The 13th book I finished on my list was a really good one, making me think 13 might just be my lucky number. I finished reading oino sakai's poetry chapbook Ancient Skies this morning.
oino sakai is a pretty big name in a field that is, honestly, fairly small — speculative poetry. It is a pity that there is not a bigger readership of this niche genre, because there are some fine poets writing speculative poems. oino sakai's specialty is scifaiku. His work is always marked by excellence in both parent genres, science fiction and haiku, and I count him one of the poets I am learning from in order to improve my own work. His poetry is truly masterful.
The little volume Ancient Skies is packed with some huge works — not huge in length (of course), but in significance. oino sakai does a wonderful job, over and over again, of capturing that "a-ha moment" that is so central to good haiku. And throughout the range of poems in the collection, he is true to the description on the title page of the book: "A haiku is a captured moment in time. A scifaiku is a captured moment in a possible future." Ancient Skies looks into so many possible futures and draws them near to us, moment by moment.
The first section of the book is filled with haiku, more than 60 in total. In the second section, oino sakai showcases other poetic forms derived from traditional Japanese poetry (such as the tanka and haibun), as well as experimental forms such as the zip, the stellarenga, and the Fib. There are a good number of poems across a wide range of forms, and it makes for very fun reading.
Ancient Skies was published by Sam's Dot Publishing, and is available through the Genre Mall.