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ALEXIS ROTELLA
Maryland, US

At first, you might not think that monks and cats have much to do with one another. But picture of a medieval monk in the silence of his cloister cell, the scratch of his pen as he mulls and writes about some abstruse matter of theology. Nearby, his white cat intently stalks a mouse. One of my favorite poems was written by a Benedictine monk in the ninth century C.E. about a cat named Pangur Bán.* So when Alexis sent me some ink brush haiga about monks, and then a few more about cats, I couldn't resist asking for all of them and putting them together in one portfolio. As you'll see, they do just seem to go together. Alexis's are Zen monks and there's a wistful, innocence about them that's not quite of this world. The cats, on the other hand, are utterly savvy—they just know things that the rest of us don't.

 
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* If you'd like to know more about the poem, google 'Pangur Ban'. There is a delightful translation from the Old Irish by Seamus Heaney in the 2006 Poetry Magazine (www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=177882).