homeeditorsreviewsessaysmhbooks issues

Volume 35.2
Summer 2004


book review:

Haiku Cowboys
Cor van den Heuvel and Alan Pizzarelli


Haiku Cowboys, by Cor van den Heuvel and Alan Pizzarelli (Garfield, N.J.: Islet Chant Books, 2003), 34 pages, 5 x 7, saddle-stapled. ISBN 0-9626040-7-0. $7.00 cover price. For ordering information inquire at Islet Chant Books, 118 Schley Street, Garfield, NJ 07026.

Cor van den Heuvel and Alan Pizzarelli need no introduction in the haiku world. Van den Heuvel is, of course, the editor of The Haiku Anthology and a fine poet in his own right, while Pizzarelli has long been recognized as a leading writer of haiku who opened the form to urban images and themes. So what are we to make of Haiku Cowboys? This chapbook is a tribute to the Western movies told in a series of haiku that relay the story of how the faceless Lone Rider tracks down the equally faceless Two Gun Kid.

Few of the haiku work as poetry (gunshots echoing in a canyon is as sublime as it gets), and as a story Haiku Cowboys is a patchwork of clichés from old serial movies without a plot, well-defined setting, or interesting characters to enliven them:

reaching for their holsters
three rustlers bite the dust . . .

The Lone Rider
spits into the fire
& steps back into the shadows

This is comic-book writing without the pictures. I have no doubt that both poets enjoyed recreating the movies of their childhood, and I am equally sure that their many admirers will wish to overlook this book and wait for their next, more serious, efforts. —EZ



©2004 Modern Haiku • PO Box 68 • Lincoln, IL 62656