instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads

Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Amy Lowell's THE CONGRESSIONAL LIBRARY in light of Parkland, and SCHOOL PEOPLE Book Winner


Thursday morning while sipping coffee and semi-watching the news, I came across a poem by Amy Lowell in What’s O’Clock (Houghton Mifflin Company, The Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1925), winner of the 1926 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

The words imprinted themselves in my mind and heart as I turned my attention to an interview with an articulate, grief-stricken father. Fred Guttenburg’s beautiful 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was shot in the back with an assault rifle in a hall in her Parkland, Florida high school on Valentine’s Day. Her spinal cord was severed, and 16 other beautiful lives were gone in an instant.

“We start each day at the cemetery,” Mr. Guttenburg said. “That’s what we do now.”

Amy Lowell’s “The Congressional Library” was not written about a school shooting. But its images spoke to me in the midst of our collective sadness and outrage – and the ability/mandate to respond lies in the halls of Congress. Here is an excerpt.


From THE CONGRESSIONAL LIBRARY

by Amy Lowell (1874-1925)


This is America,
This vast, confused beauty,
This staring, restless speed of loveliness,
Mighty, overwhelming, crude, of all forms,
Making grandeur out of profusion,
Afraid of no incongruities,
Sublime in its audacity,
Bizarre breaker of moulds,
Laughing with strength,
Charging down on the past,
Glorious and conquering,
Destroyer, builder,
Invincible pith and marrow of the world,
An old world remaking,
Whirling into the no-world of all-coloured light.

But behind the vari-coloured hall?
The entrails, the belly,
The blood-run veins, the heart and viscera,
What of these?
Only at night do they speak,
Only at night do the voices rouse themselves and speak.
There are words in the veins of this creature,
There are still notes singing in its breast:
Silent voices, whispering what it shall speak,
Frozen music beating upon its pulses.
These are the voices of the furious dead who never die,
Furious with love and life, unquenchable,
dictating their creeds across the vapours of time.
This is the music of the Trumpeters of the Almighty
Weeping for a lost estate,
Sounding to a new birth which is to-morrow.
Hark! This hurricane of music has no end,
The speech of these voices has neither end nor beginning;
They are inter-riven as the colours of the sky
Over the graveyards of ten thousand generations. …



For notes about this poem, click here. For a copy of the entire poem, click here, and for more on Amy Lowell at poets.org, click here.

Thanks to all who came by week before last to celebrate the release of SCHOOL PEOPLE (Wordsong) and enjoy an interview with Lee Bennett Hopkins. I’m delighted to announce that the giveaway winner is…

***Catherine Flynn***

The past 10 days have reminded us that many School People are selfless servants– heroes to us, though they likely wouldn’t describe themselves, or wouldn’t have described themselves, in such terms. “Greater love has no one than this…” (John 15:13)

And I am so proud of those young people turning shock and sorrow into activism – they are amazing. Congress, quite simply, has failed them. Yet they are willing to face professional politicians with unblinking resolve and in the harshest glare of the public arena (and the sometimes-slime of social media). God bless their voices. Many will be voting this fall.

The thoughtful, talented, and active Elizabeth Steinglass has our Poetry Friday Roundup this week. Thanks, Liz.  Read More 
26 Comments
Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Simple, Poetic Holiday Gems...


It's been a week... a year, in fact, if you want to know the truth. Some years are like that!

Since posting about the loss of Beaufort's Bennett last week, we swung to the other side of the emotional spectrum with a visit from son Seth, who found out while here that he got into Emory's Candler School of Theology for next year, with good scholarship news as well.

And then, Thursday, we had to say goodbye to the kitty Seth had gotten as a young boy. Lancelot had a good, long life, but it's never easy parting with a beloved four-legged family member.

My recent weeks have also been filled with artsyletters orders, so that's been great - but busy. As I'm still toting around a boot for the Achilles I re-injured last summer, some things just didn't get done this holiday season. Postcards instead of actual cards. And, written on the ones to folks I usually send little holiday goodies to, just a note saying, "Packages aren't happening this year - but sending love."

My hubby set up the tree after Seth got here, and Seth hung some ornaments. I was still hanging after he drifted out of the room. At some point I looked at the tree, looked down at the ornament box, and back at the tree. Despite the fact that several ornaments were still inside the box, I closed the lid. The tree was full enough, for this year anyway.

I finally just bought ingredients and loaf pans for cranberry bread. Maybe it will get made. Maybe some loaves will be given away. And maybe another reason I gave myself a pass on the home front is that we'll be travelling - three little trips - in and out this holiday season to see family, rather than hosting folks here.

So in the spirit of less-is-more because that's all I can manage this year, I went hunting for a simple holiday poem or two. I found a couple of gems in the 1952 edition of THE ARBUTHNOT ANTHOLOGY OF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, a volume that my mother-in-law loaned me years ago and that somehow I still haven't quite returned....

Enjoy.


GLADDE THINGS

(Unknown)

Of gladde things there be four, ay four:
A Larke above ye olde nest blithely singing,
A wild Rose clinging
In safety to a rock, A Shepherd bringing
A Lambe found in his arms,
And Christmasse Bells a-ringing.


That makes me smile so!

And, because this time next week we'll be getting in from Hither and heading right back out the door to Yon, here's an early New Year's poem.


NEW YEAR'S DAY

by Rachel Field

Last night, while we were fast asleep,
      The old year went away.
It can't come back again because
      A new one's come to stay.



[Rachel Field lived from 1894 to 1942. She won the 1930 Newbery Medal for Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, and penned the gorgeous and beloved poem, "Something Told the Wild Geese."]

Wishing you and yours a lovely holiday season, and remembering those for whom holidays, and winter, are tough. The solstice is just behind us now, so on toward the light of a New Year! (See you in two weeks.)

Follow the light to this week's Roundup, graciously hosted by our beloved Buffy.
 Read More 
24 Comments
Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Young America by Julia M. Dana


Poetry Friday Greetings!

This week, the news left me feeling heavy, again, and dashing off yet another letter to a Senator, explaining that while I appreciate his email survey/solicitation of feedback re. the tax bill, none of that will matter an iota if a big chunk of the world gets blown up because of recklessness. Maybe not quite enough sleep has me overreacting.

I craved something lighter to share, and stumbled upon this offering, one of the "brilliant gems of song" in my book, Among the Poets - The Best Poems by the Best Authors, selected by A. A. Smith (J. A. Ruth & Co., Philadelphia and Chicago, 1886). The book makes me smile, with its ornate cover, fancy type, and still-shiny gilded edges. It's one of the few in my studio that's safe from my, um, repurposing....

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the poem, which I found uncomfortably relevant. Make of it what you will. [I was not able to uncover biographical details about the poet except other publishing credits, some in children's publications. But if Julia were around today, I'd love to meet her for tea!]


           Young America
            by Julia M. Dana

"Come hither, you madcap darling!"
      I said to my four-year-old.
Pray what shall be done to the bad, bad girl
      Who will not do as she's told?
Too well you love your own wee way,
      While little you love to mind;
But mamma knows what is best for you,
"And isn't she always kind?"

So I told her of "Casabianca,"
And the fearful burning ship.
"Do you think," said I, "such a child as that
      His mother would have to whip?"
And my heart went out with the story and
      of the boy so nobly brave,
Who would not dare to disobey,
      Even his life to save.

Then her eyes grew bright as the morning,
      And they seemed to look me through.
Ah - ah, thought I, you understand
      The lesson I have in view.
"Now what do you think of this lad, my love?"
      Tell all that is in your heart."
"I fink," she said, "he was drefful good,
      But he wasn't the least bit smart."




Note - The poem "Casabianca" recounts a story (based on a historical incident) of the young son of a French commander, who would not abandon his post when the ship caught fire without a command from his father, and - died. Wikipedia says the poem was standard fare for schoolchildren in the UK and the US for a hundred years, until the 1950s. (Whew - I was barely spared by a decade or two!)

Speaking of tea, wouldn't you know Mary Lee at A Year of Reading has some ready for us, over at the Roundup? Thanks, Mary Lee!
 Read More 
22 Comments
Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Poe and Unexpected Gifts


October Greetings, Poetry Peeps! I do love this month so.

At the moment, various projects with a spooky bent are strewn around my studio. I’ve been acquiring vintage or literary-themed postage stamps lately, and when I stumbled upon this recent 2009 image above celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allen Poe, well – more on that in a minute. The 42-cent stamp features a portrait by Michael J. Deas, who, according to the USPS web page about the stamp, is also an expert on portraits and daguerreotypes of the mysterious author and poet.

Even in miniscule form, I find Deas’s portrait haunting and full of life… the eyes really do follow you! I also recently discovered a wholesale supplier of hearty pewter shepherd’s hook bookmarks, ready for the addition of charms or oddities. And I found a wonderful pewter raven charm. Somehow I knew these things all needed to come together, so I placed the stamp on a vintage-y cardstock background (re-purposed from part of an old promotional postcard I’d had printed a few years ago) and made a magnet, then made a bookmark with a few links of black chain and the pewter components, and combined these with a pack of my raven note cards. Voilà – a Raven-Poe Gift Pack. (I’ve gone a little crazy with new gift packs to add to my regulars – other new ones pictured above, all made in a similar fashion, include a Bird Lover’s Pack, a Cat Lover’s Pack, A Book Lover’s Pack, and an additional Teacher Gift Pack.)

Back to Poe - Here are two excerpts from Poe’s 1850 poem, “The Bells”


                     The Bells
           by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

                            I

      Hear the sledges with the bells-
            Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
      How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
      While the stars that oversprinkle
      All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
      Keeping time, time, time,
      In a sort of Runic rhyme,
    To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
      From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
            Bells, bells, bells-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.


                            IV

          Hear the tolling of the bells-
              Iron Bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
      In the silence of the night,
      How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
      For every sound that floats
      From the rust within their throats
              Is a groan. …



For the poem its in entirety, click here.


Speaking of stamps, a Poetry Friday friend emailed to see if I ever used vintage stamps? And here I was, with little piles all around.

And speaking of gifts, I learned a new-to-me word on the subject this week, and I must share it with fellow wordsmiths. We had dinner with another couple Wednesday night, and my very dear friend pulled something from her purse and said, “Here – a sursy for you.”

“A what?” I asked, eyeing the fetching little box of pumpkin spice caramels.

“Sursy,” she said. “A little gift.” Well, I went crazy over the caramels AND the word, and was surprised I didn’t know it.

My friend’s husband started Googling and quickly determined that it didn’t share the same spelling with the goddess Circe – it’s just “s-u-r-s-y.” He found this definition in the Urban Dictionary: “A term commonly used in the South to denote a small, unexpected gift.”

Why didn't I know this word? – I am a Southerner after all, but – okay, perhaps growing up in Florida was not quite the same as growing up in the Carolinas. (A debate for another day.)

I told my friend that I had just received a lovely fall note in the mail from a far-away poetry friend, and it had a little Pumpkin Spice teabag enclosed. I guess it was a sursy?! And wouldn’t it be perfect to sip a cup of that tea with one of those caramels?

I’m grateful to these friends for unexpected gifts. Especially this week, when the horror has not been of the tingly Poe variety, but has seared our hearts.

Poetry Friday, for me, is always restorative. One soul-filling sursy after another. Enjoy each treasure today with our beautiful Violet, gathering all in the Roundup this week.  Read More 
19 Comments
Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Deep Thoughts, Deep Space, & a Dose of Blake

Detail - William Blake, 1757–1827, British, Jerusalem, Plate 78, "The Spectres of...", 1804 to 1820, Relief etching printed in orange with pen and black ink and watercolor, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection


To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour…


William Blake (1757-1827), from “Auguries of Innocence.” Subsequent verses are also excerpted from this poem.

Such a week. On Monday, despite the drenching deluge between back door and car, I set out to chase the eclipse. I only needed to go about 65 miles to be safely inside the edge of the Path of Totality. All single-lanes; no crowded interstates for me. I stopped halfway at a wonderful little café/antique shop for some iced tea to go, and my margin of scheduling safety was quickly eaten up by the friendly chatter of the proprietors. In addition to the drink, I left with two tiny framed Victorian miniatures for $5 apiece and some miniature homemade beignets.

Through more rain and breaks of sun, I tooled along woodsy back roads, listening to eclipse coverage across the country via NPR. I stopped just shy of my target point because there was a nice paved spot with an older couple and their equipment set up, and room for a couple more cars. I turned around and joined Mike and Marlene, who had driven up from Jacksonville.

Between our cars, another whipped in – a family from Beaufort, like myself, with two older elementary/young teen-aged kids. They tumbled out from the back seat - the daughter immediately noticing a dead butterfly on the ground, fragile and beautiful. The son, eager for the sky show, negotiated regular glasses and eclipse glasses. (The butterfly was an Eastern Black Swallowtail - it looked just like the one in Brenda's post today.)

Conditions were cloudy, but with our special glasses, we were able to see the crescent of sun and moon. Lightning flashed on one part of the horizon, while sunset hues materialized behind us. The temperature dipped. Crickets chirped. Day quickly turned to night. For totality, we took off our glasses and gazed, amazed at the circle and corona visible to the naked eye even through a veil of cloud. A magical moment of wonder, shared with fellow curious earthlings.

If the Sun & Moon should Doubt
Theyd immediately Go out
To be in a Passion you Good may Do
But no Good if a Passion is in you …


On Tuesday evening, I paused in front of the TV to catch the beginning of the President’s speech in Arizona, before heading to the shower. I didn’t make it to the shower until midnight. I felt like I was driving by an accident scene on a highway – not wanting to look, but unable to avert my gaze. “Unhinged” is the word that kept floating in my mind. Divisive speech, dangerous ideas. I truly felt distressed.

We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night


On Wednesday night, after catching part of an interview on NPR, I tuned in to a two-hour special on PBS, “THE FARTHEST – Voyager in Space.” I expected to be amazed; I didn’t know I would be moved to tears more than once. Through contemporary interviews with scientists who made it happen and vintage footage, the documentary portrays four decades of discovery, from planning stages to weak signals now received from interstellar space beyond our own galaxy. The interviews got me - those serious-minded men and women who devoted energies and brilliant intellects to such a gamble couldn’t talk about it without occasionally getting misty. How could you? The Voyager images give us not only wonder, but perspective. What a little speck we live and die on, love and fight on.

Each Voyager (I & II) contains a “golden record” – literally a metal record designed to last a billion or two years at least – with images of people and nature and sounds (such as Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" and salutations in dozens of languages), and pictorial instructions on how to play it on an enclosed phonograph - 1977 technology. The grooves of the record only had room for 100 pictures. When the generators of the small crafts finally do fail, they will be time capsules floating around with this greeting from our planet, which may or may not itself be around at the time the golden record is discovered, if it ever is.

I paused my DVR to write down these words from golden record designer Jon Lomberg: “It was a process of distillation. You can’t describe the earth in 100 pictures. You can’t describe the earth in 1,000 pictures. But what art is about is taking something small, but can represent the whole.”

Isn’t that a perfect description of poetry?

Spoiler alert – the last image in the film is of our home planet, a minute mote caught in a sunbeam and caught on camera one last time before Voyager sailed farther and farther away. Such a tender, tiny thing.
Worth saving.

When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day


[An encore presentation of “THE FARTHEST” is scheduled for Wed., Sept. 13, at 9 Eastern/8 Central on PBS, or catch the streaming version. For the complete Blake poem, click here , and for more of Blake’s art, click here and here. ]

The always curious and caring Jone at Check it Out is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today – Enjoy! Read More 
27 Comments
Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Mac & Cheese and Too Many Cooks...

No worries - I didn't deface this particular book. Just wanted to show you the found poem with a little help from Photoshop!


Happy, Hot July!


While I typically prefer something cool this time of year, I do love me some hot and bubbly Mac and Cheese. Happy to join the ranks celebrating Macaroni and Cheese Day today! (Our Poetry Friday Rounder-Upper, Terrific Tabatha, ran with the idea, originally served up by Diane. See link at end of post.)


This week as I was pondered poetic options while in the grocery store, I noticed, to my amazement, an entire magazine devoted to Mac & Cheese! A special publication, it seems, getting a new issue for this summer because of past popularity.


I also noticed the vast array of pre-packaged macaroni and cheese dinners, taking up a good swath of aisle. Remember when it was just the little box of Kraft with the neon orange powder? (If you’re my age, I’ll bet you do.)


Macaroni and Cheese is just one of those comfort foods. My hubby loves to cook, and as kids have grown up and out, I am more likely to “fix” now and then than actually cook. But when a family in our church recently juggled some medical challenges, I offered to take over a little meal, and – you guessed it – I made some mac & cheese.

In the picture you’ll see the basic recipe I use, straight from our circa 1980s Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. . I’m not good at precisely following directions; the artist in me improvises all the time. I usually embellish with a few spices, cheddar cheese instead of American, and a healthy sprinkling of Parmesan all across the top.

I thought it would be fun to find a poem in the recipe, and most of the time I challenge myself to keep the words in the order they appear – pretty much making a black-out poem as it were, much like the one I recently sent to Joy for the Poem Swap. (I used a page from a wonderful old book she’d given me a while back. She shared it last week here. )

This week, I do not know WHAT got into me… the heat, maybe?

An innocent, familiar recipe took a surprisingly sinister turn…. Enjoy?! ;0)



Too Many Cooks: Lot’s Wife Misbehaves in the Kitchen


elbow
1 medium
cook.


all at once
till bubbly stir 1 to 2
more.


Turn into
salt.




©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

Please join all the fun with Tabatha today at The Opposite of Indifference, where you’ll find more Mac & Cheesy poems and other poems for every taste. Eat up! (I’ll see you again week after next, as we’ll have our grown kids here for vacation starting today.)  Read More 
34 Comments
Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Poem Swap Sparkles from Joy Acey (& ISSA book winner announced...)

Summer Greetings!

I hope you are enjoying some time by some body of water to enjoy poetry... or, for those of you Down Under or otherwise across the globe, some cozy reading time under a fuzzy blanket!

The Summer Poem Swap, lovingly coordinated by Tabatha , is ON. Funny, I was late getting my first poem out, and so was the person I was swapping with... Joy Acey. Ha! A perfect match.

Joy still beat me to the post office punch, however. I was delighted to open the above colorful painting with tiny letter blocks, which had traveled all the way from Hawaii. Here's the haiku:


just after the rains
over the long dewy grass
sparkling fireflies



©Joy Acey. Used with permission.

Doesn't that make you smile? (She even included instructions on how to use the shipping box as a frame!)

For me it evokes summer evenings in my Tennessee grandparents' back yard, which, back then, continued right through a fence into a hilly pasture. My brother and I would catch the blinking marvels in jars, and they seemed such a wonder.

Still do! We saw some last weekend at our little rental house in hilly Asheville while visiting Seth. Joy has some firefly-inspiring NC roots, too.

I recently shared with the HSA SE folks a firefly haiku by Issa, In David G. Lanoue's new WRITE LIKE ISSA:


the dog sparkling
with fireflies
sound asleep


Translated by David G. Lanoue.


Which brings me to.... (drumroll...) the winner of the WRITE LIKE ISSA book giveaway-- Big Congrats to Christie Wyman! (Christie, email me your real-world address, and I'll get your book on its way. Enjoy!)

Be sure to flicker on over to Random Noodling, where Diane is gathering up this week's Roundup. And for her purrrrfectly WONDERFUL feline HAIKU, scroll back through her recent posts!

Before you go, perhaps you'll leave a favorite firefly memory in the comments? :0)

(PS - I'll be traveling next week - a family member is having surgery - and might have to catch you again the week after. Wishing all a happy and safe Fourth!)
 Read More 
22 Comments
Post a comment

Poetry Friday - Taylor Mali's "Silver-Lined Heart" for my Graduating Son


I'm discovering that when your youngest, your baby, graduates from college - it feels like a big deal!

We are celebrating Seth this weekend, our old-soul 22-year-old who will be taking his degree and his very broad worldview and compassionate heart to go spend a year living and working with homeless folks.

When he was in high school, one of our favorite people on the planet, history teacher Michael McCann, took him and a group of kids (as he has done countless times) to the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival in New Jersey. Seth was especially taken with hearing Taylor Mali that year.

So, for this occasion, for Seth, for life in general and in these times, the following poem seems perfect. I'm only sharing the first two stanzas; the entire poem is here. (Note: Not appropriate for young students - Thanks!)


Silver-Lined Heart
by Taylor Mali


I’m for reckless abandon
and spontaneous celebrations of nothing at all,
like the twin flutes I kept in the trunk of my car
in a box labeled Emergency Champagne Glasses!

Raise an unexpected glass to long, cold winters
and sweet hot summers and the beautiful confusion of the times in between.
To the unexpected drenching rain that leaves you soaking
wet and smiling breathless; ...


Click here for the rest.

I'm for poetry, and for all freshly-minted graduates out there! Congratulations to you and your families.

For more poetry that leaves you "smiling breathless" today, please visit another of my all-time favorite people in the world, Jama, at Jama's Alphabet Soup for the Roundup.

Thanks for stopping by.
 Read More 
24 Comments
Post a comment

Poetry Friday - My Son, The Voyager


Happy Poetry Friday, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my youngest!

Seth turns 22 today, and we got in a little birthday visiting earlier in the week up in the mountains. Busy Spring - he graduates from college as a religious studies major in less than two months! Then he's off to do a year's internship in the heart of one of our Southern cities, working with unhoused/homeless folks in a vibrant, progressive program. He's got the head and heart for it, though prayers for him and for the people he'll meet will always be welcome.

Seth took a creative writing class this semester, and he wrote a children's poem as one of the assignments. I asked if I could share it today! Enjoy.


The Voyager
by Seth Black


I set out, map in hand,
The wind just right for me,
Caught fabric in my sail,
And off I was indeed

To far and distant shores
The likes have not been seen.
The water clear as day
Stands vastly in between.

What’s that? – I hear a call.
I guess it’s time to eat.
“I’ve made your favorite dear.”
Alas! I love grilled cheese.

Walking my own plank,
I dive into the sea.
The blue float drifts away
But not my memory.

I’ll always have my ship.
A voyager, I’ll be.
For I am not a boy
But captain of the sea.


©Seth Black. All rights reserved.


Yes, we're proud of Seth's adventurous spirit.

Sail on over to Reading to the Core, where Captain Catherine is harnessing lots of poetic winds for our sails.
Bon Voyage!
 Read More 
33 Comments
Post a comment

Poetry Friday: Daily Issa and Creatures Great and Small

I don’t know about you, but to counteract the weight of the daily news, I could use a daily dose of Issa!
[Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827) is regarded as one of the primary masters of haiku. He endured much hardship and loss, and his heartfelt poetry is known for its sensitivity to all living things.]

Wait -- Now I have a daily dose of Issa!

For years, Issa scholar and past-president of the Haiku Society of America David G. Lanoue has offered a random Issa poem delivered to your inbox or your Twitter account (or both!) . [Here’s a post about Dr. Lanoue (David) from my blog a couple-few years ago. A professor at Xavier University, he has translated upwards of 10,000 of Issa’s poems.]

His Issa website was launched in 2000. Click here to get to know Issa and sign up for daily poems. After my own unsuccessful attempt a while back to receive this daily treasure (operator error, I’m certain – it’s really quite easy), I finally got myself subscribed and love reading an Issa poem each day.

Thursday’s made me smile:


at an honest man's gate
honeybees
make their home


1824, translated by David G. Lanoue.


It reminded me of our summer guest I blogged about before – the golden silk orb weaver who took up just outside the back door and is still with us. She’s apparently going to go for a third brood?

Issa wrote about spiders, too. And lots of animals. Lanoue’s book, Issa and the Meaning of Animals – A Buddhist Poet’s Perspective (2014), offers accessible insights about this special poet and many of his haiku – a must if you are an Issa fan, a double-must if you are an animal-loving Issa fan.

Here’s one I love:


corner spider
rest easy, my soot-broom
is idle


Translated by David G. Lanoue.


And one more – this goes out to my newlywed teacher-daughter Morgan. They have seen deer a few times in their in-town neighborhood in Georgia this week; a buck, twice!


the young buck’s
antlers tilting…
“cuckoo!”


Translated by David G. Lanoue.


The book provides background and unlocks potential meanings for the poems, which give us beautiful imagery with or without explication. Hope you enjoyed this taste!

Are you a teacher? Click here and here for David’s website pages designed just for you. You can “test” your haiku/Issa knowledge with the first link, and find out about how to share Issa’s life and poetry with kids at the second.

Also, if picture poetry books call your name, you might enjoy sharing Matthew Gollub’s Cool Melons – Turn to Frogs! – The Life and Poems of Issa, illustrated by Kazuko G. Stone (Lee & Low, 1998, 2004). This colorful paperback combines some biography and sample poems to offer glimpses into Issa’s life and writing.

That's what’s going on in my universe this week. For the Poetry Friday Roundup and lots more poetic goodness, please visit poet and teacher extraordinaire Heidi over at My Juicy Little Universe.  Read More 

28 Comments
Post a comment