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Modern Haiku - Summer 2011

  • Issue Number: Volume 42 Number 2
  • Published Date: Summer 2011
  • Publication Cycle: Annual

Perhaps of all the poetic forms—sonnet, ghazal, villanelle, sestina— the haiku is the most elegant. A tiny, carefully constructed edifice, its 5-7-5 pattern must contain within some image or message. And of all the poetic forms, perhaps the haiku is the poetic form that is most contemporarily relevant. For those of us who are constantly texting or emailing, brevity is king. It’s not surprising that there is a form of Twitter haikus called Twaikus.

Modern Haiku captures both the revered grace and contemporary appeal of haikus. This journal consists of haikus, senry?s, and essays on the haiku. Additionally, this particular issue contains a mini-chapbook titled spectrum by John Martone.

Each haiku is exquisite. Charlie Close writes:

what now?
Mother’s house full
of old glass

Close evokes an object of fragility within the maternal sphere in these brief nine syllables. More provokingly, we can see this delicate object, this old glass.

Later in the journal, Peter Joseph Gloviczki writes:

my wife asks me
who I am

This haiku can be read in two ways. If superficially reading, one can assume that the speaker’s wife asks him who he is because of a costume. Yet, at the core of this haiku seems to reside alienation and uncertain identity.

Lee Gurga beautifully writes later: “the scent of paradise a dead bird in my hand.” The sense of abjection Gurga invokes by mentioning the “dead bird in my hand” starkly contrasts with the “scent of paradise.” One would not expect to see these two thoughts juxtaposed. However, imagining the bird as an exalted being, a being able to fly and transcend worlds, reveals the bird’s connection to paradise. Furthermore, Gurga invokes the tactile by mentioning “in my hand.” He can touch and feel this dead bird—and in a sense, so can we as readers.

My favorite essay in this issue was Roberta Beary’s “Haiku Artifact.” In this very short essay, Beary writes about an old issue of Modern Haiku she found, with a note inside from the founding editor Kay Titus Mormino. We can sense Beary’s excitement about this discovery. Additionally, the note is included within the text.

The journal also contains a series of images and haikus together—creations that combine two mediums: word and color.

Particularly if you have mild attention deficient disorder (and most of us—God bless the seven second TV commercial—do), the bite-size (fun-size!) poems in this journal appeal. Modern Haiku celebrates the poetic form.

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Review Posted on August 29, 2011

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