It’s been quite some time since I’ve read poetry: I think the last time I looked at it in any sort of detail was back in my A-Level English Literature years. I’m ashamed to say as well that it’s been a lengthy time period since I’ve actually completed a whole book: I don’t tend to find I have time to either read a whole one or concentrate enough to make it worthwhile.
However, thanks to Itch Fox, I’ve now done both, though the medium of his new book, 101 Haikus.
To summarise early, this really is a genuinely charming, witty and overall smile-inducing set of 3 line poems from The King Blues frontman. There are some really, really thought provoking lines within the 101 featured; some which will wash over you of course, but some which really do weave their way into your psychi and are hugely relatable.
It’s also a really personable book. When reading it you really do get the sense of Itch’s character, and of where and when he wrote each of the individual haiku. This is added to by the way the book is presented: each of the haiku is either written or stuck on various everyday-life situations. The photography is incredibly sympathetically done, and it’s comforting in a way as it doesn’t elevate what could be quite a high-brow art form beyond the everyday reader.
Throughout the book, there are also a handful of anecdotes, which really do add to the book’s meaning. For me, the one about Itch’s experience of San Francisco is my favourite: the picture it paints of the city and the way that he has found these haiku all over the world really does give an insight into the thought process behind this book.
As I said earlier, there are some haiku here which washed over me a little, or were perhaps a little too personal to Itch himself to really stick in my head. However, there are some here which more than make up for those handful: there’s some really, really thought-provoking and deeply relatable lines which are exceptionally relevant to the world we live in. I don’t want to spoil your experience of the book, so I won’t repeat too many, but this one chimes in many, many ways: “They’re dropping like flies / Young men stay silent ’til they’re / Just a train delay”. I’m just going to leave that there.
So, for someone like me who’s hardly an expert on haiku, this is a really accessible and friendly read. It’s a heartwarming and enjoyable book, and one which both lights up a rainy day but also inspires deep thought. Isn’t that exactly what poetry is meant to do?