president of the Haiku Society of America. His books include Pure Land Haiku: The Art of Priest Issa, Haiku Guy, Laughing Buddha, Haiku Wars, Frog Poet, Dewdrop World and Issa’s Best: A Translator’s Selection of Master Haiku. He maintains The Haiku of Kobayashi Issa website, for which he has translated 10,000 of Issa’s haiku.


I asked David to please tell us a little bit about Issa and share a few of his favorite Issa haiku.

Issa, which literally means "One Tea," is one of the great haiku poets of Japanese tradition. He lived from 1763 to 1828 (even though most sources still make the mistake of assigning 1827 as his death year). He was brilliantly prolific, writing over 20,000 haiku in his lifetime. Down to earth, human, sympathetic to all life--from noble horses down to tiny fleas; Issa is loved by readers all over the world. Despite many hardships--losing his mother when he was a child, enduring the abuse of a hateful stepmother, having to go into exile at a young age, and, later in life, mourning the deaths of four children and his first wife--Issa remarkably retained his sense of humor and love for life throughout his poetry. As for sharing some of my favorite Issa haiku, I've culled 1,210 of them from my online archive of 10,000 and put them into a book (Issa's Best—available from Amazon as a paperback and as e-books for Kindle and Nook, hint, hint), so it’s terribly hard for me to narrow it down further. So, I’ll just flip through the book and pick five random ones that catch my eye. Enjoy...

chin-deep
in the fallen blossoms . . .
a frog

on the high priest’s
head . . .
flies making love

lightning flash –
no way to hide
the wrinkles

blooming
with butterflies
the dead tree

resting
on the big dog’s head
dragonfly


I also asked David to share a few of his own...

Translating Issa for 26 years inspired me to try my hand at writing original haiku. Here’s a sampling of five:

the old priest dines
his wine
just wine

a "Lost Dog" sign
nailed deep
into the oak

one star
over the airport
another Beatle has died

pizza parlor
after the murders
help wanted

when he reaches the square
the beggar
becomes lame


Poems ©David G. Lanoue. All rights reserved.

The above were first published in Modern Haiku 30.1 (1999); Frogpond27.2 (2004); Frogpond 31.1(2008); Haiku Wars(2009); and Senryu Therapy: American-Romanian Anthology(2012).

Of course, I asked David my "Why haiku?" question:

Here's something I wrote recently for the Haiku Foundation blog about where my haiku come from:

My haiku always begin with some sort of stimulus—a glimpse, a scent, a memory—about which I suddenly have a strong feeling that “There’s a haiku in this.” I’m curious to find out what I will say about this “this.” When I take out pen and paper, or more recently, the iPhone, I’m trying to catch the momentum of an impulse to discover. The first image is always easy; it’s the spark that ignited the curiosity. The second image or, perhaps, thought, will be the discovery which, if I’m lucky, will make the quick journey from part A to part B a haiku. For this step I rely on everything I know and have felt, my deep intuitions, my lifelong love affair with the English language, and, trusting in all this, nine out of ten times the second part comes even as I am writing it down—and I have a haiku. Whether or not it’s a good haiku is a matter to be decided later, but for the time being I’m content to add it to the computer file titled “MyKu” that contains over 3,000 similar bursts of discovery, from 1983 to yesterday.



AND, I asked David who should join the HSA...

Who should join the HSA ? Anyone who'd like to cultivate an interest in haiku, as a reader of it, a writer of it, or both. The HSA provides a great opportunity for the English-speaking haiku community in North America to stay in touch and share their love of haiku. Workshops, conferences, an annual members' anthology, a subscription to our journal Frogpond (published three times a year) and one-on-one mentoring opportunties are all available to HSA members. I've been a member since forever, and I've always felt that I've gotten more out of the HSA than the annual membership fee ($35 these days for US citizens) could ever pay for. In fact, as I write this note I'm reminded that I haven't rejoined for 2014, so I'll do so today!

To learn more about David or Issa, please visit his Haiku Guy website. You can even sign up in Yahoo groups for an Issa poem to be sent to you each day! Also, this week I blogged about Haiku Guy, the first in David's series of haiku novels, at Janice Hardy's writer blog, The Other Side of the Story.

Now, what are you offering up today? Please leave your link in the comments, and I'll round them all up between sunshine breaks.

Good Poetry Friday Morning!

If you have a pulse and an inbox, you will relate to Michelle’s hilarious original “Cyber Seduction” poem about ringing in the online holiday spending season over at Today’s Little Ditty

At Bald Ego, Charles combines two of my personal favorites: Van Gogh and the villanelle! He also has Couplets for Picasso if that’s your couplet of tea. (Wonderful art by son Chip, too.)

Laura brings us another of Joyce Sidman’s poems from WHAT THE HEART KNOWS – “Song of Bravery” at
Writing the World for Kids. (This one seems especially appropriate today, as the world mourns the loss of Nelson Mandela.)

Along the theme of world leaders, Linda at Teacher Dance marks the recent 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy with a post about Robert Frost and Kennedy – how Frost wrote the first presidential inauguration poem yet read another at the ceremony, and links to more about all that.

Catherine at Reading to the Core has a poem by Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen, “What the Heart Cannot Forget” – made me sigh out loud.

Who wants pie? Get over to Gottabook and have an original slice with Greg! It’s pre-fib pie. (You’ll have to click to see what I mean.)

If your hunger is of a more serious vein, be sure to read Myra’s offering at Gathering Books - a striking poem called “Hunger” by Nerisa Guevara (& check out previous posts featuring her work, too).

Dear Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference brings us a terzanelle by Lewis Turco, and an ornament made by yours truly. (I didn’t pay her, I promise!) Don’t you just love the word, “terzanelle?”? And in the featured poem, don’t you just love the word, “hourdust”?

At Carol’s Corner, Carol features a powerful new poetry picture book by Daniel Beaty, KNOCK KNOCK, illustrated by Bryan Collier. (I couldn’t make it dry-eyed through the video either, Carol.) Carol comments that she has shared the picture book about Issa, COOL MELONS TURN TO FROGS (on my shelf too, of course!) for years. “In some sense,” Carol writes, “Beaty and Issa have a lot in common--both men have had really difficult lives and have used poetry to create meaning.”

Mary Lee at A Year of Reading is in with an ode to – her big toe?! (Please do check out the bandage art. And, heal fast, Mary Lee!)

**ALSO** – Mary Lee is issuing a call for Poetry Friday Roundup hosts for Jan. – June , so get thee hence and claim a date! (I’m off to go do that right now. Back in a minute….)

At The Drift Record, Julie has William Ernest Henley’s (1849–1903) poem, “Invictus,” honoring the man who will always be associated with it, Nelson Mandela.

Greg had pie, Laura has cookies… Go visit Author Amok for Myra Cohn Livingston’s “Christmas Cookies,” PLUS directions on how to make “Paintbrush Cookies” (now that’s right up my artist’s alley) PLUS other poetically tasty links.

Do you hear some jingling? Well, then you must be near Betsy’s I Think in Poems blog, where she shares some “Jingling Chatter” today. Drop in with one of Laura’s cookies.

Tara at A Teaching Life honors Nelson Mandela today with two poems, “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley and John Matshikiza’s 1974 poem, “And I Watch it in Mandela.”

Caw! Caw! Maragret at Reflections on the Teche shares her poetic observances of a murder of crows which came to play at their school playground this week.

If tiny mice are more your thing, skitter – rather, sail – on over to Alphabet Soup, where Jama’s serving them up. Well, she’s not REALLY serving up REAL mice – Jama would never do that – but she has Janis Ian's adorable new picture book, THE TINY MOUSE, delightfully illustrated by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert. And, of course, there’s food.

Thanks to Becky for the warm SC welcome! Becky’s ringing in St. Nicholas Day today at Tapestry of Words with “A Song for St. Nicholas” by Mary Mapes Dodge (1831-1905).

Katya is trying to make the best of a frigid situation with Emily Dickinson’s “Snow flakes” atWrite, Sketch, Repeat. (And I’m hoping Mary Lee’s toes will soon be up to this kind of jig.)

Collette brings us former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky and “The Favorite Poem Project,” along with a powerful video – a 20-year-old student’s reading of Gwendolyn Brooks’s “We Real Cool” at Used Books in Class.

At Enjoy and Embrace Learning, Mandy offers some words of encouragement for Mary Lee and her poor toe.

Diane (one of David’s “Daily Issa” subscribers, BTW) brings her usual Triple Threat of poetic goodness:

At Random Noodling, she offers an original ekphrastic poem, “Interior.”

St. Nicholas Day gets some more love at Kurious Kitty, with “The Festival of St. Nicholas” by Mary Mapes Dodge from Hans Brinker, or, the Silver Skates.

And a quote for creatives by Mollie Hunter is yours for the pondering at KK’s Kwotes.

At The Blog with the Shockingly Clever Title, Karen shares Mark Jarman’s “Prayer for our Daughters” (touching to me as I’m waiting on my college daughter to come visit this afternoon!). She also added links to haiku-related posts on her blog.

Donna’s in with a poem for the “musicfully inclined” over at Mainely Write. Dare you to read it without tapping your toes.

Lovely Cathy brings us a timely poem and post today with “A Wish is a Start” at Merely Day by Day (Our second post featuring coins – good luck, I’m thinking. No, wishing….)

Jone checks in from Check it Out with a Mary Oliver poem, “In Blackwater Woods” – and some lovely thoughts about how poetry can help heal in times of loss.

Garrison Keillor fans? (Raises hand wildly…) Keri is giving away a signed copy of his latest book, O, WHAT A LUXURY – VERSES LYRICAL, VULGAR, PATHETIC and PROFOUND at Keri Recommends. (Hmmm… Maybe I’ll leave TWO comments over there….)

Violet takes up Laurie Purdie Salas’s great 15-words-or-less challenge this week with an original response, “Katniss’s Dilemma,” at Violet Nesdoly Poems. (There – you "hunger" to know more, I can tell – my work here is done.)

(Must take a wee break - back in just a bit.)


I'm back!...


Anastasia sparkles with the magic of icicles today at a Poet! Poet!

Little Willow chimes in at Bildungsroman with “The Singer” by Anna Wickham. (To me, it seems an especially appropriate choice for today in light of Mandela’s passing.)

Janet lightens things up for us with I’VE LOST MY HIPPOPOTAMUS: MORE THAN 100 POEMS by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic, at
All About the Books. (Now, that looks like fun.)

JoAnn over at Teaching Authors serves up some terrific book recommendations, and links to others, that should go straight to your gift list (or maybe on your own letter to Santa?) She also shares a most delicious love poem from Joyce Sidman’s new WHAT THE HEART KNOWS: CHANTS, CHARMS & BLESSINGS.

MM Socks opensThe Drawer to share an original poem, “Nobody Wants to Hold My Hand.” (Well, I'm sure after folks visit his blog he'll get some offers... ;0) )

Ruth also has an original poem this week, “Sounds from this House,” at There is no Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town. It was published in their school’s brand-new online literary journal and will transport you immediately to life in Haiti. (That last stanza is gorgeous, gorgeous.)

Okay – you’ve been working hard all day. Now it’s time to play! Amy has just the thing at The Poem Farm, with a poem inspired by a young teacher-in-training and her dolls and stuffed animals – and from Amy’s own memories, as well.

Joy lives up her name today with an acrostic poem she wrote for Kwanzaa at Poetry for Kids Joy. Terrific sentiment! She invites us to check out her haiku from earlier this week, too.

Well, the sun is setting here, and we're about to head out for a little while. Hope you can cozy up with some of this great poetry, and I'll check back in later.
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