A Hundred Gourds 1:4 September 2012
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A Review of Bill Cooper's The Dance of Her Napkin

by John McManus

The Dance of Her Napkin by William E. Cooper, Cyberwit, 105 pages, perfect bound, $15, ISBN 978-81-8253-316-5, purchase at:

Bill Cooper’s haiku collection is aesthetically pleasing. One haiku is presented on each page, and all together there are 99 haiku to read and explore. What I noticed straight away was Bill’s minimalist style, which gives his poems a very distinctive voice. Here are some of my favourites:

war letters
learning what
he left out

There’s a lot of depth to this haiku, and I feel most would be impressed by it’s subtleties. I’ve been reading and rereading this poem for the past couple of months and am still working through it‘s possibilities.

trustee room
a gentle request
for more light

I really like the humour of this senryu and find the inclusion of ‘gentle’ in the second line delightful, as that is to my mind the only way to describe the humour employed.

old ballerina the dance of her napkin

Again there’s gentle humour used in this poem, but the humour is paired with a sense of loss. I can see the napkin clearly in my mind’s eye twirling and spinning in the hand of an elderly woman demonstrating how she used to be able to move.

The one criticism I have is that because of the poet’s minimalist style I found some of his haiku to be too stripped back for my tastes. Here are a couple of examples:

beach storm
shift to the shorter

dockside ferry
red leaves
board free

Overall, I think this is a very solid collection and it is for the majority of the time a satisfying read, which I will happily return to in the future.


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