CHILDREN OF THE SPARROW: Haiku and Tanka by Robert Gibson; Ink Brush Drawings by Karen Klein, Foreword by Jane Reichhold. 144 pages, ISBN 1-57726-152-6; Holly House Publications, Seattle, WA  $15.95  Retail

This book can be ordered by email at <> You will be billed when you receive your copy.  You may also order by mail at: Robert Gibson, 929 ³H² Street, Centralia, WA USA 98531. $18.95 in the U.S.*; to Canada: $18.95; to Europe: $21.95; to Japan:  $23.50.

* If you would like to have this book, but cannot afford the full cost, you may have a copy for the cost of mailing: $3, plus whatever you can afford. 

Review by Francine Porad ©1999

Children of the Sparrow is divided into six sections. The first four follow the traditional seasonal pattern, though in place of the labels Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, those sections have the charming titles,Warm Rain Haiku, Tree Swallow Haiku, Wild Geese Haiku, Snow & Ice Haiku. The final two sections are Sequence Haiku and Tanka.

Robert Gibson's haiku impress us with their seeming simplicity. In this
first book of haiku by a veteran haiku poet, Gibson sharpens our awareness of ordinary happenings through the use of plain language and clear images. Jane Reichhold in the Foreword writes, "What seems simple . . . if observed, reveals simplicity to be inconclusive, complex, deep‹unspeakable." Take for instance, these two:

                                the lone crow
                                hurries across
                                the wide summer sky

                                she's gone . . .
                                rain beats and beats
                                on the skylight

Arresting verbs add the elements of interest and action.

                                soaking rain
                                a man chops weeds
                                by the gravestones

Robert Gibson, a retired college teacher, taught psychology, anthropology as well as Japanese Judo and Jujitsu. He has a fine understanding of traditional Japanese haiku, and captures the spirit of union in a moment when nature and human nature become one. The tanka, though few, deal with war, death, and love.

                           when we were so young
                           so beautiful   so clever
                           so much in love with
                           each other   what could go wrong
                           what could possibly go wrong

 Karen Kline's ink brush drawing (abstract strokes and marks) are not meant to illustrate the haiku, but to extend them to another dimension of feeling. They work magic in stimulating the imagination. Children of the Sparrow is a calming, satisfying read.

This review first appeared in  HOLLY HOUSE PUBLICATIONS