Who can forget, once having read them, Keats’ Ode On A Grecian Urn, or Auden’s homage to Breughel’s Icarus in his Musee des Beaux Arts? Both are exquisite examples of ekphrasis, defined as the vivid, often dramatic, verbal description of a visual work of art, either real or imagined. Professor Steven Carter is surely one of the most prolific practitioners of Japanese forms in English, having published dozens of fine books, many of which are available for reading in The Haiku Foundation Digital Library. His Ekphrasis is the only book I know devoted entirely to ekphrastic haibun, and we are pleased to feature it as our Book of the Week.
EDWARD HOPPER’S NIGHTHAWKS AT THE DINERWestward (or eastward, what does it matter?): the misbegotten shriek of a train—unheard within the glass confines of the diner.Nanoseconds away by light-speed, a pretty adolescent girl—almost as pretty as the girl one hopes to meet in the diner—wakes up to roosters crowing. It’s time to begin egg candling, the first of her farm chores.Before that, however, still in the friendly confines of her bed she scribbles in a “Him Book”: I know I’ll find him. Not here, no, not here; but in the city—I know that’s where he is. And that’s where I will go.summer starssomewhere a siren—windows gaze at windows
You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library.
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Haiku featured in the Book of the Week Archive are selected by THF Digital Librarian Garry Eaton, and are used with permission.