Professor Wu's Rulebook

Book Review: Sexy Haiku by Nick Brooks

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Making all haiku in Paris that little bit sexier. Photo credit: Jennifer Taylor

When the Nothing in the Rulebook team were asked to review Nick Brooks’s Sexy Haiku – a collection of haiku that follow one man’s relationships – we did the only sensible thing and carried the book with us on a romantic trip to Paris. After all, nothing quite says ‘city of love’, as reading haikus that range from the intimately descriptive –

I ease in     sideways

Between a shifted thong

And the flesh of your thigh.

To the tragically relatable emptiness of meaningless sex –

It doesn’t matter

How long you try       I can’t come

Unless I feel loved.

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Sexy meringue, anyone? Or just more sexy haiku?

Indeed, what perhaps really resonates throughout the entire book is this almost tragic feeling that exceptional moments in love are so rare, that when they occur, one cannot fully appreciate them – since they will inevitably end, perhaps never to be repeated; and yet, having occurred, will always lead those involved to compare and contrast all future experiences with said moment. Consider, for instance, the following:

We come at the same time

Both our faces raw     tangled

If it could always be like this.

In these haiku, there carries a sense of loss for moments of perfection; and through this a sadness of never being able to truly live in the moment or experience present pleasure – where moments that are good are soured by the thought that they will not always be as good. In this way, Brooks delivers a sense of in-the-moment-nostalgia, where lovers have a premonition or foresight of themselves looking back at certain moments from the future, longing to re-live them and yet knowing they perhaps never will.

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The Moulin Rouge ain’t seen no haiku as sexy as this.

If there is to be a criticism of this book, it is that there is perhaps not a clear enough perception of the female perspective of love and sex. Instead, we are presented with haiku that have a distinctively masculine tone and voice.

Of course, masculinity is no bad thing and having spent so many years with men generally taught to suppress their emotions and repress urges to reflect on their sexual encounters and their experiences of love, it is refreshing in many ways to finally have a book that allows us to explore how men experience these things in the sort of raw, true and ‘real’ manner that only poetry and writing really allows. Yet one cannot help but think this book perhaps requires a partner – an equal in form and style; but from the female perspective. Sex, after all, is something that necessitates partnership. And so, without this, Sexy Haiku feels once again only part of a whole – which in turn adds to the sense of loss and incompleteness that is carried in the undertones of its pages.

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Sexy haiku can be enjoyed by men, women, and giraffes alike.

What this book does very well is capture the absurdity of both sex and love. We witness the complications of negotiating a threesome; the politics of semi-open relationships; the trepidation of setting out into unknown sexual waters of BDSM, or even trying “a new position, beyond the three recommended”; and, of course, those moments that somehow just happen, even though nobody really knows how they happen or why they occur, except that those who experience them know they feel somehow right and logical at the time – for instance, take the following:

She holds up an

overripe avocado

winks coyly at me    licks her lips.

While Brooks clearly has a fine eye for the intricacies of language and syntax, the haiku that stand out are these moments that are so relatable. Not everyone of course has the specific experience of using avocados sexually – although, in the age of the hipster, and with John Lewis reporting sales of avocado products up over 100% year-on-year, perhaps more people than you’d think actually do have similar experiences. Yet in reading these haiku, readers will inevitably be drawn to – and re-live – their own absurd-but-not-absurd-at-the-time sexual memories (avocado-based or not).

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What these haiku do very well is capture the absurdity of both sex and love.

In turns moving, funny, grotesque, romantic, filthy, and, yes, sexy, Sexy Haiku delivers on its essential promise of providing readers with a poetically erotic journey through the nuances of love. This is not to say that every haiku in the collection will be to each and every reader’s tastes; but that, when looked at together and taken as a whole, each fits together with the others in a way that complements them and brings new and added meaning. In this way, this is a book that can be read and re-read over and over – because it is that rarity in books these days in that every time you return to its pages you uncover new meaning, and find something new to enjoy and appreciate. This makes Sexy Haiku the perfect addition to any bookshelf.

“What do you like?” the first haiku in this collection asks us.

“This,” we might reply. “This is very good.”

 

Purchase Sexy Haiku from Freight Books here:  https://www.freightbooks.co.uk/product/sexy-haiku/  

9 comments

  1. This is a crackin’ read of a Thursday. Love the idea of sexy haikus. Good review, too – although I’d like to have seen a few more examples of the poems. I think I’d like to check what some of the other haiku are like before I buy the book. Love the pics, though! If haiku be the food of love, etc. etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Professor Wu, for your nuanced reading of my wee book. It goes to show how often I look for my own name in Google, that I have only just come across (oo-er, Missus) it today, in 2019!

    I wasn’t even looking for me, actually, just ‘erotic haiku’ generally. But, lo and behold!

    As for the lack of a female/feminine perspective – are you so sure the narrator of every haiku is a man? Or straight?

    Of course, you’re right – he is! But the possibility remains, and it’s not unreasonable to think that this is open to interpretation…

    Sadly, the original publisher of the book, Freight, has since dissolved back into the ether…but perhaps, in this era of the internet, it will be reborn in digital form…if I ever get round to putting it out there, together with its original title, which was ‘Why Don’t You Write Me A Love Poem?’

    I bowed to the desires of the publisher at the time, but have never liked ‘Sexy Haiku’ as a title. Ho hum.

    Anyway, thanks for your review – I enjoyed it immensly and was glad to find it had made its way into the hands of someone who ‘got’ it.

    Very best,
    Nick Brooks

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nick,

      What an absolute pleasure to see you pop up on our comments board. So pleased that you stumbled upon our review and thanks for you detailed reply. It’s great to have the responses of authors to reviews of their books.

      Thanks for the update regarding Freight. That is very sad to hear – particularly in an age where indie publishers are struggling to compete with the big conglomerates while remaining some of the few places publishing genuinely original work.

      Is there an alternative location where people can purchase copies of Sexy Haiku for themselves?

      And fascinating, also, to hear about your original intentions for the title of the book. Sexy Haiku is definitely a marketers and SEO dream – but we also like ‘Why Don’t You Write Me A Love Poem?’ – quite beautiful.

      More importantly – am so glad that you enjoyed the review! We loved reading the book. Perhaps you’d be interested in being interviewed as part of our ‘creatives in profile’ interview series?

      Very Best,

      Prof Wu.

      Like

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