Aaron Bowker (Masters of Wabi)

Masters of Wabi

icy breath
line forms outside the
city mission

Aaron Bowker


abandoned house
moonlight shines through
ice covered windows

Aaron Bowker

Aaron Bowker, based in the United States, is a super self-critical Virgo, walking a path between worlds while dabbling in art, photography, and poetry. Poems and art have been featured in Failed Haiku, Cold Moon Journal, The Wombwell Rainbow, Heterodox Haiku Journal, The Hooghly Review, The Wombwell Rainbow, Medusa’s Kitchen and Black & White Haifa/Haisha. He especially thanks Jerome Berglund for being his mentor and pushing him to limits otherwise unexplored.




Buson purportedly maintained (as related by Sawa Yuki in Kyoto) that “the essence of haikai is to use ordinary words and yet to become separate from the ordinary”, which he was of the option might be abetted through the inspection, probing and appreciation of Chinese poetic precepts. Like that iconic maestro Aaron Bowker is also no less capable with ink and papyrus (or lens and viewfinder) of sketching representations of moments and their emotional temperament in wholly visual terms as he is rendering incidents with semiotic verbiage. Just so do the poems of this haikuist possess a distinctively artistic character, demonstrating a sharp eye and a studied sense of balance, proportion, symmetry, and their obligatory subversion in order to achieve the ends of disseminating wabi in sleek packages like his two tempestuous verses contributed magnanimously to this investigation. These works splendidly highlight the symbiosis of wabi-sabi which can be achieved through collusion, very effectually too across that coldest season, and with extra credit merited for simultaneously channeling both the rhetorical and the practical senses of poorness in highly refined, timeless writing which could be situated in any time or place beyond the equatorial regions, wherever homesteads are lost or abandoned, and the underprivileged, lowborn seek aid and succor en masse. The creeping cold, materialized through breath made visible, encasing portholes and obscuring vistas not unlike the verdigris from which its name is derived, similarly evoke sabi, as does the time-honored motif of beggars amassing, reminiscent of soup kitchens of the great depressions, our modern day tent cities, and the patronage and charity which are particularly invaluable in a nation where outdoor blankets and pillows are criminalized, churches are prosecuted for putting up homeless during brutal winter nights. America being the worst country in terms of paid vacation entitlement, public programs and healthcare, hours and satisfaction of employment, with Japan ranking close second, it’s not difficult to understand the commonality between our Dharma Bums and their wandering swordsmen of old, the American nightmare with its workaholic gig economy and that driven culture of karöshi (‘overwork death’) and seppuku (‘cutting the stomach’). Bowker is a stirringly skilled emerging voice in the ELH field I can’t recommend enough that arbiters pay attention to, and these odes would make excellent addendums for a dictionary entry on the technique of wabi worth immortalizing for posterity!

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