So Many Miles: Fifty Senryu
by Olivier Schopfer
(2019 Alien Buddha Press) 6” x 9” Perfect-bound paperback. 68 Pages.
ISBN 9781090237958 www.amazon.com
Reviewed by Robin Anna Smith.
,As the name implies, Olivier Schopfer’s So Many Miles: Fifty Senryu takes readers on a journey. Not surprising coming from this photographer, it is filled with snapshots of everyday life, which are depicted in a manner that sparks a reverberation of wonder and contemplation. Some are high-focus with more detail, while others zoom out to leave more room for the reader to find their own focal point/s.
The book is divided into three sections: “Escalators,” “So Many Miles,” and “Empty Cocoon,” each with their own feel and sense of moving through time and space. In many of his senryu, Schopfer employs the use of seasonal references, which add a sense of grounding to the otherwise humancentric collection.
of pale and dark ale
While this image may draw us to the coincidence of the mixed beers and mixed skin tones, it also resonates with an unbiased view of race, allowing us to contrast this harmonious image with some of the nastier things we see in the news and everyday life.
What lies on the dark side of the moon? It brings to mind the philosophical thought experiment: “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Is this “hidden” side something we regularly see but take for granted? Or are these traits things we overlook in the presence of something/someone awe-inspiring?
you show me
your true colors
This is another thought-provoking senryu about state of being. Does a leaf really change or is what we see visually simply part of the lifecycle? Do people really change or camouflage who they really are? Or do we selectively put on blinders to only see the parts of people that we wish to see and ignore the rest to make them more appealing?
subway rush hour
the effort it takes
to avoid eye contact
Most of us have probably been in this situation, whether on public transit, on our morning coffee run, or dropping the kids off at school. In our daily rush to the next thing, we often miss out on something important—that human connection. While we may see some of the same faces repeatedly, we often choose to keep to ourselves as opposed to get to know the people around us.
social me me me media
This is another great reflection of our current interactions, both with each other and the world, in general. While many avoid personal contact on one hand, on the other, more impersonal hand, they are exhibitionists. While social media can be a way to increase contact and strengthen bonds, it can have the opposite effect via showmanship and the often-negative responses to it.
So Many Miles by Olivier Schopfer is a remarkable collection of senryu that takes the reader on a journey of the everyday while focusing through a contemplative lens. There is a movement between the words and poems, reflective of the general journey of life, as if just stopping for a brief moment to jot down some quick notes to continue to ponder later. Readers will likewise come back to reconsider these verses and ideas.