When I first started writing Letters to Dead Poets for the A-Z Challenge, I never expected a reply…not even in my quirkiest, wildest imaginings.
Yet, I’ve received replies on silver trays, in glass bottles at the beach and on Saturday, I received my reply from Issa before I’d even finalised and posted his letter. I’ve grown used to expecting surprises from the muse, who is usually several steps ahead of my laboured footsteps. However, this was very pre-emptive. Moreover, this is the first reply I’ve received via a living poet and it certainly wasn’t via a direct route either!
On Saturday, I attended a literary luncheon with Thomas & Meg Keneally discussing their new Monsarrat Series of novels. While you might not know Thomas Keneally by name beyond Australia, he wrote Schindler’s Ark which became Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. Meg is his daughter. Although she’s been a successful journalist for many years, this is her first published novel, written in collaboration with her Dad…very much a joint effort!
Anyway, I spotted a familiar face in the crowd but couldn’t place her. Afterwards, she introduced herself as Beverley George. Ah ha! I’d met Beverley last year when I attended a local writers and illustrators’ forum. Beverley was President of the Australian Haiku Society from 2006-2010. Indeed, Beverley’s Haiku have been translated into Japanese, which I view as being the ultimate acknowledgement for a modern Haiku writer, although I could be wrong.
Anyway, Beverley passed on this message from Issa when we spoke after the lunch:
Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house
Although I’d expected Beverley to be at the lunch, it was brilliant timing. Imagine running into such a Haiku expert when you’re only just starting out! Moreover, you might recall I was looking for a translator so Issa and I could understand each other better. I doubt I could find anyone better. Beverley has written extensively about Haiku and other forms of Japanese poetry. Indeed, you can read an interview with her here.
By the way, in case you’re wondering about the relevance of this Haiku to me personally, maintaining the house is quite a struggle when I’m in “writing mode”. Yet, as much as I long to submit myself entirely to the muse and her passionate flights of fancy, the house or family always comes calling. I can’t find that book I need to resource. The kids wonder away from the their electronics bleating: “I’m hungry!” It’s hard to snatch away a moment’s peace, which is, of course, a common lament among writers!
Mind you, there was one scenario involving housework and spiders where I wasn’t so casual. That was when my son arrived home from the Australian Scouting Jamboree and a warning was issued to all parents. Potentially deadly Funnel Web Spiders had been found in two backpacks on return and we were advised to use “extreme caution” when emptying their bags. As soon as my found found out, he lugged his backpack out of his room and dumped it at my feet. As if I look like some crazed spider catcher/killer!! I’m just the taxi driver.
Do you have a favourite Haiku by Issa?
By the way, I also came across this one on my travels today:
Look, don’t kill that fly!
It is making a prayer to you
By rubbing its hands and feet.
Will the inspiration ever end? I sure hope not and the house better not start praying for the well to dry up! While I haven’t exactly been vigilant, I have been nibbling around the edge.
Here’s a link through to my previous Letters to Dead Poets A-H.