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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

HAIKU AROMA by Terry Dalfrano

(My Goodreads review. I gave it 4 stars.)

This is a well-produced paperback of three-line verses in a bilingual edition, Italian and English. Terry asked me and some others for advice on the English, as it is his second language, and has kindly acknowledged our help. 

The English of the final version is on the whole excellent, though at times slightly imperfect – but not to the detriment of either poetics or meaning. It is more as if it were spoken with a trace of foreign accent, which lends its own charm. I wish I could read the Italian, as I'm sure it would be very beautiful. The English verses are beautiful enough in their own right to convince me of that.

Haiku Aroma is a good title, suggesting that the poems are redolent of haiku rather than claiming they adhere strictly to that form. In brevity, directness and structure they are haiku-like. In subject matter, and the frequent use of metaphor, they are more reminiscent of another Japanese form, the romantic five-line tanka.

They are passionate love poems, arranged in seasonal sequences – the seasons themselves working as metaphors for the stages of the relationship. When I considered the pieces individually while the work was in preparation, I didn't fully appreciate how beautifully the finished volume would tell the story of this relationship, its waxing and waning through various phases. (The moon is often a symbol of the beloved.) Though each poem can stand alone, it is rewarding to read the book as a whole, from start to finish.

He has a delicate touch: erotic without being vulgar; romantic without being mawkish. For example:

the sun flares
on your amber skin 
hurry up night

quietly falls the night
soft silk veils
drop at your feet

come my moon
make the tide rise
inside me

Each section is introduced with a one-line title; these too are exquisite small poems.

The appropriately suggestive cover illustration is a close-up of a stapella flower, held in the palm of a hand.

The book is available from Amazon, both as paperback and ebook.

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