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Friday, September 12, 2008

Reader's Diary #395- Kari Anne Roy: Haiku Mama


When we first moved to Yellowknife, there appeared in the city paper an epitaph for someone's beloved pooch... written in verse. It was bad. So bad it was good. I clipped it and have it kept. Originally I considered posting it here, but I couldn't figure out how to change the name of the dog and still keep all the (unintended) humour in tact.

Plus, believe it or not, I do have some sympathy. No doubt working through those emotions with rhymes, or near rhymes, offered up some sort of catharsis for the owner.

So what if it wasn't Frost or Eliot or Seuss? Someone, perhaps more, found solace in those words. It's the same way with Hallmark cards. God knows I've had my fun at their expense, as have most poetry buffs, but how many cards do they sell each year? Compare that with the sales of pretty much any publisher of poetry collections.

I'm not saying sales represent quality. Patricia Cornwell has probably sold more books than Jose Saramago, but it doesn't mean she's a better author. It could mean, however, that more people enjoy her books. While I might like the latter more, I see no harm in anyone reading the former. If you want to differentiate between entertainment and literature, be my guest, but that's not my point.

Point?

After reading Kari Anne Roy's Haiku Mama, I was about to write a scathing review. That sentence should suffice in illustrating how I personally felt about the book. But then I read some of the reviews at Amazon.com. Assuming these weren't merely friends of Roy, some readers actually found these poems amusing. One calls them "funny, sweet and memorable." Another even calls her a genius. I don't know if I can stretch my diplomacy that far, but at least they clarify why they took to these poems: for the most part, they reminded them of the sometimes comical, sometimes sweet, and often gross moments of motherhood.

That's part of why I so badly wanted to enjoy the book. I've spent a couple years as a stay-at-home dad and I'm a poetry nut. I thought the idea of taking poetry out of the lecture halls and coffee shops and throwing them into the middle of domestic bliss chaos, was a wonderful idea. I didn't want another Tim Lilburn type, writing about some dead philosopher I'd never heard of. I wanted poems about diapers and crayons in the dryer. It may have been too much to want them to be well-crafted as well, instead of just random thoughts hastily condensed to 17 syllables.

I reiterate: at least some people found enjoyment from the book. I suspect it'll be a common gift at baby showers for years to come.

You can read some of Roy's haiku here.

And you can read mine below:

Mama's haiku is
(not whole wheat, has no flax seed)
okay with Cheez Whiz
.

5 comments:

Leatherdykeuk said...

heh! Thanks for the honest review. I'll give that one a miss!

Barbara H. said...

From what little I read there, I think you're right.

Maybe she was sleep-deprived. :-)

Kelly Fineman said...

Excellent review. Particularly the haiku you wrote.

John Mutford said...

Leatherdykeuk: Hey, I just saw your blog. Now I'm interested in reading your haiku.

Barbara h: Well, the aption on the cover says, "because 17 syllables is all you have time to read". I'm guessing writing time is another scarce commodity.

Kelley: Thanks!

laurasalas said...

John, loved this review. And I think the distinction between literary art and the art of writing that people respond to is an important one.

I love the idea of motherhood haiku, but wasn't wild about most of the ones on her blog. I saw a book of hockey haiku recently, and it was the same kind of thing.

Great premises, but too off the cuff, imo.