Riehlife Poem-of-the-Day:”Basho & the Crickets,” by Stephen Kuusisto

“Basho & the Crickets” is Riehlife’s poem of the day written by Stephen Kuusisto–Professor, Author, Speaker, Poet, Blogger, and Disability Advocate. With his guide dog Nira, he roams the world giving readings and workshops–when he’s not teaching at the Iowa Writing Workshop.

Here’s how the poem and Stephen came in my life, and then bobbed up again, just a year later…almost as if we’d planned this small reunion.

When I read the program for Meramec’s Writing Festival: Taking Care, Medicine for the Mind, I saw that Stephen Kuusisto would give a workshop and reading–just 20 minutes away in Kirkwood.

What’s so cool is that I first met Stephen in cyberspace. He gave my blog the ultimate compliment of writing a poem dedicated to me. This came out of the blue: “Basho & the Crickets.”

A bit later I met him in person when I visited my friends Alan and Mary Brody in Iowa City. Mary, a world-class cook, made a feast for us. Along with Stephen Kuusisto the Brody’s and I enjoyed a Poet’s Dinner with Marvin Bell and his wife Dorothy. Riehlife featured Marvin Bell’s inauguration poem “Yes We Can” .

I didn’t realize until afterwards how highly regarded these two poets are. I knew the were good, but gosh! I’m glad I didn’t not just how prominent they are, because I might have clutched. As it turned out, they were both fun and entertaining. Stephen does a dead-on Nixon impression that had me bent over laughing. Really big men, indeed, who can be just folks and at home in whatever corner of the world they find themselves.

I introduced myself to Stephen at his reading. Amazingly he remembered all sorts of things about my background and our Poets Dinner. We went to lunch at a pub. But, they didn’t have “Toad in a Hole,” or “Bangers & Mash,” or “Bubble and Squeak.” We made do rather nicely.

Good to revive those memories.

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