HCSHR 4:23—A New Resonance 12: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku

HCSHR 4:23—A New Resonance 12: Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku, edited by Jim Kacian & Julie Warther. Red Moon Press, 2021. 978-1-947271-79-1, 176 pages. 20$US. www.redmoonpress.com

 Review by Pearl Pirie

A New Resonance 12 is as hard to summarize as it would be to summarize a Whos Who in Canada. It describes itself as seventeen poets whose names you will hear often in the coming years.Unlike the top 20 under 20 lists, this doesnt give priority to new poets based on age. People can equally emerge now whether born in 1941 or 1992. The poets each have a distinct voice, the book not falling prey to the anthology risk of all sounding like the editors voice.

Clearly structured and beautifully laid out, the book gives a snapshot of each writer with a bio photo, location, birthdate, career label and haiku. The careers vary from copy-editor to riverweaver, e-commerce to gardener. Often all the haiku have been previously published, which is how they drew the eye of the editors. If you want a handy list of where haiku can be published and the style taken, this table of contents for each poet can be handy.

Each poet gets a half-page description of what characterizes their style. It is interesting to think about your own writing or that of others and what chalk outline they and we can draw around what is salient. Each poet has 15-20 haiku which gives a wonderful tasting flight of what they are like. Poems are often award-winning but the editors also solicit unpublished poems, and many are included. From the credits given it seems that each poet is chosen when their first collection has not been released.

These names to watch for are: Debbie Strange, Hannah Mahoney, Jenny Fraser, Bryan Rickert, Jo Balistreri, Keith Polette, Kristen Lindquist, Lori A Minor, Mary Stevens, Matthew Markworth, Matthew Moffett, Michael Nickels-Wisdom, Simon Hanson, Stephen Toft, Susan Burch, Tom Sacramona, and Robin Anna Smith (Grix).

From Grix, (p. 144):

my lack of commitment terminal schwa

I have a weak spot for monoku. This is wonderfully observant, self-aware and succinct.

Michael Nickels-Wisdom has several excellent ones. He has an eye for seeing that lends itself towards significant interpretation (p. 104).

night that begins
in the burial position
ends in the fetal

It is playing with open and closed. You go to sleep open but end up self-comforting defensive ball. Or go to sleep as the dead but wake up as a newborn. It excites the imagination at new ways to indirectly express.

Debbie Strange has a painterly picture (p.164) that is fresh-seeing.

a pika gathers stems
of light

We know that moment where the highlights are blown into pure light even with out eyes, in a backlit autumn field. I appreciate the specificity of pika, as if a rebuttal to the argument that only common nouns that are the theoretical construct of universalserve haiku.

Haiku is local as Hannah Mahoneys (p. 62).

dawn-wet grass
my daughter’s command voice
across the parade grounds

It works beautifully as a zooming lens from morning at ones feet, to include the audio and shift of focus to daughter then the lens widening to context. It works literally and symbolically from newness of dawn and daughter to the change to imminent adulthood and leadership. Whos running this parade? The next generation is capable.

To quote my favourites would be to pirate you a copy. Two last samples. This from Kristen Lindquist (p. 54).

leap day
on both sides of the river
deer tracks

It is perfectly grounded in season with the leap year day and the play on leap adds play. A kakekotoba [pivot-word] A homophone or syntax device used to create multiple readings. The scene is perfectly plausible as Ive followed deer tracks and seen the leaps. Its a simple observation and yet crossing a river is a symbolic change to new places, and February quivers to be winter or spring. There is a big change in the offing.

Jenny Fraser ( p. 30) offers to stay open.

curve of the bay
giving him time 
to tell me

With so few words we have such a complete sweep of scene, emotional, spatial and physical as well as a model of how to listen, not with ready replies or opinions but in a state of giving what the other needs.

I have long seen these yearly issues coming out and been curious but not enough to risk buying sight unseen. (Wouldnt a local haiku bookstore be wonderful to browse?) After reading this diverse, rich resource, I sprang for a couple previous annual compendiums. The New Resonance haiku community now consists of 204 members. The books of past honourees have been accorded the honour of serious and adulatory review and critique. A New Resonance 9 won a Touchstone Award.

Pearl Pirie
September 2021


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