Knowing of our love of — and frequent postings of – centuries-old Japanese Haiku, tiny poems that perfectly describe an instant, a friend gave us The Haiku Anthology. It contains very surprising haiku  written by contemporary Americans in English; evidence of modern life is everywhere…as poetry and insight…

long meeting
I study the pattern
embossed on the napkin


freshly fallen snow
opening a new package
of typing paper


a can of paint
holds open the door


just the tree and I
at the bus stop

(Reading haiku would be the perfect way to pass time at the eerie bus stop photographer Stephen Ellaway captured.  (Did he have that haiku in mind?)

Stephen Ellaway/Getty Images
Stephen Ellaway/Getty Images

…and our favorite:

through the criteria—
a breeze

…clear evidence that it is possible to cultivate a “poet mind” in the midst of daily life. As is the poem fragment jotted on a napkin by Garth Gallaghan, above. It’s something pleasurably do-able in one’s head, as poet Ocean Vuong wrote to a reader:

Anonymous asked: dear ocean, how long does usually it take you to write a poem? what is your writing process like?

how long? let’s see..i’m 26 years old. so, 26 years! lol but seriously, i don’t know. i only write about 5-7 poems a year. and to be honest, i don’t really enjoy writing. i prefer to hold the idea and the world of the poem in my head. the writing fossilizes that world, in a way, and i want it to be perpetually shifting, rippling and breathing for as long as i can keep it. each day i enter the poem in my head, like going into a room. i look around, i move things, i take a beam of light and place it carefully across the table, then i leave and go on living my life, having written nothing at all. i write the poem only when there is nowhere else to go–and the room is full and pulsing. in this way, the poem is a kind of residue of its imaginary life. but a wonderful one. a wonderful smudge.

We love the idea of holding “the world of the poem in our heads“…as much as we love “holding a poem of the world in our heads“…

Wonder if we can navigate the subway, or shop for groceries, or wait on-hold with customer service, with “poet mind”?


Top image via My Modern Met (from an amazing story)

With heartfelt thanks to Viviane Chen.

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