William Killen is a fine, traditional haiku poet in the best sense of the phrase, whose work has been featured here previously. The small, self-produced volume at hand, Haiku VI: Winter, is a lesson in the form and the life.
The collection itself is less about the individual impact of particular poems as it is about the sum of its parts, and the sum of its parts is winter. How things sound in winter; winter, the domain of the predator; winter, a world of contemplation and seclusion.
Just how deeply perceptive this work is I only began to realize on second and third readings. The word evocative comes to mind, the smells, the sights, sounds (and their silences), even the land and its creatures, including ourselves.
There is a spell cast here and its name is winter. Like Killen's beautifully rendered art that grace its pages, we feel its tone and mood.
It is a book which, like a deep meditation, forces you to slow down.
If I was forced to choose, I have to say that it is nigh impossible to select a few poems that might be representative of what I'm trying so feebly to capture. That being said (when has impossible truly stopped anyone who was determined to try), here are 3 poems whose virtue is that they stand out, which is probably antithetical to the very point I'm trying to make.
more winter rain
the river is filled
This is as about close as the poet gets to inserting personality into a poem and, for me, it is a fine, if slightly post-modern, exception.
After all, exception proves the rule, right?
cock crows on and on
This poem is more typical of the overall tone - there is a fine mixture here of three senses: sight, sound, and touch. With dawn we begin to see, yet it is foggy, and cock's muted crowing conveys with sound (and, in a very real sense, tactility) what the sun does with sight.
warm midnight —
dead of winter
Here is solitude, season and mood, all captured in a tone, almost flattish, that is reminiscent of classical haiku. As with previous examples, the poet's closeness to nature is paramount - inside the home or hut, the poet feels and hears a particular mid-winter mood, what in the Eastern US is sometimes categorized as the January thaw.
It is what the poet/narrator is thinking here that concerns us. Not necessarily the specifics, but what is thought, or might have been thought, or felt, or experienced under similar circumstances, not just by the narrator but by the reader, too.
In this case, as with "first light," a feeling is perfectly captured.
Currently, I am reading a book entitled The Poetics of Space by Gaston Blanchard and, utilizing the image of the house, it explores creativity, the imagination, and the archetypal experiences of human beings.
Haiku, particularly of the quality and tone of such a poet as William Killen, fits perfectly within Blanchard's thesis.
A true merging of East and West.
Killen's work is available directly from him. It contains 55 haiku, 14 fine pieces of art (in a variety of mediums: acrylic on paper, acrylic on canvas, ink, pen & color pencil, traditional ink brush, felt tip & color pencil, mixed media on paper, and ink & acrylic on paper), and a phenomenological approach to existence that might prompt the most jaded modern philosopher into a sense of wonder. The book is $10, plus $2 shipping, and can be acquired directly from the poet. Email him at wdkillen AT yahoo dot com (where the spaces are removed and read @ for AT and . for dot) for details.
Alternately he may be contacted at his art website:
or via the good ol' US Postal Service at 90 Tennessee St., Suite B, Murphy, NC 28906.
Artwork by William Killen
Night Rain at Oyama by Toyokuni II
Night Rain at Oyama by Toyokuni II
on me, on the mountain
we take our turns...
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