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Silent Flowers edited by Dorothy Price, illustrated by Nanae Ito

Source: Library sale
Hardcover, about 40 pgs
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Silent Flowers: A New Collection of Japanese Haiku Poems edited by Dorothy Price, illustrated by Nanae Ito, is gorgeously illustrated and focuses on a lot of traditional haiku poets and their poems, which focus on the seasons, nature, and humans in nature.  There are about three haiku per page, English translations only from the likes of Basho, Buson, and Issa.

“Sacred music at night;
Into the bonfires
Flutter the tinted leaves.” — Issa

I was reminded reading the introduction to this book of Suey’s comment about defining poetry or what a proper definition would be.  Price mentions in the introduction that Wordsworth, another poet, defined poetry as “emotion recollected in tranquility.”  I’m not sure that helps much.  What I’ve loved about haiku is its ability to recognize something unexpected in nature and describe it in a way that illustrates something of the spiritual. I’ve written some horrible haiku but I still love the form and I think its one of the easiest to learn and teach, even if the poems are no where near as good as the old masters.

“The moon in the water;
Broken and broken again,
Still it is there.” — Choshu

A haiku by Basho about a butterfly is accompanied by a wonderful depiction of the butterfly among the orchids, and it is seamlessly incorporated with the poem on the page.   Silent Flowers: A New Collection of Japanese Haiku Poems edited by Dorothy Price, illustrated by Nanae Ito, won me over with not only its beautiful imagery in verse, but also its gorgeous, black and white illustrations.

Joy Street by Laura Foley

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Source: TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 46 pgs
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Joy Street by Laura Foley is a slim collection of poems that sometimes use a blunt edge to carve out the truth, while others use needle-like precision to get at the harsh realities of life.  However, despite these sometimes sad topics, there is a light, a sense of hope in many of them that things can be better.  In “Near Miss,” she evokes the stabbing pain of heartache that accompanies the loss of family or a spouse in a way that equates it to death even as it passes her by.  There is a sense that the narrator would rather she be the one to die than her loved one, but at the same time is relieved that she is not dying.

Drift (pg. 26)

I eye-roll Aunt Lizzie, who can’t see me over the phone, tell her I’m
dating a woman now, but at ninety she’s adrift in uncharted seas, till I
say we may marry—and she crests the wave, her kind old voice
soothing: Oh, but Laura, you’re still attractive to men, grasping the rudder
with practices hands.

In “Hindsight,” she looks at the photo of her emaciated father after his internment by the Japanese as a POW after WWII and identifies how different he looked, but her partner is quick to point to their similarities — the eyes of a survivor.  The narrator’s relationship with her father is clearly not as close as she would prefer, but there are ways to connect with a distant father and seek out the things that connect them.

Many of these poems are about making connections, either to family or lovers and potential lovers.  “Voyeur” is a testament to desire and the human need for connection with those we love, even from a distance.  But beyond these intimate connections, there is a connection that we feel with the earth and growth.  In addition to these connections, we all want to be remembered, like in “On Sense.”

Joy Street by Laura Foley is about the joy we can find in interaction and by living. Despite the challenges we face — a relative who doesn’t understand our lifestyles and choices — we can find enjoyment and amusement in these interactions and rise above the darkness of hatred and oppression.  We need to search for the light in any darkness, because that is what makes living worth it in the end.

***Enter to win a copy of Laura Foley’s collection by leaving a comment by Jan. 14, 2015, at 11:59 PM EST. Must be U.S./Canadian resident***

About the Poet:

Laura Foley is the author of four poetry collections. The Glass Tree won the Foreword Book of the Year Award, Silver, and was a Finalist for the New Hampshire Writer’s Project, Outstanding Book of Poetry. Her poems have appeared in journals and magazines including Valparaiso Poetry Review, Inquiring Mind, Pulse Magazine, Poetry Nook, Lavender Review, and in the anthology, In the Arms of Words: Poems for Disaster Relief. She won Harpur Palate’s Milton Kessler Memorial Poetry Award and the Grand Prize for theAtlanta Review’s International Poetry Contest. She lives on a woody hill in South Pomfret, Vermont with her partner Clara Gimenez and their three dogs. Please visit her website for book information or more poems.

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry in 2015

2015Poetry

Welcome to the 2015 Poetry Reading Challenge!

No need to sign up or set a goal, other than to read at least 1 book of poetry or 20 poems this year (these can be by different poets if you choose).

If you share a review or a post about poetry on your blog this year, link it up below!

Here’s to another great year in poetry!