Square sheet of paper–
folded, suddenly wakes up.
Good morning, Rooster.
I wasn’t really intending to read more haiku this week with the boys but then we ended up spending time with Grandfather’s Journey this week. I usually plan out books ahead of time to go along with our Five in a Row book but this time I ran out of time before my library trip. So I just quickly browsed through the library shelves. I’m a planner but this was a good reminder that sometimes it’s nice to just wander. I ended up finding two great accompaniments to both our time in Japan and our recent study of poetry.
The first was this book by Kristine O’Connell George that follows a little boy as he makes a menagerie of origami animals. Each page has a short poem. The combination of the origami and poetry works well and the pictures that follow the boy through his day give a sense of continuity to the poems.
I had never heard of the concept of “wabi-sabi”before reading this book by Mark Reibstein. From Wikipedia:
Wabi-sabi is the most conspicuous and characteristic feature of traditional Japanese beauty and it occupies roughly the same position in the Japanese pantheon of aesthetic values as do the Greek ideals of beauty and perfection in the West.” “if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi.” “[Wabi-sabi] nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.
If that doesn’t make it clear, this book does make clear that the concept is nothing if not difficult to define. In it a cat named Wabi-sabi overhears her master asked by a visitor from a foreign land what her name means. When the master replies that “it is hard to explain” Wabi-sabi goes on a journey to see if she can discover the meaning for herself.
This book has many layers. On the surface is the story of the cat and her journey. Each time she asks a different creature about her name the answer is given in a haiku. Each page also has a line of Japanese writing. At the end of the book there is a short discussion on haiku where the reader discovers that those lines are haiku by either Basho or Shiki . The poems are translated on the end pages. Ed Young’s paper collage illustrations are beautiful and complement the text. The book also opens to read top to bottom which adds to the experience. All in all, it’s a beautiful book and one that I’m very glad I stumbled upon.
Poetry Friday is hosted this week by Check It Out.