pleasingly designed chapbook was produced in conjunction
with the thirteenth annual Two Autumns reading, the latest
in a series sponsored by Haiku Poets of Northern California.
The book includes twelve poems each by four poets. If we
can assume that these poems were among those presented at
the reading, then the audience was indeed offered an interestingly
is a considerable stretch, for example, from the often spiritually
inclined searchings of Kay Anderson:
slowly I step
out of my mind
the tersely visceral early work of Michael McClintock:
her teeth shine
reflecting on this diversity, it struck me how from one
point of view these two poets have something fundamental
in common (and shared with many others). This could be described
as a tendency towards self-consciousness, if that term were
not too sweeping and too vague.
precisely, what I experience as a reader is this: the poet
shows me something while at the same time pointing over
my shoulder as if to make quite sure that I have seen it.
Whereas I am hungry for poems that are personal, certainly,
but in a way that manages to transcend the individual experience,
thereby becoming universal. (The poet is still present,
but not in my line of sight, so to speak.)
illustrate how this might apply not only when the poet writes
in the first person, here are two more poems by Anderson
and McClintock, in that order:
the orphaned nestlings
this third morning
cat . . .
to the pouring rain
may be helpful to recall D.T. Suzukis observation
(which I must paraphrase, having been unable to locate the
original source) that haiku do not express ideas,
but put forward images reflecting intuitions.
Johnson measures up well in this regard, particularly with
the following poems:
for so many years
on a freighter's deck
the wind turns to Act V
of these exhibit a quiet intimacy that is very effective.
Now let us contrast the work quoted so far with three poems
by paul m.
opening the sliding door
in her red pajamas
the heavy click the cattle dogs bad eye
of a turnstile looking up
see here an admirable self-effacingness, that serves to
deepen the feeling in each case. And makes this, for my
money, the most satisfying work in a very worthwhile collection.