Tuesday, July 29, 2008

HAIKU: the Art of the Short Poem

Tazuo Yamaguchi of Poem Studios has informed me that his haiku documentary (filmed at Haiku North America 2007) is ready. To view a trailer of Haiku: the Art of the Short Poem go to:


This highly anticipated film, produced in association with Brooks Books, is the first full length film to explore English-language haiku.

The film and companion anthology are available for purchase at Brooks Books Haiku.

Thank you Poem Studios and Brooks Books for this important film and book.

Also, Yamaguchi has created another DVD, which contains Haiku North America 2007 conference highlights and which will be mailed out in August by Dave Russo to all presenters and to all who paid for the conference package that included the DVD.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Carolyn Hall - Three Questions

Carolyn Hall was an editor of Mariposa (the journal of the Haiku Poets of Northern California) and served as a member of the Red Moon Anthology Editorial Staff. She is currently the acting editor of Acorn: a journal of contemporary haiku. Her haiku have been widely published in the U.S. and abroad, and she has received numerous awards, including both Poem of the Year and Poet of the Year in The Heron's Nest Readers' Choice Awards. Water Lines, her award-winning collection of haiku and senryu, was published by Snapshot Press (UK, 2006).

Carolyn shares her response to three questions.

Dear Curtis,

Thank you so much for undertaking this exciting project and for giving me the opportunity to participate.

1. Why do you write haiku?

Before I was introduced to haiku (by a friend) nine years ago, I walked through the world with my eyes half-shut. I grew up in a city, and, aside from the angleworms in the back yard and the occasional spider in the bath tub, I was oblivious to the living things around me--both flora and fauna. Haiku opened my eyes to it all--for which I am exceedingly grateful. The pleasure of learning the names and habits of things creepy and crawly and deciduous or evergreen is something I can't imagine having ever lived without. Haiku also taught me to see friends and family and neighbors in a way I never had before, and gave me a means of expressing those observations. Though haiku is often described as the relationship between Nature and human nature, for me it is all about human nature. Even my most purely Nature-oriented poems always reflect the human condition. Finally, haiku play an important role as a memory-jogger and diary of my life. I often draw a blank when asked to recite one of my own haiku from memory. Yet when I read or recall my own haiku I am taken immediately back to the time and the place and the emotions that were evoked and that inspired me to write that particular poem. In short, haiku allows me to express who I am, and to hold onto who I was.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I enjoy reading and writing senryu (which I can only sometimes distinguish from haiku) and haibun and rengay and, occasionally, tanka. I have written and published creative nonfiction and longer poems. But the poetry I return to again and again is haiku. It suits me--and satisfies me.

3. Of the many wonderful haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three?

This seems an impossible question because my answer will vary from day to day depending on my mood. However, these three have received some attention and appreciation from others, and I like them as well.

baiting one fish
with another
autumn dawn

The Heron's Nest IV:11 (2002)

so suddenly winter
baby teeth at the bottom
of the button jar

The Heron's Nest VII:1 (2005)

hand in hand —
how slowly
the creek meanders

Modern Haiku XXXI:2 (2000)

Wishing you all best,

Carolyn Hall

Pamela A. Babusci will be our Haiku - Three Questions guest next week.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Baseball Haiku reading video

Ed Markowski informed me today that an online video of the Baseball Haiku reading at Chautauqua Institution is available.

You may recall that Cor van den Heuvel, Alana Pizzarelli, and Ed Markowski read from Baseball Haiku on June 26.

The web address to watch the reading is:


Also, check out Ed Markowski's free online brochure, “American sports . . . American haiku” available at David Giacalone's f/k/a blog.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Beverley George - Three Questions

Beverley George is our Haiku - Three Questions guest this week. She is President of the Australian Haiku Society [HaikuOz]. In April 2007, she was invited to present a paper at the 3rd Haiku Pacific Rim Conference in Matsuyama, Japan and is currently working on convening the 4th HPR conference.

Between 2000-2006 she edited 12 issues of Yellow Moon, an Australian literary journal which published haiku and related genres for ten years. More recently she founded Eucalypt, the first Australian literary journal dedicated to the Japanese poetic genre of tanka.

Her own collection of haiku, Spinifex, was published by Pardalote Press in December 2006.

Beverley's international First Prizes for Japanese genres include: The Third Ashiya International Festa [Japan] 2004; the British Haiku Society JW Hackett Award 2004; The World Haiku Club Fourth New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day Double Kukai 2003/2004; The World Haiku Club RH Blyth Award for Haibun 2004; The Tanka Society of America’s Annual International Contest 2006 and the Chajin [Paris] International Haiku Competition 2007.

Beverley loves the way in which writing haiku has put her in touch with so many astounding and generous-spirited people all around the world.

1. Why do you write haiku?

Writing haiku encourages me to notice things more carefully and to live in present time. I find concise writing aesthetically pleasing. I like the intellectual and emotional spaces in haiku that invite active and interpretive reading.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

Most really, although the diminutive genres haiku and tanka have usurped much of the time I once spent reading other types of poetry. Reared on classic English poetry, with Tennyson a firm favourite, it took me a while to come to terms with free verse which is the only other type of poetry I write now. In Yellow Moon, which I edited 2000-2006, haiku, tanka and haibun were always featured, and sometimes haiku or tanka sequences, or Kasen Summer Renga. But I do believe in an open-minded approach to poetry and also published, at different times, odes, sonnets, villanelles, elegies, Chaucerian, limericks, cinquain, tetractys, clerihew, free verse or rhyming nature poetry, and also humorous poetry, which is arguably one of the most difficult genres to write well. As do many people, I think that the discipline of haiku writing can improve the way we write other genres too.

3. Of the many wonderful haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three? ( Please provide original publication credits)

train tunnel —
the sudden intimacy
of mirrored faces

voted best of issue by readers Presence #22, 2004; A New Resonance 4 Red Moon Press, 2005; Spinifex Pardalote Press, 2006

lengthening shadow . . .
above her eggs the hen's heart
beats against my arm

equal first place British Haiku Society International Haiku Award 2003 and published in Blithe Spirit 14 (2) 2004; A New Resonance 4 Red Moon Press, 2005; Spinifex Pardalote Press, 2006

sprigs of rosemary
something about the tea urns
makes me cry

from a sequence Village Hall April 25, 2006 (about ANZAC Day). Sequence first published in Blithe Spirit 16 (2) 2006 ; Spinifex Pardalote Press, 2006

Next week, Carolyn Hall responds to Haiku - Three Questions.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ferris Gilli - Three Questions

My early attempts at composing haiku were typically of the 5-7-5 variety. They were, occasionally, amusing. I suppose it would be more accurate to label them senryu albeit very, very, bad senryu. Up until the time I stumbled upon The Heron's Nest via a Google search, all I knew about haiku had been gleaned from a suspenseful novel entitled Cryptonomincon by Neal Stephenson.

Through a series of enlightening essays written by Ferris Gilli, the veil of what I erroneously thought were haiku gradually lifted, enabling me to see with new "haiku eyes." I recall reading and rereading each essay, hungrily devouring the lessons, applying the techniques that would eventually improve some of my poems. I periodically revisit those essays to this day.

Ferris Gilli, editor, essayist, award winning poet, and teacher offers her thoughts on three questions.

1. Why do you write haiku?

I write haiku because I have to. In the same way that I am (usually) compelled to respond to someone who speaks to me, I respond to the moment when a haiku happens—by mentally recording it and eventually writing a haiku. I respond to the challenge of writing haiku according to specific guidelines because this stimulates mental alertness, and a natural mood elevation comes with answering the challenge. Haiku activities can be life changing, bringing cherished friendships and personal accomplishment.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

Renku and rengay intrigue me, and I have written a few. My early addiction to renku may reawaken at any time.

3. Of the many wonderful haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three? ( Please provide original publication credits)

I don't know about "wonderful" or best, but I can think of three that have brought me much satisfaction, and even pure joy. They almost wrote themselves—that is, I wholly experienced the moments, and the haiku were there. They seem to have struck a chord with a number of people, which is greatly rewarding:

cherry blossoms
the baby's hair too fine
to hold a ribbon

(2008 Best U.S. Poem, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival)

the way he leans
into her whisper . . .
a mallard's wingbeats

(Snapshots Calendar 2007)

winter rain
the boy realigns
his bug collection

(FreeXpressSION Jan. 2007)

Next week, Beverley George stops by with her response to Haiku - Three Questions.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Michael Dylan Welch - Three Questions

Like many in the haiku community, Michael Dylan Welch is a person of numerous talents. Not only is he a recipient of many awards (one linked here), he is also an editor, contestant judge, photographer, and publisher. He cofounded the Haiku North America conference in 1991 and the American Haiku Archives in 1996. He also founded the Tanka Society of America in 2000.

Michael Dylan Welch shares his thoughts on three questions.

1. Why do you write haiku?

To me, haiku is an approach to infinity. It has an expansive quality that's somehow captured in what's small or brief or ephemeral. There's something transcendent about a good haiku -- it makes the universe feel right and whole. And even if not all haiku I read or write capture something transcendent, they are still a means of commemoration, little personal histories, celebrating not only one's five senses but the emotional feelings we have in relation to them. I've always been attracted to short poetry, so on discovering haiku (or rather, having it taught to me in a high school English class), I easily gravitated towards it. I now write haiku for the same reasons I take photographs -- I can't help it!

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I've tried most of the set forms of poetry, to varying degrees of success -- triolet, villanelle, pantoum, limerick, cinquain, sonnet, and other forms. Each one has its challenges. And I particularly admire rengay. Aside from Japanese poetic genres, I gravitate most to nonmetrical poetry, however. I tend to apply organic form to both haiku and longer poetry (Denise Levertov has written some helpful essays on the subject). I'm also a board member of the Washington Poets Association (one of the largest state poetry organizations in the country), so I'm actively involved with many poets who don't write haiku -- organizing festivals, readings, and other events with the organization, and also helping to edit the WPA's annual journal, Cascade.

I'm glad you ask this question about other poetry forms because I think haiku has more or less put itself into a ghetto, and really has itself to blame for a perceived lack of respect from so-called "mainstream" poetry. But as Bill Higginson proclaimed in a presentation at the 2005 Haiku North America conference, "haiku IS mainstream." It's just that we reject mainstream adaptations of haiku because we think we're the only ones who have seen the light -- or we fail to see how we too have adapted haiku. Of course, there are still rampant misunderstandings out there, and worse yet is the indifference many people even in the literary poetry community have regarding whether they understand haiku properly or not. We can do what we can to offer informed understandings in a palatable way. But an additional step haiku poets can take is to stop keeping haiku to ourselves. We can send our best haiku, senryu, and haibun to nonhaiku journals, and send our news and announcements to publications such as American Poet, AWP's The Writer's Chronicle, Poets & Writers, American Poetry Review, and to leading online sites such as Poetry Daily. And if we also write and publish other forms of poetry, we can earn "mainstream" reputations for our poetry that can extend also to our haiku. As I said, if haiku is in a poetic ghetto, we largely have ourselves to blame.

3. Of the many wonderful haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three? (Please provide original publication credits.)

I think everyone who answers this question must feel, like I do, that picking the top three is a difficult task, like saying which of your children you love most. So rather than worry whether they're my "top" poems, I'm just going to subjectively see what comes to mind. Turns out to be these:

meteor shower . . .
a gentle wave
wets our sandals

First Prize winner, 2000 Henderson Haiku Contest, HSA Newsletter XV:4, Autumn 2000

first star —
a seashell held
to my baby's ear

Grand Prize, Basho 360th Anniversary Haiku Contest, Mie Times (Japan)

spring breeze —
the pull of her hand
as we near the pet store

Woodnotes #19, Winter 1993

Thanks for this opportunity, Curtis!


Next week, Ferris Gilli.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Roberta Beary at 3Lights Gallery

3Lights Gallery has put together an online collection of Roberta Beary's haiku entitled the words i meant to say. The beautiful design of this web site compliments Roberta's poignant, skillfully written haiku exceedingly well.

Please note that you'll have to scroll to the right to view the entire exhibition. Personally, I like this format; it has the look and feel of viewing an electronic chapbook.

Here are a couple of poems from the words i meant to say:

just enough moon
for this firefly to land
on my finger

abandoned mill
the dark water keeps
its secret

An archive of past exhibitions is located at http://www.threelightsgallery.com/archive.html

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Cradle of American Haiku

This just in from Charles Trumbull:

"The Cradle of American Haiku" Festival 2008


Teaching Haiku in Schools and the Community

Homage to Raymond Roseliep

Mineral Point, Wisconsin
August 22–24, 2008

More information about this exciting event can be found at http://www.modernhaiku.org/cradle