Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: Morning Haiku

Sanchez, Sonia.  Morning Haiku.  Boston: Beacon Hill, 2010. 104pp.

We try not to be too "establishment" here at High Coup Journal, and the fact that this book comes recommended by Chiuna Achebe, Joy Harjo, and Maya Angelou made me a bit wary at first.

That was stupid and bullshit.  This book is awesome.

Whereas "artistic" haiku can often feel bloodless and detached, Sanchez injects some white-hot passion into her writing, as seen in this poem from the "duende" series:

my thighs
sing the flesh
off the guitar

All of these haiku come grouped together in strings, most of which are dedicated to either historical or living African-Americans.  And yes, there's a series dedicated to St. Augustine of Hippo-- remember, Augustine was an African.  Plenty of the Roman Empire was African.  

Playboy of North
Africa, burning the streets before
you learned to genuflect

The significance of Sanchez's poetry resonates even closer to home with her poems dedicated to Oprah Winfrey, Toni Morrison, and Ms. Angelou.  A favorite series of mine is dedicated to Emmett Till, which ends up with the following:

your death
a blues i could not
drink away.

Sanchez describes her collection well in her "haikugraphy," when she says that "this haiku, this tough form disguised in beauty in insight, is like the blues, for they both offer no solutions, only a pronouncement, a formal declaration-- an acceptance of pain, humor, beauty, and non-beauty, death and rebirth, surprise and life.  Always life.  Both always help to maintain memory and dignity."

Essentially, Sanchez takes this form and takes it to school.  I learned a lot from reading her, and I hope you do as well.  



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