Heiligenschein (the Heiligen Effect in English) refers to an optical effect of refraction that can be observed at dawn or when the sun is at a low aspect behind the observer. When shadows are long and the dew on the lawn has yet to evaporate, a couple walking across the grass may see a halo over the shadow of the head of his or her companion, but won’t be able to see the halo over his or her own shadow’s head. Lovely metaphor for what goes on inside one’s noggin with respect to the language construct of the self, don’t you think? Anyway, as the Japanese haikai traditions influenced imagism in the western world and the concomitant need to get past the mind’s roof chatter with self, I thought it was an appropriate title for a selected haikai and haikai sequences collection. I won’t claim this is a best-of selection, only that it is a fair representation of the English language traditions and experimental byways I have explored recently and through 14 previous collections. Included are English language haiku, senryu, tanka, kyoka, zappai, haibun, and western narrative/imagist experiments with haikai-liked linked stanzas. If the old cliché, a picture is worth a thousand words, is correct, then what happens when you play with the apertures of language a thousand times to adjust the images? One can only hope for a refraction of the light to get through the cracks in the ego: epiphanies or perhaps just a high coo of contented recognition when the halo falls down around one’s shoulders to become a more plebeian crew or turtle neck. (note by Richard Stevenson)
About the author
Richard Stevenson was born in 1952 in Victoria, British Columbia. A prolific writer, Richard has published twelve collections of poetry (including Why Were All the Werewolves Men? (Thistledown, 1994), and Nothing Definite Yeti (Ekstasis Editions, 1999)) and four poetry chapbooks. Richard won the 1994 Stephan G. Stephansson Award for From the Mouths of Angels (Ekstasis, 1993). He is also the co-founder of Naked Ear, a poetry-jazz performance ensemble.