Review by Patrick Connors
One has to appreciate the wry sense of humor in the title of Hans Jongman’s latest poetry collection. Histrionics are exaggerated behavior designed to attract attention. Jongman’s work is very concise and reflective, clearly the product of deep contemplation and a positive self-image.
“What I like the most about the poetry is its unpretentiousness,” said Chris Faiers. “Hans is an old master of the haiku form, so I should have expected nothing less than the best. But so many haijin have become arrogant and self-promoting these days that it’s refreshing to read a collection which isn’t trying to impress the reader, but rather presents great poetry without a lot of superficial blather.”
Jongman begins “What It Is” with a short, anecdotal essay about a trip to see his doctor. From such an everyday experience, we gain insight into the author’s reverie, and empathy for the physician. He follows the essay with this haiku:
a cold front
has cleared my sinuses
and the waiting room
“Haibun combines prose and haiku,” Jongman explained. “The two disciplines compliment each other and equally deserve the same meticulous care for detail.
The haibun is the narrative, the story of a writer’s personal experience complemented by a haiku, or multiple haiku. The haiku should not be a synopsis or reiteration of the preceding prose but should be reflective of the interrelationship between prose and the haiku. The haiku should stand on its own, on its own merit.”
“Amsterdam” begins with a minimalist yet fascinating telling of the history of Holland’s capital city. It’s very pleasant to read, and very easy to visualize, although I have never been there. But the reader is startled into a further awareness at the end:
a thunderclap reverberates
between the gables
“My role was to make the book more balanced, to make sure it was laid out well,” said Anna Yin, publisher of SureWay Press. “I made some recommendations with design which fit in with Hans’ family history and personal experiences.”
Yin made reference to Jongman’s homage to the masters of haiku and haibun, and how much she appreciated it. “I published this book because it is very high quality. As soon as I read the poetry, I immediately loved it.”
Jongman’s final poem of the book, titled “Covid-19”, is a fitting denouement both to this collection and the pandemic. It is a series of inter-woven haiku, done in a manner which only a master of the form could portray. I will not post any of it here, because I want you to get the book and seek it out for yourself. You will thank me later!
To order a copy of the book, please contact the author: [email protected]