Wednesday, May 27, 2015

alter-world: old pajamas

What is it we ask of the modern short-form poet, the modern haiku poet? What do we want, what is necessary in a short poem?

What do we need?

To get close to an answer to any, or all, of these questions perhaps we should be asking most importantly: what do we ask of ourselves when it comes to poetry as readers and, for some, as poets?

Old Pajamas (aka Alan Segal) is an excellent poet working in short forms for whom form itself is mercurial, form is protean, form is content's shadow. Like contemporary masters Cid Corman, John Martone, and Charlie Mehrhoff, he knows where the lines are and chooses to dance over and amongst them.

For my two cents, Old Pajamas would be a candidate for inclusion in a second edition of Haiku in English, as would Ed Baker, another fine purveyor of 'shorties' as he is wont to call them on any given day, work don't fit any strict definition but is all heart and spirit and soul.

Is the pen name 'Old Pajamas' off-putting? Just think about the various pen-names of so many Japanese poets. Even the masters - Bashō's name means banana leaf or tree, Issa's cup-of-tea, Buson's midnight studio, and Shiki's cuckoo. 

As far as English goes, Old Pajamas sounds just fine to me. 

The new collection he sent along is a limited hardcover edition, 1 of 25 printed.The book is entitled alter-world and here are four of my favorites from it:

Photo by Hadi Fooladi

the butterfly
not an actor

Photo by Amour Perdu

that you're in black
flower and scaly
while I'm paleness
blinking in the dark
is enough enough for us

in one cricket
the sound is weary

Photo by Seth Anderson


mad with rust  / /  camellias in bloom

Regular readers of this blog will recognize this last poem (and photo) as having appeared previously on Wednesday Haiku

Looking at these four pieces superficially they seem to be all over the place, form-wise. Yet, there is a unifying element among them, one of the major components of traditional haiku.

All four are firmly ground in nature.

Now, arguments could certainly be had, one way or the other, as to which, if any, are haiku, and which are not. I have my opinions and I'll keep them (mostly) to myself. 

One thing I will say is that they are all haiku-like or, even more generally, fine brief poems.   

alter-world is not available to purchase, so there is no pitch here. However, you can find more of Alan's work, from alter-world and and other places, at old pajamas: from the dirt hutIt is definitely worth your while. There is also a more extensive review of an earlier collection, Drenched Through at Old Age, here.


Photo by Mo

when will it become
a cricket's nest?
my white hair

trans. by David G. Lanoue



PS  Click to learn how to contribute to Wednesday Haiku


P K Padhy said...

Another beautiful edition of "WH". ah /the butterfly/not an actor is an interesting haiku by Segal.Photo by Hadi appropriates the expression. Issa's cricket nest is unique and the ku blends the splendid image by Mo.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Thanks so much, PK. Cheers, Don