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
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
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
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.
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.
a shadow orchard moon-made
for the two of us lk
bees and blossoms
and a day without plans cp
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
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
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".
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