Consider this review a Valentine for Patricia Donegan. Because boy, am I in love with her books.
So enamored was I with Haiku Mind that when I found out her new book Love Haiku: Japanese Poems of Yearning, Passion and Remembrance would be out in January, I ordered it months ahead. The book is co-translated with Yoshie Ishibashi and some of the haiku in this book have been published in English for the first time.
In Love Haiku, Patricia Donegan has gathered a compilation of romantic haiku by diverse Japanese poets. On one page is a haiku by Basho and on the next a contemporary haiku about a sex change. And this is the magic of this anthology. Love has so many faces, it’s a creature with so many forms that it is astonishing to see Patricia Donegan truly capture its complexities in one small book of poetry.
Also noteworthy is the male / female component of this book. It is a book about love, after all, and I appreciate that the male and female perspective share equal space.
As the title suggests, the book is divided into three distinct components of love: longing, passion and remembrance.
First there is longing, and I enjoyed this one by Yoshiko Yoshino :
nights of rain -
lonely, I fall asleep
holding my breasts
And then there is passion which is nothing if not complex, as in this haiku by Kanajo Hasegawa:
the one I curse
is the one I love -
red cotton roses
While this haiku of remembrance, by Seisha Yumaguchi, made me smile with its image of ephemeral beauty:
in the waves
no trace, where I swam
with a woman
Love Haiku is an exquisite book that pulled me into it’s theme so deeply that I could not stop reading these love poems aloud to my husband. And it is rare indeed to find a book of poems where each one seems to take your breath away. But this is exactly how I feel about this collection.