Moyayama: Russian Haiku: A Diary

First published in Woodnotes #29, Summer 1996, page 47. +

Moyayama: Russian Haiku: A Diary by Alexey V. Andreyev. A Small Garlic Press, 1996, 40 pages, paperback, 5½ by 8½ inches. $3.00 postpaid from Leonid Delitsyne, 1607 Adams Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53711 [address no longer correct]. The danger of a diary is that not all of its entries are worth publishing. That generalization seems somewhat true of this diary-like book, yet it shares several haiku moments worth catching. As a Russian who has been writing haiku in English for only two years, Alexey should be commended for his quick achievement. Indeed, many nicely seen haiku round out this collection. Yet some poems suffer from a lack of refinement and clarity, evolving from an awareness of English-language haiku that seems limited to the Internet—a volatile and too-often misinformed frontier for haiku. On the plus side, though, Alexey’s energy and enthusiasm shine through, so I’m inclined to recommend this book. Try it! (There’s no way I could write nearly as good a haiku book if I were writing in Russian.) Here’s a fine sample from Moyayama, which sports illustrations (mostly by the author), haibun (haiku-studded diary entries), individual poems, and a brief concluding essay:

hot summer night

a phone keeps ringing

in the neighbor’s house