Today’s Book of the Week, Chiaroscuro, by English writer Jo Pacsoo, contains haiku and travel haibun in a taut, understated style that employs contrasts in activity and stillness to create a literary equivalent of the dramatic effects of contrasting light and shade in painting and photography. Jo Pacsoo wrote about her experience with Chiaroscuro in The Haiku Foundation feature, Book Stories #36: “My second collection Chiaroscuro was really a kind of therapy. My partner had died a few years before. He had left his body to a medical school so there was no funeral; his daughters cleared away his things and that as it. I had done a little, private ceremony but decided I’d like to dedicate a booklet to him. All the haibun and haiku had been previously published and I arranged them to depict something of our life together, his death, and my life afterwards. It was a healing process for me.
“Death is not popular but someone I have never met wrote to say how much the book had resonated with her own experiences and also how it had changed her approach to poetry which she had always avoided; she didn’t know that it could be about everyday, small things. Later she sent me a book of her own poems, not haiku but about everyday, small things. As Kathleen Raine said, if writing touches just one person it has been worthwhile.”
long after sunset
warmth in the stone seat
dusk in the garden
the new houses
have stolen our darkness
of falling apples
You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library.
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Haiku featured in the Book of the Week Archive are selected by THF Digital Librarian Garry Eaton, and are used with permission.