Fig Newtons: Senryu to Go Review

First published in Woodnotes #19, Winter 1993, Pages 50–51.

     review by Kay F. Anderson


Fig Newtons: Senryu to Go by Laura Bell, Garry Gay, Christopher Herold, vincent tripi, Michael Dylan Welch, and Paul O. Williams. Edited and introduced by Michael Dylan Welch. Press Here, 1993, 111 humorous senryu, 32 pages, paperback, 5½ by 8½ inches. $6.00 plus $1.00 postage from Michael D. Welch, Press Here, P.O. Box 4014, Foster City, California, 94404. [address is no longer correct]


“We work so hard, we forget to love,” wrote Albert Camus in La Peste. Sometimes, I think, we also forget to laugh. Yet it is the senryu poet who writes to bring us smiles and shared guffaws of understanding. Fig Newtons offers just such comic relief, a spirited recess from the serious concerns of modern life. We are invited to join a parade of characters that cavort, at times tenderly. Senryu are often more immediately understood than haiku, yet the rich centers of the poems in this collection are best when savored. Linger on a line and see Laura Bell with:


the dentist—

all his ten fingers

and thumbs in my mouth


Ride the shoulder of vincent tripi to visit just plain folks in San Francisco:


He says he’s

into traveling

the elevator operator


Go under the covers of editorial concerns and follow Michael Dylan Welch:


grocery shopping—

pushing my cart faster

through feminine protection


Think young and fresh again with Christopher Herold’s:


       neighbor boy

         peeping up

the scarecrow’s dress


Overcome the inevitability of change through the eyes of Garry Gay:


Bald tire

    still getting good mileage.

        as a tree swing


Switch impatience to humor with Paul O. Williams:


hand out the window

    the Saab driver

        dries her fingernails


Editor Michael Dylan Welch stepped out on a bold premise by suggesting that these poems are humorous, when humor is such a nebulous proclivity. But if it were only for its bright orange silky- smooth endsheets, this collection of “Senryu to Go” would be worth its price to me. Fig Newtons calls us out of ourselves, and bids us enter the World-of-Each-Other. When I started reading this book, I was alone. Turning the last page, I realized that six San Francisco Bay Area poets had led me galloping up and down the streets of Hereabout, showing me slight fragments of life. Their spirits stayed with me. Even now I hear them snickering about some of what it means to be human.