I have finally got around to reading A Train Hurtles West, a collection of haiku by Irish poet Maeve O’Sullivan – and chose to pick it up on a day when I really needed distracting from my life, a ‘wobbly’ day in other words and one that had taken me unawares.
And right there, on the first page of haiku, she had me:
we choose not to enter
the Garden of Remembrance
- Maeve O’Sullivan, from the Remembering Father section
She has divided the book into small sections with only the title at the top of the page to let anyone who’s interested know that you’ve moved to a new theme – however, the poems are arranged so well that it doesn’t matter if you don’t pick up on a theme change. The seasons are there, but so are Interiors, Music and September Affair, among others.
blowing this field of dandelions
to one o’clock
- Maeve O’Sullivan, from the Spring Haiku section
Being Irish is to be born with a quirky sense of humour and that is evident in several poems:
an exchange of glances
reveals a glass eye
- Maeve O’Sullivan, from the Fruili Dusk section
O’Sullivan’s assurance with the haiku form is contained on every page. However, if I have one criticism of Train it is that I wish O’Sullivan, a founder of Haiku Ireland, had edited the collection just a touch more tightly – there are a couple of haiku that are statements or that use three images instead of two. But it’s a minor quibble in a collection that hangs together well and is a generous helping of the author’s work.
first glimpse of the kingfisher changing the river forever
Maeve O’Sullivan, from the Birds section
The final section gives the book its name, with the collection dedicated to the poet’s mother, who died last year. As a book of remembrance for a life lived and for a life being lived with all its happiness and sadness, quiet corners and rowdy backdrops, flowers and birds, this will do very nicely indeed.
mother dying a train hurtles west
- Maeve O’Sullivan
Copies are £10 / €12 / $15 each, plus P+P, with 30% of the profits from sales going to the Rigul Trust which funds healthcare and educational projects in some Tibetan areas of China. See the publisher’s website for details.