First published in Woodnotes #26, Autumn 1995, page 52.
Tribe: Meditations of a Haiku Poet by vincent tripi. Swamp Press, 1995, 68 pages, paperback, 5½ by 4 inches. $12.00 postpaid from the author at 478 A Second Avenue, San Francisco, California 94118 [address no longer correct]. In Tribe, vincent tripi gifts us with another elegant book. This is not a book of haiku, but meditations about haiku, in the spirit of haiku. The meditations appear individually at the bottom of each page, the space above allowing for openness. As haiku poets, vince asserts, we are all members of a narrow community, a “tribe” of unique stripe. These meditations celebrate this spirit of bonding and commonality. The meaning of some comments borders the obscure, as in “It is the task of the poet to uncover the covered bridge.” Some seem paradoxically pretentious, as in “i almost write nothing about nothing.” And sometimes the apparently mysterious is simply mystifying, as in “We write in patience if we are to write. Part of us is waiting for another part to wait.” I am attracted to this book for its intuitiveness, spirituality, and lovely design, and for many meditations that are striking, but I hesitate at its pretense. Fortunately, here and there are true feathers from the tribal headdress. So, are we to revere them? As vincent tells us, “Day after day i treat my haiku as a bird might treat its feathers.”