Volume 38.3
Summer 2007

book review:

Shorelines: Haiku, Haibun and Tanka
by Kirsty Karkow

Reviewed by Carmen Sterba

Shorelines: Haiku, Haibun and Tanka by Kirsty Karkow (Eldersburg, Md.:Black Cat Press, 2007). 132 pages, 5x6.5, soft covers, perfectbound. ISBN 0-9766407-5-9. $15.95 postpaid in the US and Canada ($20.00 to other countries) from the author at 34 Indian Point, Waldoboro, ME 04572.

Kirsty Karkow loves the sea and delights in a lifestyle of simplicity. Her poetry is infused with images of shorelines and forests in Maine. Many of her haiku are suggestive of the security and weight of a long-term marriage:

night of love
a vase of peonies
pink and tousled

his arm around me
we watch a piece of glacier
break away

Karkow has a quality of artlessness in her choice of juxtaposition. The alternative perspectives revealed in "spring scents" showcases her craft — it's a classic:

spring scents
my dog and I walk
through different worlds

Some of her haiku are "a sketch from life" similar to the style that Shiki promoted and called shasei. This haiku is one of the most successful in this style:

salt marsh
a moose with antlers
dripping with weeds

The moose with his antlers is a regal image in a perfect a photo, yet there is a certain amount of hilarity in his predicament. A few of Karkow's haiku left me wondering if they have a pulse:

a couple of chipmunks
in the stone wall

wind and rain
the granite cairn

Overall the collection contains gems of haiku and superb tanka with short haibun for variety. Bright watercolors by Karkow grace the cover and discreetly appear in black and white on the pages of the book. The combination of short and longer poems, sequences and prose poems promises a great potential readership.


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