Lidia Rozmus

Hailstones: haiku by Taneda Santoka

Hailstones: haiku by Taneda Santoka, by Lidia Rozmus (Evanston, Ill.: Deep North Press, 2006), 7 x 9.5. Boxed, limited edition. ISBN: 1-929116-15-2 ~ $50.00

Preface by Charles Trumbull

Haiku has sometimes been described as a “one-breath poem,” using the duration of a single human breath as the measure of the length of this famously short verse. Beyond its usefulness as a purely temporal yardstick, however, “breath” has many other meanings that are appropriate to haiku. Breath is tantamount to life. Human breaths are short and finite in number. Breath is, as we know from Latin, the root of inspiration. In breathing we momentarily inhale-become one with-our environment. In this last sense, one small breath can be symbolic of a human’s unity with the Universe, just as a good haiku is a tiny fragment of an ineffable whole.

Lidia Rozmus, the remarkable woman, has dedicated her life in art to exploring the unity of all human souls with one another and with the Universe. She feels a special kinship with Taneda Santôka (1882-1940), a poet whose lifestyle was so eccentric that even today, 65 years after his death, he is still something of an embarrassment to the haiku establishment, yet whose poetry is so direct and universal that he has won a large following, especially in the West. In addition to having mastered haiku, sumi-e (black-ink painting), and the art that unifies these two disciplines, called haiga, Lidia has brought her work to receptive audiences in Poland, her birth home; American, her adopted home; and Japan, the wellspring of her art, thus in a sense unifying the appreciation of her art on three continents.

With Hailstones, Lidia pays homage to Santôka in many languages and disciplines. You are invited to savor Santôka’s haiku in Japanese or one of the skillful translations into a Western language, look at each sumi-e drawing, and admire the calligraphy, all the while bearing in mind Lidia’s signature haiku: one breath one brush stroke one.

book review ~ Modern Haiku

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