Long before there was cinema there was the cinematic–think of Basho’s wide sweep across the heavens down to Sado Island, or Issa’s farmer pointing the way with his freshly-pulled radish.  Yet contemporary haiku poets do not feature it much.  Caruso is an exception to this, and in fact many of his poems feel like stills snipped from a film, possibly a documentary on the foibles of mankind.  On display here there are all the usual suspects: holy war, bombings, soup lines, firing squads.  We might be tempted to read these as morality plays, and perhaps they are.  But Caruso’s treatment discourages us from taking any of them too seriously: look how foolishly we act (he seems to be saying), though he is not above it, but part of it–floating with it, dust.

From A New Resonance 8:  Emerging Voices in English Language Haiku.  Red Moon Press (2013).  Jim Kacian & Dee Evetts, Editors.


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slammed by salt and sun

the paint has no chance in this mexican prison

David Caruso

The paint’s chances make this. Caruso effectively renders it unable to serve its functional and aesthetic purposes. In at least one reading, the chance the paint has been given infuses it with a living quality, and personifies it. Egad, hasn’t the poet broken a rule here? No worries. Paying any attention to that might have resulted in a less than compelling haiku. It adds layers of nuance. The poet still vividly depicts a moment with an image that makes good use of suggestion and implication; and it has an objective feel about it. From that slam at the beginning to its end, it brings to mind the brutal and unforgiving conditions of the Mexican correctional system, which has received a bit of news coverage in recent years, but nothing is overstated. The two-line construction seems utterly perfect for conveying the tone, as well as the rapidity of the machine gun’s firing, when reading the last line the way it stands.
Paul Pfleuger, Jr

Roadrunner X:1

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March 5, 2010 — Miriam Sagan

Haiku may be like stars in the sky–or ants at a picnic–but in any case where there is one there are usually many. Charles Trumbull, who has been the editor of MODERN HAIKU since 2006, estimates that as a rule, for one issue, he receives submissions of:

2,763 haiku & senryu
70 haibun
12 sequences

He accepts about 7%, a somewhat larger percentage than other excellent journals.
In any case, the current issue, Volume 41.1 Winter-Spring 2010 is a handsome one. From what looks like an abstract painting (but is actually an image of graffiti) in red and black on the cover to the selection of haiga (haiku and images) in the Poetry Gallery section, MODERN HAIKU presents as both traditional and yes, modern, in its approach. MODERN HAIKU stands out over of the years for its informative and intellectual essays, and for a selection of haiku that is never limited to pure imagism. These haiku also mean something. Here are a few.
From Janelle Barrena:

winter crocus–
she’s outlived
everyone she loves

And Allan Burns writes:

a willow reveals
the underground stream
Dharma Day

I also liked the tension and contrast in David Caruso’s haiku:

above the trees
beyond my reach
her balloon, her certainty

Subscriptions are $30 in the US by regular mail, $35 by first-class mail.
(3 issues); Modern Haiku, PO Box 33077, Santa Fe, NM 87594-3077

Miriam’s Well