Bryan Rickert

Masters of Sabi

withered leaves
the dusty trail
to the riverbed

 Bryan Rickert


early sunset
I pull into the darkness
of home

Bryan Rickert

Bryan Rickert, current President of the Haiku Society of America and has been published in many fine journals. He is the Editor of Failed Haiku Journal of Senryu and edits The Living Senryu Anthology. Bryan has two books: Fish Kite (Cyberwit Publishing) and Dust and Stone, co-written with Peter Jastermsky (Velvet Dusk Publishing). His work was selected for inclusion in A New Resonance, Volume 12. He was also the recipient of the Touchstone award for individual poems in 2023. 


Across an extensive body of work, in countless formulations with deft brushstrokes and a painterly palette, few practitioners of our day have managed to capture the distinctive tone and character of sabi as expertly, consistently, and recognizably as the incomparable Bryan Rickert. These superlative entries demonstrate his prowess and command of the intricacies of the style and its rich lexicon of concrete harbingers from our vaults of universal human experiences observing nature and change, canonized and codified formally via saijiki in a continuing collective effort to refine language’s figurative capabilities to communicate and describe the passage of time and the ephemerality of our existence on this material plane. Different images and tropes, through general usage and agreed interpretations, have evolved and coalesced to assume, and when adopted impart rich deeper spiritual and erudite meanings both in their original Zen and Shinto contexts, and more recently in our apocalyptic war-torn, climate devastated present throughout Western societies. These two verses dramatically articulate the atmosphere of sabi and together encapsulate its many attempts at pinning down… What better instrument than desiccated foliage to express William Higginson’s handbook translations, of a nostalgic ‘patina… beauty with a sense of loneliness in time.’ Rickert’s relatable fragment image of the proverbial sun setting (prematurely, too soon!), an inky veil as ultimate terminus, echoing his arrival or return into a primordial state of nothingness in the accompanying phrase, similarly constructively evokes Donald Keene’s description of ‘something aged or weathered with a hint of sadness because of being abandoned’.  There is an undertone very metaphysical in possible readings of this piece, which are applicable across faiths, even into purely pragmatic conceptions of our individual mortalities.  The ‘pulling in’ to one’s earthly residence or final resting place and his other tableau of a nomadic seeker or omniscient viewer following loose trail to a stream like a tributary concluding at the ocean mirror one another and emulate our fleeting lifespans, naïve searches for meaning and vainglorious gallivants, with incredible vision and delicacy. 

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