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Shorelines by Tony Mariano and Bruce England. Small Poetry Press, 1998. Saddle-stapled, 5.5 x 8.5", 36 pp., $6.95. Order from Bruce England, 1458 Thunderbird Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94087.
The cover of Shorelines has a color photo, taken from the air, of a section of the California coast line. Even misty and violated by a copy machine this image feels sweet, like ancient heartbreak. A scar between two blue-greens. To the right the smoothest hue and its light which has seeped from a universal gem, held in place by the wrinkled mass that lifts us to our feet. I lose all sense of proportion and fail to become critical.
Back to business. The authors of this book of haiku and tanka (counting three – how easy to qualify for a book review!) have chosen to carry humility to its pinnacle by placing one, but mostly two poems on each page without designating who, if anyone, wrote the poem. On the cover are the names of Tony Mariano and Bruce England but inside the book, even the copyrights are jointly held, and the poems are unsigned. Aside from wondering who of the two authors wrote the tanka and wondering if all the poems above were written by the first author or not, I rather enjoyed the lack of names. If two authors are going to do a book together this is a better solution than anyone else has found so far (in my humble opinion). Perfect anonymity; perfect humility; perfect nothing-is-important.
Each page has at the top, in bold print, the name of one of the California beaches or places. Under this, gently placed, are one, but most often two, poems perhaps inspired by the author's being at that place. For one who has 'been there, done that' the music of the place names echoes out with greater resonance than many of the poems. Most of which could have been written on any beach or place and simply assigned to these areas. But I admit it is hard to capture the individuality of a beach where nature is so huge and all encompassing. In the same way, the tanka sprawl out into interrupted prose.
Fallen, mumbling drunk
outside window, police lights,
fights on main street
in the morning, wife tells me
more I do not remember
CATS - tanka, haiku & cattales /CHATS - tanka, haiku & contes de chat. Compiled and edited by Giselle Maya. Hand-tied, handmade paper cover, 10 x 13". 44 pp., bilingual English / French. Drawings by Lei-Sanne Doo, Aisha Pesso, Barbara Lindors. Order from Koyama Press, Grande Rue, 84750 St. Martin de Castillon, France.
No one can complain that I am not in the mood to write this book review. As I type, lying over both wrists, like a new method of ergonomic torture, is our five-month old Bengal kitten – Buddha. He is gorgeous with his gold-spangled fur but he has not yet filled the loss of our beloved Meringue who was ripped from his life in a manner too brutal to mention in a family magazine. So I love cats. How could I get critical? I cannot. And it is mostly because I really enjoyed reading this book.
To start with, this book feels good with the soft cream, cat-dish pure, pages. The strong cover seems to be only a short distance away from the field in which it grew. This is a lap book. One to spread out over your knees on a cool evening. If you can't have a cat, this soft large book is the next best thing. And if your French is less than perfect, you will be guided in both languages into the realms of cat worship by the haiku, tanka, short stories and drawings which are imbued with unmitigated cat spirit.
Authors, including Nasira Alma, Francis Attard, Edward Baranosky, Raffael de Gruttola, June Moreau, Pamela Miller Ness, Jane Reichhold, Linda Jeanette Ward and Evert Lindfors, act as the setting to the centerpiece of the haiku and tanka by Giselle Maya.
A sample of Giselle Maya's tanka:
with dark stripes
nuances de renard
un peu magique
I feel the tanka reads much better in French, but there one misses the word play between 'enchant' and the spoken French for cat – chat. This proves that Giselle works her poems in both languages as well as her understanding of Oriental poetry forms through her stays in Japan. By bringing together the American authors, (names familiar to all Lynx readers) with French, Japanese-Hawaiian, and Swedish artists makes CATS - tanka, haiku & cat tales /CHATS - tanka, haiku & contes de chat becomes more than simply bilingual. And the subject of cats rises above all language into the universal.
PS The story – "Ratibus the Cat" by Evert Lindfors – is charming enough to become a child's book itself.
Eye of the Storm by Edward Baranosky. The chapbook is 40 pp., 31 titles, 5.5 x 8.5, saddle-stapled, $7.50 + $2.00 P&H. The tape Eye of the Storm is 90 minutes of readings, tone poems and sounds for $20,00 ppd. Order from Edward Baranosky, 115 Parkside Drive, Toronto, Ont., M6R-2Y8, Canada.
When this package arrived, I was into reading the poems within seconds of having opened the envelope. And I enjoyed the poetry very much as one always does when reading Edward Baranosky. The booklet has a color photo on the cover of a storm hanging over boats in a harbor – menacing to say the least. And the first three poems take the storm by words to bring it to the reader's mind. And then, gently the reader is shifted into spaces and places with "Pantoum for a Dead Princess" leading to head trips to Asia for "Ganesha" bridged by "A Foot in Both Worlds" to end, appropriately enough with "Vanishing Point". This is grounded and stabilized by the prose piece, "Kittling" which gives the fellow-traveler a glimpse of the author as no photo can do. Throughout the book are the pen and ink drawings we have come to associate with all of Baranosky's works. Always bold, yet sensitive. However, the tape laid on the tape deck, reminding me each day that I 'needed' to hear this. Yet my dislike of having haiku read to me would never overcome my compulsion to 'do right' and listen. Finally yesterday, became it was the last day before this review was to be done. So with the determined chin set of a criminal going to the electric chair, I sat down and flipped on the tape.
Surprise. Gentle sounds of the seashore. And well-done. I know how hard it is to capture that most ancient of audio-images. Just as I was confronted with my nodding off to sleep, Edward began reading the first poem as in the book. I had forgotten how soothing and melodious his voice is. Too enthralled to go across the room for the book, I simply let him spread his poetry out around me with the quivering of a peacock's display.
Though Baranosky forms his poetry into haiku, tanka or sijo, his own rhythms and internal phrasing are so strong, so well-developed, that I never had the feeling that I was hearing a certain genre. The images, the words, the melodies carried me along above form. Highest praise.
In the notes I read that N. Patricia Armstrong did the instrumental works and that the final recordings were done at NPR Studios in Mississauga, Ontario. Here I find out that those simple sounds came from antique Tibetan bells, Japanese meditation bowl, Celtic bodram drum, wind chimes, Clava sticks, rain stick, various rattles and shakers, antique music box plus recordings in various places. You get the idea – a rich assortment of ear spirits to round out and support Baranosky's voice. When the sounds reach the peak of pleasure, as with the wolf songs, Baranosky backs off and lets the reader alone with the splendor, coming back at just the right moment with another poem.
Poetry books are more than cut and folded pages. Poetry is reading and making a tape, especially when it is so artfully done as this one. Go thou and do likewise.
ZERO by Gene Doty. AHA Online Books. http://www.ahapoetry.com/onlinebk.htm
The web brings possibilities to book publishing that we have only begun to explore, but Gene Doty, in his newest book, Zero, has already guided us into the new world. Part of every book is giving the poems an order. Which poem fits best next to which other poem? Should this one come before or after this group?
With the hypertext (text beyond text) the book can be set up, as Doty does, so that the reader can meander in and out of the order of the poems so that they continuously realign themselves into new kaleidoscopic formations. A beautiful and exciting way of 'finding' the poetry.
As readers of Lynx know, Gene Doty has been one of the pioneers in English Ghazals and Zero brings his many experiments and glorious successes together into a stunning array of lyric and thought.
If you have been to the AHA!POETRY web site and found its retro-style boring, Gene Doty's book will spin out all the eye-candy your little heart desires. Do check out this book, without braving wind and rain for a trip to the library or bookstore. Right in your lap. All the ghazals you could want.
Cybertry IV by Werner Reichhold. AHA Online Books.
Reichhold continues his ultra-modern (as Elizabeth St. Jacques calls them) poems in combination and recombination. Mixing and exploring different forms and genres gives a new richness to the many moods of inspiration. If you have read any of the previous parts of Cybertry you will understand his methods, but in this portion, Reichhold takes his mind to new levels of language assimilation. Well acquainted with all the Japanese genre, Reichhold refuses to be contained by history. He explores new ways of employing and combining techniques and vocabulary.
Cybertry IV contains 19 sequences, plays and mind-tripping journeys. Get aboard. Get wired. Get into the Cybertry.
Hanging From the Clouds by André Duhaime. Translated from the French by Bertrand Cyr, LeRoy Gorman, Dorothy Howard. Ninth in the Hexagram Series by King's Road Press, edited by Marco Fraticelli. Saddle-stapled, 5.5 x 8.5", 16 pp., 23 haiku, no price. Order from King's Road Press, 148 King's Road, Pointe Claire, Quebec, Canada, H9R 4H4.A sample poem of André Duhaime’s from which the title for the book was taken:
hanging from the clouds
a dead duck
Those Women Writing Haiku by Jane Reichhold. AHA Books Online.
The basis of the work is to give the women credit for their work in haiku (and tanka) who are so often over-passed as males write up the history of the movement. Naturally this is only half the story of the history, but in the same way that one might research a period of literary history (and have to ignore periods before and after) here gender is used as the limiting factor.
Women around the world were interviewed by mail using a survey form for getting information on them as women, as writers and as pioneers in writing these short genres. If the woman had written a book, she was a part of the survey.
The book combines not only this history of women writing beginning with women of the Heian culture in Japan, into the pioneers who translated Japanese into French, German, Dutch and English but continues to the women who, armed with this inspiration, changed how poetry is written. Adjacent to each chapter is one of anthology for the poems and writings of those women described in the historical texts.
Whether you like women or not, you owe it to yourself to see where light has been brought to a dim and ignored section of writing history.
Copyright © Jane Reichhold 1998.