Shaded Pergola: Haiku & Other Short Poems with Illustrations
by Eleni Traganas
Tropaeum Press

"Cold lips numb with death:
only the chrysanthemum’s
voice speaks in autumn"

In this meditative collection, artwork and haiku meet to form a reading experience reminiscent of Basho and the poetry of the Tang Dynasty poets. Readers travel the seasons, where newly born crocuses yawn, and hares hide in lettuce patches. In other verses, readers watch as a "starling / culls wilted blooms" and larkspur and delphinium stand like "Towering rockets / shooting into space." Poems like "Christmas Rose," accompanied by an elegant ink drawing, remind readers that in a dark world "Blooming in a cold / and shaded mound," they can find "Hope in the dead of winter." Just as spring and summer transition into autumn and winter, so do the verses in this book, all while reminding readers of the intricate beauty nature offers those who look closely.

Graceful, like a quiet call to prayer, this collection carefully balances human reflection with lessons from nature. The speaker's keenly observant and carefully revealed feelings form a foundation of trust with readers. Like "falling autumn leaves," the haiku offerings sweep readers deeper into their secret places and ask them to look at the world from a more peaceful perspective. Similar to Dan Veach's philosophical collection Elephant Water, this collection attentively blends art and verse to form a unique journey into the quietness the chaotic world too frequently overshadows. For readers with a specific interest in haiku, this book is a must-read. It also makes the literary form accessible and relatable for those just beginning their poetry journey. However, the beauty and quiet power of the poet's work make this volume of verse one that almost any poetry fan will likely treasure.

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