Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Haiku for Lovers--the review

Dance of Love” image by Kjunstorm
We are born loving poetry. As children we delight in rhymes and rhythms and repetitions that older people dismiss as "sing-song" or of they're word snoots, "doggerel." But how old were you when you read Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham? I can still quote it

I would not like them
here or there.
I would not like them
I do not like
green eggs and ham.
I do not like them,

I can still quote it and I bet you can too. That's the power of poetry. Once you hear it, it sinks into your synapses and stays there. We are born loving poetry and yet most of us stop reading it when we leave school. And yet poetry is all around us, just waiting to be rediscovered. (In L.A., the metro buses used to carry poetry placards and one weary commute I discovered Pablo Neruda's "Sonnet XVII" with its startling and sexy imagery:

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

Now that is a love poem.  Which brings me to Haiku for Lovers. One of the most elegant forms of poetry, haiku's strictly structured, 17-sylllable shape is infinitely flexible, endlessly versatile and has become the perfect poetic construct for the 21st century.

This Valentine's Day Buttontapper Press published a collection of poems called Haiku for Lovers: An Anthology of Love and Lust that is a beautiful assemblage of words and images that in another era would have made a gorgeous coffee table book. Every poem is paired with a photo, a painting or an illustration. All of the artwork is nicely done and most beautifully complement their poems. One exception for me was the color photograph "The Modern Femme Fatale" b Nicki Varkevissar that accompanied Sue Mayfield Geiger's three-act haiku "Film Noir." 

The model was lovely and the photograph was nicely done but for me, "Film Noir" forever means black and white, not technicolor. I was also disappointed by the photo of the young woman kicking up her flip-flops in the bed of a truck that accompanied Janet McCann's lovely "Because We Are Old." I wanted this romantic poem about love in the autumn of life to feature a mature couple and not a woman in the lush summer of her life. But those are minor quibbles; as a whole, this is a wonderful collection of bite-sized reveries about love and lust and sex and romance and sometimes everything at once. There's sci fi writer Don Webb's frankly phallic rocketship erection; and Richard Scarsbrook's "Intoxication," an elongated erotic reverie. There are phrases that stick in your heart, like h.l. nelson's "Painstaking lacing of emotional corsets." 

The various stages of love are chronicled here from Fiona Johnson's "New Love" to Dave Wright's emotional "The First Five Months." There's romance here (Kenneth Pobo's sensual "Pink Calla Lily'")  but also doses of practical reality as in Bridget Brewer's "Life Has Taught Me This" and Vuong Pham's "SEX Billboard" in which he talks about what REALLY gets his juices flowing. Then there's Katya anchentseva's "Slept Bad After Sex," which weighs and balances the good and the bad of the night and the morning after.

Editor Laura Roberts'  "outro" (as opposed to an "intro") presents a couple of bonus naughtyhaiku that are offered almost apologetically even though they're both smart and provocative. On sale for less than three dollars at ebook-sellers everywhere, Haiku for Lovers is a perfect non-caloric treat for yourself or a belated VD present for your sweetie. Because everyone needs a little poetry in their lives.


  1. Thanks for the review, Katherine! I'm glad you enjoyed the collection. As for the choice of the younger woman in the pickup truck, paired with the poem "Because We Are Old," my thought was to demonstrate visually how love always makes you feel young, which I felt was also part of the poem's point.

    1. Laura, that totally makes sense. (I always read the intros, by the way.) Thanks for clarifying that! And I did enjoy the collection very much. My question is--where's the L.A. Haiku?