The section entitled â€śThe Sixtiesâ€? in Kizerâ€™s Cool, Calm and Collected is rather short compared to other sections in the book. Many of the poems are labeled â€śChinese Imitations.â€? However, the most interesting poem to me is â€śA Month in Summer,â€? a rather odd combination of confessional poetry and haibun formalism.
Too long to quote in its entirety, I will try to suggest why I found it intriguing. In opening, Kizer notes, â€śI have come to prefer the four-line form [of haiku]which Nobuyuki Yuasa has used in translating Issa because, as he says, it comes closer to approximating the natural rhythm of English speech. Though not convinced that the four-line haiku is better than a three-line haiku, itâ€™s an interesting idea.
The poem consists of thirty days of journal entries written in haibun form describing the ending of an important relationship in the narratorâ€™s life.
Strange how tedium of love makes women babble, while it reduces men to a dour silence. As my voice skipped along the surfaces of communication like a water bug, below it I sensed his quiet: the murky depths of the pond.
Alone, I play a Telemann concerto on the phonograph. A rather pedantic German note on the slipcase speaks of â€śthe curious upward-stumbling theme.â€? Can we upward-stumble? If so, there is hope for us.
When we go away
I play records till dawn
To drown the echoes
Of my own voice.
Seen through the tears
Is no more poignant
Than a saucer of cream.
Why the artifice of this haibun, which I have appropriated from a culture which doesnâ€™t belong to me? Perhaps to lose me. Perhaps because the only way to deal with sorrow is to find a form in which to contain it. And, at last, surely it is time to study restraint
Itâ€™s intriguing how a poet can present material this personal, this emotional without embarrassing the reader. I know I wouldnâ€™t want a complete stranger telling me these kinds of things about his or her life, but somehow they feel perfectly acceptable in a poem.
In reading this â€śpoemâ€? it struck me that, though Iâ€™m not sure I would want something this personal put on the web as it happened, I would love to write a blog that followed this format.
I tried to use the haibun form for several of blog entries, specifically those describing my cancer surgery and recovery. Perhaps unconsciously I felt like Kizer that I needed a formal structure in order to present those painful feelings.
Unfortunately, I lacked the discipline needed to write haibunâ€™s daily, but I still think it may well be the ideal format for a blog as it conveys the important aspects of oneâ€™s life succinctly, a quality sadly lacking in far too many blogs, even some I love dearly.
For anyone interested in contemporary use of the haibun, this long poem might well justify looking this collection up in a local library or, may one dare suggest, buying the collection.
One thought on “Kizer’s “A Month in Summer””
is found in minimal lines
and deepest of thought
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