For a band who describe themselves as “Baroque-pop-folktronic-neo-classical-something-or-other”, releasing a book of haiku probably isn’t too much of a stretch, creatively. Especially when that band is Haiku Salut, the Derbyshire three-piece who tour their aforementioned mixture of musical styles around the UK in an old postal van, playing songs like ‘Sounds like there’s a Pacman crunching away at your heart’ to an ever-growing fanbase. Illustrated by Katrine Brosnan, ‘Japanese poems steal brains’ is a collection of 100 haiku written by the band whilst on tour over the last three years.
The haiku, as many will know, is originally a Japanese poem typically involving the juxtaposition of two different ideas or images, and composed of 17 syllables split across lines of 5, 7 and 5. In typical fashion the English ‘borrowed’ the haiku in the early 20th century, and it’s now a popular form of poetry in the English language, especially amongst instrumental electro-folk bands. Apparently. Whether or not this particular band was a fan of the haiku before choosing its name is as yet unknown, but it’s somehow an appropriate choice.
Accompanied by the endearingly child-like illustrations, these haiku offer up an insider’s view of life for the girls in Haiku Salut, from tales of upset druids and glittery dresses, to advice on gigging and touring and even musings on the unpleasantness of vomiting through a trumpet. On an objective, artistic level it’s difficult to judge them without an in-depth knowledge of poetry and haiku in particular, but then this isn’t really intended to be a ‘serious’ artistic statement in the way that a poetry book would normally be. Instead it’s a celebration of the band and another outlet for their endless creativity. In keeping with their musical leanings it’s a mishmash of topics and themes, playful, characterful and a little bit weird.
There’s an inevitable sense that this book is something of an in-joke for the band and their fans, but then that isn’t really a problem. A book of haiku is unlikely to trouble the bestsellers lists, but as a little something different for fans to pick up at the merchandise stand after a gig it’s absolutely spot on, and if it only really makes sense to people who already know the band…so be it. If you pick this up and haven’t heard of Haiku Salut, now’s a good time to have a listen!