Halo Round the Moon, by Ikuyo Yoshimura (Gifu,
Japan: Rainbow Press, 2004). 60 pages, 4½ x 8½,
perfectbound. No ISBN. International money order
for $10.00 postpaid, from the author at 1-3, Oonawaba
4-Chome, Gifu 500-8889, Japan.
a student of Kaneko Tohta, Ikuyo Yoshimura seems
to share his belief in poetic accessibility through
everyday subject matter. This charming new collection
from the leader of the English-Japanese group Evergreen
is divided into the five traditional haiku seasons
(the normal four plus New Years), whose poems
typically involve herself and her surroundings.
strength as a haiku poet is in her superb use of
kigo, where she lets a delicate tension develop
between it and the other parts of the poem. She
can skillfully set up an expectation and then tweak
that expectation, as in the following poem from
the Spring section:
two small shells are displayed
as Hina dolls
Dolls Festival is when young Japanese girls bring
out ceremonial dolls and pray for good luck and
future happinessespecially in the area of
marriage. But until the kigo is introduced in the
last line, the displayed shells could be mementoes
of any occasion in a long life. It is a deliberate,
temporary misdirection, and it works powerfully.
The phrase small shells adds many levels
here, especially given the sense of hindsight generated
by line one.
the everyday beauty of marbles
show their beauty
in the goldfish bowl
enlivens and seems to fade with the introduction
of the goldfish. There is a strong tug of war between
the marbles and the kigo goldfish, one
that would not be quite as strong if the order were
partially obscured moon in the title poem,
earlier than usual
a halo round the moon
relate to the ambiguous motivations of either spouse.
A nice use of the objective correlative.
rare times she becomes fantastical:
our Frisbee becomes
a winter bird
is a delightful poem that ties the toys rising
and falling to the hopes of the poet and ourselves,
all of these feelings set against a year whose end
is in sight.
easily fixed misstep in the collection is the occasional
bad grammar, as in
coins are throwing into bowl
to antiwar song
author would have benefited from a read-through
by a native English speaker, but these mistakes
are few and the poems are still easily understood.
Halo Round the Moon is a fine collection by
a fine poet who uses kigo to take her poems beyond
modern haiku about a frog has to assume a reference
to Bashôs famous frog, and I wonder
if the poet herself isnt this toad, wondering
how its poetic output will be perceived beyond Japans
borders. There is little to worry about, I suspect.