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.