Event Details

  • Date:

(Rescheduled from April 30)

We have all heard of creative people who have blossomed during the isolated days of the pandemic. To that list we can now add Jon Hare, noted oceanographer and administrator, who spent the pandemic not only running The Fisheries in Woods Hole from his home, but also mastering the ancient art of haiku. He will give a reading at the Woods Hole Public Library on Saturday, May 21 at 2:30 PM.

He has recently produced an exquisite small (of course!) volume titled “through the magnolia: a haiku diary from March and April 2020”. In it he takes us chronologically through the early days of the pandemic. Each poem brings us a clear image from the natural world, parried by a human response, an action from the human world. Page after page, the images are striking.

The early poems rattle with responses to the COVID lock-down, to self-isolation, to depression, but always buoyed by nature’s beauty. Gradually as the book pages turn, Spring progresses and the poems become cheerier. The book’s beauty is what first strikes you. But it is the punch of the words that stays with you. The exquisite cover photograph on the small volume is of a flowering magnolia which seems the essence of Spring and invites you inside to read the words.

Librarian Jennifer Gaines says, “When I first read the book, I kept the Library copy beside my bed, right at hand, so I could have a shot of delight and beauty at all hours of the day and night, reveling in the natural beauty that Jon caught so perfectly. Now I have my own book, as Jon has printed copies and can offer them for sale.” There will be copies available at the library event.

Jon has been seriously working on the craft of haiku for eight years. He has taken classes with, and been mentored by, masters of the form Alan Summers and  Stanford Forrester. In his talk at the Library, he will also describe the art of haiku, and how it has changed from its original strict form of the first line having 5 syllables, the second 7, and the third 5.

He has been published in several journals: bottle rockets, Frogpond, The Heron’s Nest, Ribbons, and others. It was an honor to have the book reviewed in Frogpond, the journal of the Haiku Society of America, and even more noteworthy to have it reviewed so favorably. Here is a quote from the book’s review: “Hare has penned a nice first book about a singular worldwide phenomenon as participant and witness. You don’t find the most hackneyed pandemic phrases here-in fact, none use the word “mask.” The author works more subtly, and our shared lived experience of Covid-19 provides context to remember just how unsettling the early days of the pandemic were, as in this poem:

A window box/ of spent jonquils/ closed café”

The review continues with even higher praise: “I found it intriguing to consider this book as an addition to New England journal writing (where Thoreau’s journal reigns supreme). I sensed a bit of Thoreau’s days in isolation at Walden in this haiku.”

Come to the Woods Hole Public Library on Saturday May 21 to hear this author read from his own poems and describe the process of writing haiku. For more information, call the Woods Hole Public Library at 508-548-8961 or email at whpl_mail@clamsnet.org.