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Publisher's Summary

One of the world’s foremost writing teachers invites listeners on a joyful journey into the reading and origins of haiku.

A haiku is three simple lines. But it is also, as Allen Ginsberg put it, three lines that “make the mind leap”. A good one, he said, lets the mind experience “a small sensation of space which is nothing less than God”. As many spiritual practices seek to do, the haiku’s spare yet acute noticing of the immediate and often ordinary grounds the audience in the pure awareness of now.

Natalie Goldberg is a delightfully companionable tour guide into this world. She highlights the history of the form, dating back to the 17th century; shows why masters such as Basho and Issa are so revered; discovers Chiyo-ni, an important woman haiku master; and provides insight into writing and reading haiku. A fellow seeker who travels to Japan to explore the birthplace of haiku, Goldberg revels in everything she encounters, including food and family, painting and fashion, frogs and ponds. She also experiences and allows listeners to share in the spontaneous and profound moments of enlightenment and awakening that haiku promises.

©2020 Natalie Goldberg (P)2020 New World Library

Critic Reviews

“This jewel of a book represents a dream meeting between subject and author. Natalie Goldberg’s trademark prose - wonderfully clear, simple, and deep - takes us into her profound understanding of haiku and makes this story of her search for haiku’s origins among beautiful gardens, mountains, modern cities, and ancient temples compelling and gripping. It’s also the ideal meeting of verse and prose: The haiku are embedded in a limpid narrative, free-flowing and irresistible as a mountain stream. When they appear now and then as beautiful stepping-stones in a journey of discovery, they come alive in ways that still the mind, expand time, and open the heart. A classic narrative of discovery and homage - and a simple, humble book to fall in love with.” (Henry Shukman, author of One Blade of Grass: Finding the Old Road of the Heart)

“Like haiku itself, Natalie Goldberg’s Three Simple Lines is spare, keenly observed, and blessedly light on its feet. This wise and spirited travelogue acquaints us with some of the form’s legendary practitioners - and reminds us just how much of life’s magic can be packed into a few inspired words.” (Hampton Sides, New York Times best-selling author of Ghost Soldiers and On Desperate Ground

“Natalie Goldberg’s writing always offers a respite from the world, which it achieves by diving right into the madness of the moment. Like the haiku she reads, writes, and treasures, Three Simple Lines is a refuge in a chaotic world. Through her travels in Japan to seek the origins of haiku, she reveals the honest struggle of being a writer and, just beneath that, the honest struggle of being human.” (Jenn Shapland, author of the National Book Award finalist My Autobiography of Carson McCullers

What listeners say about Three Simple Lines

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  • barbara s redfield
  • 21-03-2021

Splendid simple story

Lovely to hear in Natalie’s voice. She carries you on her journey immersed in both her internal and external worlds. The rhythm is pitch perfect!

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  • Dreamer
  • 22-02-2021

Wonderful to Experience Natalie's Journey

Hearing Natalie read her book, her journeys to Japan weaving in out of history, as she explores haiku, is an amazing gift. Three Simple Lines is more than a book, it's an experience.

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  • Don
  • 28-02-2021

Exquisite book about discovery by journey

Loved the story and only the author could have read it for us. Yet there is something odd about her cadence and inflection that makes it difficult to listen to. It seems as if she reads each sentence as if it is independent from all the sentences around it. Still worth the listen. Just listen for short segments.

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