Monday, August 1, 2016


The Chained Hay(na)ku Project curated by Ivy Alvarez, John Bloomberg-Rissman, Ernesto Priego & Eileen TabioS
(Meritage Press and xPress(ed), San Francisco & St. Helena and Puhos, Finland, 2010) 
The Chained Hay(na)ku Project is the kind of book I used to see quite a bit years ago but I haven’t seen in a while. You get together a bunch of very talented people and put together a volume and then unleash it onto the reading public. It is only missing the late Al Ackerman which used to be in most of those I used to see all the time. Some of the ones featured here I know personally and others I know by reputation. Still others I am not familiar with but I get the opportunity now and that is a pleasure. What does "hay naku" mean? A bit too much. But I promise you, that is not the case here.
The first section of the book is a twenty-four-page poem composed by those that curated the book, Ivy Alvarez, John Bloomberg-Rissman, Ernesto Priego & Eileen Tabios. The title of the poem is “Four Skin Confessions” it is separated into six different sections and written in three lines each time. It begins, “The/ body judges/ better than the / mind.” In some way this could describe the entire book. We are all products of or environment. It all seeps in. Towards the very back of the book there is a thirty-one-page conversation between the writers of this poem on the construction of the piece and it by far the biggest reason you should buy this book. It is quite a fortunate thing to be able to eavesdrop on a collaboration such as this.
For the next fifty-one pages you find many collaborations that are fascinating to no end. Many of these are just one page. The others range over three, five and nine pages. It goes on and on. Then sadly it stops. A few notables in particular include "Daisy Chain Poems" by Jean Vengua, Michael Fink and Margo Ponce. A section entitled, “Peregrination” reads, “On/ the commute/ she glances over/ another/ rolling terrarium/ landscape in miniature/ receding. / Windblown fields/ falling to wayside.” Wonderful writing. A brilliant microcosm of society. Another is “The Dragon” -- photographs with caption by Hannah Newman, Ellie Haworth, Kate Studd and Lucy Morris -- which we found out was “done in a ‘creative session’ in the library at Trigonos in Nantille, North Wales on 23rd March 2008.” One of the texts, ‘hay(na)ku’s, “Mellifluous/ Mountain mist, / Dappled light through.”
Finally, we come to the second to last section of the book. "[Untitled]" is by a whole group of writers collaborating on a long poem, a hay(na)ku (the writers, from WRYTING-L@LISTSERV.WVU.EDU, are Tom Lewis, mIEKAL aND, Audacia Dangereyes, Sheila Murphy, Maria Damon, Dirk Vekemans, Jim Piat, Halvard Johnson, William Bain, steve d dalachinsky, Gregory Severance, MD, Larissa Shmailo, Bob Marcacci, John M. Bennett, Patricia Carragon, Om Mani Padme Hum, hands proje and Thomas Savage). In this section what each person gives to the collaboration is under their name. For instance, “mIEKAL aND wrote: why/ anyone would/ indulge giant whims.” As the poem goes on some of the writers share more and more. The entire book is a beautiful celebration. Get in on the fun.


Chris Mansel  is a writer, filmmaker, epileptic, musician, photographer and a permanent outsider for some reason. He is the author of While in Exile: The Savage Tale of Walter Seems, Soddoma: The Cantos of Ulysses, Ashes of Thoreau, Interviews and two books of photography entitled, No Burden and Ahisma. Along with Jake Berry, he formed the band Impermanence who have released one album, Arito. He releases music under the name dilapidation Impromptu who have released four albums and have just released a new CD, The Strange White Odor of Octaves Becoming Animals. His writing has been published on the web in many sources. Recently he has been writing book reviews for Galatea Resurrects.

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