In hortensia’s book The Plenitude of Emptiness, the lyrical quality of hortensia’s haibun (prose with haiku) is outstanding, to say the least. There is a unity that relies on cycles of plenitude and emptiness rotating throughout. First, there’s an ebb and flow of playfulness and nostalgia. Next, specters of loss appear until the cyclical movement repeats itself. 

From what I know of hortensia’s continual struggle with health issues, I wondered if her book would be dark and morose. It is not. It shimmers in the dark and lives large in the light. It’s a celebration of life and shows an unexpected acquiesce towards infirmity. There is no rage. Perhaps, the act of writing is her choice once her emotions become overwhelming. She has taught herself to learn from her suffering and bounce back time and time again. Between her words is an indomitable strength.

As words follow words, the first section is filled with phrases like froth and foam of mimosa and purple-blue fog of wisteria.  Odors appear like cedar and sandalnight hyacinth or bergamot and rose.  Less that half way through the book, the clouds blacken and shred against a golden sky and the mood becomes chilly. Such a mood lasts through many haibun, until there’s a recurrence of lightness when the acrobatics begin again and hortensia’s crescendo continues until it becomes introspective again. Where does she get this hard resiliency? How has she learned to make roses out of ashes?

There is laughter as well. The reader may laugh at the narcissus’ by the reflecting pool remain in love with themselves or at the incident in “Blue” when a clueless but polite guy remarks on her art piece.

Next, hortensia becomes introspective about the wonders of nature in “Ume”.

And, she soars in “The Way Back.”

Near the end of Plenitude of Emptiness is the haibun “Tea Bowl” which contains a kernel of her philosophy.

These pages contain a gifted poet’s poetic prose and haiku that deserve to be read again and again. For some readers, a glossary of Buddhist terminology may have been helpful; nevertheless, the way hortensia weaves these terms into her writing, points naturally to her beliefs.

hortensia anderson's collection of 115 haibun, The Plenitude of Emptiness, has been published by Darlington Richards. You can purchase it for $10.73 on the website.

haijinx 2010
volume III, issue 1
December 2010



haiku & haiga

page 1 | page 2
page 3 | page 4
page 5 | page 6
page 7 | page 8
page 9 | page 10
page 11 | page 12
page 13

selected haiga

page 1 | page 2

spotlight haiku

Selected Japanese Haiku
by Dhugal J Lindsay

spotlight haibun

Against the Cold
by Penny Harter


Back to School
by Alice Frampton &
Christopher Patchel

Too Hot to Handle
by Christopher Patchel &
Michael Dylan Welch

Long Day
solo rengay
by Christopher Patchel


The Aesthetic Contemplation
by Kala Ramesh

The Awakening
(a kasen renku)

about this issue



haijinx III:1 (December 2010)

Copyright © 2001-2010 Mark Brooks (haijinx). All rights reserved.

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