Haiku Of Five Decades Anarchios Press 2009 (publication October) ISBN 978-0-9558738-1-2
HAIKU OF FIVE DECADES brings together in one volume all the explorations of this subtle, fascinating yet unpretentious verse-form which Alexis Lykiard has written since the mid-1960s.
As the author explains in his Introduction, he has adapted the traditional but highly flexible Japanese structure for his own quietly experimental poetic purposes. While adhering to what is all too often considered a facile, even restrictive syllabic format, Lykiard here employs a resourceful variety of styles and voices. Apart from more lyrical or conventional pieces, HAIKU OF FIVE DECADES contains contemplative sequences, interlinked haiku, and playful contrasts – along with found and humorous poems that offset some acute and unsparing political and satirical observations.
Alexis Lykiard – dubbed by reviewers and critics “the mucky bard”, “the rudest man in the west”, “a national treasure”, and “the true lineal heir to Rochester and Swift” – has been praised by the Morning Star and vilified by The Sun. Lykiard has enjoyed both the ‘controversial’ labelling and the more considered praise of his fellow poets: these have included Ted Hughes, Vernon Scannell, Alan Brownjohn, Roy Fisher, Hugo Williams, Gavin Ewart, Harry Guest, Iain Sinclair, Patricia Beer, Kit Wright and Maya Angelou.
By temperament and choice always a concise poet, Alexis Lykiard in HAIKU OF FIVE DECADES demonstrates, among much else, that brevity is indeed the soul of wit.
That grand old troubadour Alexis Lykiard has had the excellent idea of collecting his haiku, and this book is a delight. He is funny, serious, witty, morose, irreverent, angry, flippant – and cheeky, all within that deceptive 5, 7, 5 syllabic form which flourished in Japan from the late sixteenth century and which has, in the last hundred years, been adopted by poetasters throughout the world.
Each haiku should, traditionally, state or imply a season or New Year’s month… but the best poets adapt, and Lykiard is an adapter. Take for example ‘Bilhac Sequence’, which hurtles the traditional reticence into a set of ten seventeen-syllables including this:
Winding road uphill
Surely worthy of any classical reference? And, later, an echo:
The bright path – full moon
Irreverent is ‘How Aunt GG Survived The Sex War’;
Young Oz orgiast
A good review would quote and quote. ‘An Axegrinding Academic Anthology’, for example:
Those shameless chopped prose
How true. He also doesn’t miss a topical trick, as in ‘Lost For Words’:
Rule Walcott out. Ruth
The last of this marvellous collection is:
No option – one attends
Don’t go yet, Alexis, we need you.
“One of the most distinctive and skilled poets of the Left in this country”
[Alan Morrison, writer & editor, The Recusant]
"Excellent stuff..a really nice production number" (Wes Magee)