Friday, July 23, 2010

Blues & Haiku: Big Mama Thornton & Peggy Heinrich

Over the years, Peggy Heinrich has published a number of outstanding haiku in the pages of Lilliput Review. 10 of her works were recently featured at Of the featured haiku, I was particularly touched by:

holding my breath
until the cormorant

Peggy Heinrich

This, of course, reminds me of Bashō's cormorant poem, featured and discussed in a previous post. Here's Bashō, as translated by Lucien Stryk:

Cormorant fishing
how stirring
how saddening.

translated by Lucien Styrk

For those unfamiliar with cormorant "fishing," the following explanation comes from that earlier post:

The verse about the cormorant fishing perhaps needs a gloss. Fisherman commonly used the cormorant to fish by tying a string around its neck so when the bird snared a fish it couldn't swallow and the "fisherman" would simply remove the fish and put the bird back in the water. Not quite fishing with hand grenades, but certainly in the same mode. What really captures the true Basho spirit here is that he is both stirred and saddened, he still sees the miracle of nature despite the appalling behavior of nature's "highest creation", man.

Peggy manages to capture the idea of being stirred, as in Styrk's version of Bashō, with a suggestion of sadness or, perhaps, horror.

Another poem that resonates from this selection seems so basic, so simple in image and execution, to approach cliché, and yet, and yet (as Issa said of the dewdrop world):

ebb tide
turning to look back
at my footprints

Peggy Heinrich

In some ways, this is a perfect modern haiku: precise, concise, a literal image capturing a specific moment that resonates mightily. There is not one wrong word here and each carries its weight. Three words are at this poems core: ebb, turning, and back. What each one of those words means individually and collectively makes the poem come together. It is something anyone whose been to a shoreline has experienced. Mixed in that experience is the cosmic feel of place, a sense of self as self, a sense of self as part of the whole, a sort of returning, a vague bit of romantic nostalgia ...

But, ah, I'm projecting and that's the point of great haiku, the interaction of reader and poem, bringing one's own experience to bear. The poem has a feeling of ending, but it could just as well be about beginning, or both.

A genuine haiku moment, so simple it might easily be overlooked, as we overlook things, ordinary things, each and every day. Haiku moments. Moments.

The now.


On to the then, to risk a trite segue. Here is a moment, courtesy of Miss Late July (who also recently posted this), that is just too good for words. Big Mama Thornton. A very young Buddy Guy.

And, because once you get something like this started you can't stop, see if this one doesn't blow you out of the water:

Ok, so three's a charm: this one's for Janis (there is a reason this link has over 6 million hits), who was a huge fan of Big Mama (turn it UP):


Featured this week are two poems from the archive, from Lilliput Review #143 (June 1993), to mull over:

when you say 'bird'
do you feel
your wings unfurl?

Jean Michel Guilliaumond

A Melody by Haydn

wild plums --- just --- out -of ---reach

James Magorian

And one from the master:

not giving a damn
that plum blossoms fall...
his stern face

translated by David G. Lanoue



Charles Gramlich said...

The Haiku Moment. Something I try and generally fail to capture. Sigh.

Conrad DiDiodato said...

The Heinrich "ebb tide" haiku is splendid!

Unknown said...

Love Big Mama T. Classic! thanks for sharing!

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Charles, it is so elusive - the only time I snare it is when I stop trying ... and it snares me.

Conrad, how very good this one is almost completely escaped me - glad you liked it.

It's a a big thanks to you, MLJ, as in many ways you were the one who got this post cooking ... and, since it is MLJ, any celebrations planned?

Anonymous said...

Big Mama Thornton's "Ball and Chain" now that is somethin' in this world beautiful. Many thanks for this.
And for Basho's "cormorant" and Heinrich's "ebb tide".

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Thanks, Donna ... glad you liked them all.

snowbird said...

What great company Peggy finds herself with these days... Wonderful moments...

Ed Baker said...

you got me looking for my Lucien Styrk "stash"
pulling out my Roy Hamilton's Ebb Tide

first the mooooonnnnn
russshhheeessss in
like the fast coming tide


but I got side-tracked by that BEAUTIFUL film:
Les Paul:Chasing Sound

and a new drawing that I am calling "Penolope" and

holding my breath
until the cormorant

for effect.

Lyle Daggett said...

The poem by Jean Michel Guilliaumond makes me think of a comment I read, many years ago, in some piece of writing about Zen, and specifically Zen art -- I have no idea now who the author was, or what the piece of writing was --

about the need to become one with whatever you're painting (or, I suppose, writing about) --

"don't paint the branch until you have become that branch."

Not necessarily a central pivot of my whole working aesthetic (or intentions, or conception), though it was perhaps more so earlier in my life, and it's been one of the guide signs I've carried with me over the years since.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

sb, she graces the company she keeps ...

Ed, Les Paul movie, eh ... sounds interesting. Stryk always does it for me. Ran across Tropic of Capricorn and Black Spring yesterday, hardcover library sale, a buck apiece!

Lyle, I can't remember who said that either (maybe lots of variations) but it certainly is a zen maxim ... I should only be able to live up to it. Today I'm moving a piano ... perhaps I should become the piano (and it will move me!).

Ed Baker said...

Les Paul: Chasing Sound

this film WILL bring tears to your eyes.. Lester P... an American (ZEN) Master.

and here(via HULU) about most of the film (less 40 mins):

Anonymous said...

skip Tropic and Black Spring

HM wrote those to make money he (and many others) wrote these "novels" for $1 per page...

Anais Nin also wrote some "porn" novels for $1 per page....
got to HM's

-Henry Miller On Writing
-The Cosmological Eye
-Quiet Days in Clichy
-Stand Still Like The Hummingbird
-From Your Capricorn Friend ((to Irv Stettner, who did STROKER magazine out of Manhattan and (Irv) was, also a friend of Cid's))


as I recall Tropic of Cancer EXPLODED the American AND European Literary Scene!

HM WAS? IS an huge Fire Source...


Anonymous said...

pee est

check out this HM letter to his FRIEND AN 1933:

HM closes this letter with:

I walk along with thoughts, always a little “en retard.”

"Your letter—yes, that was precisely it. But don’t over-elaborate!

Nevertheless, raise the roof."

no one writes letters anymore... and now what mimicked letter-writing


sems to have gon "bye-the-bye" ! replaced with what?

twittering? facebooking?

wanna communicate with me:

call, visit, write OR e-mail
anywhichway you
can disconnect from The Power Grid and The Crowd:

"raise the roof"!

wasn't there a book:

Raise High The Roof-beam "


Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Thanks for these threads - will take the Miller advice and also check out the Les Paul ... will gander at the Hulu excerpt...

The lost art of lost art ...

Ed Baker said...

I'm going to purchase the Les Paul film
it/he IS
T H A T important!

just "dig" how at age about 8 he invented a make/broadcast HIS "music"

(did you know that Mary (Ford) was the middle, female back-up harmonizing/counterpointing singe with GENE AUTRY! and that Lester Paul (not his real name) asked Gene if he knew a female-voice that he could 'use' Gene said MARY FORD ( Mary Ford wasn't her real name).

as Valéry wrote/said in a letter:

"All his life the true painter seeks painting: the true poet, Poetry, etc. For these are not determined activities. In them one must create the need, the goal, the means, and even the obstacles."

(this via Blanchot's
The Space of Literature)

or, as Al Einstein said:

"imagination is more important than knowledge"

neat title to this Les Paul film/autobio-bio:

and I suppose some one asked LP:

"what is it that you are doing?
and he replied:

"chasing sound."

dig the section where/how he invented the solid-body guitar! and what his mother said to him about using the rail-road track for the neck!

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

You won't see a cowboy on a horse carrying around a railroad tie?

I've seen about half of the film this morning and it is amazing, indeed.

Pure creative essence ...

Anonymous said...

track it down

it will change your life/attitude

watch the film




Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Absolutely ... just saw it and it is incredible -

Thanks, Ed.

hema said...

thanks for you