When I decided to read more poetry last year I stumbled across Bashō and I haven’t looked back since. Of all the things I read his works was some of the ones I came back to over and over. I was happy to find some in A poem for every night of the year too but ultimately I needed to get more, and thus I bought The narrow road to the deep north and other travel sketches.

What should be noted is that it’s mix of prose and poetry( i.e. haiku) and not only his own work but also that of others; people he met and people he admired. As he undertook his travels almost as a pilgrimage it ends up being the notes from both his inner journey and his reflections of his surrounding. “Delicacy of feeling” are the words used on the back and I agree. There is a tenderness there, and insights. A very good books to read on the commute or when traveling.

I must say that I took in the introduction and footnotes with joy as this is an era(the Heian-Era) that I’m interested in. And I always read the footnotes anyways, I’m just pedantic in that un-charming way. You don’t have to, it makes a lot of sense without it, the translator has done a very good job I believe.


My poetry year

img_4126One of the things I decided to read more of during 2016 was poetry.; it hasn’t necessarily been my Everest(that’s drama) but I rarely venture into it. Some haiku,Rumi,Brodsky,Szymborska and Tranström has long been favorites but my adventures in the lyrical has been rather random.

Not that I took the academic route this year, following a curriculum or anything, I just tried to read more and assumed the rest would follow. And I will declare success; I have read more and from very different ends of the spectrum; from narrative poetry in the form of Beowulf to much hyped spoken word artist Rupi Kaur’s collection Milk and Honey.

I don’t regret any of it; I have learned, I have understood some things and I have felt even if I everything was a revelation and a love affair.

What I found out quickly is that it suits me to read a bit everyday. The Everyman’s library pocket poets as a  well as a few of the Penguin little black classics have given me easy access to very diverse poets, with the Everyman’s library ones sometimes according to a theme, thus giving me a framework of reference. Monster verse and Echoing green were the ones I liked the best of the half dozen or so that I have read.

Another book that I have returned to more then once(partly because I bought a copy and have it at hand) is Loop of Jade by Sarah Howe. I loved the images of beauty and sorrow that Howe paints with words.

The one that stands out though is Basho(I read Lips too chilled in the Penguin little black classics-series). I have long had a fascination with haiku; when it’s good I feel it. I must read more of him. Such a great voice; funny,irreverent and deeply insightful. I like my poets with a glint in their eye.

And thus we come to Byron. He turns up everywhere and he brings drama; I keep saying it because it’s true. I make a point of mentioning it every time I run across a reference to him, which is often. I finally read the mans’ work. I like the myth more, but he can be very funny and sharp even if the context of it is somewhat lost on me. His poems hasn’t aged all that well I guess; I really needed to do research as to who he was making fun of.


My poetry year “ended” with Hatred of poetry by Ben Lerner; not a book of poetry but about poetry. Lerner writes a great essay about the impossibility of good poetry but also makes a very good argument as to why poets have to keep on trying.

For myself I vow to keep reading poetry; now that I’ve gotten into the habit I will try to keep at it. Undoubtedly is has made my life better.


Haiku&Home decor


Draining the sake cask


a gallon flower vase

-Matsuo Basho

You can learn great things from books, and meet like-minded people. In addition to his brilliant poems, Basho writes about the “sake cask”. I discovered a long time ago that a nice bottle makes an excellent vase but I was obviously  not the first to do so.

I once went to a dinner and arrived with a purple hydrangea. The host and hostess didn’t have a vase so we placed it in empty Bombay Sapphire bottle: the light blue of the bottle work so well with the flower. I often use a large Hendrick’s bottle: the label was damaged so it’s just black now. The green Tanqueray bottles are also wonderful for a single large flower.

I can also say that five pink peonies placed individually in  green beer bottles in a window was a lovely and chic set-up but due to no battery I didn’t take a photo( it was at a restaurant). However I have these small beer bottles and some chrysanthemums which looks rather good together.


And as I was walking home from work yesterday I saw this in a window.

img_7538Old Genever bottles with stem cabbage. Very chic and minimalist. Such bottles can be found at flea markets but I will also say that I think Genever is underrated and buying it is not a bad idea. Will make a note to blog about cocktails to make with it.