Tuesday, April 24, 2012

POETRY: Read More, Blog More #4

When I returned to school as a "mature" student, my quest for a Bachelor's degree and Teaching credential took most of my time and even more of my limited intellectual resources - with precious little of either left for leisure reading. 

But I hate being caught out at odd times with nothing to read. You know those times when for one reason or another you end up with extra time - not enough to do something constructive but enough to drive you crazy.

So I began to carry a book of poetry wherever I went.
(A practice I continue to this day) 

Most poetry collections have the virtue of being small and portable while still offering real gems that can be read when time, and concentration, are limited.

It was also at this time that I developed a love of Haiku, first reading, then writing.

Successful Haiku capture and share the essence of an experience rather than a describing it. This is both the strength of the form and its challenge. For many folks, including myself, the time spent with each tiny, exquisite poem can also easily become a meditation.


Matsuo Basho remains a giant in the field, and I'm saving my pennies to purchase Basho's Journey: The Literary Prose Of Matsuo Basho

A crow
has settled on a bare branch -
 autumn evening.
- - Matsuo Basho

Early on I became quite enamored of some of the ladies. Two of my favorite volumes are, Chiyo-ni Woman Haiku Master and Far Beyond the Field: Haiku By Japanese Women.

to be in a world
eating white rice
amid plum fragrance
- - Chiyo-ni

one naked baby
is all I've got
and I pray
- - Ishibashi Hideno

I've also come across a few surprises along the way. For instance, did you know that Jack Kerouac wrote Haiku

Trying to study sutras,
the kitten on my page
Demanding attention
- - Jack Kerouac

Some other favorites include: 
The Haiku Year, a compilation of Haiku written by some surprising people, one for each day of the year.

No desire
to read the news - 
my life's enough for now
- - Jim McKay

Haiku U., by David M. Bader, makes literary allusion fun.

The Sun Also Rises

"Why can't we?" she said.
"War wound," I said. "Oy," Cohn said.
Back to Harry's Bar.
- - Ernest Hemingway (sort of)

Then there's If Not For The Cat, Haiku for children, by Jack Prelutsky.

When I raise my tail,
Expressing my displeasure,
Even wolves make tracks.
- - Jack Prelutsky

small conifer bonsai tree in a green dish radiating out to the leftThe Essential Haiku, ed. Robert Hass & The Haiku Anthology, ed. Cor Van Den Heuvel, are also mainstays.

There are many interesting links out there: online journals, poetry societies . . . Here are just a few.


  1. Oh this poetry is SO much nicer than the poems I read this month. Ha!! I haven't read many haikus outside of school but I love the idea of carrying a little book of poetry wherever you go. might have to try that!

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I've discovered that there is haiku on just about every subject - zombies, animals, rednecks, ... the list goes on. Not all of it is great, but it can be fun.

  2. I adore that one on The Sun Also Rises!!!

    1. Sometimes that book made me laugh until I cried. I thought of trying to sum up other books I've read like that, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

  3. Here's a couple from a favourite write Soseki Natsume.

    Over the wintry
    forest, winds howl in rage
    with no leaves to blow.

    On New Year's Day
    I long to meet my parents
    as they were before my birth.

    and one by me

    Pink Ume Blossoms
    Melt the Mountain Snows, sweet
    Fragrant like the Sun

    1. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your own writing. It is touching and evokes a wonderful, peaceful experience. I can almost smell the blossoms.