Shamrock Haiku Journal

Haiku from Ireland and the rest of the world


Issue 8

 

Shamrock

 

Haiku Journal

of the Irish Haiku Society

 

Announcement


Shamrock Haiku Journal Readers' Choice Awards


We invite all the readers of Shamrock Haiku Journal to vote for the best haiku/senryu poem published in 2008, i.e. in the issues FIVE to EIGHT (you cannot vote for your own poem, though). To vote, send an e-mail to irishhaikusociety[at]hotmail.com with "Best haiku of 2008" in the subject line. Please insert the full text of the poem you vote for (only ONE poem) plus the name of its author in the body of your e-mail. The deadline for vote is 28th February, 2009. The best poems will be named in the next issue of Shamrock Haiku Journal.


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Focus on

Romania




December midnight
an icicle dripping
with stars

 


first snow
children cut the icing
off a cake

 

 

how many rainbows
this sunny morning!
mother's necklace

 

 

fading moon –
out of the mist,
morning birds' song

 
-- Anita Beloiu (trans. by the author and Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 

 



 

a well under the cherry-tree
the water rippled by
our whisper

 

 

horses on the loose!
evening sky hides
behind the mountain

 

 

lullaby
on a winter day –
remembering my mother

 

 

dead cherry blossoms
swallows crying
in the clouds

 

 

where the spring path
runs through flowers,
kiss of the sun

 
-- Marius Chelaru (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 

 

 



braving the sleet,
an old  man does his shopping
his bag full of wind

 
-- Victoria Chiţoveanu (version by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 



 

 

afternoon shade –
from all sides, the scent
of newly-mown grass

 

 

ice-covered lake
the wind moves a newspaper
back and forth

 

 

empty sky
the sound of an icicle
landing in the snow

 

 

opening soundlessly,
a chrysalis
by the mountain trail

 

 

falling snow
the apricot tree assuming
a new shape

 
-- Ion Codrescu (transl. by the author and Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 

 


 

the last rose
covered with rime…
a raven’s shadow

 
-- Magdalena Dale (version by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 




 

waltzing with the wind
across the barren field,
a dragonfly


-- Loredana Florentina Dănilă
(version by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 

 



 

dilapidated house
the wall propped up by
a lilac branch

 
-- Dan Florică (version by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 




 

in the pine, a crow
squawks to the chilling wind
evening draws near

 

 

snow on the open wagons
will be gone by the next stop…
spring

 
 -- Ioan Gabudean
(versions by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 

 




wedding anniversary
a bunch of forget-me-nots
beside the phone




coins in the well
look like stars today –
going homeward

 
-- Clelia Ifrim
(versions by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 


 


 

old road
so much darkness gathers

around the lantern!


-- Nicholae Ionel
(version by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 



 

 

under the pale stars,
a blossoming lilac
sheds dewdrops

 
-- Gabriela Marcian (version by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 

 



 

winter sun –
in the snowman’s eyes,
first tears

 

 

rising moon
an old man puts out
the street-lamp

 

-- Vasile Moldovan (transl. by the author)

 



 

moon behind clouds
a puppy sniffs around
for his lost shadow

 

 

talks of approaching spring…
my daughter’s doll
wearing a new dress

 

 

summer moon
a broiler hen has frightened
her own shadow

 

-- Vasile Moldovan (transl. by the author and Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 



 

 

hoarfrost
nameless trees
watching the moon


-- Flavia Muntean (version by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 

 



 

dandelion field
a single waft of wind
starts a snowstorm


-- Dan Norea
(version by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 

 



 

light snow
the stone princess has
a powder up her nose

 

 

icy river
willows’s shadows floating
from sunrise to sunset

 

 

early spring -
in every icicle,
a melting sunbeam

 


reshaping the pines
in its own image,
winter wind


-- Dana-Maria Onica (transl. by the author and Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 

 

 



postman at the door
first snowflake lands

on a letter from abroad

 
-- Eduard Tara (transl. by the author and Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 

 


 

a frog
leaps in the pond…
shards of a broken moon

 

 

scarecrow
wearing a wedding dress –
white butterflies

 

 

apricot trees in blossom –
in the letter-box,
rust and snow

 

 

after an earthquake,
summer stars

on the river bottom

 
-- Eduard Tara (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)



 

 



glimpses of sun –
in an old man’s hand,

a dandelion garland

 
-- Doina Bogdan Wurm (version by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)


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Essay

 

Haiku in Romania

 

by Vasile Moldovan

 

 

Romanian poets expressed their interest in Japanese culture as early as at the very beginning of the 20th century. Two classics of Romanian literature, Alexandru Macedonski and Vasile Alecsandri, were fascinated by the beauty of Japanese landscape poems, and wrote several poems inspired by classical Japanese literature. First Romanian essays on haiku and tanka appeared in the Iasi-based “Literary Event” magazine in 1904. In the same year, the poet Al. Vlahuta published an essay titled “The Japanese Poetry and Painting” in the “By the Fireside” magazine; this essay contained a number of tanka and haiku poems. Poet Al. T. Stamatiad published the first haiku poems in Romanian language, 12 in total, in the anthology titled “Tender Landscape”, which won the Romanian Academy Prize.
     In the 1930s, the poet Ion Pillat experimented with one-line poems, many of which resembled haiku. His best miniatures appeared in his collection that he called “One-line Poems” (1935). These poems usually had a caesura and comprised of thirteen to fourteen syllables. In the preface he claimed that even if his poems differ from mainstream haiku they should be regarded as a form of haikai poetry. Pillat’s book proved to be influential, and nowadays many Romanian poets follow this trend.
     At approximately the same time poet Traian Chelariu published "Nippon soul”, an anthology of classical Japanese poetry in his translations (incidentally, he translated it through German). Chelariu adhered to the 5-7-5 pattern, which afterwards influenced many Romanian authors of haiku.
     In 1942, Al. T. Stamatiad published “Nippon Courtesan Songs”, a tanka anthology, and, a year later, “Silk scarves”, an anthology of haiku and tanka. He also couldn’t translate directly from Japanese, so he translated the texts through French.
     In the 1970s, three anthologies of tanka and haiku appeared in Romania; all were edited by Ion Acsan and Dan Constantinescu, and translations were made by the same Traian Chelariu (again, through German). Well-known Romanian poets Nichita Stanescu and Marin Sorescu wrote a few haiku poems each in the 1980s, however they didn’t commit to this genre. The Communist authorities were always suspicious of haiku, so the first Romanian haiku books and leaflets had to appear in such countries as Austria, France and Yugoslavia.
     The Romanian haiku movement got a real boost in 1989, the year when the totalitarian regime in Romania came to its close. Towards the end of that year Florin Vasiliu, a Romanian diplomat who worked for a number of years in Japan, published a book entitled “Haiku constellation. Lyric interferences”. This book bears a special significance for Romanian haiku. Vasiliu was a well-informed essayist, and he wrote a complex work interweaving literary history with the poetic studies. It still is regarded as a guidebook for the interpreting and writing haiku poems. Some chapters were corrected and expanded later. And this wasn’t the only book on the history of haiku and the poetics of the genre published in our country, so Romanian haiku poets now have quite a number of books they can refer to if they need it.
     In March 1990, Florin Vasiliu founded the “Haiku Magazine of Romanian-Japanese Relationships”, one of the first publications of this kind in Europe. At first this magazine was a quarterly with the circulation of 8,000 copies, but now it appears semi-annually, and its circulation fell to under 1,000 copies. Among the members of the editorial board of the “Haiku” magazine there were a few renowned writers, such as Marin Sorescu (at that time he was the Minister of Culture). The editing board of the “Haiku” magazine has formed the core of the Romanian Haiku Society (RSH) founded one year later, in March 1991. The RSH was established on the national level, and now includes about 200 members. Shortly after that some of these haiku enthusiasts formed a few literary circles in several cities and towns of our country. Later some of them were reshaped into haiku societies. First of them, the Haiku Society of Constanta, was founded by poet and painter Ion Codrescu in 1992. Also in 1992, the Costanta-based magazine called Albatross started publishing haiku in both Romanian and English.
     In 1992, the HAIKU publishing house was established. It existed for a decade and gained a good reputation for publishing small booklets of haiku and monoku, one line poems; many of these books were printed in three languages: Romanian, English and French. When this publishing house went out of business, the poetess Cornelia Atanasiu founded another, ALCOR, which specialised in haiku poetry.
     In 1995, Serban Codrin, a poet especially interested in tanka and renga, founded the Tanka, Renga and Haiku School in Slobozia. This school published two magazines, “Orion” and “Little Orion”, the latter being dedicated exclusively to linked poems (renku). In Targu Mures, the poet Ioan Gabudean founded a haiku club, which he called “Ephemeral Joys”; it had about 80 members, mostly from Transylvania. Gabudean edited two magazines: “Orfeu/Orpheus” and “Beautiful pictures”; the latter published students’ work. Gabudean also founded the Ambasador publishing house, which brought out almost one hundred haiku, senryu and tanka booklets, some of them containing one line poems, in Romanian, English and French.
     Haiku magazines have also appeared in some other Romanian towns, e.g. in Piatra–Neamt and Targoviste. Of nine haiku periodicals mentioned here, three survive till this day, and publish all the main Romanian haijin.
     Apart from that, many Romanian haiku poets saw their work appearing in the best international haiku publication. They also asserted themselves at an international level by winning prizes and high commendations in the most important haiku contests, both in Japan and English-speaking countries. In the course of 1994, the year of Basho tercentenary, two international conferences took place, in Bucharest and Constantza, and in both cases a celebration of Matsuo Basho was a part of the programme. In Constantza, a twin town of Yokohama, four international haiku gatherings were held in 1992, 1994, 2005 and 2007. Participants represented such countries as Japan, USA, France, Germany, Bulgaria, Great Britain, and Ireland.
     Among the elements which give local colour to Romanian haiku, lime tree has to be named first. This flowering tree looks gorgeous in May and June, and is famous for its aroma. We strongly believe that lime tree may exemplify our way of haiku, which is, of course, only one of many possible ways.

 

 

(translated from the Romanian by Magdalena Dale and Anthony Kudryavitsky)




Vasile Moldovan authored four collections of haiku. He has been the President of Romanian Society of Haiku since 2001


 

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Picture by Ion Codrescu (Romania)

 

 

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Haiku and Senryu

 

 

 

late autumn evening
the old mountain headstones
dark as the houses



 

heads to the bale
three adults and a foal
autumn clouds
 

 

 


winter solstice
the softest pale light
of a thousand stars
 

 


Memorial Day
under one of the cars
a small water dish
 

 


a field of
cairns
for how many years
Gornergrat*

 

* A place in the High Alps

 

 

-- Bruce Ross (USA)

 

 

 

 

 

 

home from the city
waiting on the platform
Orion

 

 

 

 

 

april showers
outside the gallery
the reflections of headlights

 

 

 

 

 

deserted road
halfway across
the old cat quickens her step

 

 

 

 

 

deepening sky –

on the lamp-post
blackbird wipes his beak

 

 

 

 

 

campsite dawn –

in the shower
no two moths the same

 

 

-- David Serjeant (England)

 

 

 

 

 

 

white moths
lift into flight . . .
summer wind

 

 

 

 

 

half light
a bulrush bent back
between reeds

 

 

 

 

 

fresh puddles
along the night lane
the badger’s gait

 

 

 

 

 

through the sounds
of a
Paris
morning
a wood pigeon’s calls

 

 

 

 

 

swirling leaves
starlings bridge the gaps
in the ridge tiles

 

 

-- John Barlow (England)

 

 

 

 

 

 

August haze
the sky in
Beijing

blue on TV




waiting for the sun
a lone bulbul fronts
an insect chorus

 

 



 

 

abandoned school

dandelions run along

the pathway

 

 

-- Robert Lucky (USA-China)

 

 

 

 

 

 

arrival

at the abbey –

the suddenness of wasps

 

 

 

 

 

spider's web – 

my urge to travel

diminishing

 

 

-- Katherine Gallagher (AustraliaEngland)

 

 

 

 

 

 

broken ceiling fan

face of an

uprooted saguaro

 

 

-- Rose Hunter (Canada)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hard frost –

on the maple branch

moon sits it out

 

 

-- Eileen Sheehan (Ireland)

 

 

 

 

 

 

steel-grey pond
ducks among
cirrus clouds

 

 

-- Maria Ulyanova (Russia, translated by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

 

 

 

 

 

 

new moon

moth wings fanning away

the late summer heat

 

 

-- Maddalena Rossi (Germany)

 

 

 

 

 

 

"No Trespassing"
a poster lost
in the weeds

 

 

-- Nana Fredua-Agyeman (Ghana)

 

 

 

 

 

 

holiday home

landscape pictures

in every room

 

 

-- Raquel D. Bailey (Jamaica)

 

 

 

 

 

 

spring again

the lawnmower catcher

filled with feathers

 

 

-- Leonie Bingham (Australia)

 

 

 ---------------------------<->----------------------------

 

 

Prize-winning Haiku from the Irish Haiku Society Competition 2008

 

 

The Irish Haiku Society announced the results of the first ever IHS International Haiku Competition. 177 haiku by poets from twelve countries (Ireland, UK, Northern Ireland, USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Austria, Germany, Portugal, Romania and Serbia) were submitted to this year’s competition. Half of the submitted poems were from the island of Ireland. This year’s competition was adjudicated by Anatoly Kudryavitsky, the editor of Shamrock Haiku Journal, and it was judged blindly. It had been previously announced that an entrant may win more than one prize, which, actually, happened. The following is the list of prize-winning and highly commended haiku.

 

 

1st Prize

 

 

John Barlow (UK) received the first prize of Euro 150 for the following haiku:

 

 

mountain stillness

an empty chrysalis

fills with sunlight

 

 

 

 

 

2nd Prize

 

 

The 2nd Prize of Euro 50 also went to John Barlow (UK) for the following haiku:

 

 

summer morning

every other post

has its crow

 

 

 

 

 

3rd Prize

 

 

Ernest J Berry (New Zealand) received the third prize of Euro 30 for the following haiku:

 

 

early frost

the fragrance of pine

on fire

 

 

 

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Highly Commended Haiku

 

In alphabetical order:

 

 

 

 

John Barlow (UK)

 

 

cold rain…

the fishermen wade deeper

into the lake

 

 

 

 

 

Sharon Dean (Australia)

 

 

winter chill

a bull ant climbs

the flame tree

 

 

 

 

 

Walter Daniel Maguire (Ireland)

 

 

autumn breeze –

spider’s web

convex… concave

 

 

 

 

 

Roland Packer (Canada)

 

 

the open gate

to an empty field –

country graveyard

 

 

 

 

 

Roland Packer (Canada)

 

 

Christmas Eve

swaddled in the busker’s case

a fiddle

 

 

 

 

     Our congratulations go to all of the winners. We also express our sincere gratitude to the administrators of the competition, without whom… The Irish Haiku Society is planning to organise a free haiku workshop for the Irish entrants of the IHS competition, as well as for all the Irish haiku lovers who may wish to attend. Finally, plans are under way for next year’s contest. We are looking forward to turning the IHS Haiku Competition into an annual event!

 

 

 

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Haibun

 

While Waiting for the Young



by Jeffrey Winke (USA)

 


 
With gray temples, the bespectacled monsignor nervously smooths his starched white collar while waiting for the young boy to hang up his altar-boy cassock before taking him to the rectory for cookies and one-on-one spiritual guidance that will always be their own special secret time together.
 


sunday brunch
a sparrow flies in
through the open door

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Stops Her Dead On

 


by Jeffrey Winke (USA)

 


Even in the laundromat’s florescent-green light and dressed in a pair of faded hospital scrubs and an over-sized Notre Dame Fighting Irish athletic-grey t-shirt, there is always – in this case, a mop-hair brawny woman carrying two full wicker baskets of wet laundry – a stranger who stops her dead on and asks without hesitating, “You are so tall, blonde, beautiful and have such perfect slender ankles – are you a model?”
 


again
his favorite stool
after A.A.
*

 

 

--------

* Alcoholics Anonymous

 

 

 

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Book Reviews

 

The Narrow Road to Oku

By Matsuo Basho

Kodansha International

188 pp, ISBN-13: 978-4-7700-2028-4

Available via http://www.kodansha.eu

 

 

This beautifully illustrated book offers one of the nine available translations of Oku no Hosomichi, Basho's account of his journey to the Northern Province. This piece of haiku prose can be regarded as one of the best haibun ever written, even if some of our contemporaries would call it a travelogue. The original Japanese text is printed in this edition alongside the English translation.

Before starting on this journey in 1689, Basho sold his bamboo hut and prepared a will. Well aware of the hardships that awaited him, he clearly thought about the possibility of ending his days on this journey. Basho covered the whole distance - 2,450 kilometers - on foot, starting in late spring. He feared gangs of Ainu bandits that operated in the mountains but was lucky not to encounter any. The journey took him more than twenty-two weeks. After coming back, Basho spent five years preparing the text of Oku no Hosomichi for publication.

Donald Keene's earlier and slightly different partial translation of Oku no Hosomichi appeared in his Anthology of Japanese Literature, 1955. Since then, eight other translators published their versions of Oku no Hosomichi. Donald Keene's revised translation first appeared in 1996. New editions followed, and now the book is again available from the publisher.

As Kenneth Rexroth once remarked, Basho presents a problem for the translators because "he is peculiarly cryptic. Many of his haiku are as puzzling to Japanese as they are to Western scholars. Donald Keene's translations are close enough to the original, at the same time avoiding the perils of being literals. They are made in a very good taste, and the whole book is a good read.

Usually, haiku incorporated in the text of Oku no Hosomichi present the main difficulty for the translator. We sadly note that most of the translators of this book failed, for different reasons. Nobiyuki Yuasa's lengthy four-line haiku and Cid Corman's free variations on Basho's themes didn't sound very convincing even in the 1960s when they first appeared. Dorothy Britton did well translating the prosaic parts of the book, however she rhymed the first line of each haiku with the last one, which is nothing short of a haiku crime. As for Donald Keene, he tried to be true to the original. His versions of Basho's haiku always adhere to the 5-7-5 pattern. We can argue if this is the best way of rendering Basho in English; his recently published Complete Poems masterly translated by Jane Reichhold (reviewed in Shamrock No 7) prove the opposite. It yet remains to see if any new translator can emulate Donald Keene's achievements, which are many. What will be even more difficult to emulate are the splendid illustrations by Miyata Masayuki that make the book a work of art.

 

Anatoly Kudryavitsky

 

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Sharing Solitaire: Haiku and Related Poems

By Michael Morical

Finishing Line Press, Georgetown, Kentucky, USA, 2008

34 pp, ISBN 978-1-59924-326-9

Available via http://www.finishinglinepress.com

 

 

Michael Morical, an American from Indianapolis currently living in Taipei, has published haiku in Frogpond, Shamrock Haiku Journal, and in Dust of Summers: The Red Moon Anthology of English-language haiku 2007. This book is his first collection; it contains 78 haiku, three to a page, grouped into four sections according to geographical principles: "Chishang, Taiwan", "Manhattan", "Wandering Home", and "Brooklyn".

The preface says that reading Michael Morical's collection "is like eating peanuts. One consumes one poem after another until every one is gone." Before moving any further, I would like to halt and contemplate on the ambiguous function of "consumes" here. We consume peanuts and doughnuts, indeed, but are haiku, or any other kind of poetry, an object of this kind of mindless consumption? And if they are, what is... hmm... the final product?

Reading this book on and on, one may really begin to think that some poems were included just for the sake of such trouble-free "nutrition":

 

 

Sipping whiskey,

she doesn't mind

the weeds in her paddy

 

 

Staring on the F,

a boy asks me:

Where are your teeth?

 

 

Three old men

wait for a lady

feeding her ducks

 

 

You scrub the floor,

slopping Mr Clean,

listing my sins

 

 

An experiment in 5-7-5 also doesn't help the author to turn the piece into a haiku:

 

 

Crossing off a day,

I wait till the month is gone

and the page is turned

 

 

These are neither haiku nor "related poems"; these texts are just not up to the publishable standard. A reader can't help thinking that a bit of self-editing would have done no harm here.

This is not to say that the whole lot of poems is not worth reading. There are fine poems, as well, scattered throughout, and they definitely outnumber the "so what?" ones. The book at its best:

 

 

Moving day

a box of naked Barbies

left behind

 

 

After the windstorm,

a dead branch falls

with the weight of rain

 

 

I turn to face

the footsteps behind me -

wind and leaves

 

 

Rice in husk

dries on the street -

an eye out for chickens

 

 

The author clearly is a keen observer, which always helps a haiku poet. Personally, I would be interested to see his next collection: I am sure he will learn by then how to remove the husk from rice.

 

 

Anatoly Kudryavitsky

 

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Summer drizzles: Haiku and Haibun

By Bruce Ross

HMS Press, London, Ontario, Canada

84 pp.; ISBN 1-55253-63-9

Available from HMS Press, POB 340, Station B, London, Ontario, N6A 4W1, Canada, or from the author


Bruce Ross, "a poet, editor, and professor", as he describes himself, is well known in the haiku world as the author of three critically acclaimed haiku collections, as a past President of the Haiku Society of America, and as the editor of two important anthologies, Haiku Moment, An Anthology of Contemporary North American Haiku (Charles E Tuttle, 1993) and Journey to the Interior, American Versions of Haikun (Charles E Tuttle, 1998). This book, his fourth collection that appeared in Canada some time ago, has reached these shores only recently. The book is comprised of fifty haiku and eighteen haibun. Most of them are new work, although many of these texts have been previously published in haiku periodicals.

As a long-time admirer of Bruce Ross's haiku and haibun I am delighted to write about his new book. Bruce Ross is probably one of the best contemporary masters of shasei, i.e. the art of "sketching from life". Shiki, who introduced this trend more than a hundred years ago, wrote the following: "If a shasei haiku has been written in good taste, it will make a remarkable effect upon the reader." These two pieces by Bruce Ross, among many others, can serve as good examples of this:


covered by snow

like the other stones
stone Buddha

 and

on both sides

of the old wood fence

flooded field


Since the times of Buson, a good haiku poet is almost always a kind of pictorialist. Many of Bruce Ross's poems demonstrate his craftsmanship. The two pieces I especially liked:


early spring drizzles

so many shades of green

on the mountain

 and

November river

perfect house reflections

one by one

 

Bruce Ross is not only a keen observer of nature but also a clever observer, and an attentive reader of his haiku won't fail to notice his subtle humour:


spring snow

one, two, three crows

walk a branch


Another one of his poems (which also has a bit of playfulness in it) is an interesting variation on Basho's famous haiku:


old pond...

a small lily pad rises up

with the frog's leap


One of the principles Bruce Ross seems to follow is Eric Amann's "nothing special". This phrase, in different variations, even finds its way onto the pages of this book:


nothing special

an empty birdhouse beneath

the overcast sky


and


not much more

red and yellow tomatoes

behind a string fence


Personally, I have nothing against highlighting everydayness as one of the haiku topics. The only thing I dread is a possible appearance of imitators. I don't look forward to the day when I'll be reviewing somebody's book of haiku, in which all the poems will have "nothing special" as the first line, even if there's only a remote possibility of this actually happening...

Another quite noticeable thing is the nearly complete absence of "first person" haiku in this book. I believe that this kind of selflessness is deliberate. This is the author's choice, which we have to respect. The author observes nature, and not himself observing nature. Eyes are the best mirrors!

Bruce Ross sometimes writes senryu but in this book not more than three poems can be classed as such. Just one example of these:

 

off center

the empty clay pot

beside the doorstep


Talking about Bruce Ross's haibun, I particularly liked the one titled "Ryushaku-ji". In it, Bruce Ross tells the story of his pilgrimage to the place where Basho wrote his famous cicada haiku, and describes how he experienced the stillness Basho had come there to find.

I am sure that everybody who likes haikai poetry will find in the new book by Bruce Ross something for himself. The only problem is its limited availability.

 

Anatoly Kudryavitsky


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The Whole Body Singing

By Quendryth Young

Dragonwick Publishing, October 2007

90 pp; ISBN 978-0-9803396-6-6 (pbk)

Available from the author at: 5 Cedar Court, Alstonville, NSW 2744, Australia.

 

 

This is Quendryth Young's first foray into publishing haiku (the book also contains haiku sequences and one haibun). The author has previously published the book of free verse and traditional poems Naked in Sepia in 2004 and co-authored My Days' Circle in 1994. Since then she has devoted herself to haiku, most notably in the co-ordination and facilitation of the group cloudcatchers on the Far North Coast of New South Wales.

Musing upon the title of the book, we can't help thinking that "The Whole Body Singing" would rather suit a book of tanka. Incidentally, the Quendryth Young's collection was reviewed in Presence as "The Whole Bird Singing" (!) As for the contents of the book, the poet has divided it into sections: Seascape, Landscape, Flora, Fauna, Insects and Other Creatures, Birds, People, Haiku Sequences and Haibun. Her deft hand and meticulous eye mean these divisions allow the reader to become fully immersed in the imagery of each section.

 There are some excellent haiku here, for example, from the seascape section:

 


sunrise

crab holes

pop open

 

and

 

high tide

beach and sea exchange

driftwood

 


Reading the first piece, we share the author's observation expressed in just a few words. Minimalism and haiku - the relationship between the two, if a proper one, can be fruitful. As for the second piece, it can serve as one of the rare examples of perfect Zen poetry, and seems to be one of those timeless pieces that will, hopefully, outlive their authors. 

There is a plaintive element to the artist's work, most notably in poems such as:

 


alone

in the forest -

all the noise

 


And the poems certainly evoke the Australian landscape:

 


forest path

walking in and out

of cool


 

But it is to Quendryth Young's credit that she can find haiku in the mundane elements of daily life, too. The following piece demonstrates her skills:

 


construction site

a mud wasp

scoops up water

 


Her masterful final haibun, Mount Warning, concerns a 60th birthday hilltop walk with her son, and in it she divulges the joy and meaning of this literal and metaphysical trip in an accessible, intimate style.

Overall, we believe this is a strong work from a woman who admits to being "addicted to haiku" and has paid close attention to her craft. We are pleased to recommend this excellent book, which makes a significant addition to our haiku book-shelves.

 

 

Sharon Burrell