in August of 2007 I hopped on a train and headed there. One of the first things I saw in Matsushima was a papier-mâché of the Japanese haiku master Matsuo Bashō. I had a photograph snapped with Bashō. After I walked around the area with many tourists and took in more sights before crossing a bridge and resting there for a while. I pulled out my journal from my backpack and started writing this poem about Bashō and Matsushima. I wondered what he would think about all the frenzy going on in a place he once wandered centuries ago. I came back to
Matsushima a few more times and attended an outdoor oyster festival with food vendors, bought some kokeshi dolls and thought more about Bashō. I added these scenes to the poem when I got back to my quaint apartment in Shiogama. A year later, I returned to my home in Canada and rewrote the poem until it was in its final form, so in a way the poem travelled with me. It was conceived in Matsushima, developed in Shiogama and birthed Canada.
as sunlight glittered over the bay. The sky was a brilliant baby blue with seagulls soaring above. Everything was so peaceful. Walking some more, I stopped at a temple and prayed. I was so grateful to have had this chance to be in this beautiful country and to share in its history, which included Bashō and his haiku. As I walked, I thought more about my poem. Much of my writing process includes stepping away from the actual writing and thinking and processing scenes in my mind. Out here on these trails, I was able to envision the tranquility of this beautiful place and contrast it to the “rows of spectators”, “zealous travellers” and “souvenir shops” surrounding the papier-mâché of Bashō and I thought how did our modern society take over such natural beauty.
What do you want readers of this poem to take from this poem?
family members and the life we had with them. In these lines, Bashō longs for that period in his life when he was in Matsushima mesmerized by its beautiful nature. It is natural to reminisce and long for the past but it is also important to move forward with what is in our present lives. We can look back either with fondness or sadness but then we have to keep moving forward and learn to accept change.
Pink House” (2017, Inanna Publications
Anything you would like to add?