In these days of information overload and the often disruptive abundance of technology, it can be all too easy to become disconnected from nature and our own senses. Local artist and poet Ant Macari’s latest work, a book of illustrated haiku entitled One Blade Of Grass, attempts to reconnect the reader with the natural cycle of the seasons through the senses.
The beautifully bound book is the outcome of a project set in Teesdale aimed at promoting the unique landscape. “There are many hidden spots in Teesdale, many of which have only been made known by 18th-19th Century painters like Turner and Cotman.” Ant explains.
The book takes influence from Walter Scott’s poem Rokeby, a narrative poem set in Teesdale during the Civil War, and the freestyle haiku of Japanese author Santōka Taneda. A series of drawings depict natural landscapes and landmarks throughout the seasons, interspersed with imaginative haiku that beautifully describes the region’s natural brilliance. Ant has been writing haiku regularly for the last five years, and while image and text has always featured in his work, it’s the brevity of the short form of poetry that has inspired him for One Blade of Grass. “For this project I wanted to evoke the image and experience of the landscape in the mind of the reader. A good haiku will show rather than tell its subject, primarily through the use of nouns. Essentially, the form of haiku comes down to what can be said in a breath, hence the 17 syllables.”
His delicate haiku are fused with the seasonal depictions of landscape and nature in One Blade of Grass, provoking a sense of impermanence amid the beauty. “Things are more beautiful because they won’t last.” He says. “The book is really about sharing an experience of nature and the sensation of being alive within it. To reconnect with our environment and realise that we are not separate from it; we cannot exist without it.”