|© Stylus Poetry Journal, Est 2002|
|In Love with the Word: Poetry in Tasmania|
|Sweeping the Light Back into the Mirror|
|Wind over Water|
|The Tao of Water|
|Haiku and its related forms|
moonset, THE NEWSPAPER, edited by an’ya. Publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org Vol, 3 Issue 1 Spring/Summer, 2007. 40 pp. Published twice yearly. Bi-annual: $22 USA, Postpaid Air; bi-annual: $28 Elsewhere, Postpaid Air.
Reviewed by Patricia Prime
moonset, THE NEWSPAPER is edited by an’ya, past editor of the Tanka Society of America’s publication Ribbons. In her mission statement, an’ya states that, “the newspaper is dedicated to offering, in one publication, the poetic and visual-studies of Japanese art forms, written by all people and nationalities world-wide, but with due respect to Japan’s ancient culture.” The magazine is in newspaper format, and contains 40 pages jam-packed with over 300 verses and works of art. The material encompasses two editor’s choice haiku, two featured haijin, a haiku/haiga artists page, renku, haibun, featured tanka poets, book reviews, contest information and much more.
Such is the mental landscape of moonset, where thoughts, feelings and art productions are captured and let go with consummate elegance. Among the multitude of images from the haiku section, we are introduced to a hoary marmot, an autumn lake, a baby’s fist, winter stars, daisies petals, New Year’s Day, the kestral’s arc, and rain haloes. It is clear that here we have some extraordinary writers and artists in a mode of heightened observation trying to make sense of an increasingly incoherent world. an’ya has the brilliant knack of being able to pair artist and writer to produce some stunning images. Each of the haiku is accompanied by an’ya’s comments on the poems, photos and brief biographies of the participants. In her editor’s article “about moonset”, she writes, “Of course, all interpretations are only my personal and humble opinions, and I prefer to communicate much more with the authors in the future for input on their work. I try to point out varying styles and different techniques of these art forms, and even if others do not agree with some of the unusual submissions chosen for publication, I believe it behoves us all to know that they actually co-exist alongside the more traditional pieces printed in this newspaper.”
The haiku/haiga artists page contains four artworks and haiku: two by Lidia Ruzmus: “the first dip / of my paddle / winter’s end” and “one breath / one brush stroke / one” and two by an’ya: “sudden ill-wind /my life blows apart / but to seed anew” and “sudden breeze / returning / gulls”. The paintings accompanying the haiku provide readers with an easy route into the poetics of haiku and are something worth celebrating.
The meticulous mapping of haiku and senryu in “The Signature Haiku” brings us poems that are the writers’ personal favourites, or perhaps poems by some of their favourite authors. These poems have been previously published in books, magazines, and on the internet. Some sections of these poems are in English and Native language versions. Here are two of my favourites: “a little inn / with a swinging signboard . . . / the evening chill” (Michael McClintock) and “zen concert / an air guitar / slightly out of tune” (Carlos Colon). Everything is created out of nothing, so that it can be pure of any polluted ideas, any shadow of contingency. But what you’re not seeing is that the poets’ imaginations are at full stretch, honing their simple-seeming poems and the work of hours of deliberating, editing and re-writing.
The Signature Haibun is Cathy Drinkwater Better’s lovely poem, “My Beautiful Daughter”, in which a group of “Two couples, two single mothers, and a grandmother” are visiting a “residential school for girls with emotional and psychiatric disorders”. The poem ends with the persona’s daughter “taller than I am, but looking so very small” being “reabsorbed by the school” – the final haiku: “parents’ orientation / the palpable bond / of disintegration” –has an uncompromising honesty that makes us wince.
Giselle Maya’s haibun, “A Child’s Garden”, although also relating to childhood, is a totally different poem in tone, in which the poet writes about her “own small plot of earth”. This is a wonderfully intelligent poem that traces with marvellous acuity the complex relationship between father and daughter. In the final paragraph, half a century has passed and Maya says,
I have searched for and found my own garden in another land, with a different earth, a spring, old fruit trees, vegetables and flowers I planted, in remembrance of that first garden I have visited in my dreams innumerable times:
my footsteps slowly
The tanka section of moonset contains Two Editor’s Choices, Two Featured Tanka Poets, The Tanka Section, an Art Page, Tanka in English: “A Sampler of Contemporary Japanese Tanka”, by moonset columnist, Amelia Fielden, Tanka Nostalgia, which presents Sanford Goldstein, A Few New Tanka and a Tanka Sequence, and Tanka & Art: Ed Baker, USA & Dao Hai, Saigon.
So, what happens when we turn to read the pages of tanka? How does the poetry emanating from such thoughtful and thought-provoking poets read? Firstly, the mix is very diverse and it is precisely that diversity that makes it an enjoyable dipping experience. Secondly, the organization of the tanka does help readers locate the work they might want to read. Two editor’s choice tanka and the two featured tanka poets are published side-by-side; the tanka section and the tanka section/art page are similarly published together; Amelia Fielden’s article comes next followed by a selection of Japanese poems in translation and previously published tanka. Here are a few favourites from these sections:
The cries of gulls
Tanka Nostalgia presents Sanford Goldstein in photographs and tanka. I can see why the decision to publish this was made: Goldstein is recognised worldwide as the “father of English tanka” – the piece enables us to see what Goldstein was publishing when he first began writing tanka almost 4 decades ago. One brief example is
The paper’s two book reviews are Birds & Felines by Giselle Maya & June Moreau and tiny droppings by Zane Parks. Both reviews give the reader an overview into the workings of the poet’s minds.
The concluding sections of moonset provide information about contests, an article by an’ya & peterB (the publisher) entitled “How to Self-print and Hand-bind Your Own Book”, The News and More News and The Classified Ads. TheLast Word is from the publisher, peterB, in which he talks about the publication of the newspaper and the kind of work they are looking for to enhance its pages. He says,
moonset will publish poets and artists from non-English speaking realms, and our pages are now open to attract everyone worldwide. The expansion to some aligned poetry genres (senryu, renku, haibun, etc.), should help us all to experience and learn more all in one diverse, yet friendly place, moonset, THE NEWSPAPER.
Finally, we have an’ya’s The Next Word, which includes information about what we may expect in the next issue. an’ya is a principled editor who thinks every element of the craft of writing and editing through for herself. The tanka/haiku/haibun scene is the richer for such a figure in our midst and the newspaper is a worthwhile venture for all readers and writers of the Japanese short poetry forms.