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Volume 36.2
Summer 2005

book review:

The Day of Strawberries
edited by Paul O. Williams

 

reviewed by Pamela Miller Ness

The Day of Strawberries, edited by Paul O. Williams (San Francisco: Two Autumns Press, 2004). No ISBN. 36 pages, 5 1/2 x 5 1/2, paperbound, saddle-stapled. $9.00 postpaid from the publisher, 303 Holly Street, Mill Valley CA 94941. Please make check payable to HPNC or Haiku Poets of Northern California.

The Day of the Strawberries is the companion chapbook to the Haiku Poets of Northern California’s fifteenth annual Two Autumns poetry reading series. This year’s volume, containing twelve haiku each by Jerry Kilbride, Garry Gay, D. Claire Gallagher, and Yvonne Cabalona, was edited and introduced by Paul O. Williams. Designed with elegant simplicity by Karina Young, the chapbook is square in format with an image of a crescent moon gracing the cover, pumpkin-colored endpapers, the forty-eight haiku spaciously laid out two to a page, and six pages of biographical material. Given the experience and excellence of the four poets, it is not surprising that this is a superb collection, each poem a small, sparkling gem. As Williams notes in his illuminating introduction, “Selecting poems from those submitted … was not easy. Their work was like a rich Thanksgiving dinner for someone on a strict diet.…”

Although each poet has his / her own unique voice, style, and range of topics and concerns, the themes touched upon by the group as a whole range from the cycles of the natural and human worlds, family and pets, social and political issues, to the realm of the intuition and imagination. Each poet is a master of the craft, conveying insight and emotion through the carefully controlled selection and juxtaposition of objective imagery. Similar to Williams’s challenge of selecting just twelve poems for each poet, this reviewer had the difficult task of selecting just one of the twelve to feature as a sample of that poet’s work and of the treasures contained in this small volume. Jerry Kilbride lives a life devoted to social causes: volunteering to feed the
homeless and to aid breast cancer survivors, marching against the war in Iraq, protesting for the rights of union workers. His haiku

AIDS march
I keep relighting
the candle I carry

powerfully sums up this commitment.

Garry Gay, a photographer by profession, observes the minute but so significant changes in his world with insight, humor, and empathy. There is pain and sadness in his haiku, but never sentimentality:

nesting season
the scarecrow
looking thinner

D. Claire Gallagher’s haiku path meanders through gardens and along hiking trails, where her gaze is sharp and her perceptions keen. She makes astounding juxtapositions that take the reader by surprise and make him marvel at her intuition and her craft:

support hose
the sere rustle
of shriveled azaleas

Yvonne Cabalona pinpoints with concision and grace the tiny moments in the garden, the bedroom, and even the dentist’s office that comprise our daily lives. Nothing escapes her probing yet gentle eye:

tree frogs
he holds the phone to them
so I can hear

The Day of the Strawberries, which takes it title from one of Gallagher’s poems, is like a box of rare chocolates: no matter which you choose, its taste is rich and the aftertaste long-lasting.

 

 

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