Books Read: Mostly haiku

Haikool: 108 Haijins
  1. Haikool: 108 Haijins: français, picàr, nederlands, deutsch, español, english, edited by Rob Flipse & Eric Hellal (éditions l’iroli, 2013) was a gift from a neighbour. It is a gorgeous international collection where each poem is translated into 5 languages and each writer has a line drawing of them. I boggle at the logistics of making this. And the poems are a fun collaboration, chiming off each other. For example Michel Duflo says “waving wheat—/I’ll never know/how to tango” in a French original and Gerd Börner is the facing page in German original “tango…/for three minutes/unfaithful”. There’s a lively set of turns, and not haiku only of blasted swallows. clouds and wildflowers everywhere. Daniel Py writes “love done/he removes/the other sock” which may have made me spit my tea. That’s a sample page at the top.
  2. Moving Forward by The Trillium Haiku Group (Haiku Canada, 2020) is a slim elegant volume that I came across an Amazon suggestion, which is odd as I know many people in the collection and am on the mailing list of the publisher so why didn’t I see it before? That aside the book itself has 2 haiku from each and wonderful selection of haiku. I read the whole aloud because it is that sort and size of book. A general book is better than a themed on in haiku. Hard to choose samples here but by Yoko’s Dogs “river rising, river/falling—he folds away/his winter quilt” struck me as having a perfect complement of form and content. Dina E. Cox has the apt and comic observation “House for sale/two hanging flower baskets/suddenly appear”. Karen Sohne used the expectation of 3 lines to force a pause of what is left out “only once today/tiger swallowtail” with the evocative butterfly poem. Ian Kenney’s poem “sleepless night/the forest’s silhouette/slowly emerges” catches an experience I’ve rarely seen written. Such a worthwhile collection.
  3. The Wrong Date by Sienna Waters (Independently published, 2020) starts with a high school reunion and no date so she hires an escort. It is lovingly written and a good story with stakes that hook forward, flipping back and forth between two narrators so all we know is through them. Refreshingly, it is made clear that character equates their partner’s job as a sex worker as a kind of work. My only qualm is then why quit sex work as part of the Happily Ever After. It’s explained but it seems off. On the other hand it has supportive relationships, real conversations, likeable characters and unexpected plot. A pleasure to read.
  4. The Wild Fox by R. Kolewe (Knife Fork Book, 2020) takes a quiet environment to read because it is slow dense existential perceptual reflection itself. It is not chopped prose masquerading as poetry but doing movements only poetry can do. I presume the italicized line started each & section is like an epigraph, with a short list of authors are the back, with no attribution of what goes with who, but the sources are a route to make an orienting framework. Source is more provenance as leaping off points, such as the phrases, “&if then the now” (p.10) or “& if the numbers meant”(p. 20) or “& if you wanted language” (p.30_. The coda is p. 26 “but the whole idea_//that you’ve got it wrong./Saying there is no coherence but dreaming/of the ruins of/avast beautiful broken/structure/redeemed by its ruination”. The recurrent fox runs like a red thread through. It is circumspect, intelligent,”I don’t trust what I want to believe.” (p. 28). Any by intelligent, I mean like-minded affirmation of “the myth of closure, repair, redemption return” or “you need a theory” (p. 19) “no predictive value/outside the frame of chance” (p. 20)
  5. Haïku: Cet autre monde by Richard Wright, trans Patrick Blanche (La Table Ronde, 2009) I received with dismay as I wanted to read his work, but thought it was all in French, but it’s a bilingual edition which sped up my snail-pace reading. The intro (by his daughter) and two essays made me ashamed that I hadn’t read him before. Such an important literary figure should be spoken of more, novelist friend of Satie. He died of a heart attack a few months after he submitted this book to his publishers. Born in 1908, his haiku were shaped by earlier syllabic versions of American haiku than prevails today, but his eyes are sharp for details, and rich in images. His daughter’s image of her father tucking the manuscript under his arm to jot down wherever he went is touching. Recurrent are coffins and scarecrows, Black children, Black workers and rental rooms. He was just ahead of the main civil rights move
haiku of Richard Wright “In this rented room/One more winter stands outside/my dirty window”
Richard Wright: In the falling snow/A laughing boy holds out his palm/Until they are white”