Anyone can write a haiku and anyone can compile
a book of haiku, or something similar to haiku. But
good haiku and a good book of haiku are rare jewels.
And becoming more so. As Managing Editor of
Simply Haiku, I continually receive review copies
of books in the mail and, to be honest with you, the
majority aren't worth the time taken to read them.
John Sexton is an accomplished poet and writer who has
written haiku for years and is the author of a series of books
based on a popular children's radio show, The Ivory Tower,
that ran for 103 episodes. A good writer isn't born. Being a
good writer is the result of hard work, practice, study, and
more hard work. Sexton's success is based on a solid work
ethic and his ability to creatively translate and see life.
In John Sexton's poetry I see a deep respect for the Japanese
haiku masters who gave us the genre and for the genre itself.
I also see an original, fresh voice steeped in the social and geographical contexts experienced in the British Isles.
Take for instance this haiku:
a good game
but shadows of crows
are too fast to catch
This haiku has something to say but doesn't "tell all." It paints a
picture with words that are memorable, with intricate textures and
tones. The "shadows of crows," translated into something someone,
perhaps a child, might be tempted to catch and the realization that
they "are too fast to catch," is a wonderful image.
Sexton's poetry is, for the most part, consistent, and sometimes brilliant.
the river sheds a skin
last slice of light
on the lawn
I examine the drawings
on a moth's wings
Like many writing Japanese short form poetry outside of Japan, Sexton
mistakenly labels both senryu and haiku under the haiku heading when,
in reality, they are two separate, albeit closely related genres.
the teaspoon shows me
with furtive inspection
my true, foolish face
a jackdaw shadow
passes through me
Although at times mislabeled, Sexton's poetry is a joy to read:
busy in the garden of my fingertip the ant
some spider willed me
Says Caroline Gourlay about Sexton's poetry:
"He has a keen eye and the imagination and skill to communicate his
observations in unexpected, fresh images, which he juxtaposes without
recourse to labored symbolism and/or metaphor . . . a pitfall that few
haiku poets manage consistently to avoid."
And Emiko Miyashita:
"From the soil of Ireland where poetry is deeply rooted, a new bud of fresh green haiku."
walking through the brambles
without scratches . . .