Haiku and Sumi-e

First published in Woodnotes #27, Winter 1995, page 52.

Haiku and Sumi-e by Lidia Rozmus. Privately published, 1995, 22 pages, boxed loose sheets, 5¾ by 8¾ inches. $35.00 postpaid from the author at 1 Echo Court #11, Vernon Hills, Illinois 60061 [address no longer correct]. The price of this book may at first seem high, but not when you understand the nature of art books, of which this is a fine and actually inexpensive example. Single poems are printed on individual sheets of fine, translucent paper, alternating with sheets of exquisite sumi-e brush paintings. Just ten poems are given this royal treatment, but not only are they each heartfelt moments that reverberate with the paintings with which each is carefully paired, but they are all presented in a handsome hand-tied folder. In the folder’s center is a square hole that reveals a red “chop” stamp in the middle of the book’s first page, which also offers a succinct introduction to haiku and the author’s intent in preparing the book. Lidia Rozmus is an accomplished artist, and although she seems to be newer to haiku than to visual arts, this book will reward your investment of time and money. It is a beautiful object, a pleasure to untie, unfold, and leaf through, and the care extended in presenting each poem and image will encourage you to dwell within its spaces. The haiku and sumi-e arise, as the author says, “out of a need to seek truths about the world and to better understand ourselves.” Here is one of her truths:

two birches,

one somehow mine

between familiar hills