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Marmora author publishes 'Zen River Poems and Halibun'

By URSULA PFLUG, THE PETERBOROUGH EXAMINER, Feb 7, 2009

Peterborough, Ontario (Canada) -- Chris Faiers has lived in the Marmora region for over two decades. Like Winona Baker, he is a modern English language master of haibun, a form both invented and popularized by Matsuo Basho, a Japanese Buddhist monk.

A haibun is a short prose piece, almost a prose poem, interspersed with haiku. The strictures of haiku paradoxically free the author, encouraging him or her to invest in a very few words an entire multifaceted impression of place and time.

The surrounding prose in the haibun allows for more loose-tongued rambling and meditation in which the haiku itself glimmers.

Mating rituals

of fireflies brief cosmos

According to the introduction of Faiers's 17th book, 'Zen River Poems and Haibun,' Basho spent his life developing his Buddhist spirituality and writing haibun.

Like his 17th century mentor, Faiers meditates and his poetry records aspects of his practice, always closely tied to a keen observation and deep appreciation of the rocky river country around Marmora.

young pines at attention

for Zen Guard duty

The initial chapters named after the seasons contain many references to birds and animals the poet encountered while on long walks with his beloved dog Chase, such as the deer which allows it might be time to get home to the fire:

your white flag tells us its time

to head home

In Haunted Pumpkin Walk, the poet and his dog venture out of the woods to take part in a community Halloween festival on the Crowe River.

Tiny witch names me leprechaun:

young eyes still clear

four year old boy in a skeleton suit

me in fifty-five years

A later section is entitled Early Haibun. Its three chapters are part of the longer work, Eel Pie Dharma, available in its entirety online at http://www.eelpie.org/epd.htm.

Included here is Psychecdelic Basho, which chronicles Faiers's initial engagement with haiku while attending a Florida college in the sixties.

Christmas vacation

tame ducks starving by the campus lake

Fomentera describes a back-packing trip to Ibiza and other Mediterranean islands.

constellations of sesame seeds

in honey

Faiers is also a founder of PurdyFest, a new literary festival showcasing both established and emerging poets. Unbeknownst to many, the woods are dotted with internationally acclaimed authors including Havelock's Jan Thornhill, who in their works exhibit an engaged and committed sense of place.

Part of the aim of PurdyFest is to bring the writer/hermits out of the woodwork (or the woods) and give them a place to celebrate their love of both literature and the land.

What could be more appropriate than naming it in honour of Al Purdy?

Included in this collection is Picnic with Al, describing a celebration at the Ameliasburg cemetery where Purdy lies.

Publisher Richard Grove's Hidden Book Press has a mandate to help create and support a literary community on the north shore of Lake Ontario.

Other Hidden Book projects include two books by poet R. D. Roy and Peterborough author Patricia's Stone's story collection All Things Considered.

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Ursula Pflug is author of the novel "Green Music" and the new story collection "After The Fires." Visit her on the web at: http://ursulapflug.ca



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