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Volume 38.1 Autumn 2007

book review:

Paperweight for Nothing
by Vincent Tripi

Reviewed by David H. Rosen

Paperweight for Nothing, by Vincent Tripi (Greenfield, Mass.: Tribe Press, 2006). 82 pages, 6 x 9, hand-sewn. No ISBN. $20.00 postpaid from the author at 42 Franklin Street, Greenfield MA 01301.

This beautiful book is an inspiring collection of haiku interspersed throughout with many pithy sayings about practical sagacity. It celebrates twenty years of work by Vincent Tripi. In the preface Tripi states, "I wish only to come as close to the Divinity as my poems can take me." His poems take him and us to the sacred realm of Nature. The spirit of haiku heals, and Tripi’s haiku are healing poems. Gary Snyder could have been describing Tripi when he wrote:

The Shaman-poet is simply the man whose mind reaches easily out into all manners of shapes and other lives, and gives songs to dreams. . . . To transcend the ego is to go beyond society as well. "Beyond" there lies, inwardly, the unconscious. Outwardly, the equivalent of the unconscious is the wilderness both of these terms meet, one step farther on, as One. (122)

Daisetz Suzuki (257–58) writes that Bashô had "the spirit of fûga" which involves "the identification of one’s self with the creative and artistic spirit of Nature." Suzuki states further that Bashô classified himself as a "fûrabô, a poet who is mad about his love of Nature and like an old monk wanders about fluttering like a thin piece of fabric in the wind." Tripi follows Bashô’s Zen poetics of blending subject and object, self and Nature. His volume is a work of simplicity that opens up creative spaces. It is full of the characteristics of Zen creativity. His poem

Autumn moon—
everything I own
fits in this canoe

embodies the Japanese aesthetic wabi (loneliness and solitude). Further, sabi (suchness and the uniqueness of things) can be found in

Summer sky . . .
the paperweight for nothing
crystal bluebird

aware (nostalgia),

Unafraid
of dying
extraordinary sparrow

for Bob Spiess

yûgen (mystery),

Great blue heron . . .
but the stillness
after love

and the playfulness and humor of senryu,

One morning
confess to the cows
a Brooklyn accent

Two examples of the book’s interspersed sayings: "Everything changes when we love. This is the heart of change" and "We all pass never having spoken enough about death or about poetry."

In closing, Tripi’s Paperweight for Nothing follows Bashô’s spiritual heritage, which was grounded in Zen Buddhism. It is an inspiring, humbling, simple, and sacred text full of wisdom and humor.

 

WORKS CITED

Snyder, Gary. "Poetry And The Primitive," Earth House Hold. New York: New Directions, 1969.

Suzuki, Daisetz. "Zen and Haiku." Zen and Japanese Culture. New York: Pantheon, 1959, 216–67.

 

 

 

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