lapses

Gordon gesturesChris Gordon

/ an apparent definition of wavering (spring 2004)

 

 

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Mark Harris’s *burl*

I’ll admit that over the last decade there have not been too many haiku collections by individuals that have really excited me. A few now and then (Fay Aoyagi’s Chrysanthemum Love [Blue Willow Press, 2003], john martone’s dogwood & honeysuckle [Red Moon Press, 2004], and Philip Rowland’s together still [Hub Editions, 2004] come to mind) but not many, and not many, i mean, that have had a strong impact on me, or have sustained my interest.

Over the last couple years or so, however, there has been a nice cluster of haiku collections by individual poets that i think are outstanding (mostly at the hands of Jim Kacian’s Red Moon Press), collections i really enjoy returning to, find inspiration in, and seek out pretty regularly: Jim Kacian’s long after (Albalibri Editore, 2008), john martone’s ksana (Red Moon Press, 2009; out of print; but here’s a review), William M. Ramsey’s more wine (Red Moon Press, 2010), Fay Aoyagi’s Beyond the Reach of My Chopsticks (Blue Willow Press, 2011), and also her In Borrowed Shoes (Blue Willow Press, 2006), paul m.’s few days north days few (Red Moon Press, 2011) as well as his called home from 2006, and Peter Yovu’s Sunrise (Red Moon Press, 2010; out of print)—pretty much my favorite of these for its range of content, form, and techniques, and sucessful experimentalism (its melding of “tradition” with the “avant-garde”). The latest issues of Chris Gordon’s journal ant ant ant ant ant have been chapbooks of an individual’s work (Chris Gordon, Jack Galmitz, and Jim Westenhaver, respectively), and each has been well worth the waiting time between issues, and are nice to have close by. Two excellent, and important, retrospectives have also been published, Martin Shea’s waking on the bridge (Red Moon Press, 2008) and Robert Boldman’s everything i touch (Red Moon Press, 2011).

Mark Harris’s new collection, burl (Red Moon Press, 2012) is now among that group for me. It is outstanding in pretty much every way: the personal, oftentimes deeply intimate, emotive, and sometimes imaginative, poems; the range of poetic techniques and forms employed (the poems’ “internal energies”); the sequencing; and the excellent cover (utilizing Mark’s own artwork) which employs some of the “simplicity” haiku is supposed to be known for with a strong touch of modern complexity in execution (mirroring, in many ways, the poems within, and, i think, especially some of the content matter). Out of all the collections mentioned above, i think Mark’s work perhaps best displays the range of what is being done in English-language haiku today.

It all comes together amazingly. It’s a collection i’ve found myself going back to again over the last many months since it arrived, the poems offering new readings and new insights (and new inspiration) each time, always with something new to pick up on.

A powerful collection, and highly recommended.

8 poems from the collection:

Issue 12.3 of R’r will contain a substantial essay on Mark Harris’s burl by Jack Galmitz

interviews by Jack Galmitz with Chris Gordon & Peter Yovu

“While I’ve been very conscious over the years of using such poetic tools as juxtaposition, indeterminacy, sampling, and randomness to create haiku, I’ve been thinking in terms of images, feelings, senses, the matter of the poem. That the difference lay in the comparison of elements, not so much in the valence of meaning or the shifting of themes or focus.

In other words, I haven’t thought of it as an overlay of two different worlds, only an overlay of experiences. The mystical world and the mundane world are the same to me. Or so I strive to make them so. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it takes a great knack.”

—Chris Gordon

The Superlative Quotidian: An Interview with Chris Gordon

A Hundred Gourds 1.1 (2011)

“Yes, and though I stay away from calling myself a haiku poet, I will admit that there is something in me that is attracted to the 5/7/5 blueprint and likes to play off and with it. Maybe it’s like agreeing to have four limbs (I’m a quadropus) and not the eight of an octopus. The body has limits which the dance, for one, plays off and with. There is no exceeding (and maybe no excelling) without limits. Seeds and cells.”

—Peter Yovu

 Artisan of the Imagination: An Interview with Peter Yovu

A Hundred Gourds 1.2 (2012)

2 new books by Jack Galmitz

Contributing editor of R’r, Jack Galmitz, has two new books out: Views (Cyberwit), and The Word ‘Dog’ Does Not Bark (Lulu Press).

Beth Vieira, a former professor at the University of California at Berkeley, wrote the introduction for Views. Here’s a small excerpt to give you an idea:

“[Jack Galmitz’s] Views (. . .) shows the power of allowing perspectival seeing, the layering of views, to accumulate on a topic that might be a bit like an elephant in miniature—contemporary haiku. Like the blind men in the [famous Buddhist] parable, people cling to their own views of haiku even though they have grasped just a part. Galmitz, in tandem with fourteen poets, follows Nietzsche’s lead to allow “more affects . . . more eyes” to the matter.

Through interviews, book reviews, and critical pieces, Galmitz covers the poetry and larger concerns of a broad range of writers: paul m., Peter Yovu, Chris Gordon, john martone, Ban’ya Natsuishi, Tateo Fukutomi, Tohta Kaneko, Robert Boldman, Marlene Mountain, Grant Hackett, Richard Gilbert, Dimitar Anakiev, Mark Truscott, and Fay Aoyagi. Each writer appears in exquisite specificity, as if Galmitz can disappear into each’s shadow and yet at the same time be so active that he pulls them into the spotlight to take a fine-tuned look at the work each does.”

The Word ‘Dog’ Does Not Bark is a new collection of recent work by Jack. The poems in the collection are each given a title. Here are two examples that appeared in slightly different forms in R’r 12.1:

Ancestry

Descendant

of a star

that coexisting

Ancestry II

Impose do not

on the blank space

that pinioned the burial

The Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems 2011

On National Haiku Poetry Day (April 17th; 17 syllables, get it?), The Haiku Foundation announced the winners for their Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems in 2011, as well as for their Touchstone Distinguished Book Awards for 2011, and also the winners of their 2012 HaikuNow! contest.

Lots going down.

No winners from R’r were selected for the Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems this year, but two ku that appeared in R’r in 2011 made their Shortlist. One was the following by Chris Gordon, from R’r 11.1:

And one of my own, also from R’r 11.1:

These were two, from the 30, i submitted for the contest (having been invited by THF, as editor of R’r, to submit 10 from each issue we published in 2011). Hope to share all of those sometime soon.

Two ku that i’ve shared on this blog as favorites of mine from other journals in 2011 got top honors however (out of 6 total):

gunshot
every pine needle
pointing at something

Gregory Hopkins

/ The Heron’s Nest (Volume 13:2, June 2011)

&

back from the war   
all his doors
swollen shut

Bill Pauly

/ Modern Haiku (42.1)

Also, as an individual, i was able to submit two of my favorites from other journals for the contest.

One of the two i submitted was Bill Pauly’s ku above.

i like this one so much because it can be read in different ways, and those readings (from the hyper-literal to the symbolic/metaphorical), for me, can be held in the mind simultaneously, and have, i feel, great depth, and far-reaching implications about the human psyche, war, society/culture, Nature, and the world. The words chosen are perfect—nothing’s wasted—and the line breaks are steel-solid. All around, a great and highly memorable poem.

The other of the two i submitted was Lee Gurga’s

the scent of paradise a dead bird in my hand

from Modern Haiku 42.2.

Here the abstract and the concrete are oddly and jarringly grafted on to one another to create a world i never encountered before, yet somehow feel i should’ve (or, actually, that i have, but didn’t realize it until reading Lee’s poem). The balance of release and lifelessness, sadness/aloneness and magnificence, invisibility and concreteness (yet invitation: what kind of bird? what colors?, etc.), the implication of death equaling life/new life, and vice versa, and the intense intimacy and physicality of the bird in hand (flight ceased, flight caught, flight realized and felt)—it is all so mesmerizing. Here the taxonomical naming of the bird would only impede and ruin the entire poem, like it does so often in English-language haiku. The one line construction is perfect and heightens the reading experience.

In the weeks ahead here, Paul Pfleuger, Jr. will be sharing his favorites that appeared in R’r in 2011 with some commentary and lingering questions; & i’ll continue to throw up more of my favs from other journals in 2011. And amongst all of that, the new issue of R’r (12.1) will be completed and unveiled.

HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES?

Le fils de l’homme / The Son of Man by René Magritte (1964)

tr. by Burton Watson / From the Country of Eight Islands

tr. by Burton Watson / Masaoka Shiki: Selected Poems

1960 / Haiku: This Other World (#436)

September 21 1965   # e b ’ / The Collected Poems of Larry Eigner

Poems 1966-1967 [Pages, Random House, 1969]

/ A 2nd Flake (1974)

/ Modern Haiku 6.2 (1975)

Viral 7.2  by Chris Gordon

Gendai Haiku Kyokai Sakuhin-Shû (Modern Haiku Association Anthology), 1982              tr. by Fay Aoyagi

/ Opera in the Human Body (1990) [Turquoise Milk, Red Moon Press 2011]

/ Modern Haiku 35.1 (2004)

Haiku Shiki (Haiku Four Seasons), October 2008; created from a tr. by Fay Aoyagi

/ Ginyu 42 (2009)

MASKS ONE (2009)

 / R’r 9.1 (2009)

Chris Gordon :: Jack Dander

MASKS ONE (2009)

/ Ginyu 42 (2009)

:: Jack Dander / MASKS 2 (2009)

/ Ginyu 42 (2009)

/ R’r 9.2 (2009)

/ The Heron’s Nest 12.1 (2010)

/ R’r 10.1 (2010)

/ R’r 10.3 (2010)

/ Haidan (Haiku Stage), September 2011; new arrangement using a tr. by Fay Aoyagi

/ A Hundred Gourds 1.1 (2011)

Ron Silliman on Haiku 21, Jim Kacian & john martone

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Ron Silliman wrote a post on English-language haiku and minimalist poetry yesterday (May 14, 2012), focusing on Haiku 21 (edited by Lee Gurga & myself), Jim Kacian’s long after, & john martone’s ksana collection.

Comments? Reactions? Thoughts?

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Castor & Pollux by Chris Gordon (mixed media, 2010)

if you

from her blog, Red Dragonfly / 12.5.10

“Meanings that waver around the concrete but dissipate when you close in on them. An indeterminance that is still very solid. [S]ubtle metaphorical images. The person who is unbuttoned. The rain that is shivering. The person becomes objectified. The rain becomes subjectified. Yet there is the barest of motion in this transformation. Here we are enticed into a number of images that keep the poem moving without settling into some expected message.” Chris Gordon