A Hundred Gourds 2:1 December 2012
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Four Virtual Haiku Poets

reviewed by John McManus

Four Virtual Haiku Poets
– Scott Terrill, Brendan Slater,
Colin Stewart Jones, Michael Goglia
Eds: Alan Summers, Brendan Slater
Yet To Be Named Free Press. 2012
RRP: £4
ISBN -13: 978-1478307549
ISBN-10: 1478307544

Scott Terrill, Brendan Slater, Colin Stewart Jones and Michael Goglia are four poets that span three continents. In Four Virtual Haiku Poets they invite us into a world that is real and unavoidably gritty. The book has an introduction by Alan Summers who points out that what lies ahead for the reader is not going to be pretty and may even be unpleasant in terms of the topics and images that are explored.

by its camouflage
crippled moon

This is the very first poem in the book and I found it so powerful that I wondered what to expect when I turned the page. The juxtaposition of camouflage and a moon that’s crippled is a stark reminder that despite modern warfare’s technological advances many men and women are still left crippled by it’s unforgiving and unrelenting nature.

autumn chill
the old man’s

I have seen a lot of haiku use a first line like autumn chill, but I have seen very few haiku that would tackle the topic of child abuse. I find such verses a powerful reminder of how cruel some people can be and how easily we can all become victims of such behaviour.

morning comes
I flip the light switch
on again, off again

Similarly to the verse above the opening line seems like a customary line which one would expect to see in a book of haiku, but the phrase introduces the topic of someone clearly battling with some kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder. I find such honesty refreshing and the skill at which the poet shows the reader the symptoms of their illness is masterful.

There are of course some poems which don’t quite hit their mark for me.

not moving
a fjord and a fjord and a fjord

Whilst it is certainly an interesting poem in terms of construction and the language the poet has employed, but I just couldn’t connect with the sentiment behind this one and interestingly it was one of the few I couldn‘t recall after putting the book down.

spring morning
birds sing despite
my punk rock

Whilst I do like this amusing haiku I just felt it was far too tame when comparing it to the edgier poems in the book. Perhaps the editors felt they needed to lighten the mood for a moment and that is why they included it, but I feel as though they missed a trick by not putting a more challenging haiku in its place.

If you want a bit of a walk on the wild side or if you just want proof that haiku can be more than pretty word pictures then pick up this book and switch on the lights because it’s going to get dark.


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