Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Haiku by Kobayashi Issa translated and read by Robert Hass

                                                  Editor Mary McCallum

Kobayashi Issa June 15, 1763 - November 19, 1827

Love them! A deliciously irreverent way to kick off 2012 - and they feel so fresh and contemporary, and yet the poet died over 180 years ago.

According to Wikipedia, Kobayashi Issa wrote over 20,000 haiku - compared with the more famous Basho's 2,000 - and of those he wrote 54 haiku on the snail, 15 on the toad, nearly 200 on frogs, about 230 on the firefly, more than 150 on the mosquito, 90 on flies, over 100 on fleas and nearly 90 on the cicada, making a total of about one thousand verses on such creatures alone.

Robert Hass is himself a celebrated American poet. I carry this poem of his in my wallet.

Haiku: 'the perfect poetic form for our time'? Check out the video below and then try the other Tuesday poems in the sidebar posted by our 30 poets, written by themselves or by poets they admire. We're here every Tuesday. Happy New Year.

This week's editor Mary McCallum is a poet and novelist who lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She is the curator of Tuesday Poem with Claire Beynon (Dunedin). Mary also teaches creative writing, reviews books and works in a bookshop. She is currently working on poems for a Fringe Festival exhibition Translucent Landscapes and blogs at O Audacious Book.  


Sarah Jane Barnett said...

Fantastic stuff. The research component of my PhD is on the work of Robert Hass, and MaL is one of my favourite poems as well. At one point I had to memorise it for a class, and recited it each evening for about a week. I think my husband knows it now as well!

Mary McCallum said...

Sarah - I think it was you who introduced me to the poem via your blog! Thank you!

Elizabeth Welsh said...

I have Meditation on my fridge! Fabulous stuff - what a great start to the year :)

Kathleen Jones said...

Oh, I just loved this poem Mary. I didn't know about Robert Hass. Thank you so much for this post!
ps and the haiku!

Gerry Snape said...

wonderful stuff and brilliantly read!

sandra said...

There is to be a Haiku Festival Aotearoa in Tauranga from June 15-17 this year. We have Jim Kacian coming out from the US to take master classes.

We've set up a website and you'll find programme information and a registration form there.


Thanks for posting this, the video is great fun.

- Sandra Simpson

Harvey Molloy said...

Great start to year, Mary. Hass is a wonderful poet. Sarah, I'm keen to read your Ph.D as I'm sure are many others.