the Edge of the Horizon, by Graham High (London,
England: Ram Publications, 2004). 39 pages, 4½ x
7½, perfectbound. ISBN 0-9545630-5-0. $7.00 postpaid
from the author, 12 Eliot Vale, Blackheath, London
SE3 0UW, England.
the Edge of the Horizon is Graham Highs
fifth book of haiku. It is the third haiku collection
he has published in the past two years. High has
also published four books of mainstream poetry.
Writing in different poetic traditions and publishing
a large volume of poetry in a short period can both
be challenging, as is evident in Under the Edge
of the Horizon.
collection does offer numerous engaging poems. For
example, High has written a number of senryu that
offer sharp emotional insights without being overbearing:
the sand castle
also offers interesting poems that are not quite
as identical in size
as the sun and moon
over sandmy mind getting
smaller and smaller
I enjoyed both, these are really conceptual poems
that communicate abstract ideas.
however, there are many poems in Under the Edge
of the Horizon that do not succeed. Some of
these are based upon an interesting kernel of an
idea, but are not executed well.
bare trees, seen through their own leaves
in still reflection
haiku is based on an interesting observation, but
High does not bring it to fruition. The phrasing
and rhythm are stilted. The first word autumnal
is a mouthful, and the comma in the second line
forces an undue hesitation. This poor construction
causes the last line to lose impact. Overall, the
haiku is difficult to read and doesnt make
the impact that it could.
poems that do not fulfill their potential, there
are other poems that are based on truisms and offer
nothing new to the reader.
skimming over waves that tumble
a million pebbles
the vast nave
of Westminster Cathedral
a domestic moth
poems are predictable. Indeed, I suspect that if
readers were provided the first two lines of each,
many would have been able to predict a last line
similar to the actual one. Originality is a challenge
in haiku (as elsewhere), but haiku poets need to
be up to the task. High (and haiku poets in general)
should ask: does the haiku really bring something
new to the reader, or is it repeating wisdom dispensed
there are certainly fine poems scattered throughout
the book, the collection overall is inconsistent.
High could remedy this by tightening the language
and refining flow and rhythm; adhering more closely
to haiku practice; and finally, pruning the number
of poems to include those that really provide value
to the reader.