Hortensia Anderson’s The Plenitude of Emptiness: Book Review
The Plentitude of Emptiness by Hortensia Anderson was a delight to read as is her website. The anthology comes directly from her website, The Plenitude of Emptiness, which she has routinely added haibun to since 2004, longer than i’ve even known about haibun.
This anthology of Hortensia’s work over the years includes 115 haibun. All of my favorites are there and it doesn’t disappoint.
Hortensia’s work is both subtle and profound, her voice unique. The introduction starts by saying, “If haibun didn’t exist, it is possible that Hortensia Anderson would have had to invent it.” I think this phrase aptly describes her work.
The anthology starts with Letter to a Kidney Donor’s Mother, and we are plunged into Hortensia’s world, not with the shock that a lesser poet would have used as vehicle, but with the compassion of someone who contains with in her the sensitivity of a great poet. She writes, “…and a sacred bond had been born between us…” And that’s exactly what you get from Hortensia, what all great anthologies give, a sacred bond between poem and reader.
In A Passing Storm, she describes the scene and compares it to the internal struggle, “…a golden calm — another quiet… one without waiting.”
As a writer and haibuneer, i was thrilled to see some experimentation in her work. In Haibun With Zip, she includes a Zip (a haiku analogue). And she admittedly is “breaking several rules of haibun” in it’s writing.
Some themes included in her compilation include her health struggles, her father’s passing, and the idea of her own passing.
Some of my favorites include Stroll; Water Stone, 1986; Basho’s Frog; Reaching Blue; Moon-Viewing Terrace; Tsukabai as indicated by the dog ears i’ve placed in this fine volume.