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Volume 36.1
Spring 2005

book review:

Odor of Rain
by Gary Hotham


reviewed by Paul Miller

Odor of Rain, by Gary Hotham (St. Paul, Minn.: Juniper Press, 2004). 16 pages, 3 x 4, letterpress printed, hand-bound and sewn. ISBN 1-55780-169-X. Edition limited to 150 copies. $5.00 ppd from Juniper Press, PO Box 8037, St. Paul, MN 55108.

Gary Hotham’s haiku will be familiar to most readers and, while his range of work is better represented in his longer book Breath Marks (Canon Press, 1999), it would be a mistake to dismiss his smaller, more frequent chap-books. The latest from Juniper Press’s yearly Chickadee series, Odor of Rain presents eleven poems, many of which have been previously published. Two examples from the book:

no name for his illness—
the plastic lid snaps back on
the coffee can

a late arrival
in the back row—
the odor of rain

The first poem speaks well of mankind’s need to compartmentalize or name things—the coffee’s pungent scent allowing further nuances. The outdoors comes inside in the second poem, bringing with it the larger season and giving the theatrical production a larger context.
Hotham’s poetry is an excellent example of the organic style in which the poet is more concerned with the right words in the right order than with adhering to any conscious structure. He is quietly honest and never gim-micky. His poetry encompasses all aspects of his life and he seeks meaning to the moments he describes. Often, when we find him looking inwards, we see ourselves.

Not only for the diehard Hotham fan.




©2005 Modern Haiku • PO Box 68 • Lincoln, IL 62656