day by day time folding time: 99 Haiku
by Ralph Gunther Mohnnau (English translation by Christopher Martin)
Trafford Publishing

"come let us make love
the way dragonflies do:
weightless in the light"

In a form of poetry that juxtaposes what most people think of when they encounter the German language, these 99 haikus reflect on everyday existence, romance, everyday objects, and the natural environment. In this book’s first section, titled “the fireworks fade,” natural figures like olive trees, pine roots, cranes, and blackbirds stand as tall philosophical figures poised against elegant surroundings. In the second section, “ever restless time,” humanity’s humility abounds in stark Socratic assertions such as “I know that I know / nothing, though: knowing nothing / is also knowing.” Readers then decrescendo into the third and final section, “so red too the night,” where man’s smallness in correlation to the universe’s all-consuming power gives way to romantic, sensual passion that celebrates one’s self, one’s body, one’s existence, and one’s partner.

This German-English collection is a must-have for anyone interested in translation, as well as anyone specifically interested in haiku. For those just beginning to study and read the German language, poetry, or translation in general, this book is accessible yet subtly metaphysical in its analyses of the everyday world. The haiku form’s simplicity creates a meditative tone that transports readers from the chaos, turmoil, and pain permeating current society and events. The triptych structure of the text forms a unique, reflective reading experience that makes readers unknowingly look inward to contemplate themselves, their existences, and the world and environments that they encounter daily. Readers will find themselves not only attentive to the mirror-vivid imagery of each haiku but also the easy-to-follow translation work that makes reading the haikus in both German and English an ethereal experience.

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