A collection examines golf through essays and haiku.
Golf and haiku poetry have more in common than readers might initially think. Success at either requires viewing the world from a certain perspective. “This is the cultivation of a ‘quiet mind,’ that is, the ability to focus on the moment and the immediate target,” writes the author in his introduction. “It is to give oneself to the task at hand, to be in that moment, and to resolve to accept—and to learn from—the outcomes of the effort no matter what they may be.” Here Zingg (An Emerald Odyssey, 2008, etc.) provides 72 haiku on subjects related to golf, a number matching the par value at most courses and the author’s age. Each haiku is accompanied by a brief essay on the same topic as the poem. For example, the 11th haiku is entitled “Squib”: “The squib brings fierce rain, / umbrellas raise against it— / a feeble defense.” The author then explains in the companion essay, “Squibs are brief showers that can occur anytime, anywhere, along the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland.” He goes on to explore how squibs affect games of golf in those regions by introducing elements of surprise and serendipity—just the sort of moments that haiku are made for. While cynical readers might find this idea a little too cute by half, Zingg’s point about the relationship between haiku and golf turns out to be a very sound one. Furthermore, he is both a sincere student of haiku and a capable practitioner of the form, understanding what it is and is not. The author seeks out true instances of complication and gracefully probes their dimensions, as in “Seeing”: “What fills the spaces / between the targets and shots— / nothing, everything.” The essays, though brief, supplement the poems and aid the understanding of their subjects. While this is most definitely a book for golfers first and foremost, haiku fans in general will likely find things here to complement their appreciation of the form. It may even lead them to pick up a new hobby.
A thoughtful and well-executed celebration of golf and haiku.