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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Recent Haiku

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  I've missed everyone the last week or two as I was traveling for my annual (completely crazy) week of author school visits as part of Cobb EMC and Gas South Literacy Week north of Atlanta.  Always great to catch up with folks there, and the dozen or more of us authors end up seeing between 20,000 and 30,000 kids in those five days.  I had 22 presentations between Monday and Friday.  Whew! But thrilled to share the poetry love. 

 

Today I'm sharing a couple of recently published haiku.  I couldn't help featuring the adorable picture of my daughter, Morgan, and their precious little one, Sawyer. He made an awfully cute pumpkin for Halloween. The first poem was written when I was with them this summer, helping out during his first month.

 

 

 

new mother's whisper

the strength

of spidersilk

 

Frogpond, Vol. 45:3, Autumn 2022

 

 

 

And this one, well - I guess it speaks for itself. 

 

 

resurrection fern

my long list

of shortcomings

 

bottle rockets #47, Vol. 20, No. 1 (August 2022)

 

 

Poems ©Robyn Hood Black.  All rights reserved.

 

 

I hope your November is off to a good start.  The ever-amazing Heidi at My Juicy Little Universe is hosting Poetry Friday this week. Thank you, Heidi!

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Poetry Friday - Haiku Stones in an Alabama Japanese Garden

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers! A fun way to enjoy haiku today....

 

Over at Monte Sano State Park in Huntsville, Alabama, visitors to the Japanese Garden can now meander down a haiku path consisting of 24 haiku stones.  These feature poems mostly by contemporary haiku poets, with a couple of Basho stones and an Issa offering in the collection. The new path was launched at the Autumn Japan celebration at the beginning of this month.

 

The creative force behind the Haiku Path is Terri L. French, award-winning haiku poet extraordinaire who has also shared her leadership skills in the Haiku Society of America and The Haiku Foundation, as well as editorially in journals and in her own varied publishing endeavors.  (Learn more about Terri here.)  Also sharing time and talents for this beautiful adventure has been fellow fine poet Peggy Bilbro. (Click here for a lovely haibun of Peggy's and a brief bio.)

 

"The haiku were chosen to fit the aesthetics of the garden and the area," explains Terri. "They were placed in the ground on a path that goes behind and around the tea house."

 

Terri and Peggy chose the haiku.

 

"Redstone Federal Credit Union sponsored us and paid for all of the stones to be made by local artist, Zan Edmonds,"  Terri says.  "If we get more money, we may add more stones later."

 

You can click the photo above to see the Facebook post Terri shared, with more pictures of the festival and a few more of the stones.  

 

I'm thrilled that one of my poems was accepted for the path.

 

 

open gate

the way

my mind wanders

 

 

©Robyn Hood Black

First published in Frogpond, Vol. 41:3, Fall 2018

 

If your mind wants to wander myriad poetry paths today, head on over to see Matt Forrest Essenwine, who always has lots going on and has our Roundup this week!  Also, remember to check in on Bridget's "10.10 Poetry Anthology First Anniversary Poet Palooza" at Wee Words for Wee Ones, where you can enjoy daily bite-size introductions to many of the poets!  I'm honored to be included next week.  [NOTE: My blog will be taking a mini-Fall-break as I soon travel to North Georgia for my annual week of school author visits as part of Cobb County EMC-Gas South's Literacy Week, and as I get artsyletters geared up for the holiday craziness that usually ensues right after October!  See you back here in a couple of weeks.)

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Poetry Friday - Hooray for Pens!

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

Last week in a comment, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater asked about the glass pen in the picture with my little journals, and if I wrote with it.  Actually, that pen was an exquisite gift brought back for me from Italy from my very dear friend and fellow kidlit-folk, Paula Puckett. I have written with it, but mostly use it for Etsy photos.  It has a metal nib. 

 

I did, however, purchase an all-glass pen not very long ago.  I hadn't tried it, but since Amy asked, I finally gave it a wee scribble. I think I'm in love! It's fun to hold and terribly smooth.  The line is a bit wider than I'm used to writing or drawing with, as I usually use smaller nibs (especially the metal hawks quill or crow quill for drawing).  But I'm envisioning a lovely future with this pen, especially if I can keep from breaking it. 

 

The one I have is from Herbin; you can see a demonstration at their website here.  The side of the box explains, "Glass pens were very trendy in 17th century Venice." Because the nib has grooves, you can write several words before having to take the pen for a dip in the inkwell. 

 

I've always loved the physical act of writing.  As a kid, I took to cursive like a bee to nectar.  I have a vague memory of my second grade teacher letting me "teach" writing on the chalk board one day.

 

I've shared this haiku before, but I did write a poem about writing with a dip pen, before my daughter's marriage in 2016:

 

 

wedding invitations
the press and release
of the nib

 

©Robyn Hood Black

 
Third Honorable Mention, Harold G. Henderson Haiku Awards, Frogpond, Volume 39 Number 3, Autumn 2016

 

dust devils - THE RED MOON ANTHOLOGY OF ENGLISH-LANGUAGE HAIKU 2016, edited by Jim Kacian & The Red Moon Editorial Staff, Red Moon Press, 2017

 

For a longer poem with a pen reference, rich in imagery and family dynamics, here's a link to a treasure from Seamus Heaney's Death of a Naturalist (Oxford University Press, 1966):

 

 

Digging

 

by Seamus Heaney


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

...

 

Click here for the poem. 

 

 

If you're a fountain pen fan, you might enjoy this 2016 article by Elizabeth Vogdes that I stumbled upon.  It's from the Swarthmore College Bulletin, "The Poetry of Pen and Ink."

 

What's your favorite way to commit poetic inspirations to paper - or, are you all electronic?  Or is a vintage typewriter your mode of literary record? My aforementioned friend Paula loves itty bitty ends of pencils! I'll grab whatever is handy, but I do love real pens.  Dip pens are best, but  Pigma Microns come in handy if I need a narrow line in a jiffy, or a way to write tiny text on little stained price tags for my items in local shops.

 

Do you like bold color? India ink? Do you end up with all the pens in the universe in the bottom of your purse (for those who carry purses)? Would you be caught without a pen?

 

Thanks for visiting, and be sure to check out all the luscious lines rounded up by Matt this week at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. (He's got an interview with Leslie Bulion, and a giveaway!)  Thanks, Matt. Also, follow along with our annual Kidlit Progressive Poem - here's a link to it from Jama's Alphabet Soup, and while you're there, check out Jama's roundup of Kidlit Poetry Month goodness! 

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Poetry Friday - Thought for Food.... and a Haiku

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

Our ever-effervescent hosts for Poetry Friday this week are Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, over at Poetry for Children.

 

They have some tasty poetic fare today - a brand new anthology called WHAT WE EAT, full of poem-dishes by both new and familiar poets.  I look forward to partaking of these wonderful new poems!

 

I've got a haiku today that, on the surface, is about food as well -  albeit with a more adult and somber tone.  It's in the current issue of MODERN HAIKU

 

 

estate sale

soup cans still

on the shelf

 

 

©Robyn Hood Black.  All rights reserved.

Modern Haiku, Vol 53:1

 

 

As an all-things-vintage lover, I do enjoy perusing antique stores, thrift shops, and the occasional estate sale.  This poem was written after visiting such an in-home sale last year, from which I emerged with a perfect heavy old straight chair for our new (second) home on the other side of the state in the SC hills. 

 

But walking through the close rooms last summer, I was struck by someone's life (I don't know whose) preserved in the moment by a few details on display for the roaming bargain hunters.  A dog leash still dangling from its hook by the back door, and soup cans standing at attention in the small, open pantry.

 

Thanks for coming by, and enjoy all the flavors of poems rounded up by Janet and Sylvia this week. 

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Poetry Friday - Squirrel Update, Morning Glories, and Haikupedia...

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

Just a couple of nice surprises this week, and another recent one.  I'm finding I appreciate those more and more….

 

First, the pictures.

 

Out of the blue I received an update on that baby squirrel I rescued a few weeks back.  (I blogged about that here.)  The wildlife rehabilitator who took the wee one on for the long term texted me this adorable picture.  And though I initially thought it was a 'he' – I was evidently wrong.  It's a SHE.  Here's what the rehabilitator wrote:

 

She is doing really well, no injuries - she just needs to be bigger.  Maybe a month and she will be released if it's warm out, but she is sweet.  I named her Robin.  It's funny because her adopted brothers are Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Owl, and Roo, so Christopher "Robin" just worked.  Thanks for saving her.

 

Her unexpected update made my heart happy.

 

Another more subtle surprise recently is that the  rambling morning glory vine that used to confine itself to the back fence has journeyed to the side deck stairs and covered the wonky gate as well.  When we had two beautiful red hibiscus blooms this week, I decided to take a phone picture and also discovered the gentle purple flowers photobombing the larger plant.   If a plant can be effusive, that describes the morning glory vine here lately.

 

Finally, a surprise from a couple of months ago.  I was thrilled to open an email and discover an invitation to submit a bio and picture for The Haikupedia project over at The Haiku Foundation.

 

Haiku poet and editor Tzetzka Ilieva has been helping with this massive undertaking and explains it this way:  "The objective of this enormous project, initiated by Charles Trumbull and other members of The Haiku Foundation, is to create an online encyclopedia of everything about haiku." 

 

I had heard about it and knew that noted poet, editor, publisher, and haiku historian Charles Trumbull was at the helm.  I was thrilled years ago when he was still editor at Modern Haiku and he accepted some of my work, along with offering an encouraging word or two, which I greatly appreciated.

 

Here's a one-line haiku of mine from Modern Haiku just a few years back:

 

 

one door closes morning glories

 

 

 ©Robyn Hood Black.  Modern Haiku, Vol. 49.1, Winter-Spring 2018

 

 

You can learn more about Haikupedia here.

And here's my page there; I'm thrilled to be included.  [Also, very grateful to the wicked camera skills of Ginnie Hinkle, my son's girlfriend, for the new head shots!]

 

 

Here's hoping any surprises coming your way this week are pleasant ones. For inspiring poetic surprises, be sure to visit our amazing Irene, rounding up Poetry Friday for us at Live Your Poem.  Thanks, Irene!

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Poetry Friday - Featured in Local Life Magazine!

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Oh, I've missed you so.  I've been out of town and out of pocket much of the last couple of months.  This time last year, I was quarantined and caring for family members with Covid, right after the death of my father-in-law. What a difference a year makes.  

 

Since May, we've celebrated my sister's wedding in Florida; our son's graduation from grad school at Candler/Emory in Atlanta; a postponed-from-the-holidays family gathering on my husband's side in Georgia; and the wedding of a dear friend's daughter last weekend in Georgia. Also, on Mother's Day weekend, I made a crazy solo trip to the Upstate (the foothills and mountain-y part of South Carolina) to be the first person to see a house that was coming on the market, as we've been hunting a second home/retreat-type place closer to our kids for weekends and holidays and such.  We bought it!  And, yes, it was a crazy experience in a crazy market. 

 

Then another trip over so my hubby Jeff could see what we were buying.... Then out of the blue I learned that rent for my downtown studio/shop space was going up by 70 percent(!). So I packed up seven years worth of artistic hoarding and clunkily moved it all to my house - still sorting it out here. Shhh.  That was right after said son took much of his stuff out of the house post-graduation, to move with his girlfriend to the North Carolina high country.  (His closet is now full of art and framing supplies and such.)  Then came our house closing and moving a bunch of stuff there, and taking a week to set it up and take care of repairs and lots of little necessary things.  [Jone, if you're reading this, you'll like that I've decorated it all with Celtic/Scottish, British, and Irish themes!]

 

And in the midst of all of this wonderful activity, I was invited to submit work to the Local Life Magazine here to be the featured poet for July, and the kind editors and staff chose several summer-friendly haiku to publish this month!  The poems are accompanied by a stunning photograph from the month's featured photographer, Joan Edkhardt. What a treat and what an honor.  

 

You've probably seen most of these before, but here are the poems included, followed by names of the journals in which they first appeared:

 

 

my small insights

a hummingbird

at the trumpet flower

 

 

night thunder

shaking the house

and the dog

 

 

hatchlings - 

beyond orange tape

the sea

 

 

telling it slant

a ghost crab

slips into a hole

 

 

between 

rounds of rain

rounds of treefrogs

 

 

(Haiku originally published in Modern Haiku, Prune Juice, Frogpond, Acorn, and bottle rockets. Poems ©Robyn Hood Black.)

 

 

Click here to peruse the entire issue of our local Local Life Magazine - my poems are almost at the end, and there is a lot of fun sizzle between the covers of the "hot" July issue! 

 

For lots more summer and lots more poetry, visit our wonderful Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone! Thanks for hosting the Roundup, Molly, and Stay Cool, All. 

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Poetry Friday - Issa's Dewdrops, Continued... and, Cicadas!

"dewdrop" by noahg. is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  We are continuing the "Issa's Dewdrops" journey over here, every Friday in National Poetry Month.  Many thanks to Dr. David G. Lanoue, professor, author, poet, and Issa scholar, among other things, for sharing some recent translations of the poetry of Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), along with his own commentary.  David has translated more than 10,000 of Issa's poems in the last 30 years, and several hundred new ones while in quarantine over the last year.  Here is David's website, and if you'd like to catch up with the series here, feel free to peruse week one's post here, week two, here, and last week's, here.

 

"The dewdrop haiku, I believe, represent Issa's most important image--at the core of his philosophy," David says.  

 

We'll look more at a bit of the spiritual component of Issa's dewdrop haiku next week.  This week, just enjoy some more of the transient beauty, and David's comments!

 

 

1808

 

.夏山や目にもろもろの草の露

 

natsu yama ya me ni moro-moro no kusa no tsuyu

 

summer mountain--

dewdrops in the grass

all shapes and sizes

 

 

A haiku of keen perception with just a hint of a social and religious message.

 

 

 

1808

 

.おく露やおのおの翌の御用心

oku tsuyu ya ono-ono asu no o-yôjin

 

dewdrops forming--

each by each no worry

till tomorrow

 

 

Issa is being playfully ironic. Since dewdrops don't last past noon, they never see tomorrow.

 

 

 

And, because many of us are nature lovers, and lots of Poetry Friday regulars live in the following states:  

Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia...

I thought we should look to Issa to pay homage to an amazing event that is set to "emerge" in these next couple-few weeks:  the Brood X, 17-year cicadas! 

 

Here's a CNN article about them. Billions (with a 'b') will be making themselves known very soon; I'm sure their calls and images will be filling up backyards and news outlets. Watch your step! Seventeen years ago, I had a child in middle school, another in elementary school, a couple of part-time middle school English classes to teach, and a farm-full of animals in North Georgia. What were you up to then?

 

Maybe these unusual large, loud insects will inspire you to write some haiku about them (traditionally, a popular subject). You can do a search for Issa's cicada haiku at David's archive here.  You'll find several dozen, such as these:

 

 

 1804

 

.大雨や大ナ月や松の蝉

ôame ya ôkina tsuki ya matsu no semi

 

big rain

big moon

cicada in the pine

 

A wonderful minimalistic scene.

 

 

 

1822

 

.そよ風は蝉の声より起る哉

soyo kaze wa semi no koe yori okoru kana

 

the soft breeze

from the cicada's voice

wafts

 

Literally, the voice of the cicada is the soft wind's origin, as if its rasping song has stirred the air to gentle movement--one of Issa's more fanciful images.

 

 

If you'd like some tips on how to "write like Issa," well, David has a book for that!  I'm thrilled to have a poem in it.  You can learn more about Write Like Issa just below the search box on David's Issa page, here

 

One last cicada haiku for now, because it's also a dewdrop haiku: 

 

 

1811

 

.露の世の露を鳴也夏の蝉

tsuyu no yo no tsuyu wo naku nari natsu no semi

 

in a dewdrop world

singing of dewdrops...

summer cicada

 

Sakuo Nakamura notes the religious (Buddhist) feeling in this haiku. 'Dewdrop world' suggests fragile life: how all living beings die so quickly. The phrase, "singing at dewdrops," means "singing for a very short time." He adds, "The dewdrop will soon disappear when the sun rises, and yet the summer cicada is alive and singing with pleasure, like a human being. He is not aware of his short life."

 

Shinji Ogawa notes that tsuyu wo naku means "singing of dewdrops." He adds, "Of course, what the cicadas are singing about depends upon who is hearing it. At least to Issa, the cicadas are singing of the dewdrops, of the fragile life."

 

 

All poem translations and commentary ©David G. Lanoue.  Rights reserved. (Many thanks to David for his generosity.)

 

Here's to a continued, wonderful Poetry Month....  I was delighted to share a video on Thursday as part of Michelle Schaub's Poetry Month project at PoetryBoost.com, a different poet featured each day.  (My offerings were a few spring-related haiku, shared from my back yard.) My daughter Morgan and her third graders in Georgia have been tuning in all month!

 

And, I had fun contributing a line to the Kidlit Progressive Poem, which lands at Janice's Salt City Verse  today. 

 

Catch more Poetry Month magic at today's Poetry Friday Roundup, graciously hosted by Catherine at Reading to the Core.  (She has a gorgeous dewdrop photo at the top of her blog, by the way....)

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Poetry Friday - Some Humorous Issa Dewdrops...

©David G. Lanoue. Rights reserved.

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

Thank you for continuing on this Poetry Month dewdrop journey with Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), courtesy of the work of author, poet, and professor David G. Lanoue. (Not sure what I'm talking about?  Here are links to my intro post for April 2  and last week's post for April 9 .)

 

We'll be delving into Issa's dewdrop symbolism more deeply next week, and in the final post for this year's "bonus" Friday in April the week after that. But now that you've gotten a taste of these glorious dewdrops – shining gems of transience that they are – I thought you might enjoy a little break for humor here in the middle.

 

As you might recall, Issa's life was full of tragedy and hardship and loss.  His respectful sensitivity to small, vulnerable creatures, disenfranchised people, and even to drifting plants and tiny dewdrops has made his work endearing to generation after generation of readers. BUT, Issa embraced and expressed not just the melancholy or poignant moments of life; his poetry offers up plenty of gladness and humor - often ironic - as well.

 

The poem pictured above could have been penned this year, right?  Especially in light of the pandemic. 

 

young folk

just don't get it...

evening dew

 

Of this haiku, David writes:

 

Young people don't understand the Buddhist lesson of impermanence that the dewdrops teach.  In Issa's time as in our time, they assume that they'll live forever.  Maybe that's a good thing?

 

 

Here are a few more of David's dewdrop haiku translations that I hope bring a smile:

 

 

1810

.ひきの顔露のけしきになりもせよ

hiki no kao tsuyu no keshiki ni nari mo seyo

 

 

face of a toad--

adopt the mood

of dewdrops!

 

 

In Issa's poetic vision the faces of toads always appear grumpy. Here, he encourages the scowling toad to adopt the (calm? peaceful?) attitude of the dewdrops.

 

 

And another address to a wee creature:

 

 

1816

.白露の玉ふみかくなきりぎりす

shira tsuyu no tama fumika[ku] na kirigirisu

 

don't crush

the dewdrop pearls!

katydid

 

 

A katydid (kirigirisu) is a green or light brown insect, a cousin of crickets and grasshoppers. The males possess special organs on the wings with which they produce shrill calls. Although katydid is the closest English equivalent, many translators (such as R. H. Blyth) use the more familiar "grasshopper" and "cricket." See Haiku (Tokyo: Hokuseido, 1949-1952; rpt. 1981-1982/reset paperback edition) 4.1068-69.

 

And, speaking of insects:

 

 

1821

.朝露や虫に貰ふて面あらふ

asa tsuyu ya mushi [ni] moraute tsura arau

 

morning dew--

washing my face

adding a bug

 

 

Issa uses the dew (from grass, presumably) to wash his face. He ends up with a visitor. Issa is the most humorous of the great masters of haiku, but his humor often seems to evoke a deeper level of meaning--as (I believe) it does here.

 

 

And last but not least today:

 

 

1821

.ばか蔓に露もかまふなかまふなよ

baka tsuru ni tsuyu mo kamau-na kamau-na yo

 

 

hey dewdrops--

don't tease

the foolish vine!

 

 

Issa imagines that the "foolish" vine is thinking that the droplets on its leaves signify rain (hence badly-needed moisture for its roots), but instead they are only tantalizing dewdrops that will soon evaporate.

 

All haiku translations and comments ©David G. Lanoue.  Rights reserved.

 

Many thanks to David for permission to share!

 

AND:  Wishing everyone a **HAPPY International Haiku Poetry Day** tomorrow, Saturday, April 17! :0)

 

Be sure to visit the always-fabulous Jama's Alphabet Soup for this week's Roundup.  Are you following the Kidlit 2021 Progressive Poem?  If, like me, you've gotten behind – no worries!  You can jump in any time and get caught up.  Margaret has a list of all the links here.

 

Keep smiling!

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Poetry Friday - Issa's Dewdrops, Pearly Ones...

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Thanks for the enthusiasm about my National Poetry Month project for Poetry Fridays over here, a little time spent with recent Issa haiku translations by Dr. David G. Lanoue - specifically, Issa's dewdrop haiku.  (Just scroll back to last week's post if you didn't catch all that.)

 

First, a little diversion.  In the comments last week, Janet Clare Fagel mentioned a book she has loved and used over the years when sharing haiku with students, IN A SPRING GARDEN, edited by Richard Lewis and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats (The Dial Press, 1965).  How did I not have this book in my collection of old (& some new) haiku books for young readers?! I am so grateful she mentioned it.  I was able to find a very nice copy on Ebay.

 

The book presents haiku by old masters corresponding to the unfolding of a spring day, beginning to end.  Many poems, such as the Issa dewdrop haiku pictured above with my dewdrop of a doggie, Rita, were reprinted from R. H. Blyth's Haiku volumes (Hokuseido Press, Tokyo).  Of course, the art is fantastic.  Thanks again, Janet.

 

The poem above ends with "pearls of bright dew."  If you go to David G. Lanoue's Issa Haiku Archive page (remember, there are upwards of 10,000 poems he's translated, plus hundreds of new ones added during quarantine!) and type "pearls of dew" in the search box, you'll find several examples there, including this one, followed by David's commentary:

 

1814

.露の玉どう転げても愛出度ぞ


tsuyu no tama dô korogete mo medetai zo

 

pearls of dew--
whichever way you tumble
is happy

 

 

Based on Issa's many other haiku about dewdrops, their happiness is due to Amida Buddha's vow to save sentient beings from this temporary world of sorrow. They fall to nothingness, but Buddha will, in a sense, catch them. Of course, the dewdrops are sentient only in Issa's imagination; they more accurately represent Issa and his human readers, present company included.

 

Translations and commentary ©David G. Lanoue.  Rights reserved. 

 

One reason Issa is so beloved is that his body of work demonstrates his ability to see life sympathetically from many perspectives - other people, animals (especially the most humble or cast aside of humans and beasts), plants - and, even,  dewdrops!  As David writes in A Taste of Issa, Issa is known, among other things, for his "warm, loving connection with living things, especially animals but also including humans and plants.  As a Buddhist artist brimming with compassion and respect for his fellow beings, however small, Issa likes to address his nonhuman colleagues directly...." (David adds that critics have called Issa 'a poet of "personification" or "anthropomorphism," ' but rather than projecting human attributes onto a nonhuman subject, Issa recognizes even a small creature such as a snail as a "fellow traveler on the road of existence.")

 

In November, for a Zoom gathering for a Hot Springs, Arkansas, haiku conference, David delivered a presentation called "Dewdrop Worlds - Recent Discoveries from Issa."  (I was able to listen in on my phone from my studio that day, but, alas, couldn't see the visuals.  David kindly shared them with me and I'll share a couple of those this month, too.)

 

"Dew is a traditional Buddhist image for how brief and fleeting life is," David explains.  Issa was a Buddhist of the JōdoShinshū faith, a school of Pure Land Buddhism.  We'll explore this theme of transience a little more as the month goes on.

 

For now, here are a couple more of David's pearly dewdrop translations:  

  

 

   ****

 

 

1821

.福の神見たまへ露が玉になる


fuku no kami mita ma[e] tsuyu ga tama ni naru

 

good luck god--
dewdrops are transformed
into pearls

 

 

Issa plays with the different meanings of tama: ball, sphere, jewel, and gem. He imagines that the god of luck is bestowing him with riches.

 

 

****

 

 

and this one from 1811:

 

.世の中は少しよすぎて玉の露


yo [no] naka wa sukoshi yo su[gi]te tama no tsuyu

 

 

passing briefly
through this world...
dewdrop pearls

 

Translations and commentary ©David G. Lanoue. Rights reserved.

 

 

 

Thanks as always for joining in, and be sure to check out all the sparkling offerings over at The Opposite of Indifference, where the incandescent Tabatha is rounding up Poetry Friday.  Thanks, Tabatha, and continued thanks to David for the generous sharing of these Issa haiku!

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Happy Poetry Month! April Poetry Friday Series with Issa's "Dewdrop Haiku," translated by David G. Lanoue

A couple of the MANY books by David G. Lanoue.

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers -  It's OUR month!  Happy April. 

 

For all the April Happenings in the Poetry Friday universe this year, see Susan's Poetry Month roundup here.

 

It's been a year since we all locked down, and some of us have been more productive than others.  Friends of this blog know the name David G. Lanoue – author, poet, Issa scholar, a past president of the Haiku Society of America, and RosaMary Professor of English at Xavier University of New Orleans (he has taught there since 1981).

 

A natural teacher, David maintains a haiku website where, among other things, he shares his more than 10,000 translations of haiku by Issa (family name, Kobayashi), who lived from 1763 to 1828. You can find those translations, searchable by sunject, here

 

He also shares an Issa haiku each day on Twitter - @issa_haiku - in English and in Japanese.  (Until Yahoo Groups ended in December, these were also available via email.)

 

About that productivity… With extra time while quarantined last year, David decided to dive into MORE translating - as in, hundreds more poems.  Issa wrote 20,000-some-odd haiku, after all.  I enjoyed reading the never-before-seen translations.  In the fall, he shared many new "dewdrop" haiku, and that's when I knew I wanted to pass along some of these glimmering gems here, if David was game.  He generously was.

 

So as introduction, we'll start with a well-known haiku by Issa, translated by many scholars over the years.  Here's David's translation.

 

 

this world

is a dewdrop world

yes… but…

 

 

You might recall that this poem was inspired by the death of Issa's beloved young daughter, Sato. It acknowledges the transience of life, but then that last poignant line lingers – loss hurts. 

 

When I read one of David's "fresh" new haiku translations this fall, I recalled that famous haiku and choked up:

 

gathering dewdrops--
each one the life
of a daughter

 

露盛て並べる娘がいちど哉
tsuyu morite naraberu [musume] ga ichigo kana

 

David added this accompanying discussion:

 

In Issa's journal, Hachiban nikki, he initally wrote the kanji for "daughter" (musume), though later in the same journal he revised it to read yome ("wife" or "bride"; Issa zenshû4.211, 4.318). The corrected version achieves the ideal 5-7-5 pattern of sound units, but the fact that Issa wrote "daughter" suggests that he was thinking of his dead child Sato, who passed away two years earlier and who Issa had already associated with dewdrops in a famous "dewdrop world" verse. I've decided to go with the original version. Sato is not alone. Every drop of dew--perfect for just a moment--is someone's beloved daughter, living a short life, then gone. 

 

Poem translations and commentary ©David G. Lanoue.  Rights reserved.

 

 

Now, before you think we are going to be wallowing in tragedy all month, as you might be familiar with the series of losses and challenges Issa faced throughout his life, let me offer reassurance. Issa's dewdrop haiku, like the rest of his body of work, explore the wide gamut of human emotions and sensitivities – from silly to sublime.  David's work gloriously celebrates all of it.

 

We'll learn more about David's books, Issa, and the dewdrop haiku in these next few weeks.  In the meantime, be sure to check out haikuguy.com.  If you are drawn to the down-to-earth, sometimes humorous, compassionate haiku of Issa, let me recommend A Taste of Issa, published in 2019.  This volume is an expanded version of David's 2012 Issa's Best:  A Translator's Selection of Master Haiku.

 

As David says, " Bashō is the most revered of the haiku poets of Old Japan, but Issa is the most loved."

 

Thanks for joining us! Our wonderful Poetry Friday fearless leader, Mary Lee, is kicking off the month with this week's roundup at A Year of Reading.  Enjoy!

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