Reading this slender collection of 150 haiku was like feasting on a fresh and juicy peach. It really brightened my day.
I marvel at Sutter’s economy of words. This slim volume contains 150 haiku mostly in the classical form (5 syllables, 7, and 5), weighs in at just 81 pages, and has an asking price of $16. I picked mine up at the library, but this work truly is worth every penny. A joyful read, it’s the sort of collection that’ll be appreciated on one’s bookshelf for years. I was astonished that so much meaning and experience could be packed into so few words. By contrast, my memoir crams 75,000 words into 299 pages. My own asking price of $14.95 seems like such a good deal in contrast! My goodness. After delighting in Bart’s brevity, I can see the value in keeping words to a minimum.
Until today I have never read an entire collection of poems from cover to cover. I seem to get bogged down on about the tenth page. If you’re like me, and have always felt a deficiency in your life with respect to poetry, allow me to suggest that you read a local poet writing about something that you know and love.
The author who benefits you most is not the one who tells you something you did not know before, but the one who gives expression to the truth that has been dumbly struggling in you for utterance.
In college I lived 500 feet from Chester Bowl, walking it daily. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it until now. Reading Barton’s haiku through the four seasons placed me right back in the ravine, reminding me of trees, bridges, and bends in the creek that I haven’t seen in years. Even odd items of trash! My spirit soared.
I’m certain it wouldn’t have resonated if I didn’t have such a sense of the place that inspired the work. Thus, I encourage you to find a poet writing about a place you know and love. You might find yourself completely opened up to an art form that you had previously neglected. Now that’s worth writing home about!
Nothing comes easily when you’re battling depression. Putting my next book into form feels darn near impossible. Simpler projects likewise seem to require more of me than I have to offer. I’ll spare you the details. My worries and doubts are not unique. During this difficult time I’ve found it helpful to do whatever it is that I feel capable of. Sometimes that means simply doing the dishes. Today it meant writing a letter to Barton Sutter, harnessing up the dog, walking together to the post office, and placing it directly into the mail hauler’s hands. The entire process was enjoyable and fulfilling, both of which have been in short supply. As a writer, I understand how important and affirming such encouragement can be. It was all I had of value today, and I feel good about the day because of it.
I have nothing to offer but friendship, and hope to enjoy a stroll through Chester Bowl with Bart and his dog some day. If not, that’s ok too. It’s simply enough that reading this little book brightened my outlook and produced a response. For this I am grateful.
I’m hesitant to share any individual haiku, but here are a couple picked at random from Chester Creek Ravine. These are best enjoyed together, however, as an array…
Winter’s fierce and long,
But isn’t that the chickadee’s
Two-note mating song?
And here’s another:
Water flies right off the cliff.
Too late to say,
“Wait now. What if…”