Zombie Verse

I invited my students to participate in National Poetry Month on my blog. David B. took me up on it by writing this review of the book, Zombie Haiku. Zombies and poetry: a post-modern marriage to be sure.

Here is what David has to say:

When I first studied poetry in elementary school I remember learning about the haiku.  The short and simple formula made it easy to understand and even write my own.  5, 7, 5.  A famous haiku we learned was

The wind of Mt. Fuji

I've brought on my fan!

a gift from Edo

One time I brought my homework to my grandparent’s house after school and was shocked to discover they had never heard of Haiku!  “Really?  Didn’t you learn these in elementary school?”  I asked.  “No, never,” was my grandpa’s gruff response.   As I grew, I came to understand that it wasn’t until Americans began being familiarized with Japanese culture after WWII that the haiku was popularized in this part of the world.  It’s interesting isn’t it?  The evolution of poetry in a culture.

When I think about how central it was, traditional haiku, to my understanding of poetry as a child, and how the older generations of my family had never even heard of haiku, it makes me wonder, what will the next stage of poetry in our culture be like?

Fortunately the answer is present, Zombie Haiku.  With the boom of popularity in horror fiction, in all forms of media, the glorious haiku has been reanimated.  The poetry collection Zombie Haiku, by Ryan Mecum, documents the life and afterlife of a poet trying to stay undead in a world full of hostile humans.

Much to my surprise,

When I get to the office,

The place is empty. (10)

The collection starts with our heroic poet dealing with his anxiety, from the apocalypse all around him, by jotting down his observations and feelings in the form of the noble haiku.  Nobody is at work.  The boss isn’t answering his phone.  What is there to do other than sit down at a desk and scribble poetry?

One thing on my mind,

Only one thing on my mind,

Going to eat you. (32)

            Surprisingly our hero’s skills in rhyme and rhythm don’t help him survive against the zombie horde and before long he finds himself among their ranks.  By some strange miracle he instinctively keeps writing!  The rest of the poetry comes from the zombified hero’s point of view as he ventures out into the world in search of brains!

I really need blood,

Moaning “brains” is hard to do,

With a dried out tongue. (47)

            Our hero dines on his hometown, eats meals on wheels at a nursing home, and finally concludes his writing when he joins an assault and feasts at a fortified airport.

The bent fence buckles,

As hundreds lean and tumble,

We fill the runway.  (121)

            As the poet and the horde exhaust the supply of airport refugees, a pair of survivors tries to hide out in a small kiosk.

We watch them for days,

As they live off the candy,

And read magazines.  (135)

            Neither of these survivors manages to escape alive but one of them does manage to sever our poet’s arm, thus ends his writing.

The few examples I’ve shown here from Zombie Haiku, show how traditional haiku has been modified for today’s audience, to tell an elongated tale in the horror genre.  The 140 page collection contains hundreds of poems for you to enjoy, hopefully some of you will give it a try, and before you laugh and dismiss the idea of reading this book remember, this is the next stage of poetry in our society.

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