Volker Friebel

The haiku

Year of publication: 2019

Volker Friebel (2019): The Haiku. Basic knowledge - deepening - the horizon. Edition Blue Fields, Tübingen. Paper book: 164 pages, € 14,90, eBuch epub format: € 7,99.


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Whether cooking, kissing, poetry: we learn best through experience. The freshness of Haiku's spontaneous expression, its presence, the immediate description of what is, the appeal not only of the mind but of the senses ... Over a hundred good examples of this are included in this book. The first part presents the basic knowledge of haiku, shows us the state of this form of poetry, as it has solidified in recent years and decades. A brief historical overview follows: The development of haiku in Japan and its journey into the world are outlined. Connections of haiku with other arts, with pictures and other forms of literature follow. Follow chapters that can be called deepening. I hope that they are suitable to go beyond mere comprehension, that they not only simply increase knowledge, but also question it, relativize it - and bring it to life that they are for new reading, more precise reading, possibly new poetry to inspire. Knowledge and inspiration - this is what these pages want to offer. Knowledge is firm and dead when it is written down. Inspiration is alive and flowing, rewrites everything solid again and again. From this field of tension, the haiku looks at us, poetry looks at us, and we may sometimes look back.


Horst-Oliver Buchholz
The horizon so far

Haiku: basic knowledge - deepening - the horizon. Volker Friebel, 164 pages, Edition Blue Fields, Tübingen. ISBN 978-3-960390-29-9.

Volker Friebel has presented a book that is rich, like a treasure, compiled in many years, as he himself says in the foreword, at first mentally, then put on paper, and he shares this treasure with his readers. With this book, Friebel opens up a wide horizon, a large space that he traverses, measures, and explores the depths. He takes the reader on a journey, it is a journey of discovery. Friebel has drawn up a clear route for this. The topic of haiku - and related forms - is explored step by step, based on a clear order. It is an instructive book, but never instructive. As a fundamental work, it deserves a special place in haiku literature. It can only be a place of honor.
But one after the other. In the book, the essential characteristics of a haiku, as they can be described as secured, are first introduced and discussed in a digression “basic knowledge”. It is also a worthwhile chapter for experienced writers to reconsider the basics of haiku poetry. From there, the journey goes back in time when Friebel traces the history of haiku, beginning centuries ago in Japan, before turning to related forms such as Haibun, Tan-Renga or Haiga. Here Friebel finds the right balance of brevity and length, nothing remains unsaid, which has to be said, but nowhere does the said become a verbiage that could lull the reader, it remains tangible. Because like the haiku itself, Friebel finds a language that is concrete, almost factual, but at the same time, however, also leaves room for your own thoughts. A stimulating lyrical landscape spreads out in front of us, probably also an inspiring one, which the reader likes to wander through.
Perhaps this is the special essence of this book, that there is order in the multi-layered theme of haiku, orientation also, but that it never remains or even freezes in this ordering structure. Rather, we experience sensitive, almost sensual approaches and considerations, which are based on sound, rational expertise, but which at the same time detach themselves from it and enter a poetic space.
With this, Volker Friebel has succeeded in a trick: the happy connection of expert information with the nature of the lyrical, which always points beyond the specific word. Friebel uses this trick by focusing on one thing in particular: namely the haiku itself, of which there are many examples of many authors on the 164 pages. This selection also traces the history of haiku, starting with the old masters such as Matsuo Bashō and ending with experimental haiku today.
Friebel's considerations in this regard are of a special penetration of theoretical explanation and feature-based contemplation, with which he exposes the layered subject layer by layer. This becomes particularly clear in the book section “Aesthetic Moments”. In 23 short chapters, different aspects of haiku poetry are highlighted, from sound and rhythm to reverberation and feeling to the aesthetics of Wabi-Sabi. In short, specifically and poetically, this happens as if it were poetry itself.
Unique, at least the reviewer has never read anything like this, are the final chapters in the book, summarized under the heading "The Horizon". They approach the reader like a great essay and look at topics that are not only based on literature and poetry, but that basically point out how the possibilities and limits of language and communication, of perception and deception, of the sensual and rational. Volker Friebel moves with agile ease between the worlds of objective knowledge and subjective experience, enriched with thoughts of a philosophical nature. The reader becomes an astonished one. And here, at the end of the book, the treasure gets a special shine again.

First published in summer grass - Quarterly Bulletin of the German Haiku Society, number 128 (March issue 2020), pages 73-75.
Second published on Haiku today on Fri. March 20.03.2020, XNUMX with the kind permission of the author:


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