Ladles and Jellyspoons

First published in Woodnotes #27, Winter 1995, pages 51–52.

Ladles and Jellyspoons by Francine Porad. Vandina Press, 1996, 48 pages, paperback, 5¼ by 8½ inches. $10.95 plus $1.25 for postage and handling in the U.S. ($2.50 elsewhere) from the author at Vandina Press, 6944 SE 33rd, Mercer Island, Washington 98040-3324 [address no longer correct]. Francine Porad has a knack for coming up with intriguing titles for her haiku books. In that regard, this is perhaps the most intriguing yet—her introduction explains the meaning of her unusual title. The content of this book is also distinctive, and differs from her previous books. Instead of just collecting poems published in the previous year, as with most of her earlier books, this one arranges many of her best poems into “presentations”—poems read as sequences at readings in various parts of the continent. I’m sure the book will be useful to her as she gives future readings, for she has collected all these presentations into one engaging book. Consequently, you will see a few poems from other books, but you will see them in a new light. The groupings and sequences (haiku and tanka) are interspersed with a variety of sketches and drawings, and particularly pleasing are the “round” a arrangements of poems on flowers and gardens. Insofar as Francine has created a book with a strongly unifying principle, this book shows change and growth. The cover seems unrepresentatively plain for an artist of Francine’s abilities, and some of the poems are more personal than disciplined, and more subjective than objective in the mode of modern American haiku, but Francine’s charm comes through, and you would be hard-pressed to resist Ladles and Jellyspoons. Here’s a treat or two from it:

caught without an umbrella rainbow

jutting rock

the waterfall’s two paths

to a quiet pool