Tuesday, 24 July 2012
About 20 years ago I was in Covent Garden in London, in a street called Neal Street East. There was a quirky shop there, a bit of a warehouse really, and it sold all sorts, and inside to the right was a bookshop that specialised in the arts. I went in many times afterwards, although it is no longer there.
Typically, on that first visit, I ended up in the poetry section and found two strange hand made books almost buried amongst the conventional titles. They were made of parchment, hand made paper, and sewn at the spine with wool and raffia. It was like finding a secret book in a strange bookshop at the beginning of so many stories. They were beautiful, and begging to be opened.
We were in the shop about 40 minutes and the entire time that my family scoured the shelves, I stood in one corner reading these books. They were by Brian Tasker and it was my first encounter with the Haiku.
I didn't get it at first, a deliberately arranged sentence on every page, but they were making me laugh or making me sad and I couldn't stop reading them. They were so simple yet seemed to say so much. I was astounded to find that these little books were for sale, because it felt like I had accidently found someones personal possession, left behind on the shelf. Their titles were Woodsmoke and Notes From A Humdrum - A Year in Haiku, and I have had them ever since.
Brian Tasker is involved with Makeshift Theatre, which has a page about his poetry. I have since come across him in compilations, many of which you can find at the Iron Press, or as editor for other collections. These particular ones were published by the Bare Bones Press, a journal founded by Tasker.
The delight I felt at finding those strange little books all those years ago led to a deep love for the Haiku form and many other collections for my shelves. However those first books by the poet above are my most treasured. Look out for his words on 'Haiku of the Week' on my sidebar, here at The Octogon.