Instant Messages to Tom Moore
by Paul Muldoon
a foreword by William J. Higginson
Sixty Instant Messages to Tom Moore by Paul
Muldoon. (Lincoln: IL, 2005). 32 pages, 8"
x 5", sewn letterpress edition. ISBN 0-9741894-1-3.
$15.00 plus $3 shipping from Modern Haiku Press, Box 2016,
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the last several years, I have been reading and rereading
Paul Muldoon's sequences of verses that strike me as a
hybrid between haiku and mad-song lyric.
come, Tom. Come come.
You know the rod spurns its root
as a rule of thumb.
those fireflies down and dirty
in the disco-strobe.
We're now completely at odds.
Completely at odds.
or Tux? There is a battle raging for the soul of American
haiku. Not an epic conflict between good and evil, but
between word and image-based haiku. Imagistic haiku, championed
by such foundational figures of English-language haiku
as R.H. Blyth, Kenneth Yasuda, and Robert Spiess, emulate
the mature style of Japanese haiku master Bashô
by using images to give readers insights into Buddhist
"suchness." Word-based haiku, less lofty in
their intent, simply say "let's have fun with words
and with each other." Their lineage can also be traced
to the venerable master Bashô, to his earlier, more
playful style. This second group emphasizes the hai or "play" of hai-ku, "playful verse." Today's best-known practitioner of this playful style
is Paul Muldoon, whose last two collections, including
his Pulitzer prize-winning collection Moy Sand and
Gravel, contain sequences of seventeen-syllable, word-based
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