homeeditorsreviewsessaysmhbooks issues

Volume 36.3
Autumn 2005

book review

The Windswept Corner
by Alan Pizzarelli

reviewed by Ed Zuk

The Windswept Corner, by Alan Pizzarelli (Wethersfield, Conn.: Bottle Rockets Press, 2005). 38 pages, 4 x 5, saddle-stapled. No ISBN. $5.00 plus postage ($1.00 U.S., U.S.$2.00 Canada & Mexico, $3.00 elsewhere) from Stanford Forrester, PO Box 290691, Wethersfield, CT 06129.

A newcomer to haiku and senryu might be excused if he believes that there are two Alan Pizzarellis writing today. The first Pizzarelli is the innovator that Anita Virgil describes as the writer of “wild and witty senryu” and that Cor van den Heuvel compared to a circus showman in the introduction to his Haiku Anthology. But the poet I first encountered in Bruce Ross’s Haiku Moment was the other Pizzarelli, a quieter writer who turned everyday city life into haiku of surprising humor or loneliness, as in the following poem:

light rain
on the young tree
a strip of burlap flaps

(originally printed in MH 20.2)

The thirty-six haiku of The Windswept Corner continue the work of the second Pizzarelli, with mixed results. On the minus side of the ledger, these haiku do not show a delight in finding a precise word or phrase, and there are too many redundancies for such a short collection (no fewer than three haiku are about birds returning to an area after an event / loud sound). On the plus side, these haiku do show a veteran’s grasp of the form, and they sometimes redeem themselves by struggling to find a deeper significance in the commonplace. Here is a weak haiku from the collection, followed by a strong one:

sun brightens
the snowy rooftops
trickling drainpipes

 

fading across the grooves
of a glacial rock
a bird’s wet footprints

The first haiku says nothing more than “the sun is melting the snow,” and even this is phrased inexactly: drainpipes do not trickle (although the water in them does). The second haiku, however, succeeds in finding a way to juxtapose the transitory (the wet footprints) with what is centuries-old (the grooves in the glacial rock).

Fans of the author’s senryu will enjoy discovering a quieter side to the poet, while readers coming to Pizzarelli’s work for the first time will discover a handful of pleasant haiku among the lazy ones.

 

© 2006 Modern Haiku • PO Box 930 • Portsmouth, RI 02871-0930