Matsushima to Hiraizumi

At dawn the fishing boats of Matsushima swung on their anchors with the tide. A flock of cormorants, fishing a few yards from shore, panicked as a group, plashed across the water, and took flight. The port smelled of seawater and diesel. I was headed out for another day on the Basho trail, with more […]

We Were Together

“Day by day and night by night we were together,—All else has long been forgotten by me.” -Walt Whitman, “Once I Pass’d Through a Populous City”  Today marks my last post for The Common Reader; I will continue to write, of course, but I will be moving on to another venture. For those of you […]

In Deference to the Heat

When I lived in Tucson, Arizona over a decade ago, I realized summer in the Sonoran Desert is much like winter in the Midwest. A desert summer is a perfect time to stay indoors and wait for the harshness of the weather to pass. Instead of hot cocoa and Christmas cookies, I learned to embrace […]

Sendai to Matsushima

Cyclists were lined up at rail crossings, holding clear umbrellas and wearing clear plastic ponchos, during morning rush hour, somewhere in Tōhoku. The train from Sendai pulled in to an open platform with no station sign, and I asked a boy across the aisle if this was Kokufu-Tagajo. He looked up, alarmed, and by instinct […]

The Mother Church

A few years back, I went on a road trip to Nashville with a good friend (see “On the Huzzah”) to catch Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins at the Ryman Auditorium. February 2016 marked the 10-year anniversary of Lewis’ debut solo album, Rabbit Fur Coat, which Lewis has described as a “sort of soul […]

On the Huzzah

Perhaps many of us would benefit from taking a day off of work, driving two hours south on Interstate 44 with a dear friend, and putting a kayak into Huzzah Creek, a 35.8-mile sister tributary of the Meramec River, one of Missouri’s longest free-flowing waterways.  The Huzzah is often described as “flowing clean, clear, and […]

Tokyo to Sendai

“Don’t follow in the footsteps of the old poets, seek what they have sought,” Matsuo Bashō says, in the Hass translation. Too late: I am in Sendai, Japan, to begin walking a segment of Bashō’s Narrow Road. Besides, Bashō was chasing the poet Saigyō and thinking of other poets’ lives and work, as he and […]

On the Narrow Road to the Interior

I will be writing from Japan over the next weeks, thanks to The Newman Exploration Center and a Newman Exploration Travel Fund Grant, funded by the Eric P. & Evelyn Newman Foundation, at Washington University in St. Louis. My main activity will be to walk a segment of poet Matsuo Bashō’s journey along the “Narrow […]

“Michelle, New Jersey”

“I knew I was a girl from the age of 5 or 6. There was no denying it. When the boys were out playing sports I was home trying my mom’s dresses and high-heel shoes. Now I celebrate who I am with entertainment. I’m a drag queen.” (Photo by Donato DiCamillo)

Meet, Greet, and Gaze Lovingly Into Stars’ Eyes

Ever wonder what your favorite actors from old TV shows are up to? There is a chance they are down at the Hollywood Show, a fan meet-and-greet at the LAX Westin, as well as in Las Vegas and Chicago. It is in its 40th year. The Show is run by David and Esther Elkouby, owners […]