Favor of Crows: New and Collected Haiku (Wesleyan Poetry Series)
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Favor of Crows is a collection of new and previously published original haiku poems over the past forty years. Gerald Vizenor has earned a wide and devoted audience for his poetry. In the introductory essay the author compares the imagistic poise of haiku with the early dream songs of the Anishinaabe, or Chippewa. Vizenor concentrates on these two artistic traditions, and by intuition he creates a union of vision, perception, and natural motion in concise poems; he creates a sense of presence and at the same time a naturalistic trace of impermanence.
The haiku scenes in Favor of Crows are presented in chapters of the four seasons, the natural metaphors of human experience in the tradition of haiku in Japan. Vizenor honors the traditional practice and clever tease of haiku, and conveys his appreciation of Matsuo Basho and Yosa Buson in these two haiku scenes, “calm in the storm / master basho soaks his feet /water striders,” and “cold rain / field mice rattle the dishes / buson’s koto.”
Vizenor is inspired by the sway of concise poetic images, natural motion, and by the transient nature of the seasons in native dream songs and haiku. “The heart of haiku is a tease of nature, a concise, intuitive, and an original moment of perception,” he declares in the introduction to Favor of Crows. “Haiku is visionary, a timely meditation and an ironic manner of creation. That sense of natural motion in a haiku scene is a wonder, the catch of impermanence in the seasons.” Check for the online reader’s companion at favorofcrows.site.wesleyan.edu.
gather one early morning crack of pecans october moon shivers in a rain barrel curious raccoon blue ravens glimmer in the cottonwoods twilight hues flights of starlings curve and shimmer wing to wing sunset sway cold wind leaves scatter across the bandstand last dance redwing blackbirds bounce on the reeds in the slough curtain calls gray squirrel hunkers at the windowsill early breakfast broken fence horses browse in the orchard crack of apples first frost moths flutter
leaves woman in the park feeds the moody pigeons lends an ear tick of snow crickets chirp in a flower pot nightly aria daily newspapers stacked under the window elevates the cat stubborn cattails burst in a cold gust of wind lost mittens gray squirrels bounce between the bare trees mounds of snow garden chairs plushy cushions overnight heavy snow black cats hiss each other in the snow no place to hide park bench covered with mounds of snow giants for a day shoreline pine
become a truly major figure in both arts.” Yosa Buson “is regarded as one of the greatest literati and haiga painters in Japanese history, and is considered second only to Bashō as a haiku master.”11 A haiku is “not explicit about what has been going on in the mind of the author,” Daisetz T. Suzuki writes in Zen and Japanese Culture. “He does not go any further than barely enumerating, as it were, the most conspicuous objects that have impressed or inspired him. As to the meaning of such objects
fictitious or altered names. Bashō added incidents and characters for dramatic effect, and often rearranged or reconstructed those events that did occur. “Bashō depicted an ideal poetic world,” wrote Shirane. “Like a linked verse sequence, to which it has often been compared, Narrow Road to the Interior has no absolute center, no single overarching perspective. Instead, a focal point emerges, climaxes and then is replaced by a new focal point.” These literary fusions are similar to the dreams
some courtly tenure of experience, or pretense of comparative and taxonomic discovery. Haiku scenes are similar, in a sense, to the original dream songs and visionary images of the anishinaabe, the Chippewa or Ojibwe, on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. I was inspired by these imagistic literary connections at the time. The associations seem so natural to me now. Once, words and worlds apart in time and place, these poetic images of haiku and dream songs came together more by chance