On March 17th I had the privilege of launching Jane Williams’ new haiku collection, Echoes of Flight in the bushland setting of Waterworks Reserve, on a day of perfect autumn sunshine sharpened with the pungency of eucalyptus leaves and blossom.
Jane Williams is one of the most versatile writers I know. Her work covers a wide range of genres – poetry, short stories and writing for children – In fact, we can look forward to the release of a collection of poems for children and a children’s picture book later this year, making 2018 a trifecta of achievements in publishing her work. She also writes a variety of Japanese-style short form works including haibun, haiga and tanka. This latest collection, her eighth, is a selection of her haiku and senryu.
Jane Williams is a poet who notices things, who pays attention to her surroundings with curiosity and wonder. That curiosity and wonder is evident in the opening poem of her new collection.
xxxxxxxdaytime moon – my first question – why
Attention, wonder, curiosity, are evident throughout Jane’s work. I know that this quote by Mary Oliver is important to her, and it seems to sum up Jane’s own approach to her writing:
“Instructions for living a life.
Tell about it.”
Jane’s observations of the small details of the everyday shine a fresh light on what might pass as ordinary, making it seem extraordinary, so that as readers we are caught up in the sharing of that moment, and we experience an aspect of the world in a new way. We also may discover things we already knew but didn’t know how to say. If you have ever marvelled at the beauty of a wading bird reflected in still water, you will respond with recognition to this haiku:
xxxxxStill water reveals
xxxxxthe heron’s twin—
xxxxxhead in the clouds
There is warmth and humour and reverence in Jane’s approach to the world. Take for example a poem like:
xxxxxcounting my blessings
xxxxxnot enough hours today
xxxbread baking the new house smells like home
xxxbeachcombing buoyed by each shell I leave
These moments reveal an intense love of life and the particularities that make up our days. In these pages we find rare objects sent by mail, rainbows inserted into text messages, the smile of the chemo nurse, the homeless person’s shopping trolley, demolition sites and dolphin pods – to mention only some of the moments that have caught the poet’s attention, astonished her and moved her to tell about it.
You will always find the same deep sense of generosity and humanity in Jane’s work, across all the genres she writes in. She celebrates life, acknowledging both its light and dark aspects. Her work has been described as compassionate, tender, forceful – these same qualities are evident in these small moments, recorded with simplicity and precision, glimpses into larger landscapes that come alive in the reader’s mind and heart.
Echoes of Flight is a book that rewards reading and rereading – each small poem gives up more of its nuances as you allow yourself to enter it and it to enter you.
Available from Ginninderra Press
Lyn Reeves, March 2018