Dec 10 2019
does the woodpecker
by Kobayashi Issa
English version by Gabriel Rosenstock
does the woodpecker
stop and listen, too?
evening temple drum
— from Haiku Enlightenment: New Expanded Edition, by Gabriel Rosenstock
Book Announcement: Haiku Enlightenment
I am so pleased to announce the Poetry Chaikhana’s newest publication: Haiku Enlightenment, by Gabriel Rosenstock, a favorite of Poetry Chaikhana readers for years.
In Haiku Enlightenment Gabriel Rosenstock uses haiku, both classic and modern, to explore perception and creativity, self and ego, the natural world and the wide-open moment. Through Gabriel Rosenstock’s eyes, the path of haiku becomes a path of enlightenment.
Rosenstock brings to his writing something of the shaman, the sage, and a bit of the prankster. I think of him as a poet in the ancient sense as someone deeply engaged with the vast mystery, from which poetry, song, and riddles naturally emerge.
True to the haiku spirit, the observations in Haiku Enlightenment are short and without embellishment. Taken together, however, they present us with a master class on the art and insight of haiku by a western master of haiku.
Like you, probably like the author himself, I cringe a bit at the use of the term “master,” but in Gabriel’s case it is entirely appropriate. Since I have featured Gabriel’s poems many times over the years, he feels like a familiar friend to the Poetry Chaikhana, so you may not realize just how accomplished and renowned he is. Gabriel Rosenstock has given readings throughout Europe, India, the Americas, and Japan. His poetry has won multiple awards and been published in World Haiku Review, Poetry (Chicago), Poetry Ireland Review and other prestigious journals. He is a member of Aosdána (the Irish Academy of Arts and Letters), former chairman of Poetry Ireland/Éigse Éireann, on the Board of Advisors to Poetry India, and a Foundation Associate of The Haiku Foundation.
An impressive list of accomplishments. But that is not the Gabriel Rosenstock I have come to know through years of correspondence. I suspect he would consider focusing on such honors to be a hindrance. His secret, I think, is that he is too prolific to pause in self-satisfaction. Every few weeks I receive a flood of new haiku from him in my email in-box, which then gives me permission to halt the rush of my day in order to step quietly into his observed moments and so return in some essential way back to myself.
Where does that endless creativity come from? How does spiritual practice produce the most luminous poetry, and how does poetry become a doorway into our own awakening? Haiku Enlightenment is a rich, poetic meditation on all of those questions. Using haiku as his medium, Gabriel Rosenstock has given us a visionary artist’s guide on how to be present… and how to disappear.
I can’t express how pleased I am to be able to offer this book to the Poetry Chaikhana and to the wider community of poetry lovers and spiritual seekers.
It is perfect to read just a page or two at a time to set the tone for the day, when beginning meditation or prayer practice, when facing the blank page, or just before a walk in nature. You don’t have to be a poet or even a reader of haiku, you just have to be curious about your own awareness and in love with the magic of small moments. Though, as you read Haiku Enlightenment, who knows what poetry might spontaneously emerge from your pen?
Sending love to everyone during this season of renewal and reawakening light that we variously call Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, and the New Year.