Winnows by Maxianne Berger (2016, Nietzche’s Brolly, Toronto, Ontario). 60 pages, 5¼×8½ inches, perfectbound. ISBN 978-0-920489-48-2. $22.00 by PayPal from Marshall Hryciuk at firstname.lastname@example.org or from Imago Press, 30 Laws Street, Toronto, ON, Canada M6P 2Y7.
A note on the front cover says that Winnows collects “haiku and senryu ‘plundered’ from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.” This ambitious book is a kind of “erasure” poetry, an elaborate experiment in which the author has removed words from the pages of Melville’s classic novel (all while keeping the words in the same order) to come up with the poems that remain. The word “winnow” also brings to mind “minnow,” and the haiku in this book are indeed poetic minnows, winnowed out of the big white whale of Moby Dick. Three poems appear on nearly every page, for a total of 136 poems, many of which have been published individually in various journals and anthologies. Worth a look to see her many fine catches winnowed from a weighty novel—all of them energetic minnows rescued from a mighty whale. “a worn hearth / all the fireside tales / in this blade of grass.”