Grant Savage/Masud Taj

grant x h-masud-taj-532-600

rainy day
on the floor a puzzle piece
of blue sky

Today a puzzle piece takes over.  It’s the perfect poem for today as the sun has relented a little and we are not sweltering, but upon my opening Taj’s masterful rendering of Grant’s poem, the sky has become blue again.

This time Taj received four poems and chose this one. I have no idea how his minds works to create such a thing of beauty, whether he ‘sees’ the haiku in this form from the start or whether it develops as he puts writing instrument to paper. I like to imagine his process, though I realize how useless it would be to try.

Except for the aura of peaceful concentration that must hover about him as he begins.

The poem itself, with its economy of words the nouns ― day, floor, piece, sky. This is where the master haiku writer shows up. The nouns are modified by only two words ― rainy and puzzle. Then two prepositions and an article. From these ‘word puzzle pieces’ describing what he saw, he lets us into the picture. He takes us out of one weather situation into another, possibly of the mind, a neat trick.

There’s a turn in the poem after the second line, and Taj picked that up and literally ‘turned’ the third line, making it look like a reflection. That says that this is a poem to reflect upon. It says remember those too-long summer days when we were (are) locked inside, and the things we do to make the day pleasant. This poem is all the stored boxed games of our youth. It is getting together with friends or family, it is competition on a grand play scale. It is what we can do instead of taking our mood from the weather, it is our ability to metaphorically make our own days sunny, and so of course, to stop puddling around in our ‘miseries’ and do something about our life in general. It is a haiku that reinforces what Rilke wrote: You must change your life.

That short last line does so much, in words, and now in this graceful rendering of the haiku. What I truly love about this poem and its beautiful interpretation is that both are brief, that artist and poet simply set out to do their job as artist and poet, but that they have done so much more.

That Taj is a magical poet in his own right would have given him insights that moved his hand and his mind to create such a moving piece to match this poem. That delightful physical expression of ‘rainy day’ falling so perfectly into the rest of the poem.

Grant D. Savage is an Ottawa poet and photographer.

H. Masud Taj is a roving poet and Adjunct Professor at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism, Carleton University, Ottawa.



Under My Publisher’s Hat

A book that I am extremely proud of having published: Grant Savage’s Their White With Them: Short Poems (2006, Bondi Studios, Carleton Place)

cover front


Grant is one of the Hidden Treasures of Ottawa. His reputation is well known in the haiku/tanka world as he is a master of both forms. Those not familiar with the power of either form should spend time with Grant’s collection.

Some would think these forms are not as important as ‘real’ poetry, which Grant also writes. But to take time with just one of them is to come away the richer.

early morning pond/reflected in its stillness/everything

It’s awkward given the limits of this form of blog, to format the poem into its three lines. But we can still feel not just stillness, but an extraordinary stillness. We find ourselves there by the pond. we’ve gotten up very early, even before the birds begin their sounds perhaps. The surface shines, and clouds might be floating on the water.  The next lines bring in not only the mirror of water, but suggest personal reflection, bringing not only the writer of the poem into the poem, but also everyone else who has ever sat by a pond noting the reflections, and reflecting. we look at the pond and in a sense the pond ‘looks’ at us.  That stillness, a sense that other things are, momentarily, still too.  it’s almost physical, it’s the way we expect magical moments to be. And what is there with you and me and the poet…but everything in existence, the bad and the good, the dark and the light. the more we reflect, the more everything becomes one.

I haven’t even begun to talk about whether it is important that this is a morning pond, to think about the difference in stillness between a morning or an evening, or between a midnight or a noontime stillness, because then we’re really into what this haiku might mean. And what ‘everything’ implies, besides the physical world. what about every emotion, every thought. Now we see that this tiny poem is very large; it has to be to contain everything. To have a copy of Grant’s book, to have hundreds of haiku and tanka withing reach, would be to have in one’s possession a lifetime of reading.  I’ll leave with a tanka to mull over, to grow even as you read it again, and again.

a chorus of birds/ you no longer here/ to sing to them/ or ask me to put names/                             to their answers

The content is enhanced by several of Grant’s nature photographs in colour. You can message Grant on facebook if you would like a copy of Their White With Them