Peace – reviewed by Patricia Prime

Peace, edited by Giselle Maya, Koyama Press, 84750 Saint Martin de Castillon, France.  (Limited edition, 2006.) pp 36, illustrated.  Small format: US$20 plus US$7.00 airmail postage (or 17 Euro, postage 5.50 Euro).  Email: GISELLE.MAYA@wanadoo.fr   Reviewed by Patricia Prime

This handmade book designed and published by Giselle Maya is a collection of haiku, tanka and renga on the theme of peace by eleven poets: an’ya, Ion Codrescu, Christopher Herold, Kirsty Karkow, Mari Konno, Elizabeth Searle Lamb, Angela Leuck, Giselle Maya, June Moreau, Pamela Miller Ness and Jane Reichhold.  The illustrations are by Yasuo Mizui and Louis Fulconis.  The black and white stencil designs are from Japan.

The book opens with a poem by Thich Nhat Hanh:

 peace is all around us
 it is not a matter of faith
 it is a matter of practice

The collection comprises 36 pages of poems on the topic of peace.  As it contains haiku, tanka and renga it is difficult to review and no matter what your particular taste in form may be, you will find something to enjoy.  Traditional haiku, such as Ion Codrescu’s “night in the mountains / lingering on the path / to watch shooting stars” contrasts with more contemporary haiku such as Christopher Herold’s “downpour / the one sound of so many / surfaces” are represented as well as the lovely tanka sequence “A Brief Visit” by Giselle Maya and Ion Codrescu.  Here are two stanzas from the poem, with Maya’s phrase in Times New Roman and Codrescu’s in italics:

 comings and goings
 the mistral wind brings guests
 who look at our art
 shakuhachi music
 between haiku and silence

 gestures of the dance
 tiger’s paws never reaching
 the gentle deer
 outside the sound of sheep
 returning to the village

The wider your taste, the more there is to satisfy.

The book is not for rapid reading, each poem needing to be taken by itself and savoured.  There’s the attraction of tanka by Mari Konno:
 
 vacant
 azure morning sky
 everything
 the night sky embraced
 has moved to the lake

and the more traditional tanka by Elizabeth Searle Lamb:

 centred in a breaking wave
 there is one point of quiet
 deep in the heart
 there is a still small voice
 that speaks in silence

Elizabeth Searle Lamb also writes in more contemporary minimalist style in her tanka sequence “In Silence”:

 the moon
 sends ripples of light
 into the darkness
 of the pond
 the shadows

 dappled
 by drifting clouds
 so does faith
 send its shaft
 of hope

 and peace
 into consciousness
 as I drift
 into the darkness
 of sleep

In June Moreau’s selection of  tanka she takes note of beauty of nature:

 specimen
 core of a pine cone
 song of a bittern
 ripples from the river
 and a scroll of sky . . .

While Pamela Miller Ness focuses on the fragility of our less than perfect world:

 Celestial dragon
 caged in porcelain globe
 of underglaze blue,
 in this far less perfect world
 I too grasp fragile stems.

Coming towards the end of the collection is the beautiful peace renga “Light in the Shadows” by Jane Reichhold and Giselle Maya.  Here are the last three stanzas, with Giselle Maya’s words in italics:

 guests come and gone
 their spirits and smiles linger
 in the tearoom

 to each anew this day
 a heart basket of joy

 a few handmade gifts
 into the flare of oak logs
 unresolved feelings

 in accepted poverty
 a certain richness

 by the window
 blending into dawn shadows
 white cyclamen

 with no desires, no sorrows
 melting into the river

This is an interesting and stimulating book both to handle and to read.

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