JOSEPH P McCAULEY: NATURAL HAIKU
1021 W Gregory St
ISBN 1 893823 18 0
JOSEPH P McCAULEY: HAIKU THEMES
469 68th Street
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This page last updated: 13th October 2008.
|JOSEPH P McCAULEY: NATURAL HAIKU|
This is a Virgil Hutton Haiku Memorial Award Contest chapbook by the 2004-2005 winner. It is a pocket book of haiku drawing on the parks and woodlands of Bucks County for inspiration. A frontpiece explains the author's view of the nature of haiku. It has one haiku to a page and there is some artwork. The concentration is on offered images of nature — close-up photographs on which to meditate — rather than on deep and layered meaning:
SPRING RAIN OFF THE EVES PEBBLES EXPOSED IN A LINE OUTSIDE THE DRY HUTThis little books reads as McCauley's homage to the environment:
ALL THAT GOLD NO ONE CAN LAY A HAND ON SUNSET ON THE BAYThe following, a favourite, is an example of one that moves beyond the immediate environment:
GOLDEN LEAVES EVENTUALLY THE WIND MAY LET THEM RESTAn enjoyable and meditative little book.
|reviewer: Doreen King.|
|JOSEPH P McCAULEY: HAIKU THEMES|
Joseph P. McCauley's mini book of haiku HAIKU THEMES begins with some tips on "Haiku Relaxation":
Sit comfortably and let go of the mental chatter of the day. Breathe slowly and calmly.The collection is divided into three sections: Wind, New York and Leaves, with a further untitled section involving emotions. The artwork is by McCauley and complements the haiku perfectly.
A delight in nature is evocatively captured in the first section on wind:
rain wet forest a breeze sends down my neck sparkling cold dropsHere, during a moment of quiet contemplation in the forest, a breeze sends raindrops cascading down the poet's neck. The words come together to form a moment most of us have experienced, but here the words "rain", "breeze" and "sparkling" give a musical quality to the poem.
a wandering leaf skitters across the courtyard leaving it emptyWhat does this haiku hint at? Is it loneliness, a reminder of the passage of time, or merely the end of autumn and the onset of winter? In this simple poem the wind is invisible, but its presence is felt in the words "wandering", "skitters" and "empty".
In the section on New York we feel the tension that remains in the city after the terrible terrorist attacks:
delivery guy stopped your lunch waiting, slowly cools tight securityHere we have the portrayal of lack of trust, heightened awareness of danger and alertness despite the need for refreshment. For a poem with such a strong atmosphere that puts us right in the poet's position in three brief lines is amazing. There's a depth of emotion in this haiku, a sadness and a feeling of lost innocence which can no longer be retrieved.
With the third section on the theme of leaves, we are returned to the natural world, though an occasional haiku introduces a more subjective mood:
the streetlight's glow filtered through yellowed locusts freshens the wet streetWhat draws me to the haiku is that I can imagine the scene: the wet street, the colour of the insects and the glow from the light. The insects and the light give us colour and warmth, the wet street a feeling of loneliness.
Referring to another common scene is the following haiku:
slowly gathered by the current between stones stack of colored leavesLike so many of the collection's haiku, this poem involves a scene with which most of us are familiar. But what's original about the haiku and how does it differ from hundreds of other haiku about leaves and water? I believe the answer lies in the last line, "stack of coloured leaves", which uses an unusual word "stack" to describe the way leaves pile up.
The final untitled section opens with a lovely photo of blossom and is followed by the haiku
the light down her back as she gets ready to dance so softly changingThe haiku asks us to revel in the girl's beauty and the way the light falls on her. There is a strong sense of grace in the poem.
In the collection's last haiku:
from his back swing three blossoms fell onto his headwe are taken back to a moment during the poet's experience when playing a game. The hardness of the unseen ball contrasts beautifully with the lightness of drifting blossoms.
The way in which McCauley uses nature in his work takes us deeper into the poem's meaning. The photographs and artwork throughout HAIKU THEMES add depth and resonance to the text. The poems are set out simply one to a page and the accompanying artwork delights the eye and leads us to meditate further on the haiku.
|reviewer: Patricia Prime.|