NEW HOPE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW

An independent small press poetry review

NHI independent review
MICHAEL McCLINTOCK: LETTERS IN TIME
Hermitage West
PO Box 124
South Pasadena
CA 91031-0124
USA
ISBN 0 9770259 0 X
$10 [$13 Canada]

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MICHAEL McCLINTOCK: LETTERS IN TIME

Michael McClintock is a well established writer who has been publishing collections of haiku, senryu, tanka and other short poetry for more than thirty years, and his work has appeared in definitive anthologies.

The tiny glittering fragments of haiku follow the tradition of the masters, Basho, Issa, Busan and Shiki. They are distillations, messages from the heart rather than the intellect, from feeling rather than thought bound by an initially strict form, though in recent your these have been somewhat relaxed into what has been named liberated haiku. It is in this new tradition that we must consider the work of McClintock. Barbara Ungar, in HAIKU IN ENGLISH contrasts McClintock with the imagists and Kerouac. A difficult concept, like relating the instant digital snapshot to the work of the cinema-photographer. A flash of insight to a lengthy philosophical interpretation.

In LETTERS IN TIME we have poems that have appeared widely, the earliest in 1974, though the majority have been published over the last five years.

The collection opens with:

	tell me a story
	make it last
	all night
	    the child is dead
	    who asked this
and closes with:
	resting my head
	in your lapó
	that is when I know
	the world speaks
	kindly of us
The journey in between is strewn with McClintock's pebble skimming across the pond of poesy, some sinking earlier than others.
	flying by night
	Moscow to Madagan
	I gaze for hours
	across three time zones
	into my heart

		a wind comes up
		across the headlands
		from the sea
		I'll sit here now and watch the gulls
		and dream

	you never showed up
	at the train station ...

		going back
		to my unpacking ...

	deciding
	I am going
	nowhere ...
All jottings along the journey's way it would seem. However, I find that some of the poems have the feel of diary jottings, aides memoirs, little sketches that might be developed in the future.
	a wind comes up
	across the headlands
	from the sea ...
       
		stopping frequently
		under the dogwoods
		in full flower
		my friend comes up the path
		shyly, in her new dress
and the diaryesque:
	I sit up watching
	the summer moon fade
	    a man my age
	    when awakened
	    can't sleep again
and
	a view of rain,
	wind, pale wisteria
	in this California flató
	who knows how long
	men have lived liked this [sic]
or
	visiting graves ...
	we flicker as we walk
	down shadowed rows
but there are mini-triumphs too:
	between sun and shade
	a butterfly pauses
	like none I've seenó
	who ever falls in love
	with someone they know?
and
	approaching spring.....
	a fire made of letters
	written in the night
and most in keeping with the ancient Japanese tradition is:
	silence
	seeks the centre
	of every tree and rock,
	that thing we hold closestó
	the end of songs

reviewer: John Cartmel-Crossley.