A Hundred Gourds 4:3 June 2015

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Floating Nest - Cynthia Rowe

reviewed by Beverley George

book cover
Floating Nest
by Cynthia Rowe
Printed by Rebus Press 2014
30 pages
ISBN 9780987455475
Print book: 14.8x20.98 perfect bound paperback
Price $A5:00 plus $1.40 p&h
Available from
or email Rebus Press

the floating nest
of a magpie goose

As Lorin Ford notes in her back cover endorsement, “Cynthia Rowe’s haiku and senryu demonstrate her command of astutely juxtaposed images which reveal, often with wit or humour, the connections between things.”

Rowe’s mastery of structure for haiku or senryu, written in English, is evident on every page. Her language is disciplined and honed, and not overtly personal. It invites the reader to bring their own experiences and reactions into play.

An art of writing good haiku lies in knowing how much to explain, and how much to leave for a reader, or listener, to visualise or discover.

a leaf spirals
onto the pond
all the koi rise

nesting season
the girl flaps
her schoolbag

Both of these haiku evoke active images; movement. They invite our participation in the moment described.

Humour, a knack of looking at things exactly as they are, are a hallmark of Cynthia Rowe’s senryu.

my latest story…
his snores

church grounds…
pitching fallen branches
into the bonfire

Particularly engaging, are those verses in which humour conspires with, or confronts, the natural world.

tourist group –
the eucalypt leans away
from the path

drawn blinds
just in time a skink slips
from my sandal

beachside path
the brush turkey honks
as I pass

Cynthia Rowe’s haiku are devoid of sentimentality, but sensitivity edges in:

auction day
dead leaves swirl
around the stone seat

spring morning –
our old Siamese
goes away to die

This haiku, possibly my favourite, conveys a compelling, multi-dimensional story, in only three lines.

war veteran…
lobbing grain
at his hens


In addition to haiku and senryu, ‘Floating Nest’ embraces a haibun, a haiga (with sumi-e by Ron C Moss), a sequence, and a string, all of which add variety and interest. Watery images enhance the cover and support the title. The poems are carefully formatted, four to a page, with pleasing white space around each of them.

It has been a pleasure to review this book.


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