Nature’s Cathedral: Photography & Haiku Poetry

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Nature’s Cathedral combines nature photographs and haiku, a form of Japanese poetry. Photographer and poet Terry Amburgey matches most photographs in the book with three haiku placed on the facing page and often reflecting some aspect of the photograph.

Haiku is a strict form, but like most modern writers in the genre, even those writing in Japanese, Amburgey loosens the formal constraints. He maintains the three phrases traditional to haiku, placing them on separate lines flush to the left margin, as is usual in English. But in many of these verses, he nicely captures nature and seasonal change, as traditional haiku demands. For instance: “Crisp Air. Crunching Leaves/Long Shadows Casting Soft Light/The Smell of Autumn/.”

Although many of his verses do concern nature as a theme, some are more philosophical, while others have themes of war or politics: /”Really Politics/ Not Something For Honest Men/ But Good Men Needed”/. Or:/”Uneasy Emotions/ Oh How I Wish It Were Me/Son Leaving For War”/. Amburgey uses the form to pose existential questions and express emotions that arise as he waits, often alone, for the next stage of a journey, or as he grapples with his own creative process, attempting to find his ground as artist and thinker in his boredom and loneliness. /”Bad Thing, Not Really/ Loneliness Is Like A Pet/It is Always There”/ is an example. /”Funny What You Think/In That Time You Must Fill Time/When Your Mind is Quiet”/ is another.

Unfortunately, Amburgey does not often take advantage of the signature technique that gives haiku its spice: comparing or contrasting two events, images, or situations. Nonetheless, his poems and accompanying photographs of Yellowstone, Yosemite, Central Park, rural Kentucky, and the Dominican Republic exhibit a delicacy rare in our contemporary culture. One photograph shows a sun setting behind a winter tree in Lone Tree, Colorado. The accompanying verse reads: /Taste It, Yes, Taste It/Place Sugar On Your Tongue/Stimulate Yourself.” Reading Nature’s Cathedral is a tasting and seeing.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 42 pages
Publisher Xlibris
Publish Date 23-Jun-2010
ISBN 9781453522370 Buy this Book
Issue February 2011
Category Poetry & Short Stories


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