Books read, haiku & tanka mostly

70. Mayfly, issue 70, winter issue (Brooks Books, 2021). What an excellent magazine. No slag or baggy poems in here. I heard good things about it and it bears out. I’ll be buying back issues.

71. Wrecking Ball and Other Urban Haiku by Barry George (Accents Publishing, 2010). I nearly bought this book a few times at conferences, being one of the stand-out books of modern classics, but then a friend gifted me it. Solid, tight poems. first trick or treat–/the child reaches/for her mother’s face (.p21)

72. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham (Penguin, 1955) is something we read in high school. Husband nor I recalled anything. We read it aloud. It probably lands differently than it did at first but it is still effective indictment of human nature.

73. Haiku Canada Review (Vol 15, #1, Feb 2021) is a chunky issue this time at 94 pages with more French than usual. Book reviews are among my favourite parts but some lovely haiku like Nola Obee’s cedar waxwing/in the saskatoon bush/my irrelevance but the main delight was Maxianne Berger’s article analyzing the caesura in haiku over 878 haiku and the hinge structure (where the middle line reads with L1 or L3, pivoting the meaning, subverting the expectation) by looking at 1025 haiku across 6 journals. For example Rachel Sutcliffe’s hill walking/I reach the halfway mark/in my flask. Barry George has a new haiku: even the cars/in the junkyard gleam–/spring sun

74. Me then you then me then by Gary Barwin & Kathryn Mockler (Knife Fork Book, 2020) was a title I was curious about but seeing a review at the Pamphleteer I tipped into buying it. It’s really grave humour. There’s no assignment of who in the collaboration wrote which but I have my guesses. The whimsy is even chiaroscuro, such as in Combination where with a nipple twist, there was a safe inside the chest “I twirled my nipple/L32-R47-L19/And opened it.WTF. Inside me was hope//No bigger than/a grain of sand”

75. Rabbit by Claudia Coutu Radmore (Aeolus House, 2020) is a collection in a true sense, collecting up various chapbooks. I missed when her Fogo poems were published with Alfred Gustav Press. Good to get a chance to read them. Each chapter is a distinct style and density. I found myself more fond of her lorikeet Desi with reading a section of poem on her. The title poem was also a moving meditation on a wild rabbit.

76. In the Company of Crows: Haiku and Tanka between the tides by Carole MacRury, Sumi-e by Ion Codrescu (Black Cat Press, 2008) was a book I’d intended to get a decade or so ago. Luckily books are conversations you can catch much later than when they happened. Even in the frame of haiku, they are gentle poems, but in hard times, the heart need gentle. caterpillar/leaving enough of the lead/to sleep on (p. 25) or the soft humour of observation: drought—/weeds sprout/under the sprinkler (p.7) or spring tea—/through the bone china/her thin hand (p. 100)

77. Gusts: Contemporary Tanka, no 33, spring/summer 2021. Getting my issue is always a treat. This issue John Quinnett’s and Keitha Keyes poems stood out to me as names to watch. I haven’t seen Jeff Seffinga or Louisa Howerow in person in years. Good assurance to see them writing. I like the concretely observant, more than the expansive and philosophical. One here from Carole MacRury: a bowl/of beach stones—/how the rain/ brings out their/ true colours. I wish I could google my brain where I recently read of black beetles in full sun showing their colours.