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Book Review: Following the Moon to the Maple Land by Chen-ou Liu. Published and distributed by Haiku Pix Productions. 31 pages, 51/2'' X 81/2'', semi-gloss cover, U.S. $10, Can $14.95. Available to purchase from http://www.haikupix.com/ or direct from the author. ISBN: 978-986-86788-3-5.

by John McManus

The collection has the following haibun as a preface and successfully sets the tone for the rest of the book.

Canada geese
crisscrossing the sunset sky —
alone in the attic

Tonight I sleep in Taipei, but wake up in Ajax. My mind is winged by a yearning after things not yet lost. I dream in Chinese, but I awake and become Eric.

unbirthday morning
yet still I see father's face
from the mirror

My mind can't find a resting place except writing poetry - the only way I can manipulate the reality of my life in Canada.

anything new
under the autumn sun?
reading jisei

my shadow faltering
under a bare maple

As you can tell from the poem Chen-ou's move from China to Canada has left him feeling trapped between the opposing cultures of his past and his present.

the bat
flitting here and there . . .
Chen-ou or Eric

in my borrowed tongue
plum blossoms

In the first poem Liu tries to find a way out of his cultural dislocation by giving himself a new English name, but in the second poem he demonstrates how despite his efforts he still feels very much an outsider in his adopted home.

an African man
holds out his hands . . .

Here Liu identifies with another traveller and skilfully captures a profound moment of their experience in a land which is harsh but beautiful.

to tell or not to tell the secret day moon

Liu shows his versatility as a writer with very accomplished one line haiku which do appear sporadically beside his three line verses.

I feel the production value of the book could have been better, and I really wish each poem had been given its own page to rest on instead of being bunched three to a page as they are. I would however highly recommend this collection to anyone who is interested in an engaging and unique voice in contemporary haiku.

liuChen-ou Liu was born in Taiwan and emigrated to Canada in 2002. He is the author of Ripples from a Splash: A Collection of Haiku Essays with Award-Winning Haiku and Following the Moon to the Maple Land (first prize in the 2011 Haiku Pix Chapbook Contest). Read his haiku and tanka on his poetry blog, Poetry in the Moment (http://chenouliu.blogspot.com/).


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