L’Shana Tova and Blog Hiatus

Happy Rosh Hashana to all! It seems that autumn is really here. And it appears it will be a busy season.

Maternal Mitochondria’s Suminagashi & Poetry in the Railyard is up!

I look forward to teaching haiku in the Botanical Garden next Saturday. Then I’ll be heading for an artist-in-residency gig at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in Nebraska. God willing and the creek don’t rise. (And hoping the federal government stays open).

So expect the blog back in action the last week in September with many updates. I’m always available at msagan1035@aol.com. And always accepting work–musings, haiku, art, land art, quirky bits, essays, even already published poems and more. Thanks for reading!

The Pactice of First Things First by Miriam Sagan

I’ve been enjoying following Mussar, the Jewish spiritual practice of working on one’s character and ethics. I’ve got a little book that gives daily assignments, with a new trait to focus on each week. This week has been surprisingly pleasant so far, given that the seemingly bland topic is “order” with the directive “first things first.” I tend to be fairly orderly, if messy in spots, so the idea of putting one thing in order a day wasn’t so exciting.
Turns out, it has been helpful, soothing even. Like all artists and writers I’ve had to learn to structure my days with a mix of paid work, creative work, hustling, family, social life, and domestic concerns. Right now I’ve also got volunteer work and a garden, an archeology class, and some travel. So—what is first? Turns out, that question itself is calming. And the answer not that obvious. Sometimes I fix something I’ve truly neglected, or deal with something that makes me anxious (on-going trapping of skunks beneath the house or Taxation and Revenue.)
I like to start the day with writing, pulling some suminagashi, and a bit of mild exercise or housework. To my shock, now that I’m retired from community college I’m getting up before 7 am. I’ve get less fatigue and less chronic pain—and somehow a better relationship to time. But I don’t want to purely define myself as creative. So sometimes that first thing is rushing off to do something else.
Monks in a monastery follow a strict daily routine. My first husband Robert—a Zen monk—used to say: if you don’t know what to do, follow the schedule. I’ve never wanted to be a monk, but I value a routine based on my intentions, not the world’s. When Donald Trump was elected I made a big list of what I wanted to do. This included marches and protests, working with immigrants, philanthropy, and interestingly—deepening Jewish spirituality and community. I didn’t want to ask myself every five minutes: can I live in this country? What should I do? Am I in danger? What is my approach? I felt that would be too destabilizing, so I set a course.
And I’ve kept to it. This doesn’t mean I won’t change as circumstances change. It just means I have a way to get through the day. I credit my understanding of this to my struggles with becoming a writer. It took me almost a decade (my twenties) to figure out how to function as a writer and as a person. Again, I’ll change as needed, but the outline is there. And I don’t want to change with each turn of the wind.
So, as each day brings new outrages and worries on the societal front, I put first things first.

Suminagashi & Poetry in the Railyard

Thanks to all the workshop participants who created suminagashi and poetry in the Railyard.

The pieces will be hanging in the park—informal opening for the public Sat Sept 8, 3-5 pm.

We will be sitting outside the community classroom to say hi and direct you.

To find the installation:
At the community classroom face south, (your back to Paseo de Peralta). Walk towards the rainbow compass sculpture. Look for a group of evergreens. Discover our art and poetry!

It will be up for a month, so come by at your convenience. Bring your friends and enjoy a stroll!

Miriam Sagan
Isabel Winson-Sagan

All of My Seven Watches Stopped

except this one, which doesn’t match much:

I took them to the jeweler’s…the silly one ordered on-line, the nice one to match a friend’s, the Miami Beach type one in honor of my roots, the one I bought at the airport when my mother was dying…

Soon they’ll be ticking again. But for a moment time stood still. I didn’t get older. Summer wasn’t ending. The future wasn’t arriving.

Then I put the sole working watch on my wrist, changed my earrings to turquoise, and the day unfolded.

Mann Library Daily Haiku

I’m a fan of the ephemeral, the diurnal, and text installation. How can I have missed this great project from Tom Clausen at the Mann Library? Well, I did, and just discovered it because I’m also a fan of Hannah Mahoney’s haiku–and she is the featured poet of the month.
Such a touching poem–

folding her clothes
remembering folding
her first clothes

Hannah Mahoney


About the Daily Haiku
For over ten years, Tom Clausen posted a daily haiku in the elevator of the old Mann building. He continues to post them online from the Mann Library home page. The poets featured are by invitation only and the poems are almost entirely previously published original works of an extended haiku community that includes many of his friends. This site is an effort to share these works with those of you visiting us on our Web site.  Haiku and related brief poetic forms are often very accessible, portable in mind and spirit and at best a knowing touch of what is poetically intuitive in our lives. We hope that you enjoy these expressions as much as we do.
 Note by Tom Clausen about haiku:
“Haiku has consistently appealed to me as a means of centering, focusing, sharing, and responding to a life and world bent on excess. As the layers of my own life have accumulated, I’ve often felt overwhelmed by both personal changes and the mass of news, information, and survival requirements that come with being human today. Haiku are for me a way of honoring and celebrating simple yet profound relationships that awaken in us, with a gentle and silent inner touch, a spiritual relevance that adds meaning to our lives.”

If there is anything I like, it’s a haiku we come upon unawares. You can follow Hannah Mahoney throughout this month, and the archive is also full of great work. As a rule, it is previously published haiku, but this would also be an interesting challenge to write one a day.