Tilted Lamp

The following poem first appeared in Geppo XLV:1, November 2019–January 2020, page 1, and was selected for commentary in the following issue, XLV:2, February–April 2020, pages 13–14. The poem was also selected by readers as one of the top poems in the previous issue and republished in the February–April 2020 issue on page 12.

        the lamp tilted

        to light my diary—

        the year’s first snow

I liked the way the author is adjusting the small circle of light cast by the lamp to spotlight the page. The year’s first snow is always merry; we tend to forget that it is the opening of a long and cold winter; we are simply happy to see it coming again. So, the tone of this haiku for me is cozy, happy, and it resonates with the sound of snow falling at night, so quiet!

—Emiko Miyashita

An intimate, sequestered feeling is created here. The personal act of writing in a diary is placed within the limited cone of light of the lamp. And this interior scene is separated from the rest of the world by the softly falling snow. The scene is one of going inside both physically and metaphorically. And the feeling of interiority is one of the pleasures of winter.

—Patricia J. Machmiller

Often it is said that poets, like owls, see in the dark. Well, if not in total darkness, at least their vision can make out what is before them in dim light. Perhaps that is what makes poets special. They have vision without need of a bright light. Well, enough metaphor! Haiku is all about the concrete and, in this haiku, I literally see the diarist tilting a lamp to make out each word as it is entered in the start of a new season. With the first snow, we, too, anticipate spending more time indoors and taking time to express thoughts and feelings meant for our eyes only.

—Neal Whitman