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laughALONG! 21 February


host: Muskaan Ahuja

guest editor: Susan Beth Furst


“There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”

--- Erma Bombeck

Kobayashi Issa is one of the early Japanese masters of the haiku tradition and a favorite of

mine. His name means “cup of tea,” or “a single bubble in steeping tea.” Issa loved to write

about the little things in God’s creation, like snails, spiders, and frogs. He loved to write about

everyday village life and children. He has been compared to his contemporary Robert Burns,

whose poem “To a Mouse,” is characteristic of Issa’s love of small animals. And Issa like Charles Dickens often used humor to make his point. Issa’s writing style included speaking to animals, the use of local slang, and onomatopoeia. He called it “countrified haikai.” Yes, I think Issa is just my cup of tea!

The holes in the wall

play the flute

this autumn evening

--- Issa

Don’t know about the people,

but all the scarecrows

are crooked

--- Issa

It seems that no matter where you live in space or time, some things remain the same.

A poem in response to Issa’s…


so many shapes and sizes

of hot air

--- Susan Beth Furst

Write a humorous haiku in the “Countrified Haikai” style of Issa. You can post it in the box


*Verse translatations by Robert Hass.


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