Posts Tagged ‘Chrysanthemum Love’

San Francisco, Blue Willow Press, [2006]. Perfect bound, 4.125×5.375″ (10.5×13.7 cm), 112 pages, $10.

With thanks to the author.

In 2004, I reviewed Fay Aoyagi’s Chrysanthemum Love for Modern Haiku magazine, and said, among other things:

Fay Aoyagi’s Chrysanthemum Love heralds what will hopefully become a new generation of America haiku masters. The poems are crafted, richly felt, and tactile as the first rain after a drought.

I think others expressed similar views at the time, and so I pick up her next collection with some hesitancy, hoping for no letdown. Of course, an author might well put out a next book with some hesitancy, too, after such a positive reception. We all want to think the next thing we do is at least as good as the previous success, but who knows?

Opening In Borrowed Shoes at random, three times, I find these:

on page 12:

to kill the pang
of sudden hunger
I open the atlas

on page 56:

letters offering
0% APR
lotus seeds pop

on page 93:

I will not let go
of the Dragon King’s tail
autumn sunset

Hmm! This random set certainly satisfies. I love the relatively obvious but so simply stated connection between hunger and an atlas, which now that I think on it works on more than one level. (Might one have turned to a page showing Darfur?) And even lotus seeds surely pop at the stupidities of our ever-present credit hawkers . . . but the lotus flower suggests another way of being on the planet besides always consuming this, consuming that, and building up debt. Lotus seeds, a better investment. Finally, I think I’m missing a reference here, as I don’t know any “Dragon King”—but imagining it a kite, I feel the tone of autumn in that pull, that wishing I could let go when I cannot, and yet . . .

I think Fay Aoyagi is still among the best we have. Now that I read more dutifully through In Borrowed Shoes, I see the reference(s) to Kurosawa, ponder movies I perhaps have never seen, though I have a set of his samurai epics from last Christmas; find myself leaning with her on a sun-hot wall on Hiroshima Day; count foreign numerals in my native tongue; see my eyes in a fearsome painting; find the connection between bitter fruit and bleached hair—and many more.

Like the haiku in Chrysanthemum Love, those in Borrowed Shoes seek a personal identity in the minutiae of the universe around us. And again, they nail us in the process. Who is Fay Aoyagi? Who am I? Ultimately, unknowable. But these are some of the clues. Here’s one to leave you with, from page 79:

I dress as the self
I left somewhere

Available from the author, $10 + $2 shipping (check payable to her):

Fay Aoyagi
c/o Blue Willow Press
930 Pine St., #105
San Francisco, CA 94108

More of Fay’s world of haiku online at http://bluewillowhaiku.com/. Note that Chrysanthemum Love, her previous collection, is sold out.



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