Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bamboo Dreams: An Anthology of Haiku Poetry from Ireland ed. Anatoly Kudryavitsky

Doghouse Books down in Tralee have published  the first ever Irish national anthology of haiku poetry, so if you are a fan, this is the book for you!  The interest in haiku has blossomed recently and an increasing number of Irish writers are appearing in print worldwide. This book contains work by seventy-seven haiku writers.

The anthology has an excellent introduction by Anatoly Kudryavitsky, the editor of Shamrock Haiku Journal, where he discusses the development of haiku in Ireland from an unsuspecting Patrick Kavanagh around 1965-67 and Juanita Casey, a travelling woman in 1968. The first collection by an Irish poet was Michael Hartnett's Inchicore Haiku in 1985. The Internet has been instrumental in creative exchange, namely Shiku Internet Haiku Salon which was popular in the late nineties and World Kigo Database. The first Irish haiku magazine Haiku Spirit ran from 1995-2000 founded by James Norton. In more recent years there was online magazine Lishanu ( and Shamrock ( which is the international online magazine of the Irish Haiku Society since 2007. There are two associations of English language haijins (haiku poets) in Ireland; Haiku Ireland ( and the Irish Haiku Society ( who conduct workshops. I include all this information because I found it very interesting, like a secret society nobody knows about!
Kudravitsky acknowledges that there is a 'celtic' haiku style. Many of the haiku in this anthology, as with the traditional Japanese haiku, have nature as a theme. I have pulled out certain verses that I particularly liked, some of them are a complete haiku in its three lines, others are selected verses from a longer haiku.
This verse from Sharon Burrell could only be an image from Dublin; "chilly morning - / geese in formation/ over the Dart line" and this philosophical verse from Juanita Casey; "why rage if the roof/ has holes?/ heaven is roof enough". I particularly liked this complete haiku from Michael Coady; "ravens from the height/ throw shapes above the belfry - / deep-croak  rituals". With that "deep-croak" in the last line you can hear the voice of the crow, and it is explained that throw shapes: dance (Hiberno-Engl.
Patrick Deeley perfectly records an event any cat-owner will recognise; "dead thrush on the doorstep/ the cat's way/ to my heart" while Gabriel Fitzmaurice captures life from death in his three line haiku; "a rotting tree stump/ in the middle of the woods/mushrooms with new life". In Maeve O'Sullivan's verse I can see the colours ; "Basque flower market/ an orange hibiscus/ trumpets its presence" and Thomas Powell captures a everyday joyful sight with new eyes; "communal bath/ in the blocked guttering/ a row of sparrows".
I liked the enigmatic words of Isabelle Prondzynski; "fog in the city - / now I cannot see/ those I do not know" and the hopelessness in the words of Eileen Sheehan; "home village/ nowhere to visit/ but the graveyard".
  editor Anatoly Kudryavitsky
I really enjoyed this anthology. The very refined discipline required to write haiku make their soundbites all the more intense. I hope that this particularly specialised style of poetry writing continues to gather strength in Ireland because from this collection it is obvious that there are a lot of talented haiku writers around.

Published by Doghouse Books.

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