Paperweight for Nothing, by Vincent Tripi (Greenfield, Mass.: Tribe
Press, 2006). 82 pages, 6 x 9, hand-sewn. No ISBN. $20.00 postpaid
from the author at 42 Franklin Street, Greenfield MA 01301.
This beautiful book is an inspiring collection of haiku interspersed
throughout with many pithy sayings about practical sagacity. It celebrates
twenty years of work by Vincent Tripi. In the preface Tripi states,
"I wish only to come as close to the Divinity as my poems can take me."
His poems take him and us to the sacred realm of Nature. The spirit of
haiku heals, and Tripi’s haiku are healing poems. Gary Snyder could have
been describing Tripi when he wrote:
The Shaman-poet is simply the man whose mind reaches easily out into all
manners of shapes and other lives, and gives songs to dreams. . . . To transcend
the ego is to go beyond society as well. "Beyond" there lies, inwardly,
the unconscious. Outwardly, the equivalent of the unconscious is the wilderness
both of these terms meet, one step farther on, as One. (122)
Daisetz Suzuki (257–58) writes that Bashô had "the spirit of fûga" which
involves "the identification of one’s self with the creative and artistic spirit
of Nature." Suzuki states further that Bashô classified himself as a "fûrabô,
a poet who is mad about his love of Nature and like an old monk wanders
about fluttering like a thin piece of fabric in the wind." Tripi follows
Bashô’s Zen poetics of blending subject and object, self and Nature. His
volume is a work of simplicity that opens up creative spaces. It is full of the
characteristics of Zen creativity. His poem
everything I own
fits in this canoe
embodies the Japanese aesthetic wabi (loneliness and solitude). Further,
sabi (suchness and the uniqueness of things) can be found in
Summer sky . . .
the paperweight for nothing
for Bob Spiess
Great blue heron . . .
but the stillness
and the playfulness and humor of senryu,
confess to the cows
a Brooklyn accent
Two examples of the book’s interspersed sayings: "Everything changes
when we love. This is the heart of change" and "We all pass never having
spoken enough about death or about poetry."
In closing, Tripi’s Paperweight for Nothing follows Bashô’s spiritual heritage,
which was grounded in Zen Buddhism. It is an inspiring, humbling,
simple, and sacred text full of wisdom and humor.
Snyder, Gary. "Poetry And The Primitive," Earth House Hold. New York: New Directions,
Suzuki, Daisetz. "Zen and Haiku." Zen and Japanese Culture. New York: Pantheon,