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re:Virals 7

Welcome to re:Virals, The Haiku Foundation’s weekly poem commentary feature on some of the finest haiku ever written in English. This week’s poem was

     I didn’t know
          — Melissa Allen, Notes from the Gean 3:2 (2011)

Marion Clarke found many resources in this interesting vertical poem. She writes:

Melissa Allen’s beautiful poem builds from the abstract to the concrete, line by line, inviting the reader to question the statements presented. Literally beginning with ‘nothing’ conjures up a bleak place. A wintry scene is imagined, like a total whiteout or perhaps even death. ‘I didn’t know’ incites the reader to ask, “What didn’t you know? Surely you didn’t know nothing? And isn’t that a double negative? And before what? Ah, before the maple!” And the reader is presented with these trees, one after the other and suddenly the blank, wintry space is filled with a riot of red and orange. Reading this aloud it felt like I should keep on saying, “maple after maple after maple . . .” Speed is also implied, so I pictured the narrator either driving along a road lined with these trees or jogging through a forest, surrounded by color.

Finally, the first three lines made me think of the biblical phrase, ‘There is nothing new under the sun,’ underlining the cyclical nature of the seasons.


As this week’s winner, Marion gets to choose next week’s poem, which you’ll find below. We invite you to write a commentary to it. It may be as long or short, academic or spontaneous, serious or silly, public or personal as you like. We will select out-takes from the best of these. And the very best will be reproduced in its entirety and take its place as part of the THF Archives. Best of all, the winning commentator gets to choose the next poem for commentary.

Anyone can participate. A new poem will appear each Friday morning. Simply put your commentary in the Contact box by the following Tuesday midnight (Eastern US Time Zone). Please use the subject header “re:Virals” so we know what we’re looking at. We look forward to seeing some of your favorite poems — and finding out why!

re:Virals 7:

     granny's cushion —
     pulling the darkness out
     pin by pin
          — Stella Pierides, In the Garden of Absence, Fruit Dove Press (2012)
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