“dust of summers: The 2007 Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku,” edited by Jim Kacian and the Red Moon Editorial Staff, Red Moon Press, Winchester, VA, USA, 172 pages, ISBN: 1-978-893959-68-2, $16.95; see cover)
…………………….. by Roberta Beary, USA, – dust of summers: RMA 2007; orig. pub. NOON 5
In the haikai community, the annual edition of the Red Moon Anthology is even more anticipated than Groundhog’s Day. Each volume in the much-honored RMA series attempts to collect “the best English-language haiku and related writings from around the world” published in the prior calendar year, as selected by the dozen distinguished members of its editorial board. Seeing which poems are included and savoring/judging them individually and collectively is an addiction for many poets and readers of the genre.
The new volume of RMA is not usually available before February, so when it’s out before Punxsutawney Phil shows his cute, furry head, it’s easy to predict an especially good and timely year for the oft-pokey haiku press. The twelfth volume in the RMA series is “dust of summers: RMA 2007.” My copy should arrive by the weekend, but I wanted to let f/k/a‘s readers know they can already get RMA 2007 from Red Moon Press. I also wanted to speculate a little before seeing this edition — wondering if some unaccustomed criticism in 2007 had any effect on this year’s version of 2007, and whether controversy will spur sales, as it does in so many other literary fields.
big sky: rma 2006
As you may recall, I lamented last June that at least 25 of the 165 haiku and senryu chosen for “big sky” by RMA’s editors as “the finest haiku . . . published around the world in English in 2006″ were tell-ems — poems in which the poet “tells” what is on his or her mind (by stating an insight or intellectual conclusion, or naming an emotional state) rather than “showing” us through images based on sensory experiences. My original “psyku” essay last year, and the follow-up anchovie piece at year-end, argue and assert that tell-ems — no matter how interesting the notion presented or how honored their authors — are second-rate representations of the haiku genre, which (as Prof. Yabut might say) deserve rewriting, not rewards. They rarely, if ever, belong in our best journals, much less in contests and anthologies proclaiming to present the very best haiku and senryu. So, I’m hoping that dust of summers will be kind to my haiku psyche, and not inspire an undue amount of agita and anchovy-parodies.
A far more prominent criticism of big sky: rma 2006 came from Robert Wilson, the managing Editor of Simply Haiku, in a book review published in his e-journal’s Summer 2007 edition. Robert’s basic complaint was that — for an anthology purporting to be “the best haiku” — there were simply too many senryu in RMA 2006, and they were not labeled as such to distinguish them from the haiku. Although he found a few excellent senryu, Wilson worried that many readers will be “confused about the difference between the two genres,” and he opines:
“There are some brilliant English language poets, but many are missing from Big Sky in favor of some of the above [senryu] inclusions. Perhaps the anthology’s editors didn’t look hard enough. I hope they dig deeper for next year’s anthology. And will be more up front next time and identify any senryu as such. “
I’m eager to see whether either criticism had any influence on this year’s selection by the RMA Editorial Board. As Red Moon noted when it unveiled big sky, “this most decorated series in haiku history [has been] winner of the Haiku Society of America Merit Book Award for Best Anthology virtually every year since its inception.” For whatever reasons (perhaps those noted above), RMA 2006 did not receive the Merit Book award this year. I hope and expect that dust in summers will be a major contender again for that coveted prize.
The Red Moon website tells us that dust of summers includes “150 poems, 25 linked pieces and half a dozen critical works which encapsulate the very best writing of the haiku world in English this year.” Despite my personal preferences and concerns, and my knowing how tenuous the “best of” notion can be, I can assure you that the majority of the poems selected for RMA 2007 will indeed — in Robert Wilson’s words from last year — be “wonderful and refreshing” and “deserve a wider audience.”
Since our Honored Guest poets are often among the most-frequently selected poets in RMA, I asked a couple of them yesterday to share their chosen poems for this preview. Here are a few, plus a haibun, to pique your interest. I’ll be presenting many more from the f/k/a haiku family once I have dust of summers in hand. [Update: for more poems by our Honored Guests from Dust of Summers, see our posts "more treats from Dust of Summers" (Feb. 7, 2008); and "a peek inside Dust of Summers: RMA 2007" (Feb. 3, 2008)]
how long since we’ve heard
the black wolf’s song
…………………………. by Billie Wilson USA – dust of summers: RMA 2007 (Red Moon Press, 2008); orig. pub. Modern Haiku 38:1
circle of lamplight–
I complete the baby quilt
begun for me
…………………………. by Carolyn Hall – dust of summers: RMA 2007; orig. pub. Heron’s Nest Award, HN IX:1
the moon roof
………………………….. by Peggy Willis Lyles — dust of summers: RMA 2007; orig. pub. Mayfly #43, Summer 2007
full morning moon –
the working girl’s
……………….. by David Giacalone — dust of summers: RMA 2007; originally published in Simply Haiku 5:3
the boyfriend’s in her room and i can hear sounds coming from up there i don’t know if they are giggles or groans or what i just want him to leave want to hear those boots coming heavy down the stairs and i know she has been away two years which means she has done all sorts of things she hasn’t told me the same way i never told mother only different because now i know what mother knew and what all mothers come to know in time
above a cluster of stars