“Book Review: Travel By Haiku, Volumes 6-10”
Reviewed by Madeline Barbush
A collection of gratitude for Mother Nature and a wild wanderlust
Travel by Haiku, Volumes 6-10: Far Out on the Road with Friends is for the reader who doesn’t mind getting lost—lost in the wilderness of America and all of its beauty, lost in the never-ending detours of a long hippie road trip, lost in the poets’ rambling thoughts on nature and the profound power it holds.
For every volume of haikus there are journalistic entries of the poets’ travels from state to state, from river to mountain. Each of the free-spirited writers featured in this compilation treat the earth and its creatures with the most beautiful reverence, and there’s not a moment nor any feeling from the work that tells us otherwise.
The poets undoubtedly admire the Beatniks’ charm and talent for taking their readers on spiritual quests, but herein lies my concern. While getting lost in the magic of the wilderness, and the positive vibes, I fear that the poets miss the opportunity to shape a new collective voice better fitting for the current times, like the Beats did.
In trying to emulate these free-thinking poets of the 1950s, these poems offer a spirited glimpse at our moment but do not grapple with issues happening outside of the wilderness. Besides the odd reference to issues like Standing Rock or deforestation, we are given no clues as to why the poets, the wanderers, decide to go on this journey in the first place.
Of course we can think of a handful of reasons as to why they step away and answer the call of nature. Perhaps it’s the lack of economic opportunities for young people and the aimlessness that this brings about. Maybe it’s the undoing of our public lands and national parks: get out and see the beauty before we use it all up for our own selfish consumption. But we’re not given much of a sense of their motives; the poets remain the same, relishing in the hot springs and wild creatures. Maybe that is enough to impact us the way it needs to, but it’s true that I am left reaching for more.
The work contains haikus that envelop us in the euphoria of natural wonders: “Encountering bliss / heaven’s colorful repose / paradise unfolds.” The poets take nothing for granted. Through their gratitude, they inadvertently persuade me to reevaluate how (if) I stop to appreciate the gifts of the earth and sky. “Temples rise from clouds / seated on these ancient woods / home of former gods.”
Simple but majestic, haikus like this are ever-present within the collection and have a lasting effect on my mind. Sure, at times I get lost on the road trip. I find myself confused as to with whom we are traveling and how we got from one place to the next, but I’m here in my current place in each poem; I’m going where I’m going—and maybe that’s all I need.
Nowadays, it’s difficult to let ourselves get lost in the experience, but with the help of the poets of Travel by Haiku, I might be coming into it just fine.
Genre: Poetry / Travel
Print Length: 180 pages
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