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BOOK REVIEW: A Zen Firecracker, by Graham Nunn
Reviewed by Robert Wilson

I'd never heard of Graham Nunn until I came across some of his haiku in an online publication. I read and reread his poetry, saying to myself, "This guy writes nice haiku." His haiku is distinct, original, and indelible. I knew then and there that I wanted to read more of this man's work. When I contacted him, he mentioned a book he'd recently written, A Zen Firecracker, and offered to send me a prepress copy.

Graham is a native of Australia. Many of his haiku are interspersed with references to his country.

dawn sky
steam from the lamb's
throat

black with one
full moon
on ti-tree lake

tonight the curlews cry
accompanied by
rain . . .

between the power lines
flying fox strikes
a jesus christ post

Nunn's haiku is sparse . . . using only the language necessary to say what he wants to say. Nunn doesn't waste words. He reminds me in a way of Buson. Like Buson, Nunn writes haiku that are observational, visual, and succinct.
Take this haiku, for instance:

late spring
only sunlight
in the bird's nest

The author doesn't interpret what he has seen. Nor does he allow himself to view a scene in nature with preconceived notions. He observes and seemingly lets nature speak to him.

Another example:

breathing in
shadows pass over
the mango tree

The poet, while breathing in, notices shadows passing over a mango tree. There is a Zen to this haiku. It looks deceptively simple, yet it is multilayered, projects a definite mood, and is open for multiple interpretations.

Nunn is not afraid to intersperse humor in his haiku. A humor that is visible and easy to relate to.

sushi lunch-
tentacles stick
to the roof of my mouth

His phrasing and way of describing what he sees are refreshingly original, as with this haiku:

christmas shopping
my shadow merges
with others

Graham Nunn's A Zen Firecracker is a good read. The kind of haiku book you will want to read over and over again. His is a refreshing voice. He has something to say and says it well.

back and forth
toy kites
chase their tails

distant thunder
each stroke of the oar
stirs the clouds


Graham Nunn, A Zen Firecracker. Impressed Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-9751618-1-4.Illustrated by Rowan Donovan, with an introduction by Janice M. Bostok. Impressed Publishing, 50 Baynes St. Highgate Hill, Brisbane, Queensland, 4101. Available e-mailing David Weekes or by e-mailing the author.


Graham Nunn is a Queensland born poet who has had haiku published in international journals such as Paper Wasp, Yellow Moon, tinywords, Stylus Poetry, and Simply Haiku.

He is the recipient of several poetry awards, including the 4th Annual Paper Wasp Jack Stamm Haiku Award.



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