September 2015
Book Reviews

 intro,  1,  2,  3  4,  5,


  Title: Into the Light
  Author: Harriot West, USA
  Dimensions: 5⅞ inch x 8⅞ inch
  Construction: Soft Perfectbound
  Total page count: 48
  Publisher: Mountains and Rivers Press
  Publish date: n.d. (copyright 2014/15)
  Language: English
  ISBN: 978-0-9896021-2-9
  Price: $15.00 US

Perfectly titled Into the Light! Harriot West in her first published collection of haibun spins a gossamer story of a woman...challenging us at the beginning with “Stories I Might Tell” hmm, fact or fiction? She mines the psyche mostly through the recollections of girlhood, finding surprising contradictions, secrets, and wounds hidden in a dark place. She brings them “into the light” live, to grow, to blossom.

The first section of 17 haibun, “Sepia Shadows”, builds a sort of snapshot family narrative of a young girl’s growth into an adult. It exposes the sort of family dramas and youthful observations that are carried just under the surface which so often mysteriously color our lives and forge choices.

The second section, “Foreshadowing”, is composed of 10 haiku that bridge the time from young girl to woman, the time of uncertainties, questioning, awakening, ripening.

And the last section, “The Pinwheel’s Colors”, including 12 haibun episodes shows us a take-charge woman, aware of but unafraid to confront her inadequacies and vulnerabilities. Deftly, with variations in her haibun length and pace, slight changes of style (yet never losing her own voice), Harriot has, bit by bit, drawn us a portrait of girl-into-woman. The halting young girl in sturdy brown shoes survives, yea, thrives and emerges as a woman who can“...say yes. Say yes to it all.”

That much of Harriot’s work (seen singly in journals over recent years) could have coalesced into this volume is nothing less than magic. She has created, through editing and arrangement, a context for her individual pieces.

Do not conclude Into the Light is autobiographical. Maybe, maybe not. I’ve heard Harriot speak enough to know she reaches deep to mix memory with imagination...she is a writer. Did you catch that?     A writer... and such a good one!

—UHTS Book Reviewer Barbara Snow, USA