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This post consists of a listing that will eventually include all the issues of Haiku Canada Review in my collection, most recent at the top. For a post that describes a particular issue, please see my review of issue 2:1. Links to other individual issues will be added to the table as they appear in the blog.

Bill

Issue Number Date Notes
2:1 February 2008 Includes name and address listing of some 200 members, plus Haiku Canada Sheet by Naomi Beth Wakan. Reviewed.
1:2 October 2007 Includes Haiku Canada Sheets by Marianne Bluger and members of Haiku Deer Park.
Issue Number Date Notes
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Aurora Antonovič, Editor-in-Chief.

With thanks to the editors/publishers.

This first issue of what promises to be a semiannual journal contains an interview with recent-past U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky (held office 1997–2000); a brief review of Pinsky’s most recent poetry collection by Antonovič; six pages of poems headed “Free Verse and Form” (22 poems); ten pages of short stories, including a “Special Feature” (5 stories); two pages of haiku and senryu (15) and three of tanka (18); a brief essay on writing; and four pages of contributors’ bios. A table of contents at the front is followed by a brief letter from Antonovič that speaks of the magazine’s beginnings and its related web site, and submission guidelines take up the final page.

The covers, outside and inside, feature the same single photograph, a striking snowscape from Mont Blanc, and the 8.5×11″ format allows for ample room on the pages for the content. One could wish that the designer understood how to number pages—the first numbered page, called “1”, is actually page 2, making for confusion as odd numbers appear on left-hand pages—but that is a small gaff for the first issue of a seriously intended journal that begins as the child of a web site, an environment where one doesn’t have to worry about page numbers.

A few poems, more or less at random:

Mission to Schleswig-Holstein

by Taylor Graham

“The Schleswig-Holstein question is so complicated only three men in Europe have ever understood it. One was Prince Albert, who is dead. The second was a German professor who became mad. I am the third, and I have forgotten all about it.” Lord Palmerston.

Politics is always local. These two duchies—stuck
between Germany and Denmark, North Sea and Baltic—
share a history that could drive anyone crazy.

It’s 1850, after two years of uprising, border skirmishes,
unsatisfactory truces, and beyond, real powers
with their arguable legitimacies, positioned to take

sides. And you, Mr. Burritt, delegate from the
World Peace Congress, think to make reason of it all?
Show the Danish Minister tha[t] an American can grasp

the intentions of Bismarck and even more distant Austria?
Slow-train diplomacy, Copenhagen to Kiel, and back
again, then on to Hamburg. After months of this,

at night in your hotel room, does Schleswig-Holstein
slip into an easy sleep? Or do you dream battle cries
in dialects you can’t quite understand?

In a deadened night, do you wake to quick boots
marching below your window? By the glare of dawn
on helmets, do you see that all your diplomacy

is as lost as Lord Palmerston’s memory
and the good professor’s mind?

I selected this from among a number of contenders, not because it is typical—I’d be hard pressed to identify a “typical” poetic mode in this issue’s non-Japanese-related poems—but both this poem’s subject and treatment interest me. (I’m a bit of a history buff, though European history is far from my strong suit.) The short stories, also, provide a range of approach to what makes a story.

snow in the city
nobody home
in the cardboard box

Bill Kenney

from the top
of the Space Needle
he phones me
the connection
still clear, after years

Janet Lynn Davis

These two, a haiku and a tanka, respectively, are by writers new to me, but among many names very recognizable in the English-language haiku and tanka communities, such as An’ya, Curtis Dunlap, Peggy Willis Lyles, John Barlow, Cathy Drinkwater Better, Sanford Goldstein, etc.

The intent to produce a cleanly designed magazine of quality writing clearly emerges from these 32 (not 31) pages, and as the magazine progresses I’m sure we’ll see improvements in detail, like losing the unneeded word “by” in front of an author’s name—a carryover from journalistic style that’s not needed in a lit. mag. (I wonder why they didn’t treat all poems the same, with authorship indicated at the ends of poems, as they did with haiku/senryu and tanka. And I hope they’ll study up on the proper presentation of dashes, etc.) The relative freedom of the large page-size and modest type (10 point) has been put to good use, allowing for two columns or more on the poetry pages and accommodating long-line poems as well as those with more typical short lines as above, while still allowing for enough white space to make reading pleasant.

So, an interesting and well-conceived debut. See their web site, http://www.magnapoets.com, for more information on the magazine as well as the many other activities of the Magnapoets, essentially a poetry publishing cooperative.

Bill

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Northfield, Massachusetts: Lily Pool Press, 2007. Art by Karen Fitzsimmons. Letterpress, sewn binding, 109 pages, 5.5×8.5″. ISBN 978-0-934714-35-8.

With thanks to the author.

Think beautiful. Think demanding, exquisite craftsmanship. Think words lifting from pages into our minds and hearts. Think “book”—in the finest examples you know of, the happiest marriage of text, type, space, and materials possible. (Think Ed Rayher at Swamp Press, and thank him for yet another stunning exhibition of his art.)

Marian Olson does not spew out haiku by the dozens to flood the desks of editors across the world, though many of the haiku and senryu in this substantial collection have been published in print and online journals and anthologies. And she graciously acknowledges several readers who helped her with “careful reading and suggestions on the working manuscript.” Thus, this book, like most well-made books, results from the careful, thoughtful work of its author coupled with a sense of community, a community of poet-friends and publishers and book-crafts people upon whom one calls for assistance with the things that matter.

Again, as is my usual practice, three poems from random openings of Desert Hours. This from page 29:

his eyes when he gives her black tulips

It is no accident that we call the active disk that controls light’s entrance into our consciousness by the name of a flower. A meditation on closely examined tulip superimposed on the iris of the eye, and all that these suggest beyond themselves, a gift. Then, from page 69:

the world having become
what it is
I plant a few bulbs

The poor we have always with us. Last millennium’s beggar in the marketplace has become today’s 24/7 cable news. Yes, we weep with Jesus. But if we do not plant? Ah, but we are not the only planters; here’s one from page 92:

wild irises!
the mountainside blues
in the early light

Understand, “blues” is a verb, here, if you hear it. See it.

And so, is that then the range? Topics from love, to world angst and meditation in the face of it all, to celebration of a glorious vision? Hardly. Here are two more to seal the deal, from pages 6 and 20:

the perfect apple
aaaaaaaon a branch
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaI can’t reach

all day circling
the one tree he knows
fledgling

The first, a self-revelatory senryu, the second a wry comment on a particular bird, on all of us, to be taken as haiku or senryu; depending on the mood in which we read it, it reads us.

In her brief introduction to Desert Hours, Olson says, among other things:

The meaning of pure beauty is looking into the moonless sky on a winter night seven thousand feet above sea level. Far from the air and noise pollution of low elevations, no other sky is like it. Moon and stars unlocked by night can bring a pragmatist to her knees.

One might be tempted to say “You had to be there!” I, too, have lived in Santa Fe and enjoyed the high desert atmosphere—my wife calls it “the place where air is made”—and might agree with that old expostulation. But, if you have memories of the place, its land, waters, sky, air, and people, you can bring them back with Olson’s book. And, if you’ve never been there, well, this collection is better than a day at the spa. All the richness of the physical landscape and the human and other lives that intertwine with it is here.

Not least, one enters Desert Hours through the portal of Karen Fitzsimmons’s striking cover portrait of a landscape, a seemingly natural melding of nearby hill, rivers in a valley plain, distant mountains, and clouds, yellow wildflowers in the foreground, and, oh yes, the remnant of a small house, or perhaps a morada, where some penitentes of the past may have contemplated the agonies of this life and the peace beyond it.

Thankfully, Marian Olson finds peace within it. But not without that sensitivity to our precarious situation which marks all true poets.

Desert Hours is available online through Santa Fe’s premiere book store, Collected Works (click on the link to see the cover, at the least!). Or it may be purchased from the author, at $22 postpaid:

Marian Olson
2400 Botulph Road
Santa Fe, NM 87505-5754

Viva Desert Hours!

Bill

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Vol. 3, issue 1 (Spring/Summer 2007). Edited by An’ya.

With thanks to Carole MacRury.

The front page of this tabloid-newsprint publication lists the creators of “Over 300 Verses and Works of Art in this Issue!”–along with countries of origin. These are mostly people from the USA, but there is a good number of Canadians and Europeans, with the Balkans well represented, and a smattering of folks from Japan, Australia, and South Africa.

Personally, I’m not fond of newsprint, even for newspapers, but this issue of moonset has some things to recommend it. For one, a feature of haiku and tanka on cats. Pick of the litter, to my taste:

a feral cat slithers
out of the storm drain–
spring thaw

Ruth Holzer, USA

Another interesting section contains “signature haiku”–“being the poem that you have written which is your own personal favorite and/or has been published the most, or one that you consider best represents you and your writing style”–so says An’ya. In two pages, some 60 or so verses, my pick:

apple blossoms
my grandfather snaps
his suspenders

Andrew Riutta, USA

Tanka is less numerously represented than haiku, but holds up its end very well, nonetheless. My favorite of the issue is this translation by Amelia Fielden and Kozue Uzawa (names in Western order, given name first):

in a country
where fog coldly descends
like the darkness
of the Middle Ages
I cross a street-corner

Watanabe Koichi
(name in Japanese order, surname first)

This from the translators’ book Ferris Wheel: 101 Modern and Contemporary Tanka, from Cheng and Tsui, 2006 (available on Amazon.com). About 30 of the poems from Ferris Wheel are included here, along with a useful essay by Fielden about translating Japanese poems into English.

Another striking mood-piece of tanka, from the “Signature Tanka” section:

something
has been set free . . .
a gull
lazes past my window
bright white in the sun

Melissa Dixon, Canada

Given An’ya’s own high interest in tanka, we might expect it to advance in percentage-contents in future issues of moonset.

A single, excellent, nijuin (20-stanza) renku, “Adrift with Her Dreams” reads at least as well as, if not better than, the pages and pages of other verses here. Hortensia Anderson piloted this ship with Carole MacRury, Adelaide B. Shaw, Heather Madrone, and Bette Norcross Wappner in the crew.

Two book reviews and a bunch of contest information round out the issue. The paper is also full of illustrations, of varying quality, from quick sketches in pencil or pen to (deliberately) grainy photographs, many of these combined with hand-written poems into haiga.

Published twice a year. More information is available on their web site: http://moonsetnewspaper.blogspot.com/.

Bill

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