Haiku Edge: New and Selected Haiku

First published in the “Briefly Reviewed” section of Frogpond 39:3, Autumn 2016, pages 116–117.

Haiku Edge: New and Selected Haiku by Robert Epstein (Middle Island Press, West Union, West Virginia). 138 pages, 5×8 inches, perfectbound. ISBN 978-0-6924-7693-2. $26.00 from Amazon.

Robert Epstein has steadily produced a series of distinctive haiku anthologies relating to loss, death, grief, recovery, change, renewal, and the afterlife—understandable subjects for a psychologist. This new collection provides a counterpoint by focusing on his own haiku—all an “unblinking” look at everything on the edge, yet with a hopeful emergence from tragedy. The book’s five sections, interspersed with color artwork by Ed Markowski, offer 95 darkish haiku at the measured pace of a poem per page. The book’s title and subsection titles at the top of each page distract somewhat from each poem, but the poems work well to explore psychological nuances and experiences (“Election Day / the smell / of burning bread”). These are poems, as Epstein writes in his preface, on the “haiku edge—the razor’s edge of seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, intuiting.” Recommended, despite being overpriced.