On ‘Frogpond, Vol 39.1’
The latest issue discusses haiku’s place in the world, and features sophisticated, accessible haiku forms.
The Haiku Society of America’s Winter 2016 volume of their journal, Frogpond, is filled with an abundance of haiku for all types of readers, from playful to somber, from poems centered on nature to poems focused on people. Issue 39:1 of Frogpond is a wonderful introduction to haiku for those new to poetry and even those who may not care for it.
The issue opens with Bill Pauly’s beautiful haiku, for which Pauly earned the Museum of Haiku Literature Award:
I open myself
to the rain
(by Bill Pauly).
The grace and simplicity of Pauly’s haiku begins the flow in reading the works presented here. Following Pauly’s haiku is the first section of the issue, filled with haiku and senryu. Each work focuses on a different subject, but the brevity of the pieces — as is the nature of haiku and senryu — makes each page a quick yet noteworthy read.
The second section contains linked forms. Though the poems are longer, there is a flow to each piece and to the section itself, keeping pace with the first section of haiku and senryu.
shadows crawl over my lap trail along roughened porch floorboards
stain a half-eaten peach in my hand the low hum of cicadas mingles
with the roar of a lawn mower and an east wind ruffles
a few worm-bitten leaves in the old black gum
in the garden
the old flag
offers a limp welcome
(“Still Life” by Kathryn J. Stevens)
Two essays on haiku also appear in this volume, sharing a common theme of exploring the recent changes in and the spreading of haiku in the United States. Both — “Teaching Haiku in Higher Education, Part I” by Randy Brooks, PhD, and “Understanding the Larger Pond: Raising Awareness and Spreading Haiku Literacy” by Deborah P Kolodji — are brief, informative pieces that provide insight into haiku’s current place in the literary world without over-complication of the issues discussed.
The works featured in Frogpond 39:1 do not disrupt one another, a constant flow of works that showcase the capabilities of the haiku form. This well-curated volume and the pieces in it exceed expectations both of haiku and of poetry while remaining relatively straightforward, making it a sophisticated, accessible collection of works.