Sunday, March 2, 2014

Week 9: Red Gate Haikus

   The book-of-the-week for Week 9 is a small collection of haiku poems titled Red Gate Haikus.  Haiku is a form of Japanese verse dating back to the 1600's. Haiku poetry has a clearly defined set of rules based on the number of lines (3 lines for non-Japanese haiku, one line for traditional Japanese haiku),  the number of syllables per line (5-7-5 for non-Japanese haiku), a subject matter based on nature, and an unexpected twist in the poem's meaning on the last line. Modern haiku may not follow all of these parameters, yet will incorporate some of the elements.

   The book has been bound with a traditional Japanese 4-hole stab stitch. The cover is made of vintage printed Japanese silk such as might have been used for an obi sash or lining a kimono. Red waxed linen thread and red silk book cloth compose the binding elements. A wonderful reference for the process of binding Japanese books is Japanese Bookbinding: Instructions from a Master Craftsman, by Kojiro Ikegami.

Japanese stab-bound with cover of vintage silk 

   The text block was made of handmade kozo and Stonehenge printmaking paper. A carved linoleum block of a Japanese gate was printed in red on each sheet of Stonehenge paper. The title and haikus were letterpress printed on the kozo paper using either 18-pt Brush type or 14-pt Ionic type. The type-faced kozo sheets were wrapped around each Stonehenge leaf so the red gate print showed through the translucent Japanese paper. 
Red Gate Haikus...title page

These are the haikus....

Be quiet when you enter this gate
Peace lives here

Strong, broad posts beckon
heartwood from the Tree of Life
walk inside its blood

Ancient red gate
to Eden's locus amoenus
Eternal spring

Crosshatch crisscross gate
Garden of the Golden Mean
Holy rules laid out

Red gate rises tall
Monks in saffron robes kneel, pray
to Buddha at the Bodhi tree

Sunset of the day
Red frames the gate to Heav'n