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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Haiku Project - Shin Yu Pai

During her recent appearance at The Station for the Beacon Bards reading series, poet Shin Yu Pai shared haiku she wrote each day during this past April.

I was struck by these new poems, immediately finding much to like about their keen imagery and leaps from the close at hand to the far away and worldly. Even better, her poems have stayed with me--I keep finding myself wanting to re-read/re-experience that initial joy in hearing news that stays news.  In looking at them more closely, I notice they are unsentimental in how they deal with a baby's behaviors, actions, growth. The exhaustion of new motherhood is here, but so are student demonstrations and the unequal distribution of wealth. I admire how she moves easily between and among the personal, the local, and the larger world of injustices and tragedies.

I asked Pai if I might share a few of these haiku on my blog, and she obliged. They work best as a unit, which likely will be published in a reputable journal before too long. In the meantime, here are a few to whet your appetite:

students stand up for
freedom, occupy the legislative yuan,
dear mother-land, never give up
far eastern sweet
potatoes, the dark
outline of Taiwan

at the eye exam
wondering all the sudden where
fibbing gets me

scrubbing poop from
the swaddle cloth, end of
a long day
in the alley, the Kenyan laborer
picks up needles w/ gloved hands  -
what asylum is this?

when I twist the top
off the pineapple head my boy
screams in horror

trying to recall the word
for "gaslighting" my brain
pulls up "waterboarding"
hundreds of students
drowned when the ship went down
all just kids
weighing whether to
ask my doctor or other
moms about weaning

More of Pai's haiku may be read in Haiku Not Bombs, a collaborative collection of poems written as part of a project to write a haiku a day for a year. She is also the author of the newly released Auxs Arc

I felt lucky to be present for Shin Yu's reading. 

Gerry MacFarland also read. 

Our next scheduled Beacon Bards event is Wednesday, June 11, when Kathleen Flennekin and Peter Pereira will take the podium at 7 pm. As always, an open mic follows our featured readers.  On warm/dry nights we move the stage to the back-alley patio. 

Hope to see you there!

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