Does Fish-God Know by Alan Summers © 2012, Yet To Be Named Free Press, Stoke-On-Trent, England, ISBN 9781479211043, 5X8 paperback, 157 numbered pages, www.yettobenamedfreepress.org
Review by Dennis M. Holmes
I am happy to see Alan Summers’ poems. I have known/known of Alan Summers since
2001, when we just missed each other in Akita, Japan, at the World Haiku Conference. Alan is generous in his encouragements and experimental in his poetry. Does Fish-God Know is full of his exploration of short poetry. As Brendan Slater, says in the Pre in the beginning of the book, “ … he ain’t twee, nor is he brutal, he is somewhere in between, a place … in coffee shops, police cells and waiting for trains …”
Alan populates his book with a poem per page and sprinkles printed visuals throughout that seem as optical illusions, such as large letters looking as they have a dimensional fuzzy texture. These illusions along with a variety of well used space for one, two, three, and four line poems give the book accents and counterpoint that aid in the read.
Alan is well skilled in using the English language and graphic design to give not only an impactful texture to entries in his book, but, to convey in subtle ways feelings and moments of the poet’s range of experiences. A few examples I’ve picked at thumb-random will give you a feel for Alan’s range:
the death of a friend’s sister
a lost jigsaw piece
curse her Rain falls from a normal blue sky
with the ripe moon
Pharmakos the name you scratch inside
this pear on Plato’s diaphragm
you ask me
A section at the end of the book contains a few of Alan’s poems translated to Japanese by Hidenori Hiruta. Although, it seems a few have misprints of the Japanese symbols as I was unable to understand the Japanese in the translation of:
the man resurfaces
with sea-green eyes
A good read from the author! Thanks Alan.
As the Years Pass by Kathe L. Palka © 2012, First published in Great Britain in 2012 by Snapshot Press, Orchard House, High Lane, Ormskirk L407SL, at www.snapshotpress.co.uk/ebooks.htm, e-book of 19 numbered pages in chapbook style.
Review by Dennis M. Holmes
This ebook by Kathe L. Palka consists of tanka style poems, centered in white font on a black page.
I think the style and mood of the last poem (the inspiration for the title of the e-book chapbook, I feel) is an overall representation of Kathe’s skill and craft of her presented poems:
as the years pass
the more I find myself
content to enjoy
the pleasure of my own
The tanka style poems are quite nice, really, giving a relaxed intimate feeling of life-time passing.
Still Blue Water, collected tanka by Marje A. Dyck, ©2012, Calisto Press, ISBN 978-0-9739249-1-6, paperback, 52 numbered pages, author’s contact:firstname.lastname@example.org Suggested price $10.
Review by Dennis M. Holmes
Belonging begins Marje’s book, an introduction to her poems written by Michael Dylan Welch, Founder, Tanka Society of America. Michael shares his insights and interpretations of Marje’s poems. This is followed by sections named for seasons of the year beginning with Spring, and goes through to Winter, below each section, a subtitle setting the theme. At the end of each season section is a tanka sequence with a title reflecting the focus of that sequence followed with four or five poems.
I enjoyed Marje’s tanka type poems and for me, it was interesting seeing the tanka sequences. Marje’s poems have an easy and natural feel bringing the reader into the scenes, intimately sharing seasonal scents, sights, and sounds as each poem is punctuated with an emotional tone.
Perhaps an example poem from each season will show best the level of Marje’s skill:
rain for days
I draw the curtains
in an old song
in my notebook
over a decade of poems –
still blue water
deep blue sky
fills me again
shafts of sunlight
spray glitter over
water’s tremulous surface
inside this longing
outside my window
one by one
the snap of jam lids
inside my warm kitchen
Marje hales from Saskatchewan, Canada.
kokoro arts, an ebook by an'ya, edited by Colin Stuart Jones, e-published by Gean Tree Press, Aberdeen, Scotland,
2013. (120 electronic pages formated on my iBook iPhone apps)
Review by Dennis M. Holmes
Kokoro is the romaji for "heart-mind" in Japanese. It is good to see an'ya's poems and paintings combining with skillful technique and inner passions into, as her title suggests, heart arts.
Her poems are both comfortable and comforting. Her graphic stylizations add shape and texture to her words. I found in this book that an'ya's poems and pictures contain a graceful and gentle personal realization of transience. I can not represent the graphic here in this review (technically) but can give examples of the poetry. On page 3 (I am giving the page number for the reader use the link provided and see the poem and picture), an affirmation in 5 lines (tanka in style):
together may we
hear violins in the rain...
for without love
all sounds are unbearable
in that silence called absence
an'ya’s poetry within the book is mostly in the traditional haiku-like three lines, with L1 framing the moment and L2 and L3 opening the reader to the moment's emotional currents in a juxtaposition. It is what I would call a classic form of which an'ya has skillfully mastered. On page 6:
ten bare toes touch
I did find, what I would call, an poet's graceful look at life's ending, in a few poems, for example on page 80:
the long sleeves of your old coat
warm my fingertips...
even from beyond the grave
you manage to comfort me
In this poem, an'ya spoke to my personal experience. I too wrote a poem about the warmth of my father's jacket that I received after his passing.
kokoro arts holds poems and pictures that the reader will find a resonance to their own personal experiences. This is an'ya's gift.
Despre Natura Sufletului / About the Nature of the Soul, by Clelia Ifrim (English translated by author). Editura Universitara, Bucuresti, Director: Drd. Vasile Muscalu, B-dul. N. Balcescu nr. 27-33, Sector 1, Cucaresti, Tel: 021.315.32.47 / 319.67.27, www.editurauniversitara.ro, email: email@example.com, 2012. Paperback, pp. 95, ISBN: 978-606-591-541-1.
Review by Dennis M. Holmes
Clelia Ifrim’s free verse poetry is full of metaphors both allusive and elusive, most having a religious flavor. She has written them originally in Romanian and translated them into English. Her first poem, in the collection, is titled the same as the book: Despre Natura Sufletului / About the Nature of the Soul, and demonstrates the allusive/elusive use of metaphor:
Despre natura sufletului
Cineva ma spala cu o spuma roz
si-ncep sap rind piele dulce-aurie.
Rasuflarea Lui ramane-n mine
ca o lumina usoara si egala
About the nature of the soul
Somebody washes me with rose foam
and I’m beginning to catch
a skin of solar sweet.
His breath remains in me
as gentle and unchanged light
on a credit.
The Romanian poems are on even numbered pages the size fitting within the dimension of the paperback’s page, with, the English translation on the odd numbered pages within the page’s dimensions.
It took me a few re-reads to be comfortable with the metaphoric flow used by Clelia. I do not read/write Romanian, so, my reactions are souly (excuse the pun) based on the English translation that risks as all translations do, some emotional seepage. Clelia’s “nature of the soul” gave pause to think how porous our mortal coils.
I took a hint from Jane Reichhold’s comment on the back cover, “We are the nature of the soul. … In our emotions it exercises all choice. …”. Clelia’s poetry attempts to reveal this emotional flexibility.
Four Virtual Haiku Poets, Edited by Alan Summers & Brendan Slater, Yet To Be Named Free Press, Stoke-on-Trent, England, ©2012. ISBN: 978-1478307549
Reviewed by Dennis M. Holmes
Four Virtual Haiku Poets, starts with the section, Cage Fighting, (as this reviewer contends that the allusion/metaphor to that pugilistic practice perfect) for the introduction by Alan Summers of the contributing authors: Scott Terrill, Brendan Slater, Colin Stewart Jones; and, Michael Goglia. I also see the sections title to mean the struggle against the “cage” that haiku-type poetry might present to the poet as well as the struggle within the cage of the poets amongst their writings.
The rest of the book contains short poems, one per page (although there are some black & white graphics scattered randomly to accent the collection of poems). The arrangement of poems is given in such a way to mix-up and not group the poems per author. The Credit section, at the end, allows the reader to then to identify which poem goes to which author. I like this arrangement because it allows the reader to see and read poems diverse in their presentation which also allows emphasis on the diversification of each author to throughout the read.
I found the idea(s?) expressed in a phrase in the title, “Virtual Haiku” with just the right ambiguity to wonder should it be, “Virtual Haiku Poets” as a type of poet, or, “Virtual Haiku” as a type of haiku-type poetry?! (English can be such a saucy bitch, at times).
I found the read fun and am thankful for Alan and Brendan, for the introduction of the four poets (although, I am already somewhat familiar with Colin’s poetry).
Immersion, A Haiku Journey Through the Grand Canyon by Bambi Steiner, ©2012, AHA Books, ISBN 978-0-944676-49-3, paperback, 6X8.25, 150 numbered pages, http://www.amazon.com/Immersion-Haiku-Journey-Through-Canyon/dp/0944676499/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1367521595&sr=1-1&keywords=immersion+a+haiku+journey
Review by Dennis M. Holmes
Immersion is an account of the author’s adventure through the Grand Canyon on rafts. The book has both prose and poetry similar to the arrangement of a haibun, but, different in that there a many, many poems between the prose.
In Bambi Steiner’s book, Immersion, I would have liked more poems of the “moments” than just a descriptive narrative of nature, yet, the poems capture the beauty and author’s personal “ah” of the Canyon. I found many of the poems certainly express that “ah” and some came through with the “ha” expected in good “ah/ha” short poems. Bambi made good use of selective and suggestive words, along with, spacing to express her feelings in her poetry.
An example of the “ah”:
as alpenglow swells and
spills onto the eddy
An example of the “ah/ha”:
moon between clouds
between canyon walls
Although, I have not rafted the Canyon, I have hiked down to its waters on Bright Angel, I was and am “ah” struck by its majesty and mystery “sensuously” captured in three line images and black and white photo in Immersion.
Reading one of the poems in Immersion caused me to go on an adventure on my own concerning a story associated with the natural formations of which a Native American myth is attributed:
tongue between her lips
(I encourage those that read Bambi’s book to explore this folktale on their own)
Bambi provides helpful glossaries to explain some of the unfamiliar terms to the casual reader: Glossary of River Terms; Glossary of Geologic Terms and Grand Canyon Sites ;and Glossary of Grand Canyon Plants.I would think that these may be candidates for a saijiki or equivalent on the Grand Canyon.
Rafting down the Grand Canyon is certainly on my bucket list and Immersion has reinforced that list item!
Traversing the Frontier: The Man’yoshu Account of a Japanese Mission to Silla in 736-737 by H. Mack Horton © 2012. Published as the Harvard East Asian Monngraph 330 by Harvard University Press, Cambridge MS and London. Hard-cover with full color dust jacket, over 600 pages with indices and glossaries and lists. $55. at http://www.amazon.com/Traversing-Frontier-Account-Japanese-Monographs/dp/0674053303/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1367520809&sr=1-1&keywords=traversing+the+frontier.
Review by Jane Reichhold
Traversing the Frontier: The Man’yoshu Account of a Japanese Mission to Silla in 736-737 by H. Mack Horton is a magnificent book. It is flooded with information and has given me many hours of pleasure and insight.
H. Mack Horton, Professor of Pre-modern Japanese Literature and Culture at the University of California, in Berkeley, has focused the beam of his investigation of poems in the famous first anthology of Japanese poetry on the 145 tanka, choka, and sedoka composed about a trip from Kyoto to Korea. He not only translates each poem, but like a beagle in a new backyard, sniffs out every possible controversy. We know Japanese poetry is the queen of ambiguity so material for Horton to question and speculation upon abounds. He does this with a special skill and thoroughness that could cause some readers to quake and fall by the wayside as he takes one tiny bit of an idea, follows it to and through every expert who has published a side on any argument. Then he backs this up with other poems translated from the scrolls we know as the Man’yoshu, redefines the parameters of the arguments giving opinions on issues we can never know given the material we have. An example would be five or six experts giving their idea of what was going on in the poet’s life, his previous readings, and or his purpose for his poem when this is all speculation.
Viewed from a compassionate angle this kind of mind-masturbation is engaging and filled with new ideas on pages of pleasure. The knowledge that none of us, or even the companions of the poet in 736, could rightfully answer the proffered question somehow makes the writing as ethereal as calligraphy written by clouds.
The fact that the collection of works is designated as a series written on a trip to Korea repeatedly uses similar metaphors and images, in real and not so real situations, enables the poems to sound amazingly boring. By page 381 the impatient reader will feel like screaming if there is one more poem about kimono sashes, or sleeves in addition to the mention of boats and waves as is to be expected. Then when Horton goes into his investigative mode and searches out every other poem in the Man’yoshu on the same subject, giving it his careful translation and informative scrutiny, there is the temptation to turn the book into a missile. Tranquillizers help. Sleep heals.
Having braved the storms of opinion and idiotic guessing I must say that reading the book is a worthwhile endeavor for the worlds of thinking and the poems dropped along the way. Near the end, Horton turns his unusual mindset to the problem of how to translate “Man’yoshu” giving the reader the best and most comprehensive understanding of why there is no one direct translation possible in English of words with so much background, associated usage, and poetic ambiguity. For me, this chapter alone was worth far more than the exhaustive study of the 33rd trip from Japan to Korea written probably by hacks who borrowed work left and right to fill a gap and make some ruler feel important.
In case you missed it, the pun in the title – trans- versing the frontier should make you end all of this with a smile.
Naked Rock by Jane Reichhold © 2013. AHA Books. Flat-spine, full-color cover and photos, 74 pages, $12. Available from Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Naked-Rock-Jane-Reichhold/dp/0944676103/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1367521861&sr=1-7&keywords=naked+rock
Review by D.S. Lliteras
Great haiku invites the reader to complete the author's poetic moment. Jane Reichhold's book of haiku entitled, Naked Rock, operates in this manner. She also deepens each haiku with a photograph of an associated rock formation—or does each haiku about the associated rock formation deepen the photograph? Yes—the reader will encounter a lovely tension between haiku and image, as well as appreciate their complementary weight. Together, this construction of haiku and image succeeds in revealing some of earth's ancient mysteries that were discovered in Utah and California.
In the beginning, the author leads the reader into this world with her first haiku:
the way of water
opening up a canyon
And by the last haiku, we discover that the author has guided the reader into the rocky earth itself where we all return in the end:
at the end of fall
BOOK NOTES AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Dear Jane, I write you a line to say you that My Loved Japan was translated into Japanese by Hidenori Hiruta .You can read them at Akita International Haiku .
All the best ,Clelia Ifraim
Volume 14 of the heron's nest
Now in print and available for shipping
This year's print edition contains all of the contents of the 2012 quarterly on-line editions, plus a complete report on the Readers' Choice Awards and the Illustration Contest.
Here is a link to instructions for ordering (bottom of the page)
Dear Jane, Last year I had an eChapbook of tanka published by Snapshot Press, As the Years Pass. I’m wondering If you might have an interest in reviewing it for LYNX or in carrying a review if I were to find someone else interested in reviewing my little book. I hope you don’t find my query too bold. I’ve always found you to be so kind and approachable as well as knowledgeable in Japanese forms. Of all the helpful books on writing haiku I’ve found your Writing and Enjoying Haiku to be the most helpful. Here is the link to where my eChapbook can be read free online at the Snapshot Press website: http://www.snapshotpress.co.uk/ebooks.htm Thank you for entertaining my question. I look forward to your reply. Sincerely, Kathe
We [at Gean Tree Press] publish all haikai genres but are always particularly interested in multimedia, hearing new voices and would also love to see more people have a go at creating cartoons (let your funny side loose) and we always welcome images for our covers. We also publish free to read e-books:Don Baird's L.A. Thru a Lens came out last week;and my publisher has kindly allowed me to put up my first book, A Seal Snorts Out The Moon, for free at:http://www.geantreepress.com/Books.html
Americana hot off the press!
America as described by the pen of Ed Markowski . With 50 haibun Markowski paints a vision of a shattered American Dream : this is white picket fences with blistering paint ; This is baseball played with bare hands and nail studded bats, this is the lingering scent and flavour of crabapple pie . Markowski is to American haibun as David Lynch is to film .
Objects by Jack Galmitz:
With Objects, Jack Galmitz de-constructs haiku. The poems contained within are minimal; they are sometimes statements; sometimes pure image; but always with the hint of something more. There is a suggestion of narrative and also the suggestion that Galmitz objects (verb) to what currently pass as haiku.
Colin Stewart Jones - Editor , Gean Tree Press . http://www.geantreepress.com/Books.html
Dear Werner and Jane,
Edge Of The Pond, Selected haiku and tanka by Darrell Lindsey, was recently published by Popcorn Press. It is available on Amazon.com ( including Kindle), amazon.co.uk,Tower Books, and from the publisher at http://www.popcornpress.com/www.popcornpress.com . It's also a Nook Book at BN.com ( Barnes and Noble). It contains many of his short form poems that have won international awards ( Japan, Croatia, Bulgaria, Canada, Romania and Poland).
3 Sample Poems:
the boat full
of one cricket
she would've loved
should you decide
to paint a memory of me
let it be like the glimmer
on an evening lake
All The Best, Darrell Lindsey
I write you a line to say you that my book Stone Mirror, Water Mirror , with your review is on Amazon , Kindle edition .
Please, tell your friends. Many thanks once again, Clelia
Dear Lovers of Art & the Written Word:
Pleased to be able to invite you to an art opening reception on Sat., March 23, from 2-4 pm at the Richmond Art Center. One of my artists' books, 12 Square Roots, a book art assemblage, will be on display. Talented Allegra Burke also has a piece in the show, entitled "Innovations in Contemporary Crafts." Over 650 pieces of art were submitted to this juried show.
If you have yet to visit the Richmond Art Center, you are in for a treat. Amazing space with several large galleries and many, many huge classrooms, set-up with equipment for everything from metal & jewelry work, to screen printing, ceramics and weaving. It is wonderfully evident how devoted the city of Richmond is to celebrating the arts in their community. Come celebrate with us on Saturday, March 23rd. Would love to see you there! Hoping your life is bursting with spring creativity! xo Renee Owen.
P.S. More good news to share. Watch for the September 2013 release of 500 Handmade Books, Vol. II, from Lark Books. One of my hand-sewn artists' books, Hole in the Moon, replete with repurposed found objects and one-line haiku, will be featured in the book. Many thanks to haiku poet & professional photographer Garry Gay for the wonderful photos.