Terebess Asia Online (TAO)


Charles Reznikoff (1894-1976)
did show a steady kinship with the haiku way of seeing throughout his long career as Geoffrey O'Brien (1982, 21) points out:

Reznikoff wrote in a variety of forms ... but most typically he employed brief lyrical forms, often grouping short units into such comfortably loose sequences as Autobiography: New York and Autobiography: Hollywood, sequences which do not rise toward a climax or seek an overall symbolic meaning but rather collect a series of powerful moments related only by their position in the author's experience.
Here is one of his poems that needs no editing to become a true haiku:

About an excavation
a flock of bright red lanterns
has settled.
(O'Brien 1982, 20)

However, most of Reznikoff's work is composed of haiku-like lines imbedded in longer stanzas. The reader has to pluck them out like brilliantly colored feathers from a peacock. Here, for instance, are the last two lines from a five-line stanza:

From the bare twigs
rows of drops like shining buds are hanging.
(O'Brien 1982, 20)

Nevertheless, compared to Williams and Stevens, Reznikoff is probably the strongest strand spanning the years between the Imagists and the the 1950s, a decade which E.S. Lamb describes as the "real beginning of what may be called the haiku movement in the western world".



By the Well of Living and Seeing


The blue jay is beautiful
as it flies from branch to branch--
but its cries!


on the window of the automobile agency:
you're out of business now.

Millinery District

Many fair hours have been buried here
to spring up again as flowers--
on hats.


Fireworks against the evening sky
are pretty and even dramatic:
but I prefer the crescent moon and evening stars.


The poems of Charles Reznikoff: 1918-1975 > http://books.google.com/