Friday, 15 March 2013

Poetry People: Robert Drake's Haibun-Haiku Journey

Richmond Castle: 'Richmond's defences held'

 Review of by In Fading Light Robert Drake

torrential waters
wash the night of stars
a kestrel hovers

Robert Drake
In Fading Light

I have bought my first eBook for Kindle, and I don't even have a Kindle! Did you know that you can use Kindlereader via Amazon?

I discovered this some days ago when Swansea friend, Robert Drake (Bob to his friends), invited me to take a look at his new publication of Haibun and Haiku, In Fading Light. The eBook is available on Amazon for the princely sum of 77p (great value and considerably less than two First Class stamps!). It is published by Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing Facility.

Haibun and Haiku originate from Japan, and have become increasingly popular in the West. Robert handles his material with skill, and rarely refuses to settle for less than the exact word or phrase. In Fading Light includes the story of a 200 mile walk - the Wainwright Coast to Coast - from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, across some of the most challenging stretches of Britain. The whole book is, in a sense, a journey in its own right. Vibrant moments leap from the page in a few short syllables:

melting sea-mist
in the heron's eye

We encounter the poet's travelling companions in the form of dancing pipistrelles, a prowling cat, the old bookseller and the old man on a bench. It is no surprise to find a metaphorical rainbow of references to the season and the weather, a rainbow of 'warm air' and 'icy winds', of 'doleful rain' and 'receding cloud'. There is a sprinkling of words long associated with Haiku, such as 'snow', 'jasmine' and 'sparrows', so those of a more traditional persuasion will feel quite at home in this collection, as the old blends seamlessly with the new.

I have attempted to write numerous Haiku over the years, occasionally meeting with success in small competitions. Some of my Haiku have been published, but I am less familiar with – though no less interested in – the art and craft of Haibun. That said, I particularly enjoyed reading the Haibun account of the Wainwright Walk, with its 'realistic' changes in pace brought about by the alternation of prose and Haiku. Robert's prose style is full of detail and occasionally, it seems to me, somewhat reminiscent of Gerard Manley Hopkins ...

'There was a barrenness and oppressive solitude. At Angle Tarn the fluting of skylarks served only to emphasise this empty grandeur.'   

Robert's actual journey led him through torrential rain at one point to the towering fortress of Richmond Castle, which I remember vividly from my own visit on account of its raucous Parliament of Rooks. Does Robert make his final destination? You could buy the eBook and find out! 

About the author of In Fading Light 
Robert Drake was formerly an associate dean in the Faculty of Arts and Social Studies and senior lecturer in social policy at Swansea University. He now teaches for the Open University (UK). 

1 comment:

Crafty Green Poet said...

that sounds like a book I should read, haiku and haibun particularly lend themselves to journeys I think