Real Toads: I wrote you a book

Today at Real Toads we are to write a poem to a book – a book of poetry or a collection of poems. I have chosen one of the five most influential books to me – Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North.  It was a birthday gift to me from my beloved and revered friend and tutor.  This is the book which introduces us all to the haibun – prose ending with a haiku.  Basho’s haibun were originally travel sketches.  I have traveled Basho’s route several times at different times of the year.  I wrote my first haibun when I was 14.  I have a written a haibun to it, in the spirit of the book. I am also linking this to Poets United Poetry Pantry:

The Beginning
It was November, two days before my 12th birthday. Jamie Pollard, our lifelong next door neighbor who had started my love of Japanese poetic forms and especially haiku, gave me an old ragged copy of Road to the North by Basho. He had carried the copy with him several times to Japan. He said, I want you to read this. It will introduce you to the haibun. I think you will enjoy writing them. I opened the book in awe touching the pages tenderly and then hugged Jamie. My road was opened to me. I have traveled it all my life.

snow was falling – you
were given to me – a
gift still loved today

public domain image from Road to the North

36 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Magaly Guerrero
    Sep 09, 2017 @ 17:27:51

    I am half-ashamed and half-thrilled to say that I have never read The Narrow Road to the Deep North. I love the haibun form. As a fiction writer who also adores poetry, it feels like the perfect combination for me. I bet I will love this book, be as delighted with it as you’ve been. Can’t wait to eye-kiss it!


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 09, 2017 @ 20:35:46

      Thank you Magaly. It is a wonderful book. Full of humor (he speaks of sleeping in a stable with a horse pissing right at his head!) and beauty. You can actually download a pdf for free off the internet in English. And it will eye hug and eye kiss you right back!

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10


  2. Sherry Marr
    Sep 09, 2017 @ 17:29:20

    A gift that began a beautiful journey……i loved this haibun and the story it tells.


  3. frankjtassone
    Sep 09, 2017 @ 17:35:58

    A fitting tribute! Thank you!


  4. Sanaa Rizvi (@rizvi_sanaa)
    Sep 09, 2017 @ 18:09:22

    Beautifully poignant, Toni!💘


  5. Rommy
    Sep 09, 2017 @ 21:05:19

    Such is the power of a thoughtful gift. It can delight in so many ways for years later, both for what it is and what it inspires.


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 09, 2017 @ 21:11:37

      Yes it certainly can. I carry the book in a special leather “envelope” because by now and having been on several trips to Japan with me as it traveled with its original owner, it is falling apart!

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10


  6. mhatter99
    Sep 09, 2017 @ 21:34:20

    This is a nice approach. …and then came the haiku. Made me reflect on the narrative.


  7. Rosemary Nissen-Wade
    Sep 09, 2017 @ 22:59:05

    This is not only beautiful but has a lovely feeling of completion. My copy of Narrow Road came to me in my twenties and was my first encounter with Basho. But it was many more years before I dared to think I might try writing haiku, and even later for haibun,.


  8. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Sep 10, 2017 @ 02:07:55

    I love how reading Basho is seen as the beginning of your journey. I have never read it, but I have the book.


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 10, 2017 @ 13:32:50

      There is time to read it. I read it through quickly in an evening, under my covers with a flashlight. And then I took my time and savored it a few days later.


  9. paul scribbles
    Sep 10, 2017 @ 04:14:02

    Beautiful. No surprise that you wrote to Basho. I treasure my copy which my second daughter bought for me 5 years ago. I have taken but one small step along the Haibun road.


  10. kim881
    Sep 10, 2017 @ 04:46:28

    This wonderful story of how you fell in love with haiku is already familiar but I will never tire reading it, Toni. I really love the haiku!


  11. Brendan
    Sep 10, 2017 @ 07:07:11

    How wonderful to be told the story of your love of haibun, its origins and one of your best current examples. The essence of the form relayed by a mentor and one essential book.


  12. Laura Bloomsbury
    Sep 10, 2017 @ 17:29:26

    You’ve travelled a long path to the shortest of poems – an incisive haiku to your first step


  13. John Buchanan
    Sep 10, 2017 @ 17:30:35

    Your Haiku could hardly have met the brief better. Superb!


  14. Mary
    Sep 10, 2017 @ 17:57:53

    Ah, it is wonderful that you can look back into this time in your childhood and realize how important it was to you. This book definitely was a gift which continues to live in you & your poetry. I wonder if he ever knew the influence and importance of his gift.


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 10, 2017 @ 18:05:21

      Unfortunately he died the last year I was in university. But he knew I wrote, read what I wrote. We had quite a correspondence, even on his deathbed. I still write as if I will be showing it to him for his approval or edits. Thank you Mary.


  15. Donna@LivingFromHappiness
    Sep 10, 2017 @ 18:35:23

    What a fabulous gift that now you give to us!


  16. coalblack
    Sep 10, 2017 @ 18:48:48

    I have books like that, books I have kept with me over all the miles and moves and changes, because they mean that much to me. Thanks especially for your comment at my Word Garden; my sincere condolences on your recent loss, dear.


  17. purplepeninportland
    Sep 10, 2017 @ 20:34:48

    A perfect haiku to the Master and his road north.


  18. kiwi
    Sep 10, 2017 @ 23:56:33

    A tender poem I love your Haiku The image from the book is beautiful


  19. thotpurge
    Sep 11, 2017 @ 00:06:01

    Love the book… have a tribute to it on my blog as well called “On the Rough Road”.


  20. Beverly Crawford
    Sep 11, 2017 @ 00:50:16

    What a lovely haibun. I love the photo as well. Thank you for sharing.


  21. kaykuala (@hankkaykuala)
    Sep 11, 2017 @ 03:22:19

    My road was opened to me.
    I have traveled it all my life.

    How privileged you’ve been to be given the book balanced very much by the passion you had accorded subsequent to that. How privileged are we Toni that you chose to share the knowledge!



Thank you for reading! I try to reciprocate all comments. If you want me to visit a particular post, please direct me directly to that post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: