Monday, December 12, 2011

Donna Fleischer - Haibun Three Questions

Donna Fleischer, has authored three poetry chapbooks, Twinkle, Twinkle, a selection of haiku (Longhouse Publishers, 2010), indra’s net , a selection of haibun (bottle rockets press, 2003) and Intimate Boundaries, a collection of early open form poems (self-published, 1991).

Her poetry appears in literary periodicals in Japan, England, and the U. S., anthologies, and online at Back Room Live!, CT Environmental Headlines, Salamander Cove, and tinywords. She daily curates the blog word pond – – with postings of and on poetry, music, visual arts, news stories and permaculture. She is assistant editor of the journal bottle rockets and bottle rockets press anthologies.

Useful Knowledge Press (New Haven, CT) will publish a limited edition of Donna’s haiku with wood block engravings by Allan Greenier in February 2012, entitled HAIKU.

1) Why do you write haibun?

I learned about the form from Bruce Ross’s excellent book, Journey to the Interior: American Versions of Haibun. My next and immediate step was to experience the world’s first haibun, Narrow Road to the Interior, by Bashō. Well, I never looked back. The haibun form has become my principal companion on this journey in poetry. As with the haiku form, there are a healthy variety of interpretations on what constitutes a haibun. The French Surrealist writer and artist, André Breton, spoke of the point sublime, a writing site where unlike things meet one another, create instantaneous juxtapositions, which best of all engender some sort of pleasure, only then to careen out of focus and logic. For me, the haibun form is just such a site. I delight in where it takes me into discovery of interrelationships, sensual and abstract. It is an expansive, protean, hearty form that allows for the imagination to furrow the poetic field and be as experimental as one needs to be. For those interested in reading further, there’s a short essay I wrote, The American Haibun, online at Issa’s Untidy Hut – .

2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

Haiku, renku, and shorter open organic forms

3) Of the many wonderful haibun you’ve written, what do you consider to be your top three?

bird without wing

all week long the bird was obedient to its caged routine; fed promptly at regularly measured intervals, even naps taken perfunctorily with cosmic discipline and good birdism. in this manner the bird did deliver song – an efficient ecstasy.

on weekends the bird was allowed to escape its cage. in moments of disturbed flurry – a dollhouse flight

tiny bell
by the mirror
rings again

Frogpond and indra’s net (bottle rockets press, 2003)

~  ~  ~

The Red Photogram

The unplanned for trip began as I stepped back from Ellen Carey’s red photogram; “The shape of grief is circular,” the book reviewer wrote of Forest Gander’s new novel; and I wonder that my avidity for procrastination takes the shape of walking in circles. I stand still before the red photogram for which I have no words, of relevance. But those red swirls, they are there, every day, and they make me smile

Especially there in the late winter bone-cleaving days when I begin to feel out my circle walks, looking out of windows, returning to a place only to leave. My own Greek chorus. First movements, away from a mother. Stepping back from a mirror, startled by the absence of something. Remembering and forgetting, until it becomes me. The it of absence already staged in the blood.

Burroughs called it “the soft typewriter of the womb” the place where we begin to make first words. Buffering ourselves from her overloud heartbeats, I suppose. The better words, says Rimbaud, are in the silence of color

shadows of geese
flickering ’cross tree trunks
quiet spring morning

So there it is, Art, the ultimate road trip, with rickshaw and naked feet and kasa strung under the chin while floats a pillow of consciousness on last night’s dream. A painter friend’s words in an e-mail, “ — the need to reject the written word/numbers (ego) from our thought process ... When it comes to art — I don't know anymore,” he says.

Fleeting perceptions, apperceptions. Glory of the everyday of ordinary things that stay as we pass by them ... Those classical Chinese poets, Wang Wei, Li Po, Han Shan, minimalist in style and so completely embodied in their endless leaving and returning. The circle.

The first time there is Loss it’s already too late — Loss circulating in endless loops. You look and wait, look and wait, for your love, your lost one, to return. The sound of your own blood in your ears when you are most alone. The sound of the earth all opened up and speaking, and the mourner, who listens; the underworld starlit darkness of the body emerging on the horizon of birth

Li Po’s gate
November wind

If only one could look inside this dark room of the body. See the quiet, orderly procession of blood. Contained. Purple. A royal life of its own. Hear the soft, murmuring canals bloom. Just stand in the sunlight and close your eyes. Those red swirls, they’ll make you smile.

[A photogram is a shadow image created when an object or objects are directly placed and moved on light sensitive paper while exposed to a light source. Using one of photography’s earliest processes, artist photographer, Ellen Carey, creates both subtle and bold abstractions with her conceptual approach to color and light in work that is striking in its immediacy and highly original and innovative in its use of color, scale, and Polaroid materials.]

~  ~  ~
Darwin's Urn

Trapped inside the daily noise of man’s machinery an atonal fugue without music of the spheres cyclical and blesséd, even when all machines are on off an irritating drone pervades this room without apology, this power grid. Human beings plug into it with their paycheck prongs. Vacuum pump fluctuates, fans oscillate, chase proceeds along X and Y axes on worm bores of forged steel. My heart, suspires. . . down around the corroded canyon of an old cast-iron drainage pipe surrounded by spilled photochemicals and rusting razor blades, who will believe it, a cricket sings. Aerosol spray can of ant and termite killer sadly within reach, I hurl it into the trash, smile calmly at the prescience of our possible common doom. The bug's little choir lifts me throughout the twelve hour shift in between volume spikes that drown out its tune when the wee peripatetic heartbeat resumes. Yet such miniature beauty making, I fear, will merely draw enough attention to be crushed or poisoned. Could cricket be enjoying its peculiar new digs? I flinch to wonder how we can escape, together, with Sartre and Disney breathing down my neck. Just the few steps through a door and onto sweet simple grasses outside...

right effort
cricket knows
does not stop its song
for long

If you are enjoying this series and have not contributed, please consider sharing your response - whether it be for haibun, haiku or tanka - to the three questions that Donna answered. You must be a published poet to participate.


Anonymous said...

Joyful thanks, Curtis, for your window-opening series, devotion to poetry, and generosity. Am honored to be in your midst with all the poets on tobacco road ~

shade-grown tobacco. . .
some follow torn circles
of light

snowbird said...

I'm a slow reader...and I like to linger on words, to hold them a bit in my mouth for the flavor. This post of Donna's is filled to overflowing with many passages to wander down...It will take me awhile to come out at the end. But I expect there is not meant to be an end... so I'll just enjoy wandering.
Thanks, Curtis, for posting this interesting haibun three questions.