Haibun: Who and why

Today I am hosting at dVerse Poets writing about why I write poetry and who inspired me.

Who and Why
I wrote my first haiku when I was six. Our next door neighbor, the last of his line, was a professor of Asian Studies at Duke University. I came and went freely in his home, looking at the antiques, the momentos from his journeys to Japan, and sipping lemonade on his generous front porch. Jamie Pollard was prissy, opinionated, and not afraid to speak his mind. Although I was six and he was 40, we became fast friends. His factotum was a Japanese man who kept the house in order, the vehicles running, and his employer looking perfect. He was also Jamie’s live in lover. At a time when such things were “not spoken of”, Jamie lived his life large. Often in the summer, as I lay on my stomach coloring in my coloring book, he would read Basho and Issa to me and we both sipped lemonade. I suspect his had some liquor added.

When I was 11 and totally bored, my grandmother stopped her preparation of dinner and went to the house library. She came back with several books – T.S. Eliot, Emily Dickinson, and H.D. Thoreau. She put them down in front of me and said, I think these will keep you busy for a couple of weeks. I was inspired by all three writers. Thus began my interest in writing about nature in the form of “snapshots”…haiku. The Viet Nam war was ramping up. I wrote of poems about peace, love, and later, about drugs. Once when I was practicing my cursive writing, my father took out a lovely fountain pen and gave it to me. He said to me, “write your heart”. And I did. I took it with me everywhere I traveled – from the Coast of North Carolina to the summit of Mt. Fuji. I loaded it up with peacock blue ink. I write my heart, my soul, my feelings, my questions about life. I write simply. Like spring rain or snow or the ancient trees in the forest. Inspired by poets and people I love, I write. I will always write about life and how I perceive it.

spring comes in slowly
scattering snow and cherry blossoms –
legacy of love in verse

38 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Mar 19, 2018 @ 16:17:25

    You wrote your first haiku at six… I wrote mine only 7 years ago, imagine all the roads that can lead to the same thing.. to the world of becoming a writer.


  2. alisonhankinson
    Mar 19, 2018 @ 16:44:42

    What a lovely story and it feels like you were fortunate to have such an engaging neighbour to teach you the art of poetry and writing. I had trombone lessons from a similarly eccentric trombonist. I feel like I was very privileged.


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 19, 2018 @ 17:05:11

      Wow. The trombone! That is a hard instrument.


    • Beverly Crawford
      Mar 20, 2018 @ 10:20:14

      I love the phrase “write your heart”. I have done just that for years and have scores of brief essays and poems that recount thoughts and events on my life journey. Indeed, we all seem to have that need to write.


  3. sarahsouthwest
    Mar 19, 2018 @ 16:47:06

    I love to see a well read book!


  4. rothpoetry
    Mar 19, 2018 @ 16:53:00

    I love your story! Such a nostalgic feel and the characters are so real,I can see them now. This is a wonderful prompt to learn to know one another better. Thank you!! Cherry blossoms are spreading their verses here as we write!


  5. Jane Dougherty
    Mar 19, 2018 @ 17:24:07

    Isn’t it wonderful how other people can enrich our lives? I like your story.


  6. Grace
    Mar 19, 2018 @ 17:50:49

    Thank you for sharing this Toni~ You are so lucky to have those people who influenced you early in life – your neighbor and grandmother. Wow, Haiku at age 6…cheers to your future writing! Spring is so slow here too~


  7. Michael
    Mar 19, 2018 @ 18:12:15

    You’ve been penning poetry a fair while and no doubt love the process. I remember being intrigued by people like Keats and Donne. Woodsworth left me floundering because he took so long to get anywhere.


  8. Margaret Elizabeth Bednar
    Mar 19, 2018 @ 18:19:01

    I adore adore the first stanza as it is so personal and well, I love the relationship. “peacock blue ink”… love that. Thank you for giving us this forum – I think its my favorite poetry challenge 🙂


  9. Misky
    Mar 19, 2018 @ 18:37:22

    My goodness, you are well practised in your craft after so many years! Brilliant and inspiring.


  10. Frank Hubeny
    Mar 19, 2018 @ 19:40:21

    Nothing like giving a bored child books.


  11. Sascha Darlington
    Mar 19, 2018 @ 23:02:19

    This is lovely, like a tiny memoir beautifully done.


  12. Jo Aylard
    Mar 20, 2018 @ 00:28:44

    “Write your heart” – what an absolutely lovely thing for your father to say! Your writing paints a lovely picture of facets of your life.


  13. lynn__
    Mar 20, 2018 @ 16:17:01

    Interesting neighbor 🙂 I’ve dabbled in calligraphy and LOVE peacock blue ink!


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 21, 2018 @ 01:36:41

      Well lynn, I’ve never done calligraphy…my hand writing is too bad. Sometimes I will go with violet ink but peacock blue is the First and original favorite. I’ve had trouble finding it lately and so have mixed green and blue.


  14. kiwinana
    Mar 20, 2018 @ 16:25:59

    I loved reading your post, especially the last line “I will always write about life and how I perceive it” so true I love writing poetry.
    All the best to you my new found internet friend.


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 20, 2018 @ 17:30:37

      Do you know of Rosemary Nissen-wade? She is Australian and a lovely person and poet. Thank you for your kind words. It is always good to make new friends.

      Get Outlook for Android



  15. Vivian Zems
    Mar 20, 2018 @ 21:50:31

    Your perception of life comes through so clearly in your writing. You were inspired well.


  16. Suzanne
    Mar 21, 2018 @ 01:30:49

    I loved reading about your childhood introduction to haiku. How wonderful to have such an intelligent and sensitive neighbour. Your grandmother’s choice of books to inspire a teenager were truly inspired.
    Your haiku at the end is very elegant.


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