Without risk there can be no honest passion; no way to meet with what is beyond oneself. With risk often comes wounds; a truism of love, if not of bungee-jumping. Below, a few quotes on the topic, drawn from contemporary literature:
We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk. (Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore, 1992)
Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. (Fear of Flying, Erica Jong, 1973)
There is no discovery without risk and what you risk reveals what you value. (Written on the Body, Jeanette Winterson, 1992)
There is no way around risk for those who seek poetic feeling. At the same time, ordinary life is inevitably linked to ordinary death as companion — we might strive to avoid risk, seek defensive shelter through repression of emotional feeling, etc. — though there is another way: sanctuary as temenos can function as a space within which one can risk. Sometimes out of conscious darkness the poet illumines this journey, or echoes it. (Poetry as Consciousness, R. Gilbert, 2018 p. 217)
bomb nor embody to take blue sky
ants begin to look like an idea
so greenly history puts forth thorns
[Mark Harris, Haiku 2014; Scott Metz, The Disjunctive Dragonfly, 2009; Eve Luckring, Haiku 2014]
What is taken of the sky before or after “bomb nor embody,” in Harris; images of freedom, destruction, and the erasure of life. In Metz, a traditional fragment/phrase haiku is subverted by a semantically radical blend: “ants” + “begin” + “to look like” + “an idea” — is the transformation sage or an inhabitation of evolving psychosis? In Lucking’s haiku, what does it mean for history, if imaged as an animate, growing lifeform, to “put[s] forth thorns”? A narrative story (green, blooming and prickly) is hinted at, which the reader embellishes, filling in the context.
And three more haiku to comment on:
dotting an i dotting an i death verse generic sunlight the broken embryo’s apostrophe gunfire the length of the playground
[Lee Gurga, Haiku 2016; Roberta Beary, Haiku 2015; John McManus, Haiku 2015]
Richard Gilbert, professor of English Literature at Kumamoto University in Japan, is the author of Poetry as Consciousness: Haiku Forests, Space of Mind, and an Ethics of Freedom (illustrated by Sabine Miller, Kebunsha Co. Ltd., 2018, ISBN 978-4-86330-189-4), The Disjunctive Dragonfly (Red Moon Press, 2008, rev. 2013), and Poems of Consciousness (Red Moon Press, 2008), among others. He is also director of the Kon Nichi Translation Group, whose most recent book is the tour de force Haiku as Life: A Tohta Kaneko Omnnibus (Red Moon Press, 2019). In January 2020, he announced the creation of Heliosparrow Poetry Journal, an evolution of the Haiku Sanctuary forum.