Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

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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