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Bookstories 36: Jo Pacsoo on the Intimate Details of Death

libraryofbabelEvery book tells its story, but what of the other story, the story behind the book? Bookstories offers an opportunity to tell that story. If you have a story about a book or poem you would like to share, contact us and we’ll help you make it happen. Thanks for letting us know the rest of the story!


Three of us used to meet in Penzance and share poetry. We decided to do a joint publication but in the end we did three individual collections. This was my first publication. Luckily it is now out of print as some of the haiku were pretty bad. But I’m grateful to Martha Street and Jacky Pritchard for their support and encouragement. We have now all moved to different places.

My second collection Chiaroscuro was really a kind of therapy. My partner had died a few years before. He had left his body to a medical school so there was no funeral; his daughters cleared away his things and that was it. I had done a little, private ceremony but decided I’d like to dedicate a booklet to him. All the haibun and haiku had been previously published and I arranged them to depict something of our life together, his death, and my life afterwards. It was a healing process for me.

Death is not popular but someone I have never met wrote to say how much the book had resonated with her own experiences and also how it had changed her approach to poetry which she had always avoided; she didn’t know that it could be about everyday, small things. Later she sent me a book of her own poems, not haiku but about everyday, small things. As Kathleen Raine said, if writing touches just one person it has been worthwhile.

–Jo Pacsoo

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing this Jo, I have read it with pleasure.

    Wishing you all good things for your writing (which I always enjoy reading in ‘Presence’),
    Sandra Simpson.

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