The Duck’s Wake

First published in Woodnotes #29, Summer 1996, page 55. Read this book in PDF form on the Haiku Foundation website.

The Duck’s Wake by Jeff Witkin. Privately published, 1996, 32 pages, handsewn paperback, 5½ by 7½ inches. $4.00 postpaid (a bargain) from the author at 1204 Fallsmead Way, Potomac, Maryland 20854 [address no longer correct]. The Duck’s Wake is, I believe, the first ever haiku book to include rengay—three rengay written by Jeff Witkin with John Stevenson, Michael Dylan Welch [see “Gravestones”], and Nir Bhao Khalsa. Rengay is a new form of linked, thematic, collaborative verse; as it increases its presence in the American and even worldwide haiku scene, this publication is thus a small milestone for the form. The book also includes 41 sparkling individual haiku, senryu, and tanka, finely representing Witkin’s three years of haiku writing with his best poems. As a first haiku book, The Duck’s Wake has much to recommend it, from its sumptuous cover to the selection and arrangement of poems. Here are two choice examples:

with the last snow

sounding clear in mountain streams

how will I endure

these long days without their touch—

your bare arms in warm spring sun?

clouds roll in—

the flow of silt down

the dry creek bed