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A Travel-Worn Satchel: The Haiku Society of America Members' Anthology 2009

A new section! A contest!

The following post is the first in a new series devoted to reviewing books/collections of, about, or related to, haiku. To kick things off, the first installment is by Billie Wilson, about a collection that she found herself driven to write about.

And so this new section becomes open to ALL troutswirl readers.

If you have a short review you’ve written on a recent haiku publication, or a collection you’d like to be considered for review on troutswirl, send it along. You can send reviews—positive, negative or both—to be considered to me at: ztemttocs AT gmail.com (replace AT with its symbol).

Mail copies of books or collections to be considered to:

The Haiku Foundation
P.0. Box 2461
Winchester, VA
22604-1661
USA

Donations will gratefully become part of The Haiku Foundation’s hard library.

Last but not least: this new review section needs a name. Send your ideas to me at the same email address as above: ztemttocs AT gmail.com (replace that AT!). A prize will be given but it has not yet been determined. Stay tuned. The due date for name submissions is September 12, 2009. Send in as many as you like.

Here is the first review, by Billie Wilson. . . . . .

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A Travel-Worn Satchel: The Haiku Society of America Members’ Anthology 2009 (Eds. Joseph Kirschner, Lidia Rozmus, and Charles Trumbull): Deep North Press, Evanston, Illinois, for the Haiku Society of America, 2009, 124 pp., perfect softbound, 6-1/4×6-1/4. ISBN 978-0-930172-06-8 (first edition of 350 copies).
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A Travel-Worn Satchel anthology cover I stayed up way past my bedtime on the day A Travel-Worn Satchel arrived in my mail. Once opened, I could not put it down. The idea for this anthology was inspired; the result is stunning. From its beautifully-designed cover, interesting square format, and high quality stock to the fascinating layout of the haiku, this book is a treasure. I’m an enthusiastic fan of these anthologies which have been published annually since 1993 by the Haiku Society of America. Through obsessive internet searches and the generosity of fellow poets, I’ve been able to find all of them. Each is a time capsule for what was happening in the haiku community during the year—a bit of English-language haiku history.
 
A Travel-Worn Satchel is the first such anthology to have a theme: geographical haiku. Each poet was asked to send haiku that named or referred to a location that could be pinpointed on a map. The editors then selected at least one haiku from each poet, choosing a total of 293 haiku. Then the poems were masterfully arranged so that turning a page is like moving a little further around the globe, since each place is actually pinpointed on a map. I cannot do justice in describing the nearly interactive experience this creates. When I read a poem about a place I’ve visited, that place was immediately vivid again. When about a place I’ve dreamed of visiting, the poet helped me see it clearly.
 
The title is an homage to Matsuo Bashō’s 1688 travelogue, Oi no Kobumi (Journal of a Travel-Worn Satchel). Another inspired decision that has the effect of walking along with Bashô on the road that led us where we find ourselves today in our own haiku journey.
 
These three editors have just raised the bar for all anthologies to come. 

Billie Wilson

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Sorry Louis. I meant Modern Haibun and Tanka Prose (MHTP for short) edited by Jeffrey Woodward. The first issue appeared in July and the second in which nu Utamakura is due to appear will be out in December,

  2. Click on my name to access the Modern Haiku website. It’s the oldest continuously publishing haiku journal in English, going back to 1969, and certainly one of the most prestigious.

  3. I am not familiar with Modern Haiku and Tanka Prose. I see there is a publication called Modern *Haibun* and Tanka Prose– is that what you refer to?

    Loum

  4. My ‘Utamakura’ piece will be in the Dec issue of MHTP. Keats wrote in a letter ‘nothing startles me beyond the moment.’ Also ‘..or if a sparrow come by my window I take part in its existence and peck about the gravel.’

  5. My piece called ‘Utamakura’ has been accepted for the Dec issue of Modern Haiku and Tanka Prose. Keats stayed for a couple of nights just down the road from where I live in Surrey from where he wrote in a letter ‘…nothing startles me beyond the moment.’ Also ‘…or if a sparrow come by my window I take part in its existence and peck about the gravel.’

  6. Nice to see you here Diana. Your new piece sounds really interesting, when and where will it appear?

  7. The word ‘utamakura’ has come to mean for me, places with poetic associations. In fact I have just had a piece with that title accepted for publication. It is about a place where Keats stayed from where he wrote some very haiku like things in a letter

  8. One thing I should perhaps have acknowledged more explicitly earlier (and I suspect someone is bound to point this out eventually) is that my interpretation of utamakura seems to differ somewhat from that of the editors of A Travel-Worn Satchel. But I feel it becomes a very slippery concept if you subjectively try to separate what might be “universally known” from what might not be. For instance, here is a little thought experiment: Does “Sado Island” stop functioning as an utamakura simply because most of us in the West who are now reading Basho have never been there or perhaps have never heard of it before we read Basho? I would say no. So I use the word “utamakura” objectively to refer to all specific place references within haikai literature that add some kind of historical, cultural, and/or topographical resonance to a poem. In my view what makes up for the lack of a “shared experiential world” is the fact that we live in an information age in which the globe is literally at our fingertips. Good readers will come to good poems — and maybe learn something in the process. And if the literature is compelling enough, it will make a place name significant. Who would know of Walden Pond but for Thoreau?

  9. I am still reading my collection. It’s been a joy to take one haiku at a time, and then “visit” that place with the feeling the haiku gives. I’m also getting a feeling for the voice of the person somehow. I’m not sure if this is imagination or what but each haiku seems to have a distinct “character”…I’m trying to put my finger on it. But a collection like this , where the place is so well defined for the origin of the haiku is wonderful.

  10. As one project of the World Kigo Database, I am trying to keep a list of placenames found in haiku, both from Japan and worldwide.

    Anyone is welcome to list their haiku.
    Click on my name for the LIST.

    utamakura are a very powerful item in such a short form poetry as haiku is !

    Gabi

  11. I really enjoyed this collection as well. The range is truly global, including 3 pgs. of haiku from South America, 5 pgs. from Japan, 20 pgs. from Europe, etc. There’s even one from the Gusev Crater on Mars (John Stevenson’s “dust devils on a dead planet”). The book offers many exs. of what I’ve long felt is an underused and underrated technique in ELH: utamakura (i.e., poetic use of specific place names). Some exs. from A Travel-Worn Satchel: Iditarod trail; Wreck Beach; Mt. Rainier; Olympic rainforest; Zigzag River; Athabasca Falls; Niagara Falls; Walden Pond; Fenway Park; Dog Bar Breakwater; Ground Zero; Central Park; Antietam; Blue Ridge; Trail of Tears; Tybee Lighthouse; the Arkansas (River); Bryce Canyon; White Sands Missile Range; Muir Woods; Angel Falls; Shiki’s grave; Everest; Salisbury Plain; the Thames — and there are many, many more. Some are obviously more universally familiar than others; but in the age of Google just about any reference is readily traceable by the mildly curious. I particularly value utamakura when the place adds a truly evocative dimension and the name itself is well-integrated into the sound texture of the poem. Anyway, with this collection and with The Onawa Poems, 1999-2008, ed. by Paul MacNeil (Ship Pond Press, 2009), the E-l utamakura really comes into its own, I think. I will add that, at least based on my own entry, the placement of locations on the maps in A Travel-Worn Satchel can be somewhat approximate. (Pueblo, CO, is not nearly that far south in the state.) But that’s a minor point. The design is beautiful, and the cumulative sense of place conveyed by the haiku arresting.

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