Lately, I’ve received some just-released poetry books for the holidays that authors have asked me review for my blog. There is one that I purchased for myself that the editor didn’t contact me to announce on my blog, but I’d like to do so. It is the haiku anthology, They Gave Us Life: Celebrating Mothers, Fathers & Others in Haiku.
This book is terrific, just like the previous ones that longtime haikuist Robert Epstein has published. Epstein’s contributions to the haiku genre over the past several years will have a lasting impact for future generations, too.
They Gave Us Life is a timely book to recommend during the holiday season when we become particularly nostalgic. It will make a wonderful haiku gift book, either for yourself or for someone else.
Epstein is well-known for the books he has authored and edited. I will list them at the end of this post. His books are known for their healing nature, as Epstein is a psychotherapist, practicing in California.
Epstein says in They Gave Us Life that he was motivated to choose this theme for an anthology due to the anguish he suffered over the loss of his parents. He also acknowledges that there are other important people in our lives such as extended family and mentors, and so this anthology includes poems about them, too.
As the editor aptly acknowledges: “Even if things between you and your parents have been difficult at times, the poems in these pages might prompt you to open your heart, paving the way for forgiveness or reconciliation. It’s never too late to take a breath, contemplate your love and appreciate, or realize– despite their human frailties– the true blessing your mother and father have been in your life.”
In the book’s Introduction, Epstein speaks to how those close to us instilled values in us, and how we give back to them later in life and embrace their legacy. We learn in this thoughtfully-produced book that we are not alone in our pain when we lose loved ones, and that we have gained wisdom during our loss and grief.
This book is sure to touch you and bring back memories of either your parents or other elders that have made a difference in your lives. In reading the generous selections, all the poems evoke a range of emotions in us each time we re-read them.
This book is a treasure. I have selected 11 poems from its 218 pages to give you a taste of the beautiful sentiments expressed by dozens of poets, many of whom you’ll recognize as having appeared on The Daily Haiku.
(Please note that Epstein has included information in his book on where poems that were previously-published first appeared or from where they received awards. I am not including this information here.)
mother removes cobwebs
with her 3-prong cane
wearing her locket
for the first time
by Jo Balistreri
the pine board ramp
I wheel him down
by Meik Blöttenberger
she toasts herself
with a bit of plum wine
by Wanda Cook
packed in the Ford
with no radio
by Johnnie Johnson Hafernik
for my father’s face
by Phyllis Lee
winding to where
the river used to be
by Ben Moeller-Gaa
on dad’s shoulders
I touched the moon
by Ron C. Moss
a bowl of cherries
when tomorrow comes
by Guliz Mutlu
father’s veined hand
raising a glass
at the birthday meal
by Colin Oliver
wishing my parents
still lied to me
by Nicholas Sanders
This book, published by Middle Island Press, and the other ones edited or authored by Epstein that are listed below, can mostly be found online. If you are having trouble ordering them, you may contact Epstein directly by email at: email@example.com.
Other Books by Robert Epstein:
A Walk around Spring Lake: Haiku
…..out of print
Beyond the Grave: Contemporary Afterlife Haiku
……out of print
The Breath of Surrender: A Collection of Recovery-Oriented Haiku
….. out of print
Checkout Time is Noon: Death Awareness Haiku
…… out of print
Devastating Wisdom: The Radical Teachings of U. G. Krishnamurti
Dreams Wander On: Contemporary Poems of Death Awareness
…… out of print
(Co-Editor with Miriam Wald)
Every Chicken, Cow, Fish and Frog: Animal Rights Haiku
Middle Island Press.com
Free to Dance Forever: Mourning Haiku for My Mother
Haiku Edge: New and Selected Poems
Haiku Forest Afterlife
(Second author with Stacy Taylor)
Living Well with a Hidden Disability
Now This: Contemporary Poems of Beginnings, Renewals, and Firsts
…… out of print
(With Stacy Taylor)
Suffering Buddha: The Zen Way Beyond Health and Illness
(Compiler with Sherry Phillips)
The Natural Man: Selected Quotations of Henry D. Thoreau
The Quotable Krishnamurti
The Sacred in Contemporary Haiku
The Temple Bell Stops: Contemporary Poems of Grief, Loss and Change
….out of print
Turkey Heaven: Animal Rights Haiku
What My Niece Said in My Head: Haiku & Senryu
Copyright 2017 by Charlotte Digregorio.