The novels of the Irish American author J.P. Donleavy are unique in that the last few words of each chapter are a short poem similar to a haiku. I can find no reason to believe that he knew the Japanese poetry form called ‘Haibun’ and must have devised this himself, but it is startlingly similar.
‘The Angel’s Wound’ is a collection of Haibun by Portsmouth poet George Marsh. Haibun is the invention of the C17th master of Haiku, Matsuo Basho, one of Japan’s leading poets. It is a ‘prosimetric’ form of literature, one comprised of a combination of prose and poetry. The prose can be a prose poem, a story, and essay, an autobiography, a diary or a quotation even from a technical or scientific source. Pieces of prose are accompanied or interrupted by short haiku-like poems. Haibun has spread beyond its native land to become a worldwide poetic phenomenon and gained popularity in recent years. Haiku, which is contained in a Haibun piece, is a short poem of three lines containing a total of seventeen syllables. If you have never encountered Haibun it may sound strange, mechanical, even pretentious. If you know the novels of Donleavy you will have some idea how powerful, effective and moving it can be! ‘The Angel’s Wound’ is proof of that.