I have fond memories of my correspondence with Cid Corman over the years: a generous man, a resonant poet, and an insightful master of life's great mystery.
If you don't know what that great mystery is, pick up a collection of Cid's work and you'll soon find out. You'll find no obfuscating there.
My friends at the local used and rare bookshop, Caliban Books, know something of my tastes and so, one day a year or two back when I stepped in, they handed me the little volume, pictured above, that they had put aside for me when it came in.
And I've been meaning to write about it ever since.
A tiny little volume that fits nicely in the palm of your hand, yet was published in an edition of 500 copies by Elizabeth Press in New Rochelle, NY, in March 1974, finely stitched as you can see above. It contains 18 poems, if you count the dedication and coda pieces, which I do. And they are little gems, these 18 poems. As an example:
cling to too
There's that mystery, right out of the gate. The final "too" breaks through to where the poem was destined to go, in the process carrying the full weight of its meaning. I thought immediately of Master Bashō's poem about a cricket:
How solitary it is!
Hanging on a nail -
And another from Cid:
is the bell of silence
Each word, precisely chosen, precisely placed. Precise.
Here is a little something a bit unusual for Cid, and beautiful:
to what stands
up to them
as part of
No, those aren't typos in the 1st and 2nd lines. No typos at all.
the source of
Though this has little to do with haiku and syllable count, if you look (and listen) closely you will see that Cid's precision is not by any means limited to meaning and particular word selection.
I believe you've got it now. My friends at Caliban are special. A tip o' the hat their way.
Though a limited edition, as mentioned above, there are 9 copies available through abebooks, most of them in fine condition, ranging with shipping from 13 to 40 dollars, all waiting like a beautifly to settle perfectly in the palm of your hand. There's a couple available via amazon, too, but not in as good a condition, so I'll let you find them yourself.
Butterfly and wisteria by Anonymous
on the flower pot
does the butterfly, too
hear Buddha's promise?
trans. by David G. Lanoue
PS Click to learn how to contribute to Wednesday Haiku