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Book of the Week: Something Uneraseable


John Stevenson has put out so many great books that is may be hard to remember his first, Something Uneraseable, self-published in 1996, and already replete with his characteristic trenchant observation and justesse of phrasing.

You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library.

Do you have a chapbook published 2009 or earlier you would like featured as a Book of the Week? Contact us for details.

All haiku in the Book of the Week Archive are selected by Tom Clausen, and are used with permission.

bright leaves blow through her dream house
moon breaks over the hill a dreaming driver dims his brights
overmatched boxer his eyes closed before the fight
reassuring me the locksmith breaks a sweat
inconvenient visit of distant relatives the common cold
monarch landing so briefly its full weight
deliberations on a charge of murder turning spring outside
cold saturday— drawn back into bed by my own warmth
her ninth month curve of snow where the car was
holiday rush— brake lights illuminate  an angry face
too quick to reply cutting my tongue on the envelope
a small stream murmuring into the lake
head first against long odds polliwog
night train two men at a barrel fire flash by

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. ” moon breaks over the hill” is my favorite of the haiku from Something Unerasable posted above. To me, it’s like a miniature painting that I can return to again and again.

  2. I’ve always wanted to read this book.
    Thank You for posting it.

    Thank You, John, for being you.

  3. Stevenson-san is such a great craftsman…plus he sees things deeply like we’ve come to expect from our haiku masters. I’m a big fan.

    -Patrick Sweeney

  4. An extremely impressive collection, and even moreso as it’s a first collection, self-published, so I guess self-edited.

    It’s also why I’ll never let go my fondness and appreciation of experiential haiku, the fact that there can be non-fiction writing out there that says what it is on the label. So much of the non-fiction genres, especially national history, is filtered, and the same goes for news broadcasts, where you feel you need to triple-check it through other sources to find what really happened and its full context.

    John Stevenson’s haiku writing is only deceptive in one manner, and that is he makes it all look so simple to tell the truth, and in engagingly crafted language that you are not aware of reading the techniques of poetry, you are allowed direct access to the poem itself.

    Almost every single haiku contained in the collection is an instant favorite, that it seems a shame just to highlight these few:

    the river always
    out there in the dark
    late train home

    night train
    two men at a barrel fire
    flash by

    The two haiku about train rides remind me of the great travelling writers of the last century, and that as late as 1996 (the collection date) John Stevenson is travelling in their tracks.

    facing surgery
    the house shot through
    with moonlight

    This is where a more distant pairing of images really work with the powerful choice of ‘shot through’ elevating the haiku beyond a mere juxtaposition.

    toward night
    we hitch a ride
    gun on the seat

    Sometimes haiku kick off a novel, partly because of its open-endedness and as an unresolved narrative. I sure can see this as being a great prompt for one of those write a novel in month courses.

    on a charge of murder
    turning spring outside

    Taken immediately after the previous haiku this had me thinking that either the haiku writer or a passenger are up on a charge, but it could be that John is not only innocent, but was a jury member.

    Terrific collection!

    Alan, With Words

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