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Formats
Paperback Details
  • 04/2021
  • 9781733914192 1733914196
  • 108 pages
  • $14.95
Karl Weber
Author, Editor (anthology), Service Provider
Haiku for the Road

Adult; Poetry; (Market)

Stephen Holton is an Episcopal priest who lives and works in the Hudson Valley region of New York. One day during morning prayer, he found himself arranging words “like puzzle pieces” in the traditional syllabic structure of Japanese haiku. Creating these simple three-line poems turned into a daily ritual—Holton’s way of capturing and exploring momentary emotions, observations of nature and the world, and insights into faith and life. Friends and followers relish Holton’s haiku as they appear on social media. Now some of the best have been gathered for this book.
Reviews
Holton, an Episcopal priest, has crafted a funny, thought-provoking, and deeply spiritual collection of haiku, the Japanese form of poetry that is limited to 17 syllables. In an introduction, he recounts his realization that during his morning prayers, the thoughts he was having could be placed, “like puzzle pieces” into the form of haiku. Holton has grouped his haiku into three general types. First, “morning prayer haiku,” are thoughts that evolved out of his devotions; “snapshot haiku” frame “words together like a photograph”; and, on the lighter side, the “donut haiku” are little treats for himself and his readers about things that delighted him. This collection, presented in reverse chronological order, is something like a scrapbook of those thoughts going back in time.

Holton has wisely labeled each haiku with its type, and the variety of approaches and subjects gives each page of two or three poems an easy flow. He heads each section with a photo that offers either a sense of the everyday nature of his life or of extraordinary events like racial justice protests. Additional photos could have added more of this flavor and broken up some longer sections more effectively.

With the haiku form’s requisite economy, the poetry reflects many engaging topics, like Hoton’s mixed religious ancestry and desire for ecumenical unity. He also gleefully expresses his love of food and drink as well as his gratitude for his city's communities. The haiku are just as likely to contemplate the coronavirus (Social distancing: / flowers six inches apart / but still in God's earth.”) as they are to refer directly to God (“God offers us love / when all we have is anger. / We can use both.”) or his beloved spouse (“A bewildered world. / But I can still kiss my wife, / so ... what's the problem?”). Holton's emotional openness gives his verse a warmth, wit, and spiritual appeal that a wide audience could enjoy.

Takeaway: Readers interested in clever and often moving haiku related to spirituality and everyday life will delight in this observational poetry.

Great for fans of: Daphne Washington's A Christian’s Book Of Haiku, Hosea Williams Jr.'s By A Prophet.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: B+
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B-

Formats
Paperback Details
  • 04/2021
  • 9781733914192 1733914196
  • 108 pages
  • $14.95

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