Cherie Hunter Day is the recipient of a Touchstone Distinguished Books Award for 2022 for the volume Miles Deep In a Drum Solo (Durham, N.C: Backbone Press, 2022).
Commentary from the Panel:
Cherie Hunter Day’s fifth book of haiku, Miles Deep in a Drum Solo, demonstrates her dexterity with the form in an offering that balances an attentive nature-based experience with the inventiveness of language. The collection comprises four sections of fifteen poems each with three poems presented per page. Each sequence exhibits a resonance between the haiku. There is a physical and emotional groundedness that provides a breadcrumb path for the reader to intuitively make their own connections through these deeply-felt poems. On one such page, Day explores mortality, longing, and grief.
migrating red knots
of my heart murmur
ocean a summer’s worth of asking
last time I heard you become dusk
The poems include three-line haiku, one-line haiku, vertical haiku, and haiku of only three words in length. The haiku do not strain to fit their structures but emerge organically from them.
Throughout the book, Day’s close attention to language is evident. Her creative juxtapositions suggest new interpretations of the words and the worlds she is describing. The urban brushes against the natural, and the abstract is placed adjacent to traditional season words in unexpected ways that offer a disjunctive English-language haiku style that will hold up over time.
inland sea a resume without references
part of the bank deposit
In Section 1: “a new normal”, themes include sadness, technology, writing, communing with nature, and the pandemic. Like snapshots, the poems stipple a story. In Section 2: “a shortfall of small doors”, the tone shifts to regard the dismissal of nature and nature’s response to that dismissal. These are poems of incompleteness, absence, refusal, and small wins.
a list of demands
then a few pages later:
redwood seeds the instrument of your hands
We can listen to the demands of these ancient trees and answer their call. The word “seeds” in the second poem can work as both a noun and a verb. As a noun, we are planting the seeds and rejuvenating their kind. As a verb, they are rejuvenating us.
Throughout Section 3: “the rollover of unused data”, we feel a movement toward emotional resolution set up by the previous sections. When we reach Section 4: “leftover persimmons”, there is a level of acceptance as we acknowledge the injuries.
part of my fingerprint
is followed by:
that one kid
with a plastic whistle –
Both poems consider an irregularity that stands out from its background even as it is assimilated by it. The visual streak across the sky. The tactile scar on a finger. The sound of a whistle.
Miles Deep In a Drum Solo is a rich and carefully orchestrated collection that rewards careful reading and re-reading.
Touchstone winners receive a crystal award to commemorate their selection. See the complete list of winners of both Individual Poem Awards and Distinguished Books Awards in the Touchstone Archives.