Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Spring 2006, vol 4 no 1

Because of a Seagull
by Gilles Fabre
A Review by Robert D. Wilson

 

Gilles Fabre, a French poet living in Ireland, sees haiku as more than a literary genre. "A haiku, in its essence and spirit, unveils something we had not noticed or felt, points at a moment we failed or did not bother to experience, a truth we've known from the start. Haiku is a delicate shortcut to the heart of Nature and our everyday life." Art is subjective. What one thinks, another may think differently. I too see haiku as more than a literary genre. It is a path, but how we walk that path, what we see, and what direction we take is a personal choice. This said, it is refreshing to find a poet who takes the haiku path seriously, rises above the genre's rudiments, and like those who founded haiku, has a deep respect for nature. Writing a haiku is more than just writing and knowing how to use a formula.

Even in my pocket ~
it is everywhere
this morning's spring wind

Fabre has a love affair with life and takes the time to see and enjoy what some may take for granted.

Ocean breeze ~
easing three or four seagulls
through the goal posts

Fabre also has a delightful sense of humor:

Pub's round toilet window
just big enough ~
the summer full moon

As well as a keen sense of irony and observation:

Nearly all in bloom
the poppies my neighbor planted
before she died

Although the author refers to his book as a volume of haiku, in actuality it is collection of senryu and haiku. Haiku is haiku, senryu is senryu. They are two separate, albeit related genres. Yet, like many contemporary journals and online e-zines, Fabre mixes the two together without labeling them as such. Far too many people today do not know the difference between haiku and senryu, let alone that senryu is a separate genre. This is due in part to said journals and related publications lumping the two genres together under a generic haiku umbrella.

SENRYU

Power's back ~
I switch the lamp off
and read by candlelight

HAIKU

Show me
skinny bird in the gales
how to face winter

Overall, I like Fabre's book. It is uneven at times, but that could just be me. The majority of the poems are well written, do not fall into a "same-same" pattern, possess metre, and have more than one tier of meaning. And some of his poems are indelible:

Taking the mouse
off the trap ~
how am I to die?

On the ice, near
the farmed ones, salmon
that have swum the ocean


Because of a Seagull
Gilles Fabre
The Fishing Cat Press
ISBN 0-9551071-0-5
A limited edition of 750
All copies numbered