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Liverpool: Snapshot Press, 2007. Paperback, 80 pages. UK £7.99, US$14, CDN$17.00.
From the press, POBox 132, Waterloo, Liverpool L22 8WZ UK.

With thanks to the author.

Stumbles in Clover is another in the series of very nicely produced haiku collections from Snapshot Press, run by John Barlow. Like others in the series, it features quality design, good paper, a photographic cover, and so on. Straightforwardly, the cover image for Matt Morden’s new book shows a close-up of purple clover, a plant most anyone can related to. I’ll not say here what else is in that cover image.

The 72 poems in Stumbles in Clover, both haiku and senryu, follow one another straight through, one to a page. One of the latter that jumped out at me goes thus:

a colleague’s sigh
arrives before he does
monday morning

As a former government office worker myself, I can relate to this one, a half-wry, half-sympathetic comment on a life shaped, in part, by a co-worker’s sighs.

Morden works the language in some poems in subtle ways that may not immediately reveal their meaning to a casual reader. For example:

death register
nothing fills the silence
as the ink dries

These kinds of unfortunate moments have their own timelessness, and indeed, it is precisely “nothing” that fills such a silence.

Not all the moments captured in Morden’s haiku dwell on such things, however, and some find us in a totally different time-out-of-time, as in this piece:

out of mist
swans glide through
the flooded wood

Sometimes, the language of a particular poem requires a non-global English to appreciate. Here is one that has come into full meaning for me, an American, through some recent involvement with British poetry without which I’d probably have been at a loss, though often cross-referencing a few of the relevant poems in the book will make things clear. (A good dictionary will quickly fix you up, should you need help.) Given that access, I find this one very apt, as well as moving:

winter moon
a pregnant friesian
paces the byre

Morden’s haiku here span a variety of images, situations, and moods. Stumbles in Clover is my idea of a truly fine collection of haiku and senryu.

Bill

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