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Molofsky, M. (2018). Solitary Moon. By Seiso Paul Cooper. Honesdale, Penn.: Three Stones Press, 2017, 62 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 105(4):455-460.

(2018). Psychoanalytic Review, 105(4):455-460

Solitary Moon. By Seiso Paul Cooper. Honesdale, Penn.: Three Stones Press, 2017, 62 pp.

Review by:
Merle Molofsky, NCPsyA, LP

Once again Seiso Paul Cooper, ordained Zen priest, psychoanalyst, and award-winning writer and poet, offers soul-stirring poetry in a collection of new waka, a result of seventeen years of his discovery of, and fascination with, classical Japanese poetry, particularly waka. In his Introduction, Cooper gives a brief account of twelfth- to fifteenth-century CE Japanese court poetry, and identifies what he calls a common thread, the unity of nature and humanity. “The two are not separable. Nothing is excluded from the pervasiveness of impermanence and the ultimate transient reality of life. What can be said about nature implicitly and/or explicitly applies to us all” (pp. ix-x).

Cooper then offers his understanding of what waka and haiku offer as forms: “spontaneous snapshots that one takes in, experiences, intuits, perceives with the sense faculties and with the heart; a quick snapshot of what is at the forefront of the writer's experience internally and externally at any given moment” (p. x). He explains that Zen study and practice have been an integral part of his life for many years, and that poetry is a means of expressing that experience. “The poem functions as a ‘wide-awake dream.’” His Introduction concludes, “It is my hope that you will dream along with the poems in this collection and allow your own native intuitive and creative capacities to blossom and flow freely” (p. xviii).

The book continues with 55 pages of entrancing waka, leading to a four-page essay on waka structure and form.

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