3 Questions for Lee Nash

1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.

As a poet with a broad range, at any given time I could be writing a haiku, a received form or a piece of flash fiction. This means that I could be focusing on a work anywhere between one line (a monostich) or a paragraph or more (flash). The important first step is to get my initial thoughts on screen, then I try to proceed at an unhurried pace, to find the line that is pleasing to my ear and eye, that fits the essence of the piece. In the draft stage I want to see what emerges – happily now and again the first try is pretty close to the finished product. If there isn’t a good definition then at some point I will start a revision, at which stage (for example) a sonnet may become a free verse poem, or vice versa. The process is organic, with the line taking its length and shape on the page in the most natural way possible, the line breaks setting the pace, working like gears to drive the reader along. The line needs to work with and not against the poem’s internal rhythm and cadences, to be in sympathy with its words and sounds, and the reaction the whole invokes.

2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?

Yes, in the sense that we produce the fruit of who and what we are. I suspect that the traits expressed in our words are linked as much to our physiology and psychology as to our life experiences. When writing a specifically body-oriented poem (for instance, about a C-section, or a burn, or a colonoscopy), the sense of relationship between words and body is keener, simply by definition, but all poems seem visceral rather than intellectual at source. It’s a fascinating question and this body/writing correlation is something I would like to explore in more depth.

3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?

I often think that it increases my intensity when what I really need to do is lighten up! Saying that, I do enjoy writing light verse from time to time. To me writing is a work of faith, and this is exciting but also quite daunting. It’s not the same as having a skill; for instance, I play the flute and know I can pick up the instrument and play a piece as long as I have practiced enough. With poetry, even if you are honing your craft, understand the dynamics, and have publications to your name, you are creating something from nothing each time (as all artists are) and you cannot afford to lose your self-belief. This is not always easy. A poet must accept that the poetry business involves regular rejection and so develop a kind of impassivity to all that, yet still stay sensitive to inspiration and new ideas.


guessing his name…
the scent of jasmine
on fine rain

Stardust, February 2018

premature birth
I choose the thinnest needles
and the softest wool

Pulse, 16 February 2018

sundog an unexpected windfall

The Asahi Shimbun, Asahi Haikuist Network, 16 February 2018

morning kiss
the warm sting
of his bristles

Chanokeburi, Love Videoanthology, 14 February 2018

Lee Nash lives in France and freelances as an editor and proofreader. Her poems have appeared in print and online journals including Acorn, Ambit, Angle, Magma, Mezzo Cammin, Orbis, Poetry Salzburg Review, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The Heron’s Nest, and The Lake. Her first poetry chapbook, Ash Keys, is published by Flutter Press. You can find a selection of Lee’s poems on her website: leenashpoetry.com. http://flutterpress2009.blogspot.fr/2017/11/new-release-ash-keys-by-lee-nash.html

Renga From Japan

Today we’re excited to have our opening at Studio Kura. I expect to have photographs soon. But in the interim, I’m posting a renga written by me and Isabel Winson-Sagan.
We started in Santa Fe in late December and finished here a few days ago. I’ve left in our initials and numbering of links so you can see the process. The moon links aren’t in the traditional spots–it’s a pretty free approach. Might be some more revision yet. Enjoy!

1.These mountains
turn purple at dusk
then darker still

2.Hawk on a cactus
silent snow

3.Winter triangle
brighter than other

4.New Year’s in Japan
the paper store is closed

5.Waning moon
an old woman
sets out lettuce beds

6.My mother sings
at the Ikisan station

7.New house slippers
purple with polka dots,
Coming of Age Day

8.Cranes out on the river bed
no- boys in soccer shorts

9. Dark, light, dark, light
from the train window–
I touch my own pulse

10. Thunder clap awakens me,
blissful stretch under quilt

11. A steamed pork bun
cold kitchen
bright red tea kettle

12. If the weather clears
I’ll understand…everything

13. Wind that rattles 
paper screens-
passing dragon?

14. Your mouth on mine
knows no country

15. Words wrap around
my arms, they keep my spirit
from wandering.

16. Our neighbor across the way
lives like a monk

17. A dog pants over
the water bowl, rabbit—
a flash, and gone.

18. Hot asphalt, the whole city
strolls to a boom box beat.

19. At the window
naked woman, a breeze
moves the curtains

20. He looks at her from the bed
still surprised at his luck.

21. Long hair down her back
wet from the bath, sticks to skin
footprints left behind

22. Knit one, purl two, dropped stitch
just that kind of afternoon

23. Two rabbits
making mochi
in the moon.

24. The tomb on the street corner
at night, he goes walking.

25. Day of the dead
a sugar skull
with my name.

26. A stiff neck from reading
years pass 

27. A fleeting dream
all that remains, faint taste
sweet tea and milk

28. A lonely child looks out,
his computer screen glows

29. Fantastical 
castle– is the hero
prince or demon?

30. Watching anime under
covers with my mom

31. Leafless tress,
a pencil sketch
against the moon

32. The A-bomb dropped
here, as well

33. Hiroshima, don’t
feed the pigeons or sleep
in the peace park 

34. Bulbs finally come up
I see your hat

35. Laundry blooms bright
falling blossoms

36. A patient reward
new green shoots of garlic.


shadowed graveyard
stones of strangers
a foreign language

after the rain
old man on a bicycle
pedals by

I sit writing
by the shrine—perplex
the neighbors

I traveled
my whole life, just to enjoy

twisted leafless trees—
this slick moss
almost trips me up

politics blares
from the passing van,
clumps of narcissus

Photographs by Isabel Winson-Sagan

7 am. Dawn. Itoshima, Fukuoka, Japan

And the strains of “Blue Blue My Love Is Blue” chime the time over the neighborhood.

Last night we walked home after a lovely party at Kura Studio with artists from South Korea, Italy, and Guatemala, plus our Japanese hosts and two little children playing with tiny plastic dinosaurs. This is “our” walk from House 3 to the office. Down the lane, past two Shinto shrines, earthen embankments above our heads. Then fields and impressive greenhouses. People burning trash at the edge of the fields–it could be home in New Mexico.

Past a little restaurant with a sign of rabbits making mochi. Then on to the road. Isabel started talking about animal spirits and I shushed here–I wouldn’t mention Coyote on a Santa Fe night walk. As we strolled through light mist, time chimed with the resounding strains of “Edelweiss, Edelweiss” from “The Sound of Music.”

Impossible not to love the world at this moment.

lit train
across dark rice fields—
our flashlights