What’s this? A miniature gift book? That’s exactly how smug and loved I felt Valentine’s Day weekend when I opened up my NewPages reviewer envelope and discovered a novelty postcard-size stowaway jewel: Helen Barolini’s Hudson River Haiku. I was immediately transported to a mind getaway with Barolini’s simple turns of phrase, striking verbs, knack for colorful, condensed descriptions and the beckoning watercolor illustrations of Nevio Mengacci, an Italian artist. The reading experience is also textural since it’s printed on stippled watercolor paper stock.
A sensual passage from page 23, pulses the atmosphere right through readers:
Three hawks are swooping,
an airborne dance on warm gusts
ruffling the river.
Barolini and Mengacci successfully partner to create word vision and art that demonstrate a typical Hudson River view with an extraordinary viewfinder perspective, as seen on pages 10-11:
Like a half-submerged
crocodile skimming surface,
a black ship glides by.
Speaking of perspective, whether reading this upon the actual Hudson banks or just pretending to be there, the following Japanese short forms practically prompt one to reflex swat at a mosquito or dodge a sputtering dragonfly. Barolini “brings it” with her craft and takes us there. Her verb choice, use of simile and metaphor are seductively haunting as she conjures images on companion pages 12-13:
Steely, smoothly gray
the river after rainfall
lies hushed as a pool.
One small sailboat –
a ghostly fragile silk moth
skimming the Hudson.
Clearly, this chapbook is a great escape and place to take a cerebral drift for welcomed imagination meandering. Sink or swim? It swims.