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frances angela — Touchstone Award for Individual Poems Winner 2017

frances angela is a recipient of a Touchstone Award for Individual Poems for 2017 for her poem

crematorium
the sound of someone
unwrapping flowers

It first appeared in Acorn 38.

Commentary from the Panel:

“There is much to appreciate in this haiku, as it develops a brittle, metaphoric moment of heightened awareness. We move from a formal, latinate, lonely experience of mortality to human presence real and imagined, to a sound obliquely associated with commemoration. As the unwrapping of cut flowers releases their scent, we inhale their essence one last time. The w sound that echoes from line to line is also a suppressed wail.”

“The haiku puts together such an odd scene. The flowers become the fire.”

See the complete list of past winners of both Individual Poem Awards and Distinguished Books Awards in the Touchstone Archives.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. frances angela is one of our finest British practitioners of haiku, and I’d say one of our finest global poets too.
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    crematorium
    the sound of someone
    unwrapping flowers
    .
    frances angela
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    The parallel sounds alone make this haunting. It’s not just a sound poem of course but the sounds, and we “can’t” see them, makes this poem more intensely “visual” than if it was merely a visual poem.
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    It really does work within the scope of Slip Realism:
    https://www.thehaikufoundation.org/per-diem-archive-details/?IDcat=277
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    It’s stunning on so many levels, and I can’t get the crackling out of my mind partnered with the cremation.
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    I’ve tried this myself, with the sound of cellophaned flowers:
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    crowded train a dozen yellows crackle
    .
    Alan Summers
    Does Fish-God Know (YTBN Press 2012)
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    Because the sound cuts through everything, or so it seems, and frances has really caught that crackle. I wish I had written her poem, as it can be a dominant sound.
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    It’s also, as a whole poem, containing that intriguing opening set of lines to a short story, a novel, or a movie that will leave you spellbound from start to finish.
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    “the sound of someone
    unwrapping flowers”
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    It is like subverting the often misinterpreted “sound of one hand clapping” but also we presumably never get to see the person, not just as ‘reader’ but also the author/narrator will never see that person, just the memory of a possibly loved one meeting their end intermingled with someone perhaps over-noisily opening up/ripping through, a bouquet of flowers.
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    An amazing haiku, an amazing poem. Someone create that short story, novel, film, or perhaps it’s not necessary, as frances angela has done that in our heads.
    .
    Alan

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