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.

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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