The Measure of Emptiness

The Measure of Emptiness

Lee Gurga

Jerry Kilbride, introduction

An engaging collection of 71 Midwest haiku by Lee Gurga, introduced by Jerry Kilbride.

summer sunset—

the baby finds its shadow

on the kitchen wall

Explore the book

  • Read the afterword, “A Talk with the Author” by Michael Dylan Welch

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1991, perfectbound, 88 pages, 8½ x 5¼ inches, ISBN 978-1-878798-04-9

frozen branches

measure the emptiness—

winter sunset

  • “I bought The Measure of Emptiness by Lee Gurga in 1995. His haiku [above] expresses the stark beauty of the winter I also know in Wisconsin. There is an emotional quality to his poem that spoke to me at the time, and continues to this day. That was a year of great personal challenge, and the combination of ‘emptiness and beauty is one I well remember. Good to reread today. With gratitude.” —Ellen Grace Olinger, in Favorite Haiku

opossum bones

wedged in an upper fork—

budding leaves

  • The circle of life is readily apparent in this haiku [above] without being too obtrusive. An opossum either died and decomposed or was eaten and excreted by a snake or other predator and its bones were caught in the pocket formed by forking tree branches. The dead opossum has provided nutrients to the plant for it to grow. The poet skillfully leaves out the words ‘branches and tree because their choice of the seasonal phrase (kigo) budding leaves makes them redundant to our understanding of the poem. The leaf buds place the scene in early spring and there is good resonance with the cold bones of the opossum and the leafless limbs of the tree. Rather than using the noun form leaf buds, the use of a verb gives us the sense of action still happening and life going on.—Dhugal Lindsay, in Mainichi Haiku Classic: March 4, 2018

  • See the review by Ebba Story from Woodnotes #13, Summer 1992, in which she says that the book “is largely a careful selection of ‘haiku places,’” and adds that The Measure of Emptiness is a delightful journey into the haiku world of Lee Gurga. And I, with Jerry Kilbride, invite you to come along with Lee into a place that Jack Kerouac called sweet green Illinois.