Frogpond 34.3 • 2011

Museum of Haiku
Literature Award

Haiku & Senryu

Revelations Unedited

Essay - Rees




Book Review

From the Editors



Haiku from the Emerald Isle

two books reviewed by J. Zimmerman, Santa Cruz, California

Anatoly Kudryavitsky. Capering Moons: Haiku and Senryu Poetry. Tralee, Ireland: Doghouse Books, 2011, 62 pp., perfect softbound, 5 x 7.5. ISBN: 978-0-9565280-2-5, £12 <doghousepaypal@eircom.net>.

Maeve O'Sullivan. Initial Response: An A-Z of Haiku Moments. Uxbridge, U.K. Alba Publishing, 2011, 66 pp., perfect softbound, 5.75 x 8.25. ISBN: 978-0-9551254-3-0, 16 USD <www.albapublishing.com>.

Capering Moons is the third poetry collection by Anatoly Kudryavitsky, an internationally published and award-winning poet residing in Dublin, Ireland. Kudryavitsky devotes his book's first half to haiku grouped traditionally into four seasons. The haiku are mellow and descriptive, such as his 2008 first-prize winner at the Suruga Baika International Haiku Competition, Japan (p. 13):

sheep unmoved
in the green grass...
a slow passing of clouds

The poem contrasts inactive sheep with barely moving clouds: all are leisurely and probably display similar off-white colors and frayed edges. Rich softness occurs everywhere: sheep's wool, green grass, clouds. The consonance of the "s" in all lines (highlighted by the rhyme of "grass" and "pass") rein- forces the impression of softness.

Similarly Kudryavitsky's 2009 first-prize winner at the Haiku Magazine International Haiku Contest, Romania-Japan (p. 23):

aspen in the rain
each leaf dripping with
the sound of autumn

offers not just a description. In addition to showing what is seen and heard, the poem suggests the tactile sense of rain that drifts so gently from the sky that it allows a listener to also hear the water collected by aspen leaves and dropping from them. The slant-assonance of "a"-like vowels (aspen/rain/autumn) connect to the implied "fall."

The second section of the book ("More Haiku and Senryu") maintains the meditative descriptive voice.

The third section comprises two rensaku. Kudryavitsky subtitles each as a "Haiku Sequence." He organizes both temporally, the haiku leading from dawn through a composite day to dusk. He sets one in Tuscany and the other in Flanders, and the haiku do give a larger picture together than separately. The "Ghent Renkasu" is a little more successful because its haiku, such as (p. 54):

castle keep
ninety-nine steps
to the rising sun

give a more individual sense of place.

The final section is a single haibun, of Ufa City and the Silk Road.

Another recent collection of haiku and senryu from the Emerald Isles is Initial Response by Maeve O'Sullivan (also from Dublin). This is O'Sullivan's first solo haiku/senryu collection. (She co-authored the 2005 Double Rainbow with poet Kim Richardson.) At first glance it's a more intriguing book than Capering Moons: the cover and interior of Initial Response dazzle with exuberant ink-scribble-and-splash art by the haiku poet John Parsons; its poems are sequenced alphabetically rather than seasonally; its cream paper and robust font are easy on the eye. Unfortunately, a typical poem such as (p. 18):

one hundred degrees
ice-cold lemonade
warm banana bread

or (p. 53):

Chinese restaurant
the bride throws her bouquet
we collect our order

feels like a list that fades away rather than a crafted juxtaposition. Similarly, a poem that tells the reader an emotion instead of showing it, such as (p. 15):

six months pregnant
she sizes up the new prams
with disbelief

would be stronger if the description of the emotion could be replaced by an image (perhaps but not necessarily a season word or phrase) to add depth and imply the emotion.

The section that has the strongest work is "F: Father's Death Day" which does have powerful haiku, particularly (p. 20):

father's death day
after hours of phone calls
soft November rain

A poem like this and the beauty of the book's appearance show O'Sullivan has a love and respect for haiku. Readers will come away hoping that her next book shows a greater proportion of poems with haiku strengths such as in the last poem above, particularly its juxtaposed images and significant closing line.

However, readers will find that Kudryavitsky's Capering Moons is the more successful of the two books reviewed here. It shows that the haiku spirit thrives in Ireland.


J. Zimmerman was born in rural north-west Britain and is now a resident of the western USA. She has written poems for 50 years. A haiku practitioner for 15 years, she started writing tanka three years ago. She has begun to learn introductory Japanese through a local community college.