Wednesday, October 28, 2009

James Wright: Milkweed

While doing research at the library on James Wright for a forthcoming poetry discussion, I've discovered many things. First and foremost, I've connected with some poems that I hadn't previously, such as "A Prayer to the Lord Ramakrishna." In addition, I've been reading lots of criticism, the Paris Review Interview, and pieces of memoir. In a chapter from his book, American Poetry: Wildness and Domesticity, Robert Bly talks about Wright and their relationship and how he sees his friend's work. The lens Bly uses is, as is often the case, a large and refractive one; his debt to Jung is obvious and, on my part at least, frankly welcome. On occasion, this approach does lead to some fantastically awry notions, yet he ventures into new territory with fresh eyes and always has something interesting, often profound, to say. More often misinterpreted than misinterpreting, Bly's only "problem" is he frequently spoke in metaphors that appalled the dull-minded literalists of this world.

I'll side step for the moment his in-depth "analysis" of the poetry and recount an incident he relates as it informs one of the strange and wonderful poems in The Branch Will Not Break. Here is the poem:

While I stood here, in the open, lost in myself,
I must have looked a long time
Down the corn rows, beyond grass,
The small house,
White walls, animals lumbering toward the barn.
I look down now. It is all changed.
Whatever it was I lost, whatever I wept for
Was a wild, gentle thing, the small dark eyes
Loving me in secret.
It is here. At a touch of my hand,
The air fills with delicate creatures
From the other world.
James Wright

There is such an air of mystery one forgets sometimes that what is happening is very real. The poem itself might serve to sum up the entire quest which is The Branch Will Not Break. Early on in the book, the poet is striving to find himself, is lost, trying to understand how this happened and what is his relation to the world. The event is chronicled beautifully in "Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island Minnesota." In turning to nature, the poet does find himself in the world relative to what surrounds him. And here in "Milkweed," this revelation is reprised with a stunning lyrical beauty.

I read this poem many times and, as a writer, kept thinking of the final 3 lines as an analog for the writing process itself and, of course, they are. But they are first and foremost a lyrical depiction of a very real event: the bursting of a milkweed pod by the poet. This poem has threads that lead back to other major poems in the volume. The images themselves, the surrounding fields, the lumbering animals, the small house may all be found in "Lying in ... ." The wild gentle thing, the small dark eyes, seem at once to recall the pony in "A Blessing" and the poet's cherished secret in "The Jewel." The 3 final lines echo the haiku-like succinctness of the final 3 lines of "A Blessing", and all 3 poems share variations of a powerful revelation in the final lines.

Bly jokes in his essay that Wright's bursting of the milkweed seed pod might not have been the best thing for the surrounding fields but, as he says, never mind that for the moment.

For the moment, indeed. For myself, lyrically speaking, the delicate seeds scattering on the wind all gather together as the poems in The Branch Will Not Break, one of the 20th century's finest volumes of poetry. It never ceases to shake me, to touch me, to move me as deeply as the written word ever has.

A second thing I've discovered while doing background work was James Wright's love of the poet Georg Trakl (this link is a pdf document for those who avoid such things). And he has passed it on. I'm hooked. But I'll save that for a future post.


This week's featured issue is #155 of Lilliput Review from 2007. Here are 5 very brief poems that reach for it all. Enjoy.

April morning-------the crow too-------has a song
Stanford Forrester

snowy road
wind picking up
our footprints
Dorothy McLaughlin

& squirrels
digging too
John Martone

---There was this moment
in the middle of my life -
--------roses in the skinny limbed tree
Ron Price

violet dusk
the old, slow
aching toward
Sean Perkins


Saturday midnight is the deadline for the 2nd Annual Bashô Haiku Challenge entries so, procrastinators, start your engines.

While polishing up this post this morning, Curtis Dunlap i.m.ed me to let me know he was reprinting an Albert Huffstickler poem from a back issue of Lillie. Here is the link; check out the lovely photo of Huff. And in related Huff news, Felicia Mitchell has started a Huff page on Facebook on which lots of remarkable things are being shared.

now I watch
with careful attention...
autumn dusk
translated by David G. Lanoue


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Home I'll Never Be: Issa's Sunday Service, #26

This week was the anniversary of Jack Kerouac's death so for today's Issa's Sunday Service here is Tom Waits performing "Home I'll Never Be." The words are supposedly by Kerouac himself; I haven't been able to verify that except to say that it is everywhere on the net. If anyone knows the history of this particular piece, I'd appreciate it and will share it with readers. Meanwhile, enjoy the Waits performance.

In addition, here's the band Low Anthem performing "Home I'll Never Be," noting that it was recorded by Kerouac and comes from On The Road. Still, any further details would be appreciated.


This week's feature poems closed out Lilliput Review issue #39, way back in 1992. Hope something grabs you here.

we move in time with the wind's hands
swaying the greendesire ashleaf branches
the way our two bodies sway moonmaked
with the breeze rhythm learned
from watching the wind seduce the ash
christien gholson

Night in Akumal, Mexico
The sky has pulled its shade
down to the sea that now
caresses the shore like a
secret lover softly sighing
like a lullaby to which the
coconut trees sway a gentle
hula crickets sing their songs
to the stars and the hidden
insects dance about my porch
light like a coven it is quiet
now more quiet than a dream
more tranquil than nothing at all
Cheryl Townsend

My feet aren't working.
The clock is dead.
There's a new world coming:
beauty's headlights
blind us
from a distance.
Bart Solarcyzk

evening cicada--
a last loud song
to autumn
translated by David G. Lanoue


Saturday, October 24, 2009

2nd Annual Bashô Haiku Challenge: Reminder, with Poems

Seven full days to the deadline for the 2nd Annual Bashô Haiku Challenge. 11:59 pm, Saturday, October 31st will be the final postmark.

Much good luck to all!

Don't imitate me;
it's as boring
as the two halves of a melon.
Matsuo Bashô
translated by Robert Hass

a farting contest
under the moonflower trellis...
cool air

translated by David G. Lanoue


Steve Richmond, Rest in Peace

Steve Richmond has died. Here is a previous post on Steve with some background. In an email, Mike Daily, author of Gagaku Meat, said Steve died in hospice care.

Rest in peace.

This is shaping up to be a lousy week on the poetry front.

don't go geese!
everywhere it's a floating world
of sorrow
translated by David G. Lanoue


Friday, October 23, 2009

Lenore Kandel Gone

Lenore Kandel has died. More on this in a future post. Meanwhile, some info and and poems. And more info.

Here is To Fuck with Love Phase III.

And Issa, letting us all know how it is:

year's end--
the bell of my death place
tolls too
translated by David G. Lanoue



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Random Notes: James Wright, Kerouac, Jane Campion's Keats

In preparation for a session of the 3 Poems By ... discussion group, I've been reading all things James Wright. Could I have a better job, getting to research one my favorite poets in preparation for a work project? And the things I've learned.

I mostly detest reading about poetry. That's not a hard admission, though it is a bit of a damning one. In any case, I am beginning to realize how wrongheaded that is. Here is a quote I ran across in a Paris Review interview with Wright (a .pdf) from 1972:

"Tolstoy was asked in a letter by a pacifist group if he could give them a definition of religion and, if he could do that, to explain to them the relation between religion, that is, what a person believes, and morality, that is, the way he acts in accord with some notion of how he ought to act. Tolstoy worried about this letter, and as I recall it, he said: 'I can only go back to myself. I look around myself and I see every year that, no matter what people do to themselves and to one another, the spring constantly renews itself. This is a physical fact, not a metaphysical theory. I look at every spring and I respond to it very strongly. But I also notice that every year the spring is the same new spring and every year I am one year older. I have to ask the question: What is the relation between my brief and tragic life and this force in the universe that perpetually renews itself? I further believe that every human being asks this question. He cannot avoid asking it-it is forced upon him. And his answer to that question is his religion. If he says the relation between me and this thing is nothing, then his religion is nihilism. As for morality, what ought I to do? I wish I knew.' That was a great letter."

The understatement of that last line, though it doesn't quite have the sheer power of "I have wasted my life", packs a considerable wallop. Interestingly, the quote was in part in reply to a question asking Wright's opinion of the poet John Berryman, whom he greatly admired.

Though one might be tempted to write it off to the interviewer's observation that a jug of wine, which needed to be refilled, sat between them during the interview, really it is the poet's natural inclination to inform her/his topic obliquely, metaphorically, if you will. James Wright considered himself a teacher first and one mustn't argue with a writer's opinion of himself. Perhaps he was a teacher first, but his instincts are purely lyrical.

I highly recommend this interview to anyone with the least attraction to his work. PC, it ain't, but insightful it is.


Today is the anniversary of the death of Jack Kerouac, variously attributed to alcohol, ulcers, or the swallowing of a piece of tin from a tuna top; a subtle combination of all three probably did the deed. At least that was my understanding. Gerald Nicosia succinctly summarizes: Jack Kerouac died on October 21, 1969 “of hemorrhaging esophageal varices, the classic drunkard’s death."

As is the case when remembering him, I like to pull his Book of Haikus off the shelf and randomly open it. Typically, the facing pages contain a total of 6 to 8 poems and I always find at least one that grabs me.

Bluejay drinking at my
---saucer of milk
throwing his head back

Missing a kick
---at the icebox door
it closed anyway

Lonesome blubbers
---grinding out the decades
with wet lips

Ah, the birds
---at dawn,
my mother and father

A current pimple
---In the mind's
Old man

Here's a online selection of his haiku for those craving more. Jack's work in the form is better than I ever imagined it might be. The relationship between the direct pointing of haiku/zen philosophy and first thought, best thought, is as natural as might be.


The new Jane Campion movie on John Keats, is getting high grades from folks I talk to. Ron Silliman has a fine tuned take this week over at his blog. Here's the trailer:


As of this writing, entries for the 2nd Annual Bashô Haiku Challenge (scroll down here for prize update) have already handily surpassed last year in number. Keep 'em coming, folks: there is still 10 full days before the deadline.


From this week's featured issue, Lilliput #156, a sequence of poems from the middle section. Hope you enjoy them.

from the hurricane's path
farther from myself
Robbie Gamble

upturned shells
cup the receding tide...
still not over you
Jeffrey Stillman

Love Song #22
Your absence
lengthens like a shadow
in the afternoon sun
Martha J. Eshelman

a seagull
atop each post
their different looks
Peggy Heinrich

And a final note from Issa:

even for winter's withering
an indifferent face...
sea gull
translated by David Lanoue


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Procol Harum: Wreck of the Hesperus - Issa's Sunday Service, #25

Keith Reid 2nd from right

As long-time reader's of The Hut know, Keith Reid, the lyricist for the great artrock band, Procol Harum, is one of my favorite little known songwriters. Reid, like Robert Hunter of the Grateful Dead, is a default member of the band and, since neither plays an instrument in performance, both suffer from a deplorable lack of recognition. I've written about the Reid and the band before and, though I was taken to task for calling A Salty Dog, from which today's featured song is taken, a concept album, my post was reprinted on the Procol Harum blog, Beyond the Pale, so I feel I wasn't too far off the mark. In another post on the previous Lilliput blog, Beneath Cherry Blossoms, I placed Shelley's "Ozymandis" and Reid's "Conquistador" side by side for comparison. Reid's homage to Shelley was skilled, dark, and delightful, and one of Procol Harum's biggest hits. The song itself will no doubt be finding its way on to this ever growing list of literature inflected rock songs some time in the future.

Their most famous song, "Whiter Shade of Pale," is perhaps the consummate litrock song, referencing Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale" from The Canterbury Tales, which I will be cantankerously skipping today, saving it for a future post. Today, to celebrate the birthday of the talented Mr. Reid (which is tomorrow, October 19th), the selected song above is the lesser known "Wreck of the Hesperus," which tips its briny hat to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem of the same name. The contrast might serve as an example of the difference between traditional and modern approaches, Longfellow's being a frightful, external narrative and Reid's, in the context of the songs that surround it (that concept thingy rears its noddling noggin again - perhaps I should simply state the songs are thematically related), an internal, metaphoric one.

Ah, too many words, not enough notes, eh? Well, hope you enjoy it.

For a list of all 25 songs so far, check out this website.


From featured song to featured poems, which come from Lilliput Review, #38, October 1992. With the leaves reeling and the snow falling and memories of the nicest summer in these parts (and, I suspect, many others) in quite sometime, here's a little bouquet of two (plus Issa) to spruce things up a bit. Enjoy.

daisies in a ceramic
---swan vase
on a living room sill
---in the sun
---white and yellow
'till the end of time
Michael Estabrook

Somehow it seems true.
Delicate of scent and color,
they hurt one's heart so.
Terria Tucker Smith

all we say or speak about
is autumn wind
translated by David Lanoue

And, because I always spend so time on Mr. Reid, here's the band at its height, showing their talents in the instrumental "Repent Walpurgis."

Walpurgis, after whom Walpurgis Night is named, was a British missionary and saint, who died somewhere in the late 770's. Why or even if she needed to repent I'm not sure.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Renée Alberts: an Interview

Here's a little something for Friday: an interview with Pittsburgh poet Renée Alberts by Jan Beatty on her weekly show, Prosody.

Renée is an amazing woman and poet. Her interests are myriad, her attention to detail as fine as it gets. She has a photographer's eye, a journalist's sense of story, and a poet's soul. She is a friend of mine and has been an inspiration to me in my own work; when she preaches, it is by example, and it is a sermon well worth sitting through. She has great courage and great humor.

Listen to this interview. Carefully. Then listen again. Listen to the words. She is besotted by language yet always maintains a measured control. Her compassion is as large as her humor and her vision matches both.

She is a poet to pay attention to. She is paying attention to you.

Here is the opening poem from her chapbook, No Water, which you may hear her read at the link above.

Palm Sunday
Our yard this morning is full of wings
that close and spread to map
their lungs' pulse
as they drink,
veiny stained glass, red
as a hand held up
to the sun.

tomatoes go to vine.
Cabbage whites suck nectar
from their blossoms—lotuses
adrift on the chaos of
morning glory vines spiraling
hosta spires.

The cat stalks a monarch
feeding on zinnia.
She folds its wings
between her paws; this
is how we pray here, love—
with claws.
Renée Alberts

Like many a young poet, the world is her's.

I can't wait to watch her change it.

the winter fly
I spare, the cat
translated by David Lanoue


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Albert Huffstickler's Soul Gallery

An early chapbook by Albert Huffstickler, entitled Soul Gallery, has appeared on Scribd, so I thought I would share it with you all since so many folks love Huff's work. Soul Gallery was originally published by Bard Press back in 1987. The first poem, "Unshed Tears," is pure Huff, reflective of many of the fine works which he would write in succeeding years.

Here is one of my favorite poems of Huff's which was published in Lilliput Review, #91 and has made an appearance or two in this blog over the years. It is seasonal and this is the season, so I once again cannot resist the beauty of its shared wisdom:

And you too shall
pass, the autumn
tells me, shaking
its leaves
in my face.
Albert Huffstickler


In the recent Bashô Challenge update, I mentioned that Jim Kacian of red moon press was going to generously donate 5 poetry volumes to serve as additional prizes for the five runner-up poems in the Challenge. The volumes have arrived and here they are:

Ksana by john martone
john is one of the, if not the, preeminent master of haiku in America today. This volume collects scads of the small self-produced booklets of work that recipients cherish. Simply, a masterpiece.

white lies: The Red Moon Anthology of English Language Haiku, 2008, edited by Jim Kacian and the Red Moon Editorial Staff.
Divided into 3 major sections - haiku/senryu, linked forms, and essays - this annual volume features some the finest purveyors of haiku writing in English today. Included are Fay Aoyagi, Roberta Beary (last year's Bashô Challenge winner), Tom Clausen, LeRoy Gorman, Ruth Holzer, paul m., ed markowski, Tom Painting, John Stevenson, George Swede, James Tipton, Cor van den Heuvel, and many more. Not to be missed.

A New Resonance, 6: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku, edited by Jim Kacian and Dee Evetts
These future voices are, of course, actually the voices of now. Regular readers of Lilliput will recognize many of these names, including Andrea Grillo, Jeff Stillman, and Richard Straw.

A Future Waterfall: 100 Haiku from the Japanese by Ban'ya Natsuishi
The second revised edition by the award winning poet. Included are 5 essays plus one interview. This is unique work by a innovative purveyor of haiku: "Sucking in the blue sky / a cicada hole / disappears"

A String Untouched: Dag Hammarskjöld's Life in Haiku and Photographs by Kai Falkman
This is selection of 50 haiku with photographs by Dag Hammarskjöld, translated with exegesis and biographical details by Kai Falkman. Hammarskjöld was one of the preeminent diplomats of the 20th century and the only person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize after his death, whose book "Markings" was a worldwide bestseller. A fascinating and unique approach to the life and work.

These 5 books will be given away in addition to the 1st prize volume, Bashō and His Interpreters: Selected Hokku with Commentary, edited by Makoto Ueda. For additional information, please see the 2nd Annual Bashô Haiku Challenge.


This week's featured issue from the Lilliput Review archive is #157, from August 2007. Here are the 4 poems from the opening 2 pages. Enjoy.

the wish of not to wish
Sean Perkins

a snail-

of earth
John Martone

July 23, Sunday

the butterfly
a Tiger Swallowtail
pale yellow
with black stripes
scorched down her wings
nestles in between
the petals of all
the six-stalked
scarlet day-
lilies blossoming
in the garden
Robert Schuler

just squeeze into
----hollow sycamore
--------& close my eyes
John Martone

And, of course, last word to the master:

garden butterfly--
the child crawls, it flies
crawls, it flies...
translated by David G. Lanoue


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Small Flowers Crack Concrete: Issa's Sunday Service, #24

d.a.levy (foreground)

It's hard for me personally to believe that 24 weeks into this little music project and this is the first appearance of the sensational Sonic Youth but there you are. They will be back. What you get with this song, "Small Flowers Crack Concrete," is a true blend of poetry and rock, recitation and cosmic noodling, that fans of this band frankly can't get enough of.

I'm not sure how anyone who has a problem with strong language could have found their way here but, if that is the case, you are duly notified that "Small Flowers Crack Concrete" has some outstanding examples.

At the center of this song is Cleveland poet, d.a.levy, mystic, prophet, and cosmic cowboy with Beat sensibilities, an idealist who burnt as fast, hard, and, relatively, as brilliantly as Morrison, Hendrix, James Dean and many another counterculture figures of the Era of Change. I've written about levy before, back at the old Beneath Cherry Blossoms blog (beware of pop-ups). A piece on a book plus dvd on levy, d.a.levy & the mimeograph revolution, which I wrote for The Small Press Review and was reprinted by the outlaw poetry and free jazz network, may be read here (the review follows a brief intro by Ken Petrochuk).

Hope you enjoy this week's Litrock selection at Issa's Sunday Service.


This week's feature poem comes from Lilliput Review #35, which was an "All Women Issue." This poem by, the fine poet Belinda Subraman (who runs a great series of interview/podcasts with poets), snuck in even though it broke the ten line limit rule.

Eve La Nuit
she was a sculptress
who felt eaten by men
gobbled up in their world
her most famous piece
was an abstract view
some think of a bird
with a gaping mouth
or else a cock split open
or perhaps a serpent
who could tell an apple
from a woman
Belinda Subraman

dewdrops scatter--
done with this crappy
translated by David G. Lanoue


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Will Inman: In Memory

I've just learned, a few days late, of the passing of the fine small press poet, Will Inman. I published a number of Will's poems in the early 90's when the magazine was still trying to find its pins and Will was exceedingly generous in sharing his work with a wet-nosed, fledgling editor. The University of Arizona Poetry Center has an award for financially needy poets in his name. One of the quotes Daily Poetics uses at the top of its page is by Will and it very good, indeed:

A poem must not just editorialize, it must evoke. It must
get inside me with the experience so that the part of me
that thinks can say yes! to the flutter between my ribs.
Without that flutter, that visceral recognition, to hell
with it.

His papers are stored at Duke University, an inventory of which you can see online. There is an online obituary in the Arizona Star you have to sign up for (its free) to read. It is reproduced here without the registration process (Note: unfortunately, these links are now dead. Seems our collective memory is zip). His correspondence with Eloise Bethell, with assorted books and memorabilia, may be found at the University of North Carolina. Online remembrances have begun to appear such as this.

With poets, we have memories of who they were, stories of what they've done, legendary and/or infamous. But most of all, we have their poems and I'll bet, when it gets down to biographical tacks, poems are the way poets would most like to be remembered. Here are four that Will Inman shared with the readers of Lilliput Review and myself and I remain grateful to this day.

shadow gaelic
clouds leaned on his shoulders, rain
broke on him such palpable shadows, he
knew the language, he spoke it often to
himself, words he had no need to translate,
direct messages, prophecies from under his
tongue, o he wanted them to be lies, but
they didn't fall with the rain, they grew
out of him to meet with rain, speaking him,
telling his name over and over like woke
beads, promising undiscovered ways beyond

the last wave
flower opens outward
in my throat, bees
shudder up and down my
back, seeking
nectar. i swallow all
but the last wave, moon
rises in my chest, shining
out of my eyes, you still
breathe fast

taste borning
the old Lion has mange,
the young Lamb froths stale,
we bear them lying down
in us, let them die!
jaguar and fawn
lizard and golden bird
come alive behind your eyes,
we bend laughing
to the loins of a young new
manwoman god to taste our
kin borning

a new eden
time to chase god
out of the garden, restore
forests, listen again
to a wisdom of serpents
to voices of trees,
time to take on
all that terrible

Will, R.I.P.

autumn wind--
death draws closer
with every year

translated by David G. Lanoue


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kenneth Rexroth: Songs of Love, Moon & Wind, and a Bashô Haiku Challenge Update

Night Without End

Night without end. I cannot sleep.
The full moon blazes overhead.
Far off in the night I hear someone call.
Hopelessly, I answer, "Yes."
Anonymous (Six Dynasties)

Songs of Love, Moon & Wind: Poems from the Chinese is the companion volume to Kenneth Rexroth's Written on the Sky: Poems from the Japanese, which I discussed in a previous posting. Utilizing Scribd, New Directions has provided some sample poems from the collections, a nice touch, which I've linked to via the titles.

As companion volumes, they make a fine set in their physically attractive and appealing designs, and as an introduction to the overall body of Rexroth's Japanese and Chinese translations. The same flaws with the previous volume stand; no bibliographic history of where these poems previously appeared is provided, so those owning volumes such as and 100 Poems from the Chinese and 100 More Poems from the Chinese have no idea if these selections come from these, or for that matter, any other volumes by Rexroth.

Again, all that being said, this is another fine selection of work, although personally my preference is with the Japanese selection Written on the Sky. This, however, probably reflects my overall attraction to Japanese poetry.

The following two poems chronicle a closeness to nature; in addition, an affinity with the first two of the Buddha's Four Noble Truths makes that closeness readily apparent, something this volume illustrates again and again. First, Master Tu Fu:

A hawk hovers in the air.
Two white gulls float on the stream.
Soaring with the wind, it is easy
To drop and seize
Birds who foolishly drift with the current.
Where the dew sparkles in the grass,
The spider's web waits for its prey.
The processes of nature resemble the business of men.
I stand alone with ten thousand sorrows.
Tu Fu

How easy it is to seize birds that foolishly drift in the current! And the business of men seen as the extension of the preying hawk and lurking spider. Ten thousand sorrows, indeed.

As was frequently the custom in Chinese poetry, poems were set to the tunes of well-known songs. Here is a song that one day we all must sing:

To the Tune "The Fair Maid of Yu"
Once when young I lay and listened
To the rain falling on the roof
Of a brothel. The candlelight
Gleamed on silk and silky flesh.
Later I heard it on the
Cabin roof of a small boat
On the Great River, under
Low clouds where wild geese cried out
On the Autumn storm. Now I
Hear it again on the monastery
Roof. My hair has turned white.
Are all as though they had
Never been. Only the rain
Is the same, falling in streams
On the tiles, all through the night.
Chiang Chien

Today, this is a song of life sorrow familiar to admirers of Jack Kerouac, Albert Huffstickler, the Romantics in general, and so many of the great poets. This astute, resonating collection by one of the master translators and major poets of 20th century, Kenneth Rexroth, fits neatly in the palm of your hand or the back pocket of your jeans. Take into the woods. Read it. Breath it. Live it.

Then leave it for the next seeker.


Jim Kacian of red moon press has written to me and generously offered to sweeten the pot for the 2nd Annual Bashô Haiku Challenge. Jim is going to provide 5 books from red moon's exemplary catalogue to be given away to participants. So, with his approval, I've decided to give a book to each of the first five runners-up to the first prize winner. To recap, here's the full dope:

1. Until October 31st, send up to five haiku via email to:
lilliput review at gmail dot com (spelled out to fend off
pesky bots). I will need a minimum of your name and

2. Accepted works will be published in the 2nd Annual Bashô Haiku Challenge Chapbook to be published some
time in 2010.

3. The winner of the challenge will receive a copy of
Bashō and His Interpreters: Selected Hokku with Commentary, edited by Makoto Ueda, a 15 issue
subscription to Lilliput Review and two contributor
copies of the chapbook.

4. 5 runners-up to the winning haiku will receive a
book from red moon press, a 6 issue subscription to
LR, and two copies of the chapbook.

5. Everyone else whose work is published will receive
a 6 issue subscription and two copies of the chapbook.

So, that's the update. Again, the deadline is October 31st. Send work along and good luck.


Cover by Wayne Hogan

Poems highlighted this week come from issue #159, November 2007, something of a menagerie, human and otherwise. Enjoy.

At the Marsh in Wartime
With its too-big head
the kingfisher in federal blue

dives and dives into the much
and brings up a fingerling every time.
Jennifer Wallace

next to


thank you
John Martone

Split the Lark--and you'll find the Music--
--Bulb after Bulb, in Silver rolled--
Scantily dealt to the Summer Morning
--Saved for your Ear when Lutes be old.

Loose the Flood--you shall find it patent--
--Gush after Gush, reserved for you--
Scarlet Experiment! Sceptic Thomas!
--Now, do you doubt that your Bird was true?
Emily Dickinson

And one from 159, to introduce Master Issa:

i found a new haiku
on my tongue
John Grochalski

ripples on water--
mingling with the larks
a fishing boat
translated by David G. Lanoue


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Paperback Writer: Issa's Sunday Service, #23

This week folks everywhere will remember John Lennon on his birthday, October 9th. For this edition of Issa's Sunday Service, The Beatles' song "Paperback Writer" is featured.

Why "Paperback Writer" you might ask? Isn't that a Macca tune? Indeed, it is. However, as the story goes, John helped him finish it up and there are a couple of touches, which seem at once distinctly John and definitely litrock material. Here is, for the time, the brilliant first verse:

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It's based on a novel by a man named Lear
And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

If Lennon only contributed one word to the song, chances are that word was "Lear," after one of his famed influences in all-things verse, Edward Lear. John's propensity for punning and word play, which we already saw in a previous ISS selection, find a direct antecedent in Lear and making him the author of "a dirty story by a dirty man" was certainly right up John's street. In addition the background vocal by John and George singing the children's tune
"Frere Jacques" is more than likely a John touch and perhaps one of the most brilliant throwaway bits ever. I probably heard this song 100's of times before I realized what was going on about 20 years ago and now I can barely hear anything else when I listen to it.

John, of course, was the literary one, the Beatle who published a book under his own name, In His Own Write, which was heavily influenced by Lear, Lewis Carroll, James Joyce, and Bob Dylan. I always thought the song was, on some level, a little tweak of John by Paul, but the written record says otherwise, so I'll stand down on that one. In any case, the irony swings both ways, so to speak.


This week's poem is aptly titled "Sermon" from Lilliput Review #34, June 1992, and is followed by a poem of Master Issa, from a few years before that. The Lillie poem is a "Brobdingnag Feature Poem" (an occasional poem over 10 lines that finds its way into the mag) by another master, Albert Huffstickler. Enjoy.

All the old, grizzled men
sleeping it off in alleys.
Cold. Cold.
There should be a way
for ancient wine-soaked joints
not to be cold.
There should be a warm room
where they can sit together
immersed in their communal stink.
nodding away the hours

This is our disgrace
(and I don't ever forget it):
that there is no room
in the richest nation in history
for our fractured ancients to sit
nodding away the hours
warming their wine-soaked joints
immersed in their communal stink.
Albert Huffstickler

traveling geese--
the human heart, too
translated by David G. Lanoue