Now Available: Border Crossings

Posted on Feb 24, 2012

Now Available: Border Crossings


Border Crossings: Walking the Haiku Path on the International Appalachian Trail
by Ian Marshall has been released! The book is currently available in Hiraeth’s online bookstore and will be coming to Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other outlets next week.

Border Crossings fol­lows Ian Marshall on his journey over the International Appalachian Trail, which runs from Mt. Katahdin in Maine up through New Brunswick and out to the tip of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula. Countless books have been done to chronicle the individual’s com­mu­nion with nature, from the clas­sics written by nat­u­ral­ists such as Henry David Thoreau or John Muir, to the more con­tem­po­rary offer­ings such as Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson; how­ever Border Crossings stands out as unique among its fel­lows. Composed of Haiku and con­tem­pla­tive prose Border Crossings is book of braided styles: poetry, prose and travel writing. This style, as the author explains, is akin to that of haibun—a style of writing made pop­ular by such Japanese poets as Matsuo Bashō that merges poetic and med­i­ta­tive prose, lit­erary crit­i­cism and cul­tural med­i­ta­tion.

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Praise for Border Crossings

“The International Appalachian Trail runs north from Mount Katahdin seven hun­dred miles to the end of the Gaspé Peninsula. Inspired by Basho, Ian Marshall hiked it for six sum­mers, probing the poetics of haiku while exploring a vast and beau­tiful wilder­ness little known in the US. Marshall is an engaging trail com­panion and a superb story teller, with a self dep­re­cating wit and sharp intel­lect that spice up his obser­va­tions and ideas. Like Basho, he finds the mirac­u­lous in the common and ele­vates the humble walk into a spir­i­tual prac­tice, sprin­kling his nar­ra­tive with lovely orig­inal haiku that seem to have con­densed in the moment, like droplets of dew. Backpackers will appre­ciate his pun­gent descrip­tions of life on the trail, and eco­critics will savor his abun­dant insights on poetry, nature, and cul­ture. This lively book serves up a classic blend of high adven­ture, lit­erary pil­grimage, and self dis­covery. It tastes as tart and fresh as wild rasp­ber­ries.” —John Tallmadge, past-​​president of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment and author of The Cincinnati Arch: Learning from Nature in the City

“The voice of Border Crossings is at once exu­berant, philo­soph­ical, and provoca­tive, exem­pli­fying Joyce’s term ‘jocoserious.’ Forging across the bound­aries between Maine, Quebec, and New Brunswick with his beloved com­panion M., Ian Marshall both reports on their mishaps, silli­ness, and sore feet and med­i­tates on Basho’s encounter with the Shirakawa Barrier. In his own fresh and authentic haiku from the trail, he deftly reg­is­ters affini­ties between the Japanese master and writers like Thoreau and Whitman while also rec­og­nizing the gaps and meet­ings that shape his own life. I feel per­son­ally grateful for this vital, illu­mi­nating book.”  — John Elder, author of Reading the Mountains of Home and Pilgrimage to Vallombrosa

“Ian Marshall car­ries on the tra­di­tions of Bashō, Thoreau, and even Kerouac in Border Crossings as he travels along the International Appalachian Trail. This demanding but lesser-​​known über-​​trail stretches north some 500 miles from its highest point at Mt. Katahdin in Maine all the way down to sea level on Québec’s Gaspé Peninsula. This book serves as a tri­par­tite intro­duc­tion not only to the IAT and to the author’s day-​​to-​​day hiking chal­lenges and rewards, but above all to haiku and its eco­cen­tric attrac­tions — all three paths more rich and varied than many readers might realize. This book’s explo­ration of place is both inner and outer, and an in-​​depth inves­ti­ga­tion of haiku aes­thetics. The nar­ra­tive unfolds using the haibun form — prose inter­spersed with haiku — and car­ries readers along in its curious and joyful melding of con­tem­pla­tion and rev­e­la­tion. These travels, mostly on foot, are ulti­mately a quest for beginner’s mind, a quest not just to hike this scenic and chal­lenging trail, but to learn, as the author says, ‘to write a decent haiku.’ And learn he does, not just from his exten­sive reading in nature writing and haiku schol­ar­ship, which he refers to lib­er­ally, but from nature her­self — always haiku’s finest teacher.” —Michael Dylan Welch, Vice President of the Haiku Society of America

“In the tra­di­tion of Basho, Ian Marshall invites us to accom­pany him on a haiku journey to the North. And, like Basho, he pro­vides us with an engaging account of his adven­tures in a lit­erary work full of vivid details that evoke the joys and pains of an excur­sion through the northern forest. But Border Crossings is more than a journey along a trail. In the spirit of Basho and Thoreau, it is equally a journey into the mys­tery of our human rela­tion­ship to nature and of the role of lan­guage in medi­ating, enhancing, and com­pli­cating that rela­tion­ship. Sparked by daily read­ings from a weather-​​worn volume of Basho tucked into his pack, Marshall exam­ines the aes­thetics, phi­los­ophy, and prac­tice of haiku, that most nature-​​oriented of poetic forms. Border Crossings is won­der­fully written, at once wry and insightful, serious yet playful, and lib­er­ally spiced with mostly for­giv­able puns. Like a good trail it draws us for­ward with the promise of nov­elty, sur­prise, delight. In Border Crossings Ian Marshall presents the haiku path not as an exotic place of quaintly for­eign and out­moded aes­thetics, but as a vital, per­haps never-​​more-​​necessary, way of being in the world.” —Tom Lynch, author of Xerophilia: Ecocritical Explorations in Southwestern Literature and co-​​editor of The Bioregional Imagination: Literature, Ecology, and Place