In the Gardens of Japan: A Poem Sequence
In an eight-poem sequence, each a garden, Kenny Fries leads us into and through another, giving us an understanding not only of what constitutes a Japanese garden, but also how a Japanese garden encapsulates an entire world. Dynamic, like breath, the sequence is set within drawings of unpredictable landscapes. Kenny Fries's visits to eight famous Japanese gardens is an exploration of how much we can make of and find in the world around us, a world in which we are but a part.
“These elegant poems give us intimate and profound glimpses into Japanese gardens. Neither haiku nor tanka, they nevertheless have about them the compression, lucidity, and complexity of ancient Japanese forms. As a student of Zen, I delight in their clear-seeing. This little book is a treasure.”
— Chase Twichell, author of Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been
“Is the garden ‘rising’? Do we take it ‘apart’ whenever we think of it? How do we know where the garden begins, and where our own mutable 'turn,’ to life beyond its complex, vibrating boundary, is initiated? Fries incubates a feeling that precedes gesture, a pressure before appearance that flows through descriptions of blossoms, water and color. The book, in this sense, substitutes for garden, just as reading it resembles, in non-identical ways, a constant orientation to light and shadow: the places in a garden that neither receive nor give.”
— Bhanu Kapil
"The poems are simultaneously spare yet lush, remote yet immediate, haunting yet brilliantly alive. Each one forms a small but masterfully complete world."
— Julia Bouwsma, Connotation Press Reviews