Nightlights, Anna Yin, 2017, Black Moss Press
Anna Yin has emerged, season by season, year by year, as a fine, probing and nuanced poet. There is a contemplative soul tenderness in her previous books of poetry that can only be accessed through many a unhurried and meditative read of each inviting poem. Anna’s recent book of poetry, Nightlights, illustrates Anna’s fuller potential that is ever being birthed and maturing. Nightlights is Anna’s newest book of poetry that embodies a venturing forth into the suggestive poetic pathway of haiku poetry and all the wavering and timid lights in the night such a journey taken reveals.
Nightlights is divided into six inviting parts: 1) Night Visitor, 2) Sweeping Gingko Leaves, 3) Dancing Alone, 4) Winter, 5) White Wreaths and 6) Reflections. Each of the haiku poems reveal, at ever deeper levels, quiet and unfulfilled longings, painful points on the journey, legitimate nostalgia, loneliness, mystery of unresolved desires, speech from nature to the heart, moments of tender union and places in the soul where few have lingered with the poet. Those who dare to go to the places Anna offers will discover much about their life pilgrimages yet needing to be lived into—a kindly yet aching call to hope in the night season.
Nightlights should not be read merely for information. The deeper and wiser insights offered can only be understood by a slowing down and many a reread. The genre of the haiku, in many ways, is a form of expressing complex feelings, experiences and emotions, in a compact and succinct manner, which leaves many a portal open for entering the layered meaning of the poem. Anna has in this collection of subtle and refined haiku poems made it abundantly clear that this is way of expressing her poetic vision in a convincing and compelling manner. I found myself, at times, lingering at quite a few of the distilled haiku signals, doing my best to heed their call ---each haiku in this collection has called forth much from Anna and, as such, reaches out to the reader and calls her/him to respond to the invitation of the unique haiku. A question---do we hear the call across the water from the further short----each poem certainly bids us welcome to cross the water.
The whispered and colourful front cover of Nightlights is a beauty worth many a quiet reflection as are the many poignant black and white photographs that introduce each part of the book. The “Introduction” by Claudia Radmore is worth many a read as a primer on haiku poetry.
Many poets either say too much or what is said is so abstract or esoteric that the reader becomes lost in a maze. The simple and direct yet ever deeper layers of each congealed haiku that has lived through Anna in Nightlights offers a way of doing poetry that can speak to one and all. Nightlights is a thin book of poetry but once through the haiku doorway, a vast world of the soul, nature and society is revealed.
This is a book of poetry that will remain with me on the journey and does knit me to much that is essential to the core on the trail and off trail treks of life.