Book Review: Western Haiku: A Collection

I don’t know much about poetry and I know even less about haiku, but I do understand how incredibly intense it can be when it’s done well.

The introduction to Western Haiku: A Collection, recently released by Dagda Publishing in the aid of the charity Scope, sums up all I needed to actually know in order to understand the form enough to enjoy it. They use a quote from the Haiku Society of America: they say a haiku us a “poem in which Nature is linked to Human nature”. It also explains that traditionally haiku adheres to a strict syllabic construct (three lines, seventeen syllables) but that modern haiku are not bound by such an orthodox structure.

I found all this interesting and it helped me understand the nature of the poetry I was about to read.

The collection itself is neat and concise, as you can imagine, but the scope of feeling, tone and passion that was exhibited was invigorating. This is one thing I am always struck by with powerful poetry and haiku in particular: how some writers can produce so much with so little. It has got to be the most heady and provocative example of how less is more.

The quality of all the writing I thought was high but there were a few in particular that leapt out at me, almost knocking the wind from me in fact as I read. I won’t list them all as it is best to get the collection and read them in situ, but I’m going to share a couple that really struck me.

Melissa Beasley

Nothing is permanent

everything fleeting

yet this rock remains

Sean Macro

Time, that filthy courtesan

Tries to tempt the day

Into wearing black

Poetry fans will enjoy but even those who don’t usually read poetry or haiku, I believe you can still enjoy this. It is accessible and makes you think. At only 20 pages it is easily and quickly devoured and yet still takes you out from yourself and stays with you.

I would recommend possibly particularly to those who don’t normally read haiku. It is a nice way in to a thought-provoking and powerful medium.

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8 Responses to Book Review: Western Haiku: A Collection

  1. freds says:

    Reblogged this on Poetic Cosmos and commented:
    Haiku with a cause, available now!

  2. D. James Fortescue says:

    All poetry is hard to do well. Does it seem peculiar to you that rhyme has become important in writing poetry these days?

    • jcollyer says:

      You’re right, it seems to go in cycles. I had a poet as a tutor at university and his opinion was that it was more challenging and more effective to write something with a definite form (as in have a beat, rhythm, metre, rhyming scheme, line structure) rather than to write free-form. And yet a lot of poets would argue that there should be no boundries. I am not a poet, nor do I read much of it so I would generally hesitate to comment on reasoning behind trends and things but I do think you may be right!

      • D. James Fortescue says:

        Sorry, I meant to say less important. Free-form seems to be the in vogue thing. Almost as if they are saying, ‘Rhyming is for the teeny-bopper rockers and hip-hoppers’.

        The couple of times I tried to makes the pieces of poetry rhyme, it was quite hard.

      • jcollyer says:

        I think poetry is one of those things that is so vast in scope and preference that you are right, anything is possible so people do EVERYTHING lol. But I think I agree with my tutor that it is harder, like you say, to stick to a form and have it effective (and not contrived love/dove etc) so that when someone is good at it and make form work, I think it can have some real clout as opposed to no form at all. But I haven’t read enough of it to have a properly informed opinion. I just know I like The Highwayman, Stolen Child and The Ancient Mariner 😀 And this colllection as well I enoyed because it was accessible and digestable but still made me think and feel. I’d recommend it.

  3. sean macro says:

    Thank you very much for choosing one of my Haiku to showcase in your review! especially since there were so many great ones to choose from.

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