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.
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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 housemoon breaks over the hill a dreaming driver dims his brightsovermatched boxer his eyes closed before the fightreassuring me the locksmith breaks a sweatinconvenient visit of distant relatives the common coldmonarch landing so briefly its full weightdeliberations on a charge of murder turning spring outsidecold saturday— drawn back into bed by my own warmthher ninth month curve of snow where the car washoliday rush— brake lights illuminate an angry facetoo quick to reply cutting my tongue on the envelopea small stream murmuring into the lakehead first against long odds polliwognight train two men at a barrel fire flash by
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” 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.
I’ve always wanted to read this book.
Thank You for posting it.
Thank You, John, for being you.
It’s the one collection I hadn’t been able to get my hands on, so thank you very much for posting!
always like what i see of his…
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.
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
two men at a barrel fire
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.
the house shot through
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.
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.
Alan, With Words
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