after/image by Jim Kacian

For anyone even remotely interested in English-language haiku, Jim Kacian’s latest collection, after/image ($20; Red Moon Press, 2018), is a must. Kacian is the founder of The Haiku Foundation, a past editor of the Haiku Society of America’s journal Frogpond, owner/publisher of Red Moon Press, and editor-in-chief of Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (Norton, 2013). The author of many haiku collections, this is his first substantial collection in some years, containing a decade of writing.

it won’t end and it won’t get better crow’s caw

a trick of the light either way

In parts 2 (“the social project”) and 3 (“after image”) of the collection, Kacian plays on the page with the way the poems appear to readers, juxtaposing poems with themes. Part 2 is presented as four poems per page each with its own theme, repeated: the political, the one, the others, the future.

Part 3 juxtaposes single haiku with a singular theme floating beneath them:

For some, the juxtaposition of poem and theme might startle, or provoke, taking readers into new readings, directions, or insights; for others, it could very well seem unnecessary, even a bit of a distraction.

I’ll give Richard Gilbert the last word: “This is the new world of haiku in English, a demonstration by a master of form, style and technique, who now further incorporates the visual medium to express poetic and philosophical ideas that touch upon consciousness and being. This work represents a new direction for contemporary poetry.


NOON: an anthology of short poems

Philip Rowland has been editing his journal, NOON: journal of the short poem, since 2004. He is also a coeditor of Haiku in English: the first hundred years (Norton, 2013). A rich soup of NOON‘s poems has now been allowed to cook, simmer, and marry into NOON: an anthology of short poems (Isobar Press, 2019). Copies are now available via the NOON website.

This is from his introduction: “Editing an anthology inevitably involves difficult choices and reluctant omissions; one could even argue, as did Laura Riding and Robert Graves in their provocative Pamphlet Against Anthologies (1928), that anthologies uproot poems from their contexts, imposing misleading categories upon them. But in the approach taken here, I have tried to make the most of these limitations, through meaningful, often playful, juxtaposition and sequencing of the poems, to produce a newly distinctive body of work that is relatively unconstrained by narrow genre-definitions. The result is a renga-like chain of over two hundred poems by almost half as many poets. This ‘collectiveness’ reflects my assumption that the shorter the poem, the greater the importance of context; and many of the poems in this book are, indeed, really short.

And though I know this poem has been published in numerous places (first in issue 01 of NOON), I’ll share it once more anyway:

a love letter to the butterfly gods with strategic misspellings

—Chris Gordon