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Life on the Deckle Edge

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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Poetry Friday - The 25th Red Moon Haiku Anthology

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

Lots of haiku goings-on this past week, which is great with me.

 

First, on Tuesday and Thursday, I presented an online two-part haiku workshop for the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation (OCAF - near Athens, Ga.), and I loved meeting the most interesting people who participated!  Our own Carol Varsalona was there, as well as other accomplished, fascinating, curious, and generous individuals.  David Oates, who lives in Athens, made the first workshop - tuck that name into your hat for later as you scroll down.

 

Second, I've been letting a commitment simmer for a while and am now ready to stir it into something.  A long-distance friend and accomplished haiku poet asked me last year if I would write the foreword for a sparkling collection of her work.  It's the first time I've written such!  I hope to do the fine quality of her poetry justice.  Such an honor!  I'll share more when she publishes her book.

 

Third, I'm way beyond thrilled to have a poem in jar of rain,  the brand new Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku (edited by Jim Kacian and the Red Moon Editorial Staff).  It's the 25th volume in this annual series, and a standard for excellence in haiku circles.  

 

From the back cover copy:

 

The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku each year assembles the finest haiku and related forms published around the world into a single book.  This volume, twenty-fifth in the most honored series in the history of English-Language Haiku, comprises 163 poems (haiku and senryu), 20 linked forms (haibun, renku, rengay and sequences), and 6 critical pieces on the reading, writing and study of the genre.

 

Jim Kacian writes in the introduction that it's the "unofficial yearbook" of English-Language Haiku - a great description. 

 

Over the course of 2020, more than 3,000 haiku (and related works) by more than 2,000 authors from around the world were nominated for inclusion. Eleven editors read these.  Then the works were placed anonymously on a roster sent to each judge, and five of ten had to vote to include each piece.  (The editor-in-chief sat out this last part.)

 

About five years ago I had a poem included in the RMA by default, because it won honorable mention in a Haiku Society of America contest.  But this is the first time a poem of mine got plucked right out of the haiku universe, so to speak. 

 

The reason I told you to tuck David's name under your hat is that he has a poem in this volume as well, as do some other poets whose work has graced the pages of this blog over time.  David granted me permission to share his poem, so here are both of ours:

 

 

 

 

family Bible

two dates by every name

but one

 

 

©David Oates. 

Originally appeared in Kokako #32 (New Zealand), eds. Patricia Prime and Margaret Beverland.

 

 

 

 

 

cold house

the children in the pictures

divide the pictures

 

 

©Robyn Hood Black. 

Originally appeared in bottle rockets #42, ed. Stanford M. Forrester.

 

 

I love these Red Moon anthologies, because not only do they offer a sampling of fine haiku from across the globe, they hint at what was going on the world any particular year as well.  Most entries in jar of rain are pretty timeless/universal (as I suppose David's and mine are), but there are also pandemic-themed poems and linked verses. 

 

The gorgeous cover, by the way, is a detail of a woodblock print by Hiroshige, Sudden Shower over Shin-Ohashi Bridge and Ataki (1857).

 

You can peruse the many offerings of Red Moon Press here, specifically jar of rain here, and learn more about David and his various creative adventures (including Wordland, his streaming show on UGA's public radio station) here

 

Karen Edmisten kindly hosts our Poetry Friday Roundup this week - Enjoy!

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