Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,
As you all know recently Jane Reichhold passed away. She will be missed. I have asked Jen (BlogItorLoseIt) to write a tribute for Jane Reichhold. Jen emailed me yesterday her tribute.
Jane Reichhold (1937-2016), a tribute
If I could
my life over
to be the child
who planted ash trees
When Kristjaan asked if I would write
about my bond with Jane, I immediately said I’d be honored. But to
tell you the truth, I am woefully inadequate for the task.
For almost a year, Jane and I
corresponded by email. It began when I asked her for recommended
reading. If I wanted to explore the best tanka written by women,
where would I start? A Girl with Tangled Hair (Akiko Yosano)
was at the top of her list.
I bought it, devoured it, and thanked
her profusely. But … I also made an uncomfortable confession. In
taking such risks writing tanka (especially erotic pieces) I had
revealed too much of my heart. There was fallout … and sometimes I
didn’t want to write anymore.
And Jane (whom I revered even then as
“The Queen of Haiku and Tanka”) admitted something
astonishing. An especially harsh book review wounded her so deeply
that she stopped writing. Completely. For a very long time. When
she did write again, she wrote on a child’s erasable slate. She
wrote, she erased, she shared with no one.
Jane understood! She had been
art is exact
a woman in love
pencil and error
a blue-lined grid of
where death is unnamed
From that moment on, our correspondence
wasn’t mentor to student but woman to woman.
When my personal life began to
disintegrate, she sent one of her handcrafted therapy dolls (named
“Peanut”) in the hope that it would pull me out of a deepening
depression. When an injury kept me housebound and wracked in pain, I
was frustrated and furious. She asked me to be gentle with myself …
but also said, “You are living my nightmare.” She hinted at
health issues and failing eyesight but would not discuss them. For a
year she was patient beyond measure … encouraging me to write
again … she said people needed to hear my voice.
When a second creative source
maneuvered me into silence, she sent her phone number and asked me to
call. But ... how … could I call? I was so nervous!
One day as I was ready to walk out the
door a voice said, “Call. NOW.”
So I did.
We talked for about two hours. We
laughed … a lot. We shared life stories and found more in common
than I ever could have imagined. But she said, “the vortex” was
opening under her feet. And she would not elaborate. Instead, she
worried about my personal safety (a story for another day). She
would not rest until I promised to leave town for a few days … so …
there is a
tongue crushed in a room
of tombstone teeth
gathered after a funeral
At the end of our call she offered an
intense ten minutes of advice … delivered in a soft but urgent
voice that could have quieted a stadium.
Find what makes you happy. Don’t
let anyone silence you. Speak your truth. Write. Write!
So … sitting in the dark on a beach
in Delaware, I pieced together fragments of haiku.
Once home, I went online to email Jane.
But of course I was sidetracked by Facebook … and there was a post
by Jane! Or … rather … a post from Jane’s friend.
Jane was gone.
Jane, I wish you had saved all those
erased haiku. I wish you could see that I’m writing again. I wish
that someone could have eased your pain, saved your eyesight, ensured
your mobility. All I can offer is a humble “thank you”. You
of things unspoken
calls to the sea
In addition to Jane’s tanka (above)
here are a few haiku from her Dictionary of Haiku, under
Summer Moods. Please use them for your inspiration, and don’t be
afraid to speak your truth.
open to summer
this old couple
alone on the porch
with a red star
and when it's
the river's low
on my lips
bites given on the
of his knife
of little trees
swollen with lovers
between unworn shirts
buzzing at the door
in rain in sun
how do you run from
window box zinnia?
Thank you Jen for this beautiful tribute for Jane Reichhold, what a wonderful bond you had with her. She surely will be missed by the global haiku world.
You can respond on this tribute through the comment field or link your haiku, tanka or other Japanese poetry form to the linking widget. You can submit your responses until next Sunday August 21st at noon (CET).