ea’s e by Scott Metz

I’m pleased to announce that my second poetry collection, ea’s e, is now available from Red Moon Press. I hope you’ll consider getting a copy and letting anyone know who you think might be interested in it.

Some comments on the collection:

“Writing at the confluence of traditions of global haiku and experimental, minimalist poetry in the line of Creeley, Grenier and Dworkin, Metz conjures inspiringly strange, new forms of utterance: poetic spells that work their magic without wishing themselves – as fractured, material text – away. In an epigraph, Metz quotes Grenier asking, “Is it a long poem if you look at it long enough?” The textured poems in this book indeed reward “long” looks, often drawing us deeply into reflections on private and public (but always personal) themes, ranging from “corp/orate/contami/nation” to childhood innocence. Metz’s earlier, ground-breaking work in lakes & now wolves (2012) comes to fuller fruition in this exciting and substantial collection of genuinely exploratory short-form poetry.” 

—Philip Rowland (editor, NOON: An Anthology of Short Poems; coeditor, Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years


“Reading through this collection it is difficult to keep in mind that this is the work of a single poet rather than an anthology of contemporary short poetry.  Metz is easily the most creative of the poets working at the interface of haiku and minimalist poetry. This book could serve as a primer of what is possible to do in the short poem. I was blown away.”

—Lee Gurga (editor, Modern Haiku Press)


“Over the past ten years Scott Metz has created an astonishing book that turns the act of reading inside out. His poems work on the reader; through unsettling syntax and scoring akin to musical notation, he makes us look and look again until we reach something there all along: the world. His bounding wolves of a decade ago make an even greater leap here, and they are still in the air.” 

—John Martone


“Scott Metz’s haiku is like no one else’s. In ea’s e, his first collection with Red Moon Press, you will discover what he’s been up to for the past decade. Divided into 9 sections by orthographical technique, the poet questions what letters mean, what space does to that meaning, and what the mind is doing when it isn’t running on auto-pilot. You will never read haiku the same way again.”

—Jim Kacian (Red Moon Press website)

“Scott Metz is challenging normative haiku on every level, as a poet with his explorations into found haiku, striking wordplay, typography, and surreal content, but also as an editor and anthologist.” 

—Jim Kacian (Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years)

recommended / the introduction to…

The Penguin Book of Haiku by

I would like to specifically recommend the Introduction that Adam Kerns wrote for his book The Penguin Book of Haiku (2018). I’d guesstimate that not since reading Haruo Shirane’s essay “Beyond the Haiku Moment: Bashō, Buson and Modern Haiku Myths” (along with his book Traces of Dreams) has my understanding and appreciation of Japanese haiku (its composition and history) been tickled and expanded. If someone’s interested in the haiku that blossomed and was shat from the Japanese people up to 1900, this would be an ideal place to start. Can’t help but recall Philip Rowland’s usage of something W. H. Auden said in “From Haiku to the Short Poem: Bridging the Divide”: “In the history of literature it is extraordinary how profitable misunderstanding of poems in foreign languages has been.” I’ll interpret “profitable” in two ways though: monetarily, but also, especially, as sustenance for consciousness, imagination. One of so many provocative quotes from it: “That Buson also excelled at sound poetry brings into relief how traditionalist accounts of haiku frequently subordinate sound, and other sensory stimuli, to a modern regime of visuality in which images have all be displaced imagination (XLIII).”


recommended / HAIKU AS LIFE

Haiku as Life: A Kaneko Tohta Omnibus

-Essays, an Interview, Commentary and Selected Haiku in Translation-

translated by Richard Gilbert, Ito Yuki, David Ostman, Masahiro Hori, Koun Franz, Tracy Franz, Kanamitsu Takeyoshi

Red Moon Press, 2019 / $35

This omnibus contains Kaneko Tohta’s poems starting in 1937, when he was 18, up to his passing in 2018 at age 98. Born in 1919, it seems fair to say that his work in many ways reflects what haiku was in Japan in its first century as “haiku,” a stand alone poem (named and conceptualized by Masaoka Shiki in 1894).

Besides the lifetime of poems (many of which, at least in translation, display a range of confessional rawness, beauty, evocativeness, and surrealism), the book offers illuminating essays, an interview, and commentary.

In their original Japanese, which the book includes, all the haiku are written in a single line. In English, the translation group presents them with a deep knowledge and appreciation of 20th and 21st century poetry in English as well as the range with which haiku (or ku, or minimalist poems) have, and are, being written in English: one line (monoku), 2 lines, the traditional English-language 3 lines aligned-left, 4 and 5 lines—each, at times, also playfully, spatially experimented with. As Hiroaki Sato notes in a review of an earlier, partial version of this omnibus for Modern Haiku, Gilbert’s justification of “this variegated approach” is the West’s “history of short-form poetics (Imagism, Objectivism, Language Poetry, etc.).” Sato importantly points out that “Kaneko apparently has not followed any of them,” however, and “never stepped outside the monolinear form and used no interlinear space, no punctuation, before or since.” So the group’s approach to presenting the poems is novel and refreshing in a sense, but also entirely inaccurate in another. An interesting conundrum. Since the poems are there in their original, untouched forms, and Gilbert’s open and purposeful about their choices, the approach, to me, seems original and thought-provoking.

One of my favorite things about the book was how Tohta’s comments inspired me to reread (and therefore have a new appreciation and understanding of) the poetry of Issa—in particular Makoto Ueda’s book Dew on the Grass: The Life and Poetry of Kobayashi Issa, as well as David G. Lanoue’s extensive translations of Issa’s poems. This quote did it:

“. . . [Issa] possessed a raw perception of living beings. And it is in coming to recognize this perception that I have come to realize Issa’s sensitivity as something tremendous: the raw, living appearance of a genuine human being.”

And also this, following it:

“There are those who accumulate desires, who seize markets and even wage wars—I would like to force them to read Issa’s haiku. If they could understand this gentleness, this world of sensitivity in which living beings feel as living beings, then perhaps their lust for power might diminish, might be made to decrease. This is my small wish.”

If you are at all interested in Japanese haiku, I would think this book is a must have.



in the chilled ocean

a human song

—Kaneko Tohta (1971)


“The extent of the annotations might make Bashō appear derivative, but as I have pointed out elsewhere (and as everyone knows), the “cult of originality” is something new to our literary experience. A rich fabric of reference—in good hands, such as Shakespeare’s, Eliot’s, or Bashō’s—is an incomparable resource and a source of wonderment.”

—Hiroaki Sato / Bashō’s Narrow Road (1996)

Two Wings The Butterfly

Along the river

Following a path in the snow:

Marked by a cane.

—Gerald Vizenor (1962)

The Haiku Foundation recently added to it’s already voluminous and ever-expanding online library an important addition: Gerald Vizenor’s 1962 haiku collection, Two Wings The Butterfly. This was Vizenor’s first of seven haiku collections (the last, Cranes Arise: Haiku Scenes, from 1999, until his most recent 2014 collected haiku volume, favor of crows: new and collected haiku). Two Wings The Butterfly shows us that Vizenor was discovering, exploring, and writing haiku during the same time as Jack Kerouac, Paul Reps, Richard Wright, Cor van den Heuvel, J. W. Hackett, and Nick Virgilio (just to name a few of the poets whose haiku have gained notoriety and weight over the years). Vizenor is a citizen of the White Earth Nation of the Anishinaabeg in Minnesota, and Pressor Emeritus of American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He discovered haiku when he was eighteen while in the military in Japan and notes that “My first literary creations were haiku scenes, and since then, that imagistic sense of nature has always been present in my writing” (favor of crows XV). Elsewhere, he writes that “Haiku was my first sense of totemic survivance in poetry, the visual and imagistic associations of nature, and of perception and experience” (X); “Haiku, in a sense, inspired me on the road as a soldier in another culture and gently turned me back to the seasons, back to the traces of nature and the tease of native season and memories” (XI). It’s especially interesting and profound that he notes the following: “Haiku scenes are similar, in a sense, to the original dream songs and visionary images of the anishinaabe, the Chippewa or Ojibwe, on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. . . . Once, words and worlds apart in time and place, these poetic images of haiku and dream songs came together more by chance than fate, and later by intuition and consideration” (XI). For more reading on dream songs, check out Songs of the Chippewa and “Stories, Dreams, and Ceremonies: Anishinaabe ways of learning” by Leanne Simpson.