What Light There Is

First published in the “Briefly Reviewed” section of Frogpond 40:1, Winter 2017, page 111. I have since learned that Lorin Ford published a haiku book
with the same title in 2009. See digital copies of Lorin’s book on
A Hundred Gourds (originally from Three Lights Gallery),
and on the
Haiku Foundation website. I would have pointed this out had I known. +

What Light There Is by Sylvia Forges-Ryan (2016, Red Moon Press, Winchester, Virginia). Ion Codrescu, illustrations. 104 pages, 4¼×6½ inches, perfectbound. ISBN 978-1-936848-58-4. $17.00 from Red Moon Press.

This book distinguishes itself by its delightful collaboration with Ion Codrescu, who provides energetic calligraphy and haiga illustrations for six of the author’s poems, plus cover calligraphy. The book’s six sections provide striking tonal variety, such as with the poems about war and politics or the sections on desire and longing and on sickness and loss. A great deal of thought has gone into the grouping and sequencing of the poems in ways that many other haiku books should emulate. The book collects 148 poems, 33 of which are tanka (mostly in the love section). Here is one of three poems that give the book its title: “Diagnosis / what light there is / dimming.” Here’s another favourite: “Softly falling snow / little by little / I learn to forget you.”