Tuesday, April 22, 2008

the simple life

Part of haiku sensibilities go beyond "nature
poems." Many haiku focus on human life
that, to be sure, are part of nature, but I
think of the simpler, everyday activities.
Because haiku highlight moments, typically,
the mundane objects of life are elevated.
Modern humanity all too often rushes past
noticeable, yet unnoticed, simplicity.
Part of what attracts me to haiku writing
and reading is that it suggests mindfulness
and grounding in everyday reality.
In the past some writers have taken this
attitude to extreme. For example, one could
become an "ascetic" like Hosai Ozaki (see
"Right under the big sky, I don't wear a hat,"
Stone Bridge Press, P.O. Box 8208, Berkeley,
CA, 1993). Some of his poems:

Having run here through the wind, in his palm, hot coins (p. 37)

I know the footsteps of the sparrow walking on the mat (p. 105)

See this site for more on his book:


We need not give up all worldly possessions like
Ozaki, but rather "slow down" to notice life's
simplicity. So, occasionally, I return to Ozaki's
small book as a reminder to notice more around
me, as with this poem from observing

bent over the apprentice straightens a nail

w. f. owen

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