Rich Follett is a super-nice guy. Okay, that's enough of the personal stuff. If you want to know more about what a fine fellow he is, send him a friend request. I'm sure he'll be delighted to receive and accept it.
I want to dig into his poetry. Lately, he has been creating unusual haiku. Complemented with uncanny images.
When I read one of Rich's haiku, I encounter the magic of words. When things get compressed, each word must do special duty. I said “magic”. Well, what else is it when only certain powerful words are selected from infinity? Words that could be no other, yet words that would occur only to a wizard.
These poems follow the traditional 5-7-5 pattern. But regular haiku is more about the effect of lines than the vortex of particular words. At least that seems right to me. With Rich, those selected words oscillate within themselves and then cast a centrifugal pressure onto other words. One word might even color another two lines away. Or cause it to hum with sympathetic vibrations.
As an example of traditional or regular haiku, I select this one by Matsuo Bashô:
above the moor
not attached to anything
a skylark singing
Here, the lines are more important than the words comprising them. Other words could be used for the same effect. Here also, the pulse of intent is to convey a spiritual "sermon." Other haiku are content to present, via line momentum, a pure moment of nature. Others still, move toward a final line-image of irony or simple epiphany.
In a Follett haiku, each word is a tone, chiming chromatically and contributing to a field of overtones. The whole poem shimmers in this matrix of overtone. These harmonics emerge from depths of connotation, perhaps even subconscious zones. From where language blurs into Jungian-like myth and inchoate significances. The words are colored and textured in these intensities. And by setting one indispensable word next to anther, a mosaic of immediacy is woven.
So...what is the intent of a Follett haiku? I think it has to do with urging us into the phenomenological mystery of time and toward those spirits inhabiting the inorganic and the organic. The world of form and substance "sounds" through the atomic resonance of discrete words.
There is another kind of sympathetic vibration in the Follett haiku. Some people (myself included) will occasionally add a picture to augment a poem. This can be as fun -- and ambiguous -- as finding a title for the poem. With Rich, the image is the inspiration, and he is brave enough to place it naked before us. There is an audacity here. By giving us the actual image, ambiguity is no longer a veil for poetic diffuseness. Before us is what is being written about. This photograph equals this poem. The poet is starkly revealed as either master or pretender. If not handled in a subtle and masterly manner, the result could be a cloying tonality or a hurtful dissonance. Fortunately, we are dealing with a unique master. Harmonics of word-to-image are "sounded" into, become mingled in the exquisite aesthetic air.
Check these two out:
haiku/photo combination # 5
sacred raven waits within
answers span æons
haiku/photo combination # 6
silken blue milk pool –
lapis lazuli ripples
cloaking azure frogs
Ezra Pound said "make it new." Rich Follett has found a unique way to vivify an ancient form.
Rich has co-written a book of poetry with Constance Stadler, called Responsorials. It's available at NeoPoiesis Press -- www.neopoiesispress.com
These photo/haiku copyright 2010 – Rich Follett