I-Issa Haiku Master: A Reply #atozchallenge..

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!


Pictured with Thomas & Meg Keneally.

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.

xx Rowena

Here’s a link through to my previous Letters to Dead Poets A-H.

9 thoughts on “I-Issa Haiku Master: A Reply #atozchallenge..

  1. pjlazos

    Hi Rowena – love love love your blog, your “voice,” your topic, and completely commiserate as a mom and wife and worker bee. Thanks for all your lovely words.

  2. roweeee Post author

    Thanks so much for popping by, Gail. My journey with Haiku has only just begun and I’m pleased you were touched by Issa’s genius.
    I love the sound of “Hawaiian Haiku”. Does that come with ham and pineapple? That’s what we call a Hawaiian pizza. xx Rowena

  3. roweeee Post author

    Thanks so much. It’s a struggle trying pull of the juggling act but creates a richer life. I am currently not working and focusing on my writing due to my health issues and it has pretty much become a full time job. I am hoping I can turn it into an income but I don’t want that to define my work either. I just want to keep writing from the heart and reaching out to people and hopefully that will lead to somewhere. Actually, with this series, I know I’m finally on my way! Take care and thanks so much for the encouragement xx Rowena

  4. roweeee Post author

    The threat of funnel webs didn’t impress me either and I’m glad I didn’t know they were at camp before he came home. Don’t like my boy mixing with their kind. xx Rowena

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