by Bruce Ross
Tancho Press (2012)
A Book Review by Robert D. Wilson
the slight chink
of the chime's white disks
The poetry in Bruce Ross's new book reflect a reverence and respect for the path Bashō, Buson, Issa, and Doho once embarked on. The majority are activity- (koto/objective) biased. All possess good meter, and evoke a surplus of meaning. More importantly, readers are introduced to haiku as legitimate literature, something the majority of haiku in today's journals, e-zines, blog's fall short of.
Posits Bruce Ross in the Preface of his book, Spring Clouds:
"Bashō's zōka may be understood to be not a mere collection of objects in the world, but a process out of which these objects emerge. In this Taoist metaphysical understanding all things are in the sway of process, ultimately arising from and connected to the Tao or the One which sustain them."
Bruce Ross's short form poetry, haiku and hokku, in his new book, are deceptively simple, sometimes reminiscent of Yosa Buson. He does not waste words. He suggests versus telling all, not lapsing into Imagist description or Western word paintings. He knows the value of aesthetic styles (tools), and allows ample room for readers' interpretation.
About haiku composition and mindset, Bruce Ross, in an e-mail to me, wrote:
"Karlfried Graf Durckheim in his 'Hara, The Vital Center of Man' (2004, p.7) notes: 'Man, as a 'living being,' is not rooted in himself. Rather is he nourished, sustained and held in order by Nature whose laws operate without his knowledge and assistence . . . Intellect, will and emotion, the powers of head, chest and heart with which man as a conscious being has been endowed will prove his undoing if, caught in the net of concepts, in the brilliance of his achievements and in the web of his entanglements he forgets his anchorage in the weaving and working of the Greater Life.' This Greater Life may be thought of as 'zoka' (Nature). This and the visible becomingness ('koto') of things in nature, how they unfold and presence, moment by moment, and how they recede in a moment or over a lifetime, inform haiku in its most essential and impressive poetics. When I compose a haiku, I have presumably connected with such a moment of unfolding. Such a moment, in its most successful expression, connects the author and the haiku to Nature. Such a moment could be transformative at the psycho-energetic level and what is called aesthetic level."
A sampling from Spring Clouds:
without a shadow
without a reflection
than my heartbeat
the long moment before
a snowflake melts
your shadow slow too
for the rice to boil