Response by Michael Boiano

I am proud to have been one of those who, very early on, encouraged Svetlana’s interest in poetry. At one point, I shared one of my own tanka poems, one  that she especially liked (interestingly, it was also a favorite of my own mentor and teacher, James Kirkup)…
 
“These things I cherish:/the moment between glances;/stillness beneath sound/ the voice of the unuttered; the darkness behind the light.”
 
I suppose that this poem alone might have made a good introduction to her latest volume of haiku, “Language and Silence.”  The words in that poem resonated with Svetlana.  She has a keen ear for silence and “the stillness beneath sound” and she understands the power of silence and space in Japanese poetry. In Japanese, it’s called “ma” (間) and key is the emphasis on interval, on the balance between form and non-form. The artist utters just enough to capture the fleeting moment, then withdraws,  leaving the reader with space to contemplate, to savor, to absorb the experience within his or her imagination.
 
Svetlana comprehends these silences and she utilizes them to good effect:
 
through
the front door--
night
 
stillness--
the decaying apple
on the tree
 
autumn night
unfolding before my eyes
from nothing
 
Moments in time, keenly observed, and left there, enfolded in silence. There’s an Arabic proverb that says, “Open your mouth only if what you are going to say is more beautiful than the silence.” For Svetlana, not only more beautiful than silence but complementary with it as well.
 
As with any good haiku poet, Svetlana’s words are closely linked to nature. These poems touch us on many levels—earthy yet spiritual, harsh reality and the feel of dreamy hypnagogia. There is much in them of anticipation and hope, of acceptance and the appreciation of small joys and resilience and strength of spirit. Of humanity and the grace of god. Of the sublime presence of nature.
 
This collection is arranged chronologically and so it reads as a kind of “haiku diary.”  Some of the poems are more powerful than others, some with an ache of sadness which lies just beneath the surface of what may at first glance seem quotidian. The ordinary and the sublime—the day to day journal of a young poet confronting her own mortality and tasting as much of the world as was available to her. Some more of my favorites:
 
autumn dusk…
an angel of light
casts a shadow
 
before dawn,
a cat stretches into
the silence
 
and this…
 
autumn dusk
she swings through light
while it lasts
 
“She swings through light while it lasts.” That was Svetlana. And thanks to her, the light lasts a bit longer for us, too.
 
For those who know Svetlana and for those who have yet to encounter her haiku, Language and Silence will be something to cherish.