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'Noon: An Anthology of Short Poems': Wit and wisdom in 14 lines or fewer

by Kris Kosaka

Contributing Writer

Tokyo-based poet Philip Rowland first published “Noon: Journal of the Short Poem” in 2004, starting as “very much a personal project.”

Noon: An Anthology of Short Poems, Edited by Philip Rowland.
162 pages
ISOBAR PRESS, Poetry.

The limited-print journal, hand-bound on washi paper, ran for six years. In 2014, Rowland restarted “Noon” online, striving to maintain the integrity of the original by offering a multitude of styles and varied perspectives, accepting contributions from poets all over the world as long as the poems were less than 14 lines. Continuing success has led to its first collection, published this summer by Isobar Press, “Noon: An Anthology of Short Poems.”

As Rowland quietly asserts with this anthology, there’s a universe within the world of short-form poetry, extending far beyond the boundaries of haiku or tanka.

Settling into “Noon,” it’s easy to slip into a meditative flow of wisdom and wordplay with these quick gulps of thought. The poems are sensitively juxtaposed, revealing sly humor or demanding deeper contemplation with a turn of the page. Rowland is as talented with his editing as with his own writing and it is clear he enjoyed the process.

Some poems are grouped thematically in sequence, some in opposition for emphasis, some by a contrasting phrase or a mirroring image — but always with deft originality. Each poem stands on its own page yet irrefutably feels part of a larger whole. There are over 200 poems and nearly 100 poets in the slim volume, yet it can easily be absorbed in a single sitting. Set aside some time and discover the wealth of words in a few short lines of poetry.