Anna Zennaro’s new haiku book QUARANTUNO per QUATTORDICI (Lietocolle, 2012)

The art of equilibrium

If you ask me for a quick impression on Anna Zennaro’s new book I would say: passion and geometry. And if you find an echo of Nietzsche you get the idea. Because Anna keeps a perfect balance between Dionysius and Apollo. Her haiku are full of passion yet they keep a structure, a collected shape. She does not rush headlong to write them. She ponders, she works through, like an artisan that works his clay taking a raw material and giving it a special, very thorough and polished form.

This may at first seem something simple to achieve, but not in this case, in which Anna dares to explore a world full of promises very disatended if not belittled as lovers love in haiku. A new frontier very difficult to handle because they bring new meaning to lovers love, another angle to a most frequented subject by poets. She traces though a bright line between the western ones and haiku. Far more she does not hesitate to break the alleged boundaries between traditional haiku and haiku love ones as a subject, creating them not in the western style, but in a haiku state of mind. She is a haijin, not a raconteur.

But amazingly so her poetry explores also what in his brief and mind bending prologue -which is some sort of manifesto- “the shadow zone” of Saint Valentine’s Day celebration of love. At first we feel shocked, baffled and why not disappointed. The love we all look for and praise as the maximum ecstasies in life, may be not so. A shadow like an eclipse appears when the moon is full and bright. Is it suffering the shadow, or it is that l’amore is doomed to wither? Is it just like a meteor than burns itself glowing before crashing? Does it carry in its own flame the seed of destruction? Is it ephemeral while lovers feel it as a promise of eternity?

The prologue continues full of insights and why not with a little touch of acceptance. Anna comes to a conclusion or to put it best a solution. But it seems to me, and enlighted one, in the Buddhist sense. And at the end of it two phrases that are somewhat enigmatic, opening the ku scenario to multiple meanings according to the reader’s perception. Always circumventing a core. Like a kaleidoscope which Anna masters on her work.

And the moon be still as bright

Rami nei rami,

due anime si fondono

in un abbraccio

A mezzanotte

il canto della luna

sopra il cuscino

Note di luna,

una notte d’amore

fra due respiri

Three examples of delicate love scenes, but in the heart of them pulses a galvanizing sensuality. After all are St. Valentine’s ku for lovers. But Anna manages to mention it in a casual way and then go to the next level, love is far more than sensuality it has the quality of merging with soulfusness. It requires finesse to do so.

The moon in two of the ku is a witness, a symbol which can encompass so many meanings which may be the key to these questions. And immediately comes to my mind the final verse of Lord Byron´s poem: “And the moon be still as bright”

This may sound gloomy but as far as I am concerned it may be one of the answers. I let the reader figure another out by itself. Because Anna’s haiku are about a challenge, a dim zone we must light up with the lantern of our heart-mind. That is what “haiku spirit” is after all.

But what will be the fate of the lovers? They will totally merge themselves forever? Or they unwillingly say farewell?

Senza un perché

senza una risposta

soffiano i venti

Dew drops

Attraversami –

ti amo da vivere

perché ti amo

I asked Anna’s help with the translation. She gave me an explanation that fits. Mainly that in the second line she flips an Italian expression “I love you to dead”. Anna told me she just “played” with words, but everything happens for a reason as they say, although when we write are unaware of it. And playing with words can bring an entire new meaning to any assertion. Let´s try another approach

This ku is not about love only; it is about the celebration of life by itself with no further additions. A renowned cosmologist sayed “Lets celebrate this instant under the Sun” talking about how epehemeral it is. And this is what the key to this one is. Her Zeitgeist perhaps?

The first line is simply magisterial. Attraversami which means accross me (like… enter in me and go on, out of me..) in Anna`s translation. Love crosses us as if we where traslucid as dew drops are. As life does and it will part from us when we say goodbye to this Earth. Very haikuish. This kind of haiku is an epiphany and it requires a “state of grace” to write it. Haiku at is peak.

All sentient beings

A primavera

ogni fiore sceglie

quale colore

St. Valentine’s? Love is in the air as the song says: “spring is sprung”, but also in a total different way of perceiving it by Anna. This little jewel is really both touching and a paradox like many of her ku. How on earth a flower chooses its color? Are we totally sure they don’t? Flowers and vegetation are immensely rich, they are the outburst of life, and more complex than we thought, because we tend to see them as objects, different from animals or humans.

We think they do not move by their own. This is totally untrue. The have an enormous dynamics. We must remember they are sentient beings. Anna grabs this, and lead us to a world totally different but more akin to “real reality” All sentient beings in a certain way chose their destiny. They have more freedom than we think.

Anna’s forever heyday

When on the finale of a converzasione, I told Anna I felt I could write a comment about her book she sayed “this book is for lovers but not only” One can spend hours reenacting the dulcet tones of her ku in one’s mind.

These haiku are not only about love, they are a gift of what love can inspire to the lover, so its range goes far beyond romance. They speak about the world itself with its diversity, it’s mysteries it’s glorious beauty. She gives us this gift to all of us, in her own haiku way.

Anna does not write to publish, she publishes because she has something to say, which is a huge difference. She is a keen observer of life itself and love as one of its branches. And all of her ku have that shift, that twist that leaves them in a twilight zone. She has achieved the most difficult thing in haiku. She has found her own voice.

By Carlos Fleitas Montevideo, Uruguay South América

6 th February 2012