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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chapbook Review: Tangled Shadows--senryu and haiku by Eliot Nicely

 
 
     Elliot Nicely lives in Amherst, Ohio where his boys are teaching him to giggle and dance again. His poems have been published in Acorn, Atlas Poetica, Mayfly, Paper Wasp Acorn, frogpond, bottle rockets, Kokako, Modern Haiku, Notes From the Gean, moonset, and White Lotus. His book, Tangled Shadows, is available on Rosenberry books. The book itself is hand bound, with a heavy Somerset cotton cover, and stab bound with a linen cord--a very elegant thing to behold.
 
     The senryu in this book are quite striking and poignant. They work as commentary on the human condition, displaying a wry sense of humor that is the hallmark of good senryu, and that is often lost in modern attempts at the form.
                           first date
                           no fortune cookies
                           with the bill

     The haiku in this collection are more subtle, and very successful. They juxtapose the natural world against the human, often with surprising results. Despite their understanding of haiku and its history, they still read as quite contemporary.
                                                        indian summer
                                                        ...the rest of 
                                                        our argument

     While the bulk of these poems are quite successful, Nicely occasionally gets heavy handed with his juxtapositions, and the poems read as clever, lacking in the the elegance and natural ease that a haiku should contain.
                                         the promise
                                         it won’t happen again
                                         black-eyed susans

     Overall this is a strong collection. It is visually stunning, and the haiku and senryu contained within will draw readers back to them again and again.

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The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau