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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Um, New Week, Same Deal... ;0)

 
Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  Still navigating all the craziness over here.  (See last week.)  In fact, let me just go ahead and give a hearty wave and a catch-you-in-early July!  It'll be a couple-few weeks before the dust settles.  Wishing you and yours Happy Summer-ing as we journey through June and into the rest of Summer.  Be sure to check out the Poetry Friday Roundup today over at Buffy's place.  Thanks for hosting, Buffy!

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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 - New Year Poem Post Cards Continued...

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  With all the grave news and concerns of the day, I've been grateful for more gifts of poems in my mailbox, thanks to Jone Rush MacCulloch's annual New Year's Poem Postcard Project.

 

Here are three more gems.  Enjoy!

 

From Linda Baie, a gorgeous piece of visual and verbal art related to one of her favorite subjects, trees.  She captured the end of fall in such a beautiful way:

 

 

One

leaf drops;

a maple

skids underneath

a yellow aspen.

Sweetgum's orange joins in.

Odd that a green leaf appears,

lands the middle - spring memory

refuses to be one left alone.

they create a wreath of us, together.

 

Poem and Image ©Linda Baie.

 

 

Kimberly Hutmacher sent a gorgeous photo of a celestial treat that I immediately recognized, having made my family go outside and crane necks forever waiting for its appearance:  last month's visual "convergence" of Jupiter and Saturn at dusk. Kimberly's poem on the back reads:

 

 

Connection longing

Watching the great conjunction

Universal hope

 

Poem and Image ©Kimberly Hutmacher.

 

 

(Thanks for that much-needed glimpse beyond ourselves, Kimberly, and promise of hope!) 

 

And Diane Mayr's name on a poetic/visual project is always a welcome sight.  She embraced the "Year of the Ox" theme with her usual clever take in this haiku:

 

A NEW YEAR...

HONEST DAY'S WORK NO LONGER

AN OXYMORON

 

Poem and Image ©Diane Mayr.

 

 

She also included these words of Japanese New Year's greetings:  Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu.

 

Continued greetings all around, as we make our way through the begining of this new year.  These friends remind us to look at the wonders at our feet, and the wonders far, far away in the night sky, and the wonders of being human!

 

A related bit:  Re. poetry swaps,  I had the good fortune to send a Winter Poem Swap poem (Thanks for organizing, Tabatha Yeatts!) to our dear friend Kathryn Apel in Australia.  Kat was kind enough to share it today on her blog, but the cat photos take the cake. ;0)  I did run my simple poem by our dear friend Michelle H. Barnes, who lived in Australia for several years.  Her hubby, Peter, actually suggested the "buddy" line... and I liked it better than what I had there.  (Shhh... he didn't want credit, so keep that a secret.)  When you go visit the Roundup today, you'll see that Kat's Winter Poem Swap gift to Margaret was written along a similar theme - albeit her poem is flowing with lyrical language and gorgeous details. I do so love our Poetry Friday community, and our "doors" are open to new folks as well as old friends.

 

An unrelated bit:  With Valentine's Day just a month away, on Instagram I'll be featuring "Heartsyletters" offerings from my artsyletters Etsy shop over the next few weeks - gifts for literary Valentines! You can find me at @artsylettersgifts . The first post stars an upcycled '80s metal choker base with an upcycled '50s question-mark-in-a-heart charm.  (I made one to test drive and have been wearing it almost every day this week.) ;0)

 

As mentioned, the lovely Margaret has our Roundup this week at Reflections on the Teche.  Row thee yonder. 

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Poetry Friday - Some New Year Postcard Poem Swap Arrivals...

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  I don't know about you, but I'm pretty spent after news events this week.  (And the extremes - Personally, I was elated about the voting efforts of my former fellow Georgians when both Senate run-off races were in the "called" column Wednesday, only to plunge right afterwards into heartsickness about the breach of the Capitol.)

 

So I have been especially appreciative of the poetic gifts in my mailbox, as part of Jone Rush MacCulloch's annual New Year's Poem Postcard Project. Enjoy the respite of these first three I've received, one by Jone herself (I mentioned her foray into Scottish Gaelic last week), and one from Carol Varsalona, and one from Linda Mitchell. These are SO creative, and each so different. 

 

Savor Jone's new language skills to accompany her formidable skills behind the camera, and Carol's jaunty imaginative words and her lovely lake image, and Linda's nod to the Chinese New Year - the Year of the Ox, with her artwork featuring a version of Paul Bunyan's "Babe" in art and collaged background words, and her quite original poem on the other side of the bookmark.

 

Also, you can listen to Jone read her poem in Scottish Gaelic in her post from last week here!

 

Many thanks, Ladies, for sending much needed light in these days. 

 

 

 

first full moon
makes poetry wishes
happy new year

 

Poem and Photo ©Jone Rush MacCulloch

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

upon the lake

 

silverdrops dance

as a new year arises.

breathe in

winter's freshness.
exhale earth's frostbitten bite.


Evolve!


Poem and Photo ©Carol Varsalona

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Year of the Ox

 

Monday, Ox delivers brush and brooms

to sweep old year away

 

Tuesday, Ox brings uncles, aunties

hong bao and rice cakes

 

Wendesday, Ox shies at red banners

good luck poems they swish and sway

 

Thursday Ox shakes golden bells

hoping kitchen god will stay

 

Friday Ox easts and rest contentedly

firecrackers pop -

wishing

Happy New Year's Day!

 

Poem and Art ©Linda Mitchell

 

~~~

 

(PS - My poem postcards are still in the works; waiting on delivery from the printer.);0)

 

Our amazing Sylvia has the Roundup today over at Poetry for Children.  Don't miss her annual New Year "Sneak Peek" list-- a gathering of all the titles of poetry books, anthologies, and novels in verse expected in 2021!

Wishing you, and all, a peaceful weekend.

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Poetry Friday - Found Poem Collage & How-To!

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!  This week I had the wonderful opportunity to present a workshop for the young creators of the 2020 Camp Conroy. Pat Conroy was a devoted and lifelong teacher at heart, as you might know about the acclaimed author, beloved around the world as well as here in his own Lowcountry. For the third year, the Pat Conroy Literacy Center has assembled a team of top-notch creative teachers  who spend a couple of weeks in intensive workshopping and creating with eager participants.  An extra person is brought in here or there, and I got to be one of those folks this year!  Of course, when I signed on months ago, who knew we would all be doing these things v-i-r-t-u-a-l-l-y.....?  

 

But Center Director Jonathan Haupt and his fearless Camp Conroy team - Miho Kinnas, Lisa Anne Cullen, and Robin Prince Monroe - (three amazing published writers, poets, teachers and visual artists - look 'em up!) embraced the challenge and have been offering a lively and nurturing experience via Zoom.  One bonus of this arrangement this year is that a few young creators are chiming in from other parts of the world, contributing their own creations to what the local Campers will produce as group projects and collections. 

 

"This is our chance to share a little bit of Camp Conroy's Great Love with all of those sheltering and educating at home this summer," they say. Plans are for local participants to gather in July for an in-person event celebrating the unveiling of this year's "Camp Conroy Book."

 

I led a Found Poem Mixed Media Collage workshop, much like the one I led for Poetry Camp out in Bellingham, Washington, a few years ago, and have since offered in Beaufort, too.  But how to do this from a distance?  Now, that was a little trickier. 

 

First, I made supply kits for each participant and added them to the big pre-Camp mailing the Center was doing. Check.

 

Then, I recorded a how-to video - my first time trying such a thing. Should be a piece of cake, I thought, having posted all those poem-reading videos on my Robyn Hood Black YouTube Channel in April.  Right?  Well, the recording part took a while (this is usually a 90-minute to two-hour workshop, after all), but thanks to my new little phone tripod, I got it done. 

 

Then I put all the pieces parts together, editing and chopping, editing and chopping.  Then I tried to upload the video. 

 

"Mwaaa - haaaa - haaaaa" laughed all the invisible techno-gods in unison at my hubris. I tried uploading to YouTube, on my heretofore unused artsyletters Channel.  Hours and hours (a couple of different overnights, even....) - No Go.  Stuck at 99 percent and then - failure.  I tried uploading to the Center's Dropbox.  Hours and hours... well, you get the picture.  

 

So here's a tip, stumbled onto after bleary-eyed days of looking for some magical virtual key - worth your reading of this post, if nothing else:  to upload a video longer than 15 minutes to YouTube, you have to have a verified account.  What's a verified account?  You go to settings (I think - it's all a blur) and look around for the "Verify account" option.  Then, you simply type in your cell phone number or email address and wait for one of those handy six-digit codes banks often use to make sure you are you and not a robot.  Type in the six numbers, and  - poof!  You're verified.  And your - cough-cough - 48-minute cinematic feat might just upload in less than two hours, and process fairly quickly after that.  (Insert emoji with hand slapping forehead right about here.)

 

Back to poetry.  So the video was made accessible, and the young campers had a day or two to work on their collages before we all "met" on Wednesday afternoon.  As always when working with kids, I was amazed at their creativity and fresh perspectives.  Some were still working on theirs, but several pieces were to a finished or at least share-able stage.  Such talented writers and artists!! I'm always energized seeing what creative young folks come up with. Oh, and the three teachers played along in a closing found-poem activity, too - I can tell they are all having as much fun as the kids.

 

Above you see the collage I made as a sample.  The text is from a 1960-ish EduCard featuring a science experiment.  I "found" a poem about balance because:  1.) There's a wonderful yoga studio above the Literary Center; 2.) I've been inspired by so many people taking a Stand lately; and, 3.) I probably - nope, definitely - need a little more balance in my life.

Anyway, here is the poem:

 

 

 

Keep in Balance

 

 

 

earth pulls       everthing

 

     to center.  This place

 

    will not fall

 

when your body is 

 

    "base"

 

  You will

 

Stand

 

         bring your center 

and see what happens.

 

 

Poem found by Robyn Hood Black. 

 

 

If you're looking for a creative project to wile away a summer day, or if you need an activity for kids or grandkids or such, feel free to have a look at the video I made! There's a mini studio tour at the beginning.  It's a bit choppy, with my crazed efforts at making it shorter so it would load somewhere, etc., but you'll get the steps.  You can adapt this project to materials you have handy, and improvise away, too!

Here's the link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVo_d5CqgBs

 

Wishing you a balanced weekend during which you find lots of poetry... you can start over at The Miss Rumphius Effect, where the lovely Tricia has our Roundup this week!  (Program Note - I'll be taking a wee little break for the next couple of Fridays, but see you in July!  And, if you don't get my quarterly(-ish) artsyletters newsletter, I'll be sending one out soon; you can sign up here. )  Thanks, and take good care!

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POETRY MONTH - Celebrate EARTH DAY with a Poem Movie about Stick Insects!

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers - Thanks for joining me this month for my National Poetry Month project:  mini poem movies each weekday in April, featuring some of my published poems. 

 

Know what today is?

 

It's EARTH DAY!  And, it's the 50th Anniversary!  Click here for more info or to take some earth-friendly action. 

 

The poem I'm sharing today is "Rocky Rescue" from THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY® FOR SCIENCE (Pomelo Books, 2014) and THE POETRY OF SCIENCE (the "for kids" edition, 2015), compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, with illustrations by Frank Ramspott and Bug Wang.  This poem is in the section, "Endangered & Extinct."  Curious? Don't worry... it has a happy ending. 

 

Click here for the poem movie, and click here for my YouTube Channel. And learn more about all the wonderful poetry books and resourcess offered by Pomelo Books here

 

Thanks for visiting, and Happy Earth Day!

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Poetry Friday and Poetry Month - "Hidden in the Seams" from IMPERFECT

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers! Happy Poetry Friday, and Happy (Continued) National Poetry Month!

 

My mini-poem movies project continues today with my poem from IMPERFECT - poems about mistakes: an anthology for middle schoolers (History House Publilshers, 2018)This is the wonderfully welcoming project our own Tabatha Yeatts shared with the world.  Here's Tabatha's author/editor website, with links to how you can purchase this collection. (And - NEW - it's now available as an e-book purchase on Amazon, too!)

 

My poem is called "Hidden in the Seams," and rather than complex emotional mishaps, it deals with the many wrong turns one often takes in a creative adventure, before a final finished project emerges! 

 

A little timely this week, actually, as I dusted off my old sewing machine, found some quilting fabric I've stored for a couple of decades (yes, I washed it!) and snipped ties from some hanging name badges I had to make some cloth masks.  We had been using a couple kindly made and shared by our wonderful 92-year-old neighbor, Ms. Betty, but needed a few more, with regular washing and all.

 

The process went as all my sewing projects do:  1.) Do it wrong first, untangle mangled threads, and re-do; 2.) veer from the actual directions because I like doing things my own way; and 3.) Voila! (Eventually....) Done. Imperfections and all!

 

I hope you enjoy the short poem movie. Each weekday in April, I'm pausing for some of my published poems for kids on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and for haiku suitable for kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Thanks to all who have taken a look, and shared, too!  Here's a link to today's poem, and here's a link to my YouTube Channel.

 

Since it IS Poetry Friday, here's the poem typed out:

 

 

Hidden in the Seams

 

 

Measure.

Cut.

Pin paper pattern. Pin paper pattern. 

Thread machine.

Chikita, chikita, chikita, chikita

chikita, chikita, chikita, chikita

chikita, ckiki-chkkktghkCLNK

 

(Ugh!)

Untangle thread.

Press pieces. 

Hold up.

 

(Argh!)

Seam ripper:

Rip rip rip rip

rip rip rip rip

Pin pin pin pin

Chikita chikita chikita chikita

chikita chikita chikita chikita

Zipper-time

Zippity stitchety

zip zip zip ziGGRRRP

 

(Ugh!)

Untangle thread.

Zippity stitchity

 

Zip zip zip zip

Backstitch - stitch - back - backstitch

Snip.

Press.

 

"You made that?"

"Yes!"

 

©Robyn Hood Black.  All rights reserved. 

 

 

Visit the lovely and creative Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone for this week's Roundup - Thanks, Molly! :0)

 

(Children under the age of 13 may comment only with demonstrated parental consent - Thanks!)

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Happy National Poetry Month! I PAUSE FOR POEMS with a Video each Weekday.... :0)

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers - and,

HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

 

I'm embarking on a new adventure, I PAUSE FOR POEMS.  My teacher-daughter Morgan, like many of you and others across the country, is seeking more online content than usual for students during these challenging weeks. 

 

So I grabbed a good-natured husband, and the new-ish iPhone my kids made me get, and took off outdoors, books in hand.  Then I solicited some long-distance guitar magic from son Seth.  And then I went hunting for that video channel on YouTube I'd "claimed" a million years ago.... And then I watched some generous tutorials. [These have greatly helped but certainly haven't smoothed out all my glitches and imperfections, but here we go anyway!]

 

Each weekday in April, I'll share a new short video featuring me reading one of my published poems.  On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, these will be poems for children.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, these will be even shorter videos featuring a haiku suitable for children.

 

The first foray, pictured above, is my reading of "Sincerely," (©2015 by Robyn Hood Black/©2015 by Pomelo Books) which appears in THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY FOR CELEBRATIONS as well as in HERE WE GO and GREAT MORNING, all from POMELO BOOKS by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. 

 

Thanks to my family for helping, to teachers for teaching, and to everyone who makes poems and books. Each April, the magnificent Jama Kim Rattigan rounds up special National Poetry Month projects throughout the Kidlitosphere (with help from Mr. Cornelius, I am certain.)  You can find her list at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

 

To follow my poem video adventures, here's a link to my YouTube channel.

 

Thanks for tagging along, and here's to a soul-nourishing Poetry Month!

 

(Note - Children under the age of 13 may only comment with demonstrated parental consent.  Thank you.)

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Poetry Friday - Dictionary for a Better World

 

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

 

For the last decade give or take, I've written for a wonderful Character Education program, CORE ESSENTIAL VALUES, used by schools across the country. (If my editor happens to be reading this, I know I'm behind!  Sorry!  You'll hear from me soon…) A different core value is celebrated each month.  My bits of territory in the greater monthly offerings include an animal profile that somehow links to the value; a color that does the same, and quotations which reflect and expand its meaning.  I'll try to do a real post about it all.  I mention it now simply because I feel that such education is important – vitally important.  Perhaps it reinforces what a student is learning at home, or perhaps it introduces students to ways of being or conversations they don't often experience otherwise.

 

This interest is part of the reason I was so excited about the second book co-authored by my friends Irene Latham and Charles Waters, whose groundbreaking CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR?  (Carolrhoda Books, 2018) has helped foster discussions of race relations for all ages. 

 

Chances are you've heard the buzz about, or are lucky enough to have read, DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD – Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z (hot off the press, also from Carolrhoda). "Rich" is the word that fills my mind and heart to describe this unique treasure.  It includes: poetry galore, in many familiar and off-the-beaten-path forms;  quotations that inspire and challenge (from contemporary voices and those that live on through their words); and thoughtful reflections throughout from both Irene and Charles. The back is chock-full of resources, making this volume oh-so-handy for teachers, media specialists, and parents.

 

And, the ART!  Oh, my.  Well, first, I'd dare you to resist the colorful cover.  It is a treat throughout – Mehrdokht Amini's varied images provide surprises at every turn, but are unified with an accessibility and sophistication through bold colors anchored with lots of (wonderful) dark shades, and a downright symphony of lively lettering and type. (Here is her website.)

 

The idea for the book sprouted two years ago when Charles and Irene were each waiting on flights home from snowy Michigan, after their school visit for that day got cancelled because of the weather.  Some free hours in a restaurant, some conversation… and, magic!  A book idea was born.

 

As Charles notes, however, these things are rarely an easy, straight shot.

 

"Through a rejection of another book idea, this book came into being," he says. "When one door closes, find that sliver of sunlight elsewhere."

 

Good advice!

 

And this book is full of good advice.  In addition to a poem to savor, each "entry" on an alphabetical topic (& some letters get more than one topic!) includes a quotation, a reflection (either "Charles says…" or "Irene says…" – or, for the four they co-wrote, "Irene and Charles say…"), and, finally, a "Try It" exercise suggesting ways to incorporate the theme into daily life. 

Many poetic forms will be familiar (cinquain,  persona, found poem), while others might be new to you (tricube, shadorma, etheree).

 

You'll see in the photo above that my Chihuaha's favorite poem was Irene's senryu. My little Rita does love mealtime!

 

SERVICE

 

helping hands fill plates

with meat-and-potato peaks

hope is gravy

 

©Irene Latham

 

The quote that goes along with this poem is from Lao-tzu (Tao Te Ching):

 

"The heart that gives, gathers."

 

Irene's response paragraph introduces us to some of her favorite childhood memories, when she lived down the street from a convent in Louisiana.  "One of my favorite things to do was to hang out in that enormous kitchen and help make cookies and soup to serve at retreats and community events," she writes.   The "Try it" piece invites readers to seek out service organizations and find one that fits.  "Sign up and serve just one shift, and see where it leads you."

 

Speaking of Japanese poetry forms, Irene says, "The poem that went through the most revisions -- and we still wish we could revise it at least one more time -- is 'Equality,' the renga. For that reason, it's one we ALWAYS read at school visits. So kids will know it takes a lot of work to find the right words... and even when a poem looks 'done' (as it does in a published book), there are often ways it can be improved."

 

I'll bet students are eager to add stanzas of their own.

 

Here are a couple from Irene and Charles:

 

...

 

star student, or one

who doesn't enjoy reading

we are all equal

 

whichever bathrooms we choose,

each of us wants to feel safe

 

 ...

 

This book will make readers of many different backgrounds feel safe, and, beyond that, inspired.  And beyond that, hopeful.

 

Certainly welcome in these challenging days! And a great jumping off point for National Poetry Month, don't you think? In fact, Naomi Shihab Nye has chosen DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD as the Young People's Poet Laureate Book Pick for April! :0) Here is a PDF with more of the book's story. (Learn more about Irene here and more about Charles here.) 

 

 

For more great poetry this week, visit our amazing and thoughtful Tabatha, who is always about making the world better, at The Opposite of Indifference.

*(Also, I'm working on my Spring artsyletters newsletter, which will include an old but timely poem and a quote or two, so I'll add the link here when it's ready.)* :0)

 

 Wishing you and yours the best of health.

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Poetry Friday - Now That You Have Time to Read and Write... David G. Lanoue's HAIKU GUY OMNIBUS (& More!)

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...

spring rain

 

 

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...

spring butterfly

 

 

(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

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