Gerry's Reviews > In the Manner of Haiku: Seven Aspects of Man

In the Manner of Haiku by Adam Gillon
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Jun 27, 07


When I was a high school sophomore, my composition teacher didn’t care much for haiku. One assignment was to write at least three poems, but, he warned, no haiku. “You can’t hand in haiku. They’re too easy.” I’ve met many who feel the same way. After all, how hard could it be to write seventeen syllables without a rhyme in sight? I agree, in part. Haiku are easy to write. Who hasn’t dashed off a gag haiku on any subject? I have, and chances are if you haven’t you’ll write a couple right now. Go ahead. It’s easy, right?

That’s why In the Manner of Haiku was a great twenty-five cent purchase at my local library’s annual basement book sale. This tiny book demonstrates the deceptive simplicity of great haiku, where the last line turns the first two on their ears and sucker punches you with insight. I’ve read that only the novice and the master can write great haiku because the former knows not his limitations and the latter has embraced them. I’ll let you decide which Adam Gillon is with this, my favorite from the book, a devastating poem regardless of form:

I wanted my son
To achieve what I could not.
He did—dying young.

The set-up of every parent’s wish for their child juxtaposed with every parent’s nightmare. It raises the hair on my neck each time I read it.

Here’s another poem in the same vein:

Your life now provides
A source of inspiration.
A terrible price.

A few poems, while first-rate, do not conform to the traditional 5-7-5 syllable structure. Here are examples:

During the blackout I asked
For candles but the store
Had only electrical lamps.

The builder no longer can
Visit all of his houses;
Yet he keeps on building.

Does anyone know if these are variations of haiku, or is Gillon creating his own form?

This book is out of print, although a copy is selling on Albris.com for thirteen dollars.
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