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Buddhist Recovery Network book review
“The Breath of Surrender: A collection of recovery-oriented haiku”
Edited by Robert Epstein
Modern English Tanka Press, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. publisher at themetpress dot com, 2009.
Paperback. 91 pages.
School/perspective: Zen Buddhism and AA
“Herein lies the root connection between haiku and recovery: Both are informed by the unceasing breath of surrender, whose Latin root means “to give back to”. The haiku poet surrenders to Nature in the here-and-now such that the self-as-separate disappears; the recovering alcoholic or addict surrenders to his/her Higher Power (however that is defined) such that he or she returns to living Life on Life’s terms, one day at a time. One day at a time is long-hand for the present or, as Zen Buddhists are fond of saying, the Eternal Now.”
“A stand of trembling aspen.
First AA meeting.”
- George Matey, bear creek haiku, 83 (p. 40)
in his teacup.”
- Owen Bullock, Frogpond, 25:3 (p. 51)
on my zazen cushion -
the serenity prayer.”
- ct (p. 57)
not one day at a time
- Anonymous (p. 87)
“he stands beneath
the cedars of Alanon
just twelve steps
from where I turn
- ct (p. 90)
© 2009 Robert Epstein
The Buddhist Recovery Network does not officially endorse any of the book reviews that appear on this site. They are private viewpoints that may or may not represent the views of the organisation or its members. Readers are free to submit book reviews for publication on this site via the link below.
Robert Epstein, a haiku poet and psychotherapist, has assembled this beautiful collection of recovery-oriented haiku, drawn from a number of different authors and sources. It is apparently the first collection of its kind. There is a strong Twelve Step theme, and irrespective of your addiction you should find verses here that resonate, sometimes humorously, sometimes poignantly. I read it through quickly the first time in one sitting, letting the words play over me, feeling little stabs of recognition, flashes of humour and pathos. Then I re-read it a couple more times, reflecting more deeply on some of them. The typesetting of two haiku to a page gives the volume a very spacious feel, conducive to reflection.
Kevin Griffin -
(As published on the book’s jacket)
“These haiku are tragic, funny, clever and moving. In bite-sized pieces of wisdom and insight “The Breath of Surrender” sheds light, opens doors, and touches hearts on the path of recovery. What joy!”
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