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Haiku is like taking a small breath but inhaling the world, and 17th-century Japanese poet Matsuo Bashoø’s writings are among the purest oxygen. It was in the last nine of his 49 years, as he wandered extensively through Edo Japan, that Bashoø reinvented the somewhat playful haiku form that had developed from linked verse. His works during this time focused on sabi, or loneliness, though not just in the sense of European literature but also as the aloneness and transience central to Zen: “Weathered bones/on my mind,/a wind-pierced body”; “Another year gone/hat in my hand,/sandals on my feet.” Bashoø’s attention to time and place, common speech, specific imagery, and Buddhist reflection combine into expansive paintings of the human condition made with the fewest possible brushstrokes. The University of Maryland’s Dr. Eleanor Kerkham discusses Bashoø’s life and works at 7 p.m. at the Japanese Information and Cultural Center, Embassy of Japan, 1155 21st St. NW. Free. For reservations call (202) 238-6901. (Christopher Porter)