Welcome to re:Virals, The Haiku Foundation’s weekly poem commentary feature on some of the finest haiku ever written in English. This week’s poem was:
two ballerinas in one skin a newborn foal –Peter Yovu, H16
Marion Clarke finds amusement:
An amusing jux that is an accurate observation of a new foal finding its legs.
Because a ballerina is associated with grace and perfect balance, the image is the antithesis of the wobbly creature that has just landed on straw. However, if we add a second ballerina into the mix, like unrehearsed actors in a pantomime horse costume, we get the picture! Very clever.
Peter Newton enjoys the metaphor:
How instantly at odds these eight words appear to be. And yet they convey the awkward first moments of a just-born horse trying to negotiate its new body with its two sets of legs just learning the rules of gravity. This poem holds within in it a time-released extended metaphor of two dancers who will one day master their own bodies performing together in a graceful dance similar to that of a running horse. The poet has given this reader a new way of seeing the world. What a gift.
Nathan Sidney goes en pointe:
Peter Yovu has created a truly surprising image that completely transforms the idea of a newborn foal. Where usually we would see clumsiness and struggle, instead we are asked to imagine the tottering and prancing of the foal as if it were the elegant movements of ballerinas, albeit in this case a pair of dancers stitched into the same costume. The foal kicks and steps as if en pointe, and a whole glossary of ballet terms comes to mind to describe the awkward movements of the foal, allegro, ballon, chasse etc. The front and back legs seem to move in opposite directions, like the complicated choreography of a pair of dancers, responding to but not copying each other. That the poet places the ballerinas first in the poem heightens the feeling of surprise when we read the words “a newborn foal”, for it is surely not an expected juxtaposition. Also, the lissome form of ballet dancers is echoed in the foals newborn frame. The joys of spring are also brought to mind in an echo between the birth season of animals and the joi de vivre of ballet, with its springs and leaps, bright costumes and makeup, lively music etc. A humorous poem with a light touch, that while very subjective, belonging as it does to the world of imagination, deals with care and compassion with the perennial theme of birth and rejuvenation.
As this week’s winner, Nathan gets to choose next week’s poem, which you’ll find below. We invite you to write a commentary to it. It may be as long or short, academic or spontaneous, serious or silly, public or personal as you like. We will select out-takes from the best of these. And the very best will be reproduced in its entirety and take its place as part of the THF Archives. Best of all, the winning commentator gets to choose the next poem for commentary.
Anyone can participate. A new poem will appear each Friday morning. Simply put your commentary in the Contact box by the following Tuesday midnight (Eastern US Time Zone). Please use the subject header “re:Virals” so we know what we’re looking at. We look forward to seeing some of your favorite poems — and finding out why!
rehearsing my breath rare orchid –Stephen toft, is/let, August 2019