MOYAYAMA by Alexey Andreyev
Book Review

Ginyu #15, June 2002

Time in a foreign country - U.S.A. - is described in Haiku

The starting point of Russian haiku was the translation of Japanese haiku and tanka. Ms. Bepa Mapkoba published these translations based on the positive study of Japanese haiku and tanka from the 1950s. The anthologies of Japanese poems and haiku translated by her were sold out immediately at many bookstores. It is said that these books were so popular that books were delivered directly from printing house to the black-market bookstalls at last. After years, Russian haiku was born like that of various English-speaking countries. Alexey V. Andreyev is one of the famous young contemporary Russian haiku poets today.

     on the bridge - both ways
     in mist

He won the second prize in "The 1997 Mainichi Newspapers International Haiku Contest" and made his debut in international haiku world with this haiku, which gave a vivid impression on us. After five years later, he published "Moyayama-Russian haiku: a diary" (Web Press Happa-no Kofu, 2002). He wrote it first in his native Russian before translating it into English and Kazue Daikoku translated them into Japanese.

This is 23-year-old Alexey's 2 years' haiku diary on his student life in America. He wrote about his feelings of America and the Americans, feelings on his girl friends, the days of traveling and painting pictures, and the sentiment for his far-left hometown. This is the collection of haiku reportage of his different culture experiences in America with full of humor.

For example, to mow the lawn in America is one of the impressive things for him and he wrote the following haiku. His first impression became this haiku. It is his exquisite expression of 'leaves of grass' in 'did you leave any / leaves of grass for me?' in an inconspicuous way.

     country of lawnmowers,
     did you leave any
     leaves of grass for me?

     Statue of Liberty
     offers an ice cream
     to a helicopter

     sudden snow
     during warm March:today
     I won't speak English

His essays on writing scene of haiku with so much presence, which coordinated with Russian culture, and the exchange of e-mails withJapanese translator Kazue Daikoku are very attractive in understanding his background of haiku. If you are intersted in his haiku, please visit the following websites and you can enjoy English and Russian haiku sites. Russian haiku has gone into various websites actively and Russian poets' haiku came on stage of haiku site of Serge Tome, the Belgian residence. The power of internet which links poets, culture and the literary works together gives us the pleasure and the silent shivers.

Michael Dylan Welch
Woodnotes #29, Summer 1996

As a Russian who has been writing haiku in English for only two years, Alexey should be commended for his quick achievement. Indeed, many nicely seen haiku round out this collection... Here is a fine sample from "Moyayama":

    hot summer night
    a phone keeps ringing
    in the neighbor's house 

Marek Lugowski,
A Small Garlic Press

What makes this book amazing is the freshness and concision of its insights -- given that the author wrote it first in his native Russian before translating it into English -- yet Alexey has been an English-speaker for only two years and a smile.

The book is a diary; it follows a strict time flow, starting in Russia, arriving in New York, going on to witness Chicago and other cities, through a noticing foreigner's eyes.

Moyayama translates from Russian to roughly "my ditch" (or: my-niche), yes, run together like that. It consists of various Japanese poetry forms strung together and divided into sections by its context-dividing artwork. Of the forms, haiku and haibun predominate. What are haibun? Haibun comprise short pieces of prose displayed together with haiku -- as a thematic unit. The layout of the book makes it clear what goes with what.

The 44-page work(the original English version whitch was published by ASGP) contains many stand-alone haiku, haibun, senryu and tanka: quite a browsing feast for those interested in Japanese poetic styles. More interesting still is how it all reads together -- exactly like a diary, only sparse, quick, changing in slivers of narrative and sharp digs of feeling.

This is a most unusual book -- fun to read -- a good way to review one's take on America -- and an intimate way to get into Alexey's head.