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TABLE OF CONTENTS

XIX:1 February, 2004

LYNX  
A Journal for Linking Poets    
 
   
  Haiku for Lovers compiled by Manu Bazzano. MQ Publications, London, England: 2003. Hard cover with full color dust jacket, 6 x 6 inches, 256 pp., 250 haiku, illustrated with many pages in full color, ISBN: 1-84072-412-9, £9.99. Contact MQ Publications or find on Amazon.com

Sun Through the Blinds: Montreal Haiku Today, edited by Maxianne Berger & Angela Leuck. Shoreline Press, Quebec, Canada: 2003. Perfect bound, 6 x 6 inches, 176 pp., Canada $19.95, USA $16.95, ISBN:1-896754-32-5. Contact Shoreline Press.

Rise, Ye Sea Slugs: 1,000 holothurian haiku compiled and translated by Robin. D Gill. Paraverse Press, Key Biscayne, Florida: 2003. Perfect bound, 7 x 9.5 inches, 480 pp., illustrated, romaji and kanji Japanese and English. ISBN: 0-97426180-7, $25.00. Available on Amazon.com.

a spill of apples: tanrenga and other linked verse by Carol Purington & Larry Kimmel, with drawings by Merrill Ann Gonzales. Winfred Press, 364 Wilson Hill Road, Colrain, MA 01340. Perfect soft-bound, 8.5 x 5.5, 49 pp., 30 pen-and-ink illustrations, $10.00 postpaid USA; $12.00 overseas, ISBN: 0-974856-6-2. Contact Carol Purington  or Winfred Press.

Four Seasons: Renga by Ed Baranosky and Jen Finlayson. Saddle-stapled, 5.5 x 8.5 inches, 32 pp., full color cover, illustrated by Holly Briesmaster. Contact Ed Baranosky.

   

 

 

BOOK REVIEWS
Jane Reichhold

Haiku for Lovers compiled by Manu Bazzano. MQ Publications, London, England: 2003. Hard cover with full color dust jacket, 6 x 6 inches, 256 pp., 250 haiku, illustrated with many pages in full color, ISBN: 1-84072-412-9, £9.99. Contact MQ Publications or find on Amazon.com

Again MQ Publications brings an anthology of haiku edited by Manu Bazzano, but this is their biggest and best collaboration. In Haiku for Lovers are compiled haiku written by both ancient and modern authors as well as translations of haiku written in a wide variety of other languages. The haiku reflect all the stages of love from first desire, doubts and fears, fires and the erotic, to the dying flames of longing and remembrance. The book is divided into the sections: Honeymoon, Bittersweet, and Harmony. Anyone who has ever loved will find haiku that evoke some phase that he or she has lived through.

It is interesting how when we first learned of haiku we were told that passion and sex was not a suitable subject matter for haiku but thankfully the writers of haiku have chosen to ignore this "rule" and have written from the heart and given us the fullness of this book.

This book is so rich with poems and with graphics, it is not meant to be read all at once. Each page needs to be savored alone with its wildly divergent fonts and tasteful graphics from old Japanese prints and patterns. Sprinkled throughout are full color reproductions of famous Japanese artwork to enrich and delight the reader.

Here you will find haiku from names you know and people you would like to know more about. Many excellent haiku by everyone from Basho to the names in the latest issue of Lynx or any haiku magazine. Bazzano has done his homework and has searched out every nook and cranny for the best haiku on the subject of love with scrupulous credits and has written very wise and entertaining essays for the division pages. Haiku for Lovers is a beautifully made book, and is a marvelous gift for that person you love for Valentineís Day.

 

Sun Through the Blinds: Montreal Haiku Today, edited by Maxianne Berger & Angela Leuck. Shoreline Press, Quebec, Canada: 2003. Perfect bound, 6 x 6 inches, 176 pp., Canada $19.95, USA $16.95, ISBN:1-896754-32-5. Contact Shoreline Press.

As the Preface by Angela Leuck so elegantly explains it, this book is the result of a collaboration between haiku writers in three languages: Japanese, French and English. These groups have been cooperating for the past three years in an annual two-day haiku celebration at the Japanese Garden of the Montreal Botanical Garden. And now they have created this impressive book to bring their efforts to an audience beyond their city limits.

Not only does this anthology represent the universality of haiku, it exemplifies the way people of greatly divergent cultures are finding a point on which they can share their ideas, feelings and art.

For too long, the Japanese haiku writers in Canada and USA have held themselves apart from the English attempts at the form, but Sun Through the Blinds shows that working together is possible and one can only hope - profitable. The richness of the poetic material here proves that the haiku we have in common can feed and inspire each other.

With each author, arranged alphabetically, given five pages for five haiku and a short introduction, there is a fairness and equality in the book. The poem styles vary enough to give individual voices, but also represent the current standard of English haiku. The poems are printed without caps and for the most part, without punctuation so the pages look clean and uncluttered.

I really enjoyed "meeting" Canadian authors of other kinds of literature who also write haiku. The book expanded my appreciation of their to-me-unknown works as well as giving me insight into the ways they used haiku in relationship to their other achievements.

Maxianne Bergerís introduction, "Haiku Today," gives a cogent explanation of haiku for the novice and prepares the reader for the experience of the book by commenting on the form using examples from the various authors.

Such a book must be an incredible undertaking and to be able to work in three languages demands more than I can fathom, but I did wish that the haiku in the original languages had been given, too.

Thelma Mariano, a regular Lynx contributor, was the only person represented with tanka. Kudos to her for sticking to her form and to the editors for having the elasticity to welcome her work. Other names from the haiku scene are Rod Willmot, Marco Fraticelli, Andre Duhaime and Angela Lueck, who has been a winner in the Tanka Splendor contests.

Rise, Ye Sea Slugs: 1,000 holothurian haiku compiled and translated by Robin. D Gill. Paraverse Press, Key Biscayne, Florida: 2003. Perfect bound, 7 x 9.5 inches, 480 pp., illustrated, romaji and kanji Japanese and English. ISBN: 0-97426180-7, $25.00. Available on Amazon.com.

This IS one huge haiku book you cannot ignore. You may think you do not want to read this many haiku on the subject of sea cucumbers, a rather slimy, shell-less snail, also called a "sea slug,"but believe me this book contains so much more than just haiku (although the haiku are worth the price of the book alone). Robin D. Gill is the author of six other books in Japanese and is a haiku writer himself. But it is his role of a translator that greatly enriches our understanding of the genre and appreciation of Japanese culture, with his wit and humor. The book abounds in Japanese words and phrases and each of the poems, mostly all translated by Gill, are meticulously given in kanji and romaji. The man has a wild sense of humor and enough energy to come spurting off the pages with information, relevant and irrelevant facts and fancy. You may get whip lash from reading the text of the book and the footnotes simultaneously, but fortunately he has them on the same page so you can wander around in the book almost as if it is in hypertext. You may think you need a system of bookmarks to keep on the subject, but it is easiest to just give your mind over to Gill and follow his incredible journey on printed pages.

To give you an accurate taste of Robin Gillís writing, here is the blurb taken from the Amazon.com web site in which he describes his book:

"(1) It is a book of translated haiku and contains over 900 of these short Japanese poems in the original (smoothly inserted in the main body), with phonetic and literal renditions, as well as the authorís English translations and explanations. All but a dozen or two of the haiku are translated for the first time. There is an index of poets, poems and a bibliography. (2) It is a book of sea slug haiku, for all of the poems are about holothurians, which scientists prefer to call "sea cucumbers." (The word "cucumber" is long for haiku and not metaphorically suitable for many poems, so poetic license was taken.) With this book, the namako, as the sea cucumber is called in Japanese, becomes the most translated single subject in haiku, surpassing the harvest moon, the snow, the cuckoo, butterflies and even cherry blossoms. (3) It is a book of original haiku. While the authorís original intent was to include only genuine old haiku (dating back to the 17th century), modern haiku were added and, eventually, Keigu (the authorís haiku name) composed about a hundred of his own to help fill out gaps in the metaphorical museum. For many if not most of the modern haiku taken from the web, it is also their first time in print! (4) It is a book of metaphor. How may we arrange hundreds of poems on a single theme? Rise, Ye Sea Slugs divides the poems into 21 main metaphors including the Cold Sea Slug, the Mystic Sea Slug, the Helpless Sea Slug, the Slippery Sea Slug, the Silent Sea Slug, and the Melancholy Sea Slug, giving each a chapter, within which the metaphors may be further subdivided, and throws in an additional hundred pages of Sundry Sea Slugs (scores of varieties including monster, spam, flying, urban myth, and exploding). (5) It is a book on haiku. Editors usually select only the best haiku, but, Rise, Ye Sea Slugs includes good and bad haiku by everyone from the 17th century haiku master to the anonymous haiku "rejected" in some internet contest. This is not to say all poems found were included, but that the standard was along more taxonomic or encyclopedic lines: poems that filled in a metaphorical or sub-metaphorical gap were always welcome. Also, the author tries to show there is more than one type of "good" haiku. These are new ways to approach haiku. (6) It is a book on translation. There are approximately 2 translations per haiku, and some boast a dozen. These are arranged in mixed single, double and triple-column clusters which make each reading seem a different aspect of a singular, almost crystalline whole. The authorís aim is to demonstrate that multiple reading (such as found in Hofstadterís Le Ton Beau de Marot) is not only a fun game but a bona fide method of translating, especially useful for translating poetry between exotic tongues. (7) It is a book of nature writing, natural history or metaphysics (in the Emersonian sense). The author tried to compile relevant or interesting (not necessarily both) historical - this includes the sea slug in literature, English or Japanese, and in folklore - and scientific facts to read haiku in their light or, conversely, bring or wring out science from haiku. Unlike most nature writers, the author admits to doing no fieldwork. He sluggishly stays put and relies upon reports from more mobile souls. (8) It is a book about food symbolism. The sea cucumber is noticed by Japanese because they eat it; the eating itself involves physical difficulties (slipperiness and hardness) and pleasures from overcoming them. It is also identified with a state of mind, where "you are what you eat" takes on psychological dimensions not found in the food literature of the West. (9) It is a book about Japanese culture. The author does not set out to explain Japan, and the sea slug itself is silent, but the collection of poems and their explanations, which include analysis by poets who responded to the authorís questions as well as historical sources, take us all around the culture, from ancient myths to contemporary dreams. (10) It is a book about sea cucumbers. While most species of sea cucumbers are not mentioned and the coverage of the Japanese sea cucumber is sketchy from the scientific point of view, Rise, Ye Sea Slugs tries to introduce this animal graced to live with no brain thanks to the smart materials comprising it and blessed for sucking in dirty sediment and pooping it out clean. (11) It is a book about ambiguity. The author admits there is much that cannot be translated, much he cannot know and much to be improved in future editions, for which purpose he advises readers to see the on-line Glosses and Errata in English and Japanese. His policy is to confide in, rather than slip by the reader unnoticed, in the manner of the invisible modern translator and allow the reader to make choices or choose to allow multiple possibilities to exist by not choosing. (12) The book is the first of dozens of spin-offs from a twenty-book haiku saijiki (poetic almanac) called "In Praise of Olde Haiku" (IPOOH, for short) the author hopes to finish within the decade. (13) The book is a novelty item. It has a different (often witty) header (caption) on top of each page and copious notes that are rarely academic and often humorous."

I can only add that I agreed with everything he had to say about haiku and his translations are reliable. He is good enough to admit when one translation is not enough and also gives the reader all the variations a haiku needs. Some may argue with his idea of giving the haiku titles, but Gill is a free-spirit person with so much to offer that I found myself forgiving him this opinion. If you ever thought haiku were not erotic, this book alone could change your mind forever. If you read it, I can guarantee you will not be the same when you finish it!

Robin Gill has shown us a marvelous way how to integrate the smallness of haiku with the vastness of information on a very inauspicious aspect of our lives. For this alone he deserves highest praise. Though not many people would be intensely interested in the subject of holothurians, Gill has raised our awareness of their little-known lives to an art form and to our deeper understanding. Incredible work!

a spill of apples: tanrenga and other linked verse by Carol Purington & Larry Kimmel, with drawings by Merrill Ann Gonzales. Winfred Press, 364 Wilson Hill Road, Colrain, MA 01340. Perfect soft-bound, 8.5 x 5.5, 49 pp., 30 pen-and-ink illustrations, $10.00 postpaid USA; $12.00 overseas, ISBN: 0-974856-6-2. Contact Carol Purington  or Winfred Press.

Readers of Lynx are probably so familiar with the work of Carol Purington and Larry Kimmel and their many tanrenga on these pages that they may not recognize the importance of the appearance of this book. As far as I know, this is the first book of tanrenga to be published in English and perhaps in any language. Purington and Kimmel have certainly held the throne of tanrenga writing in Lynx and now they have a book to prove the worth of their pioneer status.

When you read a spill of apples you will wonder why you have not done more with tanrenga. This couple makes the form look so easy to do and so much fun, why donít more people try it? It is a marvelously generous way to complement a personís haiku Ė by writing a two-line response to it. And tanrenga is great practice for any of the other collaborative forms: renga, rengay, and linked tanka sequences.

In case the reader needs more encouragement to buy the book, Purington and Kimmel include in a spill of apples examples of how they can also write in these various forms. Here is the rengay that opens the book.

late snow
a shadow orchard moon-made
for the two of us     lk

bees and blossoms
and a day without plans    cp

a thump
in the orchard Ė the cat
ducks her head

shadows of deer
drift through shadows
of twisted old trees

a spill of apples
down the cellar stairs

faded handwriting
the pie recipe that won
a train trip to Chicago

The professional pen-and-ink drawings by Merrill Ann Gonzales add the richness of the real world from which the poetry has journeyed so the readers have pictures for their minds' eyes while reading the down-to-earth tanrenga.

Carol and Larry are neighbors living just down the road from each other. Larry has been publishing poetry for the past twenty-five years and has four collections of poetry: alone tonight, the inadequacy of long-stemmed roses, Cold Stars White Moon, and the necessary fly. He has also published Carolís other books of haiku (Family Farm) and of tanka (The Trees Bleed Sweetness and A Pattern for This Place).

Four Seasons: Renga by Ed Baranosky and Jen Finlayson. Saddle-stapled, 5.5 x 8.5 inches, 32 pp., full color cover, illustrated by Holly Briesmaster. Contact Ed Baranosky.

Ed Baranosky you know from his many chapbooks reviewed on these Lynx pages but his partner for this work, Jen Findlayson may be new to you. Jen comes from a background of tightly rhyming poetry so his challenge was to learn (from Ed his teacher) how to renga in four sometimes not so easy steps. 

The pair outlined their work by using the kasen renga forms for each of the four seasons (which are then generously given in the back of the book so readers can try the feat themselves). The first renga in the book is the one for winter, "Windigo" (which was published in the last issue of Lynx). 

The renga are printed, not in the usual three- and two-line stanza, but are set as if tanka, in five lines. By using indentation they are able to show who authored which lines without resorting to italics. It seems each author wrote both sets of of the two- and three-liners instead of trading off after each normal renga stanza. Findlayson comes up with many beautiful ideas and images which greatly enrich the poems. 

There is a lot of  far-north magic, fable material and flights of fancy but all securely nailed down to the seasons on earth. The couple proved that by keeping to the discipline of moon and flower verses, and in addition, the movement of the four seasons, they were able to allow their fantasies the widest possible range. In an appendix the  references to obscure and arcane information are explained so you can learn that "falcons mate in plummeting from mid-flight" and "Shanti. . . Sanskrit blessing to all".

The Japanese technique, "honka-dori", in which the author makes reference to or uses an image or actual words from well-known literature, is very often ignored in English renga writing. These two authors, however,  introduce and use the method with such a vengeance that it almost  feels like a case of  over-compensation. If you aren't up on your Greek, Nordic and English literature, you will find yourself following those italicized lines to the back pages for explanation. 

From the liner notes, it sounds as if the trio (including the artist, Holly Briesmaster) had a good time collaborating on this effort.

 

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Read book reviews in previous issues of Lynx

XVIII-3 Book Reviews
XVIII-2 Book Reviews

XVIII-1 Book Reviews

XVII:3 Book Reviews

XVII:2 Book Reviews

XVII:1 Book Reviews
XVI:3 Book Reviews

XV:2 Book Reviews

XV:3 Book Reviews

XVI:1 Book Reviews

XVI:2 Book Reviews
XVIII:3 Book Reviews

Read the previous issues of Lynx:


XV:2 June, 2000
XV:3 October, 2000
XVI:1 February, 2001
XVI:2 June, 2001
XVI:3 October, 2001
XVII:1 February, 2002
XVII:2 June, 2002
XVII:3 October, 2002
XVIII:1 February, 2003
XVIII:2 June, 2003
XVIII:3, October, 2003

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