“He really was an enchanting person. In some way he was like the spiritual father of everybody…. It is hard to imagine Central Park without Charles Kennedy.” Marie Winn, author of Red-tails in Love, and close friend of Charles, remembering him after his death in October 2004

Thursday, December 3, 2009

BLOOMSBURY REVIEW runs a feature on The Fish Jumps and Charles

In its Sept-Oct issue, the literary review magazine The Bloomsbury Review ran a lovely full-page feature on Charles, called "The Zen Spirit of a Natural Artist: Charles Kennedy", which included a fine review of the Fish Jumps Out of the Moon: Haiku of Charles F. Kennedy. The review and the profile of Charles were written by author and poet, Robert Milo Baldwin.

Here are some excerpts from Mr. Baldwin's review of the book:

Many poets never receive any recognition at all, in this lifetime or any other. Some poets wait until the end of their lives for recognition. A few poets, like Tu Fu, William Blake, and Emily Dickinson, don't receive recognition in their lifetime but become giants after they are gone, casting shadows far beyond their contemporaries. We should be grateful that although Charles Kennedy passed from this world in 2004, we now have at least some of his previously unpublished haiku, collected posthumously in a beautiful edition entitled The Fish Jumps Out of the Moon.
Taking its title from the classic image in Japanese verse in which the moon is reflected in the water, this brief collection of Kennedy's haiku is as unexpected, unconventional, and surprising as its name, juxtaposing poems with the poet's photographs and essays.


Through his poetic eye, stars become trapped in trees, the moon becomes clouded by his breath, and wind could scatter the moon across the surface of a lake. Better yet:

after the rain
thousands of summer moons
on leaf tips


He wrote not only of birds and hawks and the moon,but also of spiders and slugs. His acute sensitivity and imagination may best be shown by this rendering of the flight of a bat:

is there an echo
when a bat flies
by a bell

or this wonderful image of the rather Blakean depiction of a child's innocence:

the three year old
misses the falling star

grabs for the firefly

or these two haunting images of long-eared owls, accmpanied by concise journal entries on how he and his friends would gather to watch them fly out of their roosts at dusk:

a wisp of fog
flows past the park lamp

looking for the owl


flying owl
and falling petal

no sound

Reading Kennedy's haiku, you wish to blessed by further editions of his work, since this collection contains only what has been selected from his "night haiku." Additional volumes on other themes would be most welcome, which the penultimate poem nicely sums up:

the robins
call for dawn

the pond appears

Let's hope more robins, more dawns, and more small ponds of Kennedy's haiku appear soon.


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