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The Key Aspects of Life in Haiku

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

Hifsa Ashraf, Author, and Touchstone Award winner, delves into Goran Gatalica's new release, Night Jasmine.

'from childhood to old age, from peace to war, from the outer world to the inner world, from farm to cities,

from sadness to happiness, from mysteries to mysticism, from simplicity to complexities...'

Night Jasmine, as a title, symbolically tells about the intricacies of life one can see through the lens of profound observations and personal experiences. As a multilingual poet, this book came as a big feast for my eyes that widened the span of my perception of various aspects of life I had never come across. Being a naturalist, Goran feels the pulse of nature which is hidden to many of us, especially when it comes to surprising events or events our senses hardly register due to preoccupation or narrow perspectives. He has masterfully blended nature with day-to-day activities by covering all extrinsic and intrinsic parts of life.

A stylish feature of this book is the categories that captivate the creative and imaginative faculties of the reader. It’s a bit challenging to capture the overall scale of this book in terms of its themes and depth. It’s more like a flash movie that engages the senses and lets my thoughts wander from childhood to old age, from peace to war, from the outer world to the inner world, from farm to cities, from sadness to happiness, from mysteries to mysticism, from simplicity to complexities, and a lot more.

From section one, passing cloud, one can easily relate to the simplicity of rural life even without having personal experience of that lifestyle, as the poet has finely interwoven the thread of nature with nurture and kept it basic for the reader to comprehend the feelings and thoughts easily. One particular haiku that jogged my childhood memory is:

childhood home

beside the old railway

the sounds of a rooster

Then, similar experiences about city haze, school life, and pilgrimage kept me stuck to the scene by unfolding familiar stories of my own. Besides these regular stories, Goran also brought the lives of refugees into the light through his poems, which shows his compassion and empathy for the unprivileged people around him.

In the searing heart section, the poet’s recollection of natural history is fairly clear, which made it one of the finest examples of learning and analyzing nature in the simplest possible way. That’s why this section is one the most vivid parts of this book that makes us feel like we are in those places observing and recording images similar to what Goran did, especially the dark side of it, where sympathizing creatures—especially animals— face challenges due to climate change.

long drought —

among the corn stalks

an anthill grows

The wind chimes section is versatile in many ways. There we can feel we are ‘all ears’ the way natural elements resonate with us, and let us listen to them actively and register their pace and rhythm without losing the grip of the imagery of the poems. One can easily hear the whispers of nature without effort or having a specific arrangement for them:

our garden path…

a sound of rolling thunder

through the gourds

In the scent of snow section, autumn and winter deepen the sadness and loneliness where the subtlety of life makes us focus more inside out and blend our feelings and thoughts with the intricacies of the cold season— especially its impact on our mood and behaviour. One can sense it through this haiku:

winter garden

the unbroken silence

of bonsai

Overall, this book is a great treasure of creative work that should be read by every haiku enthusiast as it covers all the key aspects of life both visible and invisible. Being a great example of contemporary haiku, this book moved me from ‘aha’ moment to magnificent images where I can’t resist commending the tremendous efforts and contribution of the poet and his great talent.

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