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Scott Mason — Touchstone Distinguished Books Award Winner 2017

Scott Mason is a recipient of a Touchstone Distinguished Books Award for 2017 for his volume The Wonder Code (Chappaqua, NY: Girasole Press, 2017).

Commentary from the Panel:

“In The Wonder Code, author Scott Mason reflects upon the basic elements of haiku and with diligence and intelligence extends ‘[t]he unwavering gaze of haiku poetry’ into contemporary life. The book is not only a substantial introduction to haiku as literature but a jolt (delivered with exuberance and élan) toward life-changing discovery and ‘seeing the world with new eyes.’

“There is not only a lover of poetry at work here but an accomplished and informed life-coach who has discovered in haiku something necessary to encourage and promote purely in the interests of self-realization and personal development.

“While Mason is careful not to cut contemporary haiku free from its historical moorings in Japanese culture, the book does successfully map its affinities and course through dozens of other influences, mostly Western, demonstrating the why and wherefore of its universal (and ever-growing) appeal. The unfolding of the book’s five chapters, each focused on a single theme and accompanied by a gallery of poems from the haiku journal The Heron’s Nest, is refreshing, powerful, and illuminating.

“Here is a random sampling of the kind of poem selected, interspersed in the prose and featured in the galleries:

night of stars
all along the precipice
goat bells ring
          — an’ya
so suddenly winter
baby teeth at the bottom
of the button jar
          — Carolyn Hall
evening light
a loaf of bread
on the cutting board
          — John Stevenson
we wade into the current
of a great river
          — Kirsty Karkow

“Additionally, in ‘Solo Exhibition’ at the end of the book, the author has tucked 102 of his own haiku, matching them to the chapter headings.

“For its contribution to appreciating and understanding haiku, we think The Wonder Code is a good bet to stand the test of time and take a special place beside titles by Blyth, Henderson, and Higginson.”

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

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Many Congratulations Scott. We will be carrying a review of your book in one of the issues of Narrow Road. The Wonder Code has had a very deep impact on a lot of people. I will get around ordering my copy soon.

    Congratulations once again.

    1. Thanks so much, Paresh. And congratulations to YOU for your Raindrops Chasing Raindrops which I’ve just received and begun to read. It’s amazing — you’re taking haibun in exciting directions and to wonderful new heights!

    1. I hadn’t realized that your poem was 5-7-5 — a tribute to your craft, Alan! There are a sprinkling of others in the book as well, including three of mine.

      Thanks for your kind words.

      1. Thanks Scott!
        One of the reasons for me to start writing 575 in recent years was to show it can be done without telegraphing that particular format. Glad it succeeded! 🙂

  2. I own “The Wonder Code”.
    It is a good start for a novice writer of haiku.
    But the emerging, intermediate writer can also learn from Scott’s analytical approach and many examples.
    In workshops, there is the recurring question on implied lateral meanings in sensory imagery. Chapter Two is illuminating in breaking down sensory imagery by examples. This chapter alone makes the purchase worthwhile.
    Often, I’ll read a haiku book and pass it on. This one will stay in my library. I will return often, to this book.

    Jan Benson

  3. Congratulations, Scott! When I read, “The Wonder Code,” I knew it was something special!

  4. Again, congratulations, Scott. I can’t praise enough your book. I still recall my amazement at the white mountain on the back table at HNA in Santa Fe! A quick peek at a few pages, and I had to have it. The comments from the judges nail it. Looking in my crystal ball, I see . . . Schools! Libraries!


    1. What wonderful words to wake up to! And, yes, I’d love to see The Wonder Code in schools and libraries — might just help to counteract a bit of the nonsense in the popular culture about haiku… Anyway, many thanks, Chuck, and kudos again for your luminous Earthshine!

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