Elisabeth Tova Bailey isn't the first to turn illness toward inspiration; however, I'm fairly certain that she may be the first to incorporate the companionship of a snail to do so. While bookstore shelves are teeming with shattering memoirs and incredible life-changing events, a unique and quiet calm surrounds The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
that gently lifts Bailey's story a bit above the rest.
When Bailey's health is sapped by a mysterious virus, she's suddenly forced to reshape her view of the world. Once strong and independent, she now finds herself helplessly confined and totally reliant on others for her care, struggling to reconcile her old vibrant self with the newly weakened one. With nothing but endless hours of introspection at hand, Bailey begins to despair: "Given the ease with which health infuses life with meaning and purpose, it is shocking how...
Beyond the Book
at my feet
when did you get here?
- Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828)
It's no coincidence that Elisabeth Tova Bailey chose Kobayashi Issa as one of several selected poets to gently ease us into the passages of The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. The haiku poet's simplicity and grace complement Elisabeth Tova Bailey's quiet observations as she interprets the larger natural world through that of her tiny snail. Sometimes less is so much more, and like the mighty message of this story's small snail, haiku is a fitting medium to deepen its meaning.
Most Western school-children learn that haiku is a form of Japanese poetry that uses a three-lined format of 5-7-5...