Jaan Kaplinski Joins the Majority

Jaan Kaplinski

I’m sad to hear of the recent death of the great Estonian Zen poet Jaan Kaplinksi. He has been one of my favourite poets since a cold night in December 1992, when I wandered into a bookshop in Edinburgh where he was doing a reading. I had never heard of him before, but I was impressed by what he read, so I bought his book The Same Sea in Us All, translated by the American Zen poet Sam Hamill. I talked with him briefly, and then he went browsing for books by Roald Dahl.

I read the book so many times I almost memorised it, and the same with his second collection in English, The Wandering Border, which includes this poem:

Shunryu Suzuki a little Japanese living and teaching in California couldn't be my teacher one of my non-teachers a little lit match from God's matchbox sea wind soon blew out somewhere between California and Estonia somewhere between East and West between somewhere and nowhere nobody can find out what remained of him after the wind has blown  and the tide come and gone – the white sand as smooth as before – but his smile from the back cover of Zen Mind Beginner's Mind has silently infected book after book on my shelves and perhaps shelves themselves and walls and wallpaper too

Rest in Poetry.

#JaanKaplinski #poetry #Zen #Buddhism #SamHamill #ShunryuSuzuki #BarryGrahamAuthor

—Barry Graham

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