Voice of the Cicada

First published in the “Briefly Reviewed” section of Frogpond 39:3, Autumn 2016, page 113.

Voice of the Cicada by Raffael de Gruttola (2014, privately published, Natick, Massachusetts). 142 pages, 5½×8¼˝, perfectbound. ISBN 978-0-692-34776-8. $15.00 from the author at 4 Marshall Road, Natick, MA 01760.

As de Gruttola notes at the beginning of his book, “Haiku has become, for many of us who use this form, a way of trying to recapture the essential quality of our personal worlds.” The author does exactly that with these poems, collected here in a retrospective volume documenting a long career in haiku, tanka, haibun, renku, haiga, and other related forms. Poems appear at a relaxed pace of one to three per page, and show range and sometimes playful experimentation, rich with allusions to art, music, literature, travel, and culture, with poems frequently dedicated to fellow writers. A thoughtful introduction by Karen Klein introduces readers to haiku in general, and to de Gruttola’s haiku in particular. And the equally thoughtful afterword by Judson Evans places the author’s work in the context of Western philosophy and language, suggesting that these poems move beyond dualities to unities, whether with music, art, drama, or in other collaborative ways. A few design and typography weaknesses show this book to be self-published, but the poetic content comes well recommended. “subway woman sleeps / picked daisies / in her hand”