February 2nd, 2007

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Poetry Friday -- Basho

I love haiku, and not for the same reason some of my students do (i.e. they're super short and you can pull one out in a pinch just before class).

I love them because of how pure they are, how evocative and complete, in so spare a frame. 

I love the implicit connection they make between the natural world and, well, everything. 

I love that they remind us, as poets, to be attentive to each and every word, every sound, every connotation.

Basho and the Fox, by Tim Myers and illustrated by Oki S. Han is a lovely little picture book about the great haiku artist and his relationship with a rascally fox, but also his relationship to his work. 

The very idea that the dramatic conflict is the constant striving to write a better poem! Isn't that delicious? 

Myers grapples with all sorts of abstractions -- the muse, revision, patronage, and writing a poem for its own sake -- with humour and, dare I say, suspense. 

My girls love the trickster and the struggle to Get It Right. 

I love the reminder that our best work "flows into (us) and out of (us)" and that all the effort in the world won't impress a fox (or an editor or the madding crowds) unless the act of creation is that natural, that inevitable, even. 

Like the moon blooming
or a deep breath, in and out
words take their places.