Next to silence, haiku is perhaps one of the most succinctly profound ways to confront the mystery that is life.
Scott Metz is a purveyor, and innovator, in the field of modern English language haiku. He receives testament of this in his new book, lakes & now wolves, fittingly published by Modern Haiku Press, from some of the best and most well-known haiku aficionados of our era: john martone, Richard Gilbert, & Philip Rowland.
Rowland provides a laudatory introduction and, for those wishing to speculate where the poet fits in the modern haiku continuum, I highly recommend. It is perceptive, it is insightful, it is deeply knowledgeable, and, of course, like all introductions, it is ultimately beside the point.
And I say that in a good way.
Because lakes & now wolves is, I'm sure Messers Rowland, martone, and Gilbert will agree, about the work, and very fine work it is, indeed.
a packaged squid
and the impression
in its own ink
This is at once post-modern and classical, not only in subject and form, but most importantly in tone. The link here between modes I would characterize as wabi-sabi.
And, whenever I say something like, someone objects.
New Year's Day-
the wreath has fallen
between the doors
Somehow, this little poem is perfect. Traditional, in that it is seasonal, it embodies the very spirit of the transition signified by the new year, captured in the image as succinctly as might be.
a child's drawing
the ladder to the sun
only three steps
I remember drawing this - those steps reach on forever. See. One, two, three ... do you?
These more or less traditional ku, in terms of form, are interspersed with some of the finest monostiches conceivable. I had to restrain myself in choosing these 6 examples:
didn't want the cricket didn't want the silence
If this simple poem doesn't precisely capture the First Noble Truth, I'll eat one of my many, many hats.
meadow speaking the language she dreams in
Of course, for the poet or lyrically-imbuded, it is the meadow that is dreaming, forever dreaming, dreaming ...
under my skin a pasture with one tree
For me, this poem is kin to the previous, I take it literally ... is there any other way?
without permission part of me begins to bloom
In the poetic tradition, it is sometimes nigh impossible to avoid comparison to those who came before - however, in this case there is an objectivity, for better or worse, that makes this poem work when what might be thought of as its precursor works perhaps more subjectively.
Or maybe not.
in kilobytes out across the peony night that Bashō rag
The old pond just ain't, kilobytingly, what it used to be - but this poem still rocks my world (notice how it is its internal rhythm that holds it together, balances the poem out: kilobytes-peony).
the war awakens the face of an insect in the mirror
Finally, something very serious, indeed - Kafka dovetailing with Robert Ardrey, human nature at its absolute worse, right here in my own cubby, gazing back.
The work of Scott Metz stands, at once, with anyone working the form, and it stands alone.
I don't think I could give a finer compliment. This small press gem is available directly from its small press publisher Modern Haiku Press.
To gaze in the distance is to gaze inward.
To read this book is the same.
Photo by Add Rein
take a peek
in hell's mirror!
translated by David G. Lanoue
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