Christiane Haen-Ranieri, Eleonore Nickolay (translation)

En quête de lumière / In search of light

Year of publication: 2020

Illustrated by Aline Palau-Gazé
bilingual French-German
Translated into German by Eleonore Nickolay
Softcover, 138 pages
Editions unicé, Saint-Chéron, 2020
ISBN 978-2-37355-448-9


With this new Haiku book, the author Christiane Haen-Ranieri lets us participate in memories that are connected with the passing of her blind parents. Each haiku alerts us to our own presence. Because the author captures the different moments in a great simplicity that hits the nail on the head. This collection is, one could say, a form of an autobiographical report. If many haiku books describe moments from life like a flash, the author chooses the opposite way by describing the innermost innermost things that she still feels towards her father. Paradoxically, their haiku let a new light emerge that is connected to a soul and spirit area. With their depth of feeling, they go beyond the actual word. The illustrations are by Aline Palau-Gazé. They give the texts an additional intensity and indicate that the art of haiku finds many ways to get to know a reality and to interpret it. Eleonore Nickolay translated into German with great empathy.


When, after a long weekend of hiking, filled with the clarity of nature, I held the book by Christiane Haen-Ranieri in my hands, the title “In search of light” spoke to me immediately, as if something interlocked naturally.
On the back of the book I surprisingly read: “With this new haiku book, Christiane Ranieri gives an insight into memories of her blind parents […] While most haiku books describe things in an instant, Christiane takes the opposite path here feels the inner world of the father. ”This awakened not only my special attention, but also my emotions!

frissons on my skin
effleurant l'alphabet braille
mes souvenirs s'éveillent p. 29
Shudder on my skin
I stroke the braille alphabet
my memories awaken

And so Ranieri wanders through her memories, taking the readers with her, drawing a line from her childhood to saying goodbye, moving the mother, retirement home to the Covid-19 pandemic and with each further haiku, the characters of the Parents more lively, the sense of touch becomes a sense of sight ... in the end you almost think you know them, these two special people you have never met.
Father and daughter were inseparable: “I was his eyesight, he was my memory.” And this intense bond can be felt in each of the haiku! Last but not least, the book has also become a homage to her father: strong, touching and tender.

route des vins -
de zigzag en zigzag
suivre mon père p. 37
Wine Route -
from zigzag to zigzag
follow my father

sur un air de Schumann
ses doigts butinent
un bouquet de roses p. 77
to a Schumann melody
his fingers like butterflies
on a bouquet of roses

A special form of sensitivity can always be felt, sometimes accompanied by humor, sometimes with hope and joy and also seems to carry the most moving moments in life. Capturing the moment while leaving the reader free to feel far more beyond that - this characteristic of haiku creates a different, new light here in Ranieri's haiku.

On 138 pages, readers experience the author's everyday life with ups and downs, tenderness, pride and deep feelings that go beyond words - Ranieri has found the perfect genre of haiku for them. You begin to recognize the importance of Braille, keep imagining yourself seeing with your hands, and consciously focus on smells that are given far too little importance, even though they affect us more than we think.

livres braille -
d'une vieille malle s'échappe
l'odeur de mon père p. 117
Braille books -
escapes the old suitcase
Father's smell

The haiku are framed on the one hand by a foreword by Félix Boulé, who aptly describes the collection: “Because it is there, the light, always present when reading the book that Christiane dedicates to her blind parents, light in the title and light the last Word of the collection of poems ”, and on the other hand from an afterword by Daniel Py.

cécité -
Mais qui donc a éteint
la lumière? P. 129
Blind -
who has
put out the light?

Christiane Ranieri is originally from Wittenheim in Alsace. Since her parents were blind, she got used to paying attention to the smallest details as a child. Travel increased her sensitivity to the rich nuances of a moment and a passion for art, photography and poetry developed almost naturally. With “En quête de lumière / In Search of Light”, her second haiku collection has now been published (2017: “Fragments de vie en trompe l'œil” - Haiku and Senryū).
Eleonore Nickolay, born in Germany and living in France since 1985, writes haiku herself and has taken on the translation with great empathy (an affair of the heart, as she herself says), which turns out to be a wonderful, successful further enrichment of this book.
At this point, the illustrations by Aline Palau-Gazé deserve special mention, as they represent an addition of special quality. Palau-Gazé is a painter and haiku poet and therefore an ideal complement par excellence; her pictures radiate independence and at the same time naturally enter into a symbiosis with the haiku. "In drawing and painting she strives to express the perception of the world in a way that we know from music and poetry."

A haiku that particularly appealed to me?

maison de retraite -
à l'envol du papillon
elle soupire p. 119
Old people's home -
when the butterfly flies up
she sighs

Summary: An all-round strong work - more than worth reading!
- Claudia Brefeld

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