Thursday, April 30, 2009

Asahi Haikuist Network - April 30, 2009

The latest installment of the Asahi Haikuist Network is online and ready for viewing. An impressive list of international poets and poems are featured in this issue, including North Carolina Haiku Society member, Charlie Smith (pictured below).

Charlie Smith, Bob Moyer, Stan Siceloff, and Dave Russo
at Haiku Holiday (April 25, 2009)

A New Anthology Call for Submissions

This just in from Dimitar Anakiev:


Dimitar Anakiev is editing an international anthology of haiku dedicated to the topic of WAR. The editor invites all poets to submit their haiku written on the topic (particular interest: Vietnam, 9/11, Iraq . . . ). The poems may be previously published, no limitation in number of poems and style.

We are not interested in senryu. Japanese haiku is not free of human content but in fact links human with nature—in other words, it expresses the human in terms of nature. So "war" is human and nature is anything you want. Take for example famous haiku by Basho:

summer grass -
all that remains of
warrior's dreams

This poem has a natural topic (summer grass, a kigo) but its theme is human: "warrior dream" ( our theme: war!). We seek such haiku for the anthology and not senryu, which is another kind of poetry. Often Western poets confuse TOPIC with THEME. THEME in haiku is always human, and our choice is to do an anthology on human themes: WAR, DISCRIMINATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLENCE. (Like Basho above). So, please, do not send senryu.

Number of haiku: not limited.

Both published (the source of the first publication not obligatory) and unpublished.

Accompanied by English translation.

Please include your name, age, address and nationality.

Deadline: ASAP, but no latter than May 15, 2009.

Send to: with the subject "Antologija".

Thank you!
Dimitar Anakiev

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Surprise visitor at Haiku Holiday

A lighthearted and informative workshop at Haiku Holiday had an unexpected visitor. Four poets ventured outside to say hello.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New Montage Gallery: "Antipodes"

A new Montage gallery is online. This week's entry is called "Antipodes," in honor of Anzac Day (April 25th), featuring haiku by three wonderful poets from "Down Under": Janice Bostok, Ernest J. Berry, and Ron Moss.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Three Questions - Allan Burns

Allan Burns
Allan Burns is a book editor and has been publishing haiku since 2005. His works have appeared in Acorn, Frogpond, The Heron's Nest, Modern Haiku, Presence, Roadrunner, Wisteria, and elsewhere. He edits a weekly comparative haiku gallery titled Montage, which currently appears on the Red Moon Press website but will eventually be incorporated into the website for The Haiku Foundation. A selection of Allan's work will appear in the next New Resonance anthology. He lives on the west side of Colorado Springs with his wife Theresa.

1) Why do you write haiku?

Haiku is the point where my principal interests--nature, art, and Buddhism--meet. This present moment is the reality of our experience of the world, and haiku allows one to capture and convey the essence of compelling moments in a way no other form of writing can. Haiku, thus, emerges from the deepest reality of one's transient existence, unmediated by the artifice of, say, plot or other types of conventional literary structures.

2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

It might be a pedantic distinction, but I would call haiku a genre rather than a form. I also write rengay and other collaborative poems with Ron Moss of Tasmania. Ron and I are currently writing a winter kasen with Christopher Herold--who is a great mentor and who stresses the communal and process-oriented nature of this type of "word sculpture" over the final product. I earned a PhD in English literature, so I have a lot of background in and respect for other literary genres. One lyric poet whose work has remained very close to me through the years is the British poet Edward Thomas, who was killed in WWI.

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

At this moment:

coyote choir
we wake beneath
next season's stars

Roadrunner 7.3, 2007

climbing in shadow —
the canyon rim
brightly lit

The Heron's Nest 9.1, 2007

the slow degrees
of dusk

Acorn 21, 2008

If you've been enjoying this weekly series and have not contributed, please consider sharing your response (whether it be for haiku or tanka) to the three little questions that Allan answered. You must be a published poet in order to participate.

Natalia L. Rudychev will be our guest next week.

Issa news & Haiku Calendar Competition

David G. Lanoue sent this news about Issa:

Hi Curtis,

In case you and the people on your distribution list are interested, two "new" haiku by Issa were recently discovered. Here they are with my translations:



Here is a reminder by John Barlow:

The Haiku Calendar Competition 2009: Deadline fast approaching

The deadline for this year’s Haiku Calendar contest is less than a week away. Entries must be postmarked by Thursday April 30.

The 2010 calendar will be the eleventh annual edition of The Haiku Calendar.

Full details (and an entry form) are available at

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Haigaonline Galleries

Haigaonline has created a gallery in celebration of Earth Day. Mary Davila, Billie Dee, Anne-Marie Glasheen, Jadwiga Gala Miemus, Linda Papanicolaou, Linda Pilarski, Andy Pomphrey, Carol Raisfeld, Emily Romano, Alexis Rotella, Manoj Saranathan and Detelina Tiholova are the artist/poets featured in this remarkable collection.

There is also a portfolio by Alexis Rotella for the survivors and the victims of the April 2009 Earthquake in Central Italy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Haiku Holiday, moonset, & Notes From the Gean

The North Carolina Haiku Society's 3oth Haiku Holiday will be this Saturday (April 25th). This is the largest annual haiku event in NC. Addtional information, location, agenda, etc. can be viewed at the following URL:

an'ya has informed me that the Spring/Summer issue of moonset is in the mail.

Colin Stewart Jones sent this press release:

Notes From the Gean

a journal of Japanese short forms 

Gean: the wild cherry, Prunus avium. [French guigne]
Press Release and call for Submissions:
We are pleased to announce the inaugural issue of a new journal specialising in Japanese short forms is due out on June 1st 2009.  You can find us at
We welcome your submissions of up to 10 original haiku and/or senryu.
Submissions of up to 5 tanka
Haiga (modern or traditional) will be considered.
Renga, haibun, and sequences will not be considered at this time, although we do enjoy reading and writing these various forms and/or genre, here at Gean Tree Press. 

All poems/artwork submitted to Notes From the Gean must be unpublished, either in print or electronically, and not under consideration elsewhere. Haiku that have been uploaded to sharing networks or blogs will be deemed as published and those that are work-shopped on closed forums will be considered as unpublished.
Submissions will close two weeks prior to publication
Haiku Editor : Lorin Ford, Australia
Tanka Editior : H. Gene Murtha, United States
Haiga Editor : Origa, United States
Photographic Consultant : Grum Robertson, United Kingdom 
Managing Editor : Colin Stewart Jones, United Kingdom
We will do our utmost to ensure a speedy response to all submissions.
We, the Editors at Gean Tree Press, seek to encourage excellence, experimentation and education within the haiku community. We believe this is best accomplished by example and not imitation. Our aim is for originality above all else. We therefore solicit your finest examples of Japanese short form poetry and hope to “hear” your voices speak.
you are cordially invited to join 
the members area of
"Notes From the Gean" 
the online journal of Gean Tree Press 
specialising in haiku, tanka & haiga 

Gean = old word for wild cherry 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Baseball Haiku and a New Montage

Baseball season has been going on for a couple of weeks now. A few readers of this blog will probably be surprised to discover that the first baseball haiku was not written by an American. The first baseball haiku was composed in Japan by haiku master Masaoka Shiki in 1890. Jack Kerouac is credited as the first American to write a baseball haiku in the late 1950s. The reader can Google and probably find the poems that the poets penned, but I recommend that you purchase a baseball haiku anthology entitled appropriately, Baseball Haiku.

Alan Pizzarelli posted an interview on his web site recently that features three poets from the anthology. Cor van den Heuvel (co-editor), Ed Markowski, and Alan enjoy a lighthearted interview conducted by Jimmy Roselle.

Allan Burns has informed me that a new Montage gallery featuring poems by Paul O. Williams, Marian Olson, and Paul MacNeil is available in pdf format from Red Moon Press. The theme for this Montage is "The Good Earth" and honors Earth Day and Arbor Day .

I also recommend that the reader look through the Montage archive. This is a very interesting series with many excellent haiku, including a Montage dedicated to baseball.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Deborah P. Kolodji - Three Questions

Deborah P Kolodji - Photo by Naia
Deborah P Kolodji moderates the Southern California Haiku Study Group which meets monthly at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena. She is also president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and moderates a quarterly speculative poetry workshop at varied locations around Los Angeles. She has published over 850 poems of various types, themes, and forms, including haiku in Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Acorn, Simply Haiku, bottle rockets, Moonset, Hermitage, Wisteria, Mayfly, Roadrunner Haiku, Mainichi Daily News, the Red Moon Anthology, and the New Resonance 4: Emerging Voices in English Language Haiku.

Her first chapbook of haiku, Seaside Moon, Saki Press, 2005 was a finalist in the Virgil Hutton Haiku Memorial Chapbook Award. Her second chapbook, unfinished book, Shadows Ink Publications, 2006, is a collection of haiku and cinquains and other short poems. She has also published a chapbook of speculative poetry, Symphony of the Universe, Sam's Dot Publishing, 2006 and a chapbook of speculative haiku, Red Planet Dust, Gromagon Press, 2006.

She is the editor of Amaze: The Cinquain Journal and edits Dwarf Stars, an anthology of speculative poetry 10 lines or less. She has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul.

1. Why do you write haiku?

Haiku has become a part of my daily life. It keeps me grounded, helps me through the hectic pace of my existence by taking the time to pause and notice the little things which happen in my world. I am much more observant of the things that happen around me than I was before I started writing haiku.

I started writing haiku as a way to learn to be less wordy in my longer poetry, to learn how to make each word count. It quickly became my preferred method of poetic expression. I carry a notebook with me everywhere.

My poetic muse tends to really respond to my environment. I once wrote a longer poem about the old Apollo-Soyuz mission while sitting in a museum in front of the actual Apollo command module from one of the missions. And because of this, and because I like to go on a lot of nature hikes and bird walks, this sort of environment stimulation naturally triggers haiku. I am a member of the local botanical garden and it relaxes me to go on walks with my haiku notebook.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I love all types of poetry, but am particularly drawn to shorter poetry. Even most of my non-haiku poetry is usually 20 lines or less. I usually prefer imagistic poetry over narrative poetry, free verse over rhymed, but I've been known to write a sonnet or two! I basically let the poem dictate the form it takes.

I enjoy the American cinquain, which is one of the reasons I started Amaze: The Cinquain Journal with Denis Garrison. It took me a while to get the hang of tanka, but it is another form I've come to love. But no matter what I write, somehow I always come back to haiku.

The speculative poetry I also write comes out of my interest in science, which is related to my interest in natural science. So, there's a sort of natural progression from my haiku and nature poetry to my poems on geology and astronomy, and from there to my science fiction and fantasy poetry. I can stand in a lilac garden after the bloom period has passed and write a haiku. Then I might notice a solitary bush still blooming the way the rest did a month ago and suddenly I'm writing a poem about time warps.

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

morning tidepools
a hermit crab tries on
the bottle cap

World Haiku Review - Volume 2, Issue 2: June 2002
2nd Place - WHC Global Haiku Tournament

white marble
I am small at the feet
of Lincoln

The Heron's Nest - Volume V, Number 6: June 2003

pulsing sea jellies
a symphony orchestra
on mute

Modern Haiku, Fall 2004

If you've been enjoying this weekly series and have not contributed, please consider sharing your response (whether it be for haiku or tanka) to the three little questions that Deborah answered. You must be a published poet in order to participate.

Allan Burns will be our guest next week.

Monday, April 13, 2009

New Tanka Anthology and a Call for Submissions


For Immediate Release

Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka, 2008 Anthology, Published by Modern English Tanka Press

Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka is edited by M. Kei, Sanford Goldstein, Pamela A. Babusci, Patricia Prime, Bob Lucky, Kala Ramesh. This editorial team set out to read the entire field of tanka publication for a single year, regardless of source, without any dogma regarding definition, form or content. Over the course of fourteen months, they read over fourteen thousand poems. The results are gathered in one of the best new poetry anthologies.

Baltimore, Maryland – April 7, 2009 – Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka, edited by M. Kei, Sanford Goldstein, Pamela A. Babusci, Patricia Prime, Bob Lucky, Kala Ramesh, has been published in trade paperback by Modern English Tanka Press. Original cover art by Pamela A. Babusci.

Tanka, the ancient Japanese poetic form, has been am important source for modernists for more than a hundred years, but never relegated itself to the position of dusty relic. It is alive and vital and producing some of the most eloquent and insightful poetry published in English today. Anthologies, contests, journals, and web sites publish thousands upon thousands of tanka poems every year—but which ones are the most rewarding for the readers?

The editorial team of Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka set out to read the entire field of tanka publication for a single year, regardless of source, without any dogma regarding definition, form or content. Over the course of fourteen months, they read over fourteen thousand poems. The results are gathered in one of the best new poetry anthologies. Famous names and unknown poets from around the world appear side by side in 321 single poems and several tanka sequences and tanka prose pieces. A List of Venues consulted and complete publishing credits are included, along with an introduction that covers the history of tanka and the project itself.

The poets included are: Hortensia Anderson, Susan Antolin, Aurora Antonovic, An’ya, Harue Aoki, Megan Arkenberg, Pamela A. Babusci, Dave Bacharach, Marty Baird, Jon Baldwin, Collin Barber, John Barlow, Frederick Bassett, Roberta Beary, Janick Belleau, Cathy Drinkwater Better, Randy Brooks, Marjorie Buettner, Owen Bullock, David Caruso, James Chessing, Bell Gale Chevigny, Margaret Chula, Tom Clausen, ªerban Codrin, Norman Darlington, Janet Lynn Davis, Cherie Hunter Day, Andrew Detheridge, Melissa Dixon, Jim Doss, Curtis Dunlap, Jeanne Emrich, Margarita Engle, Michael Evans, Amelia Fielden, Trish Fong, Sylvia Forges-Ryan, Stanford M. Forrester, Bernard Gadd, Linda Galloway, Denis M. Garrison, Beverley George, Sanford Goldstein, Tom Gomes, M. L. Grace, Andrea Grillo, David Gross, William Hart, M. L. Harvey, C. W. Hawes, Peggy Heinrich, Lorne Henry, William J. Higginson, Ruth Holzer, Elizabeth Howard, Roger Jones, Jim Kacian, Kirsty Karkow, M. Kei, Susan Lee Kerr, Michael Ketchek, Larry Kimmel, Mariko Kitakubo, Kathy Kituai, Deborah P. Kolodji, Robert Kusch, Lynne Leach, Gary LeBel, Angela Leuck, Darrel Lindsey, Bob Lucky, Jeanne Lupton, Carole MacRury, Laura Maffei, Mary Mageau, A. A. Marcoff, Thelma Mariano, Francis Masat, Karen McClintock, Michael McClintock, Tyrone McDonald, Jo McInerney, Dorothy McLaughlin, Paul Mercken, Annette Mineo, Vasile Moldovan, Mike Montreuil, Jim Moore, June Moreau, Joan Murphy, H. Gene Murtha, Peter Newton, Linda Papanicolaou, Patrick M. Pilarski, Jack Prewitt, Patricia Prime, Carol Purington, John Quinnett, Claudia Coutu Radmore, David Rice, Andrew Riutta, Barbara Robidoux, James Rohrer, Alexis Rotella, Miriam Sagan, Fujiko Sato, Grant D. Savage, Philip Schofield, Billy Simms, Guy Simser, Paul Smith, John Soules, Art Stein, John Stevenson, Richard Stevenson, Maria Steyn, John Stone, André Surridge, George Swede, Noriko Tanaka, Frans Terryn, Carolyn Thomas, Marc Thompson, Tony A. Thompson, Michael Thorley, Julie Thorndyke, Kozue Uzawa, Geert Verbeke, Ella Wagemakers, Linda Jeannette Ward, Michael Dylan Welch, Liam Wilkinson, Robert D. Wilson, Jeffrey Woodward, An Xiao, Peter Yovu, and Aya Yuhki.

"Take Five is like Dave Brubeck’s famous long jazz piece of the same name: both simple and complex, with varied rhythms that can make fingers snap and hips sway. Beguiling for the beginner and expert alike." — George Swede

"It seems that with every turn—whether it be picking up the latest tanka journal, navigating your way to tanka sites across the web or checking out a new entry from one of the ever-growing number of tanka bloggers—that these small but perfectly formed poems continue to offer us some of the most breathtaking moments in contemporary poetry. It’s nothing short of spellbinding to behold a new tanka, its five-lines engraved in the granite of an ancient form of literature but with all the freshness of a green leaf showing. Today, writers are leaving their tanka ajar—in these brief moments of poetry, anything is possible and everything is welcome—and, as a result, tanka is able to thrive across the globe. As writers of tanka embrace the modern world, the modern world embraces tanka.

Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka succeeds in providing a comprehensive illustration of the state of modern tanka. Here we have a veritable feast of the finest individual tanka, tanka sequences and tanka prose published over the last year, handpicked from every nook and cranny by an editorial board that consists of some of the most highly respected figures in the field. Take Five is, at once, a satisfying digest of quality tanka and an indispensable tanka handbook for new and experienced writers of the form. With an extensive and absorbing introduction from the chief editor of the anthology, M. Kei, the book is not only a literary treat but an essential addition to the poetry shelf of reader and writer alike." —Liam Wilkinson, Editor, 3 Lights Gallery

"Powerful short stories written in five lines—that’s what Take Five is all about. This anthology is not just your tanka wallpaper variety; nearly every piece is a jumpstart for the heart that tells the truth about that four-letter word called ‘Life.’ M. Kei and his team of editors are to be commended—when I was done readingTake Five, for a moment, I didn’t know if I was a woman, a monk or a pelican." —Alexis Rotella, Ed., Prune Juice: Journal of Senryu and Kyoka

About Editors:

M. Kei crews aboard a skipjack, a traditional wooden sailboat used to dredge for oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, the last vessel in North America to fish commercially under sail. Sadly, it is not a profitable way to make a living anymore. The vessel serves as a museum on the water and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Kei has published over 1100 tanka and 300 other short poems during the last few years. His first book was the anthology Fire Pearls: Short Masterpieces of the Human Heart (2006), which he edited. An instant classic, it was followed by Heron Sea, Short Poems of the Chesapeake (2007) andSlow Motion: The Log of a Chesapeake Bay Skipjack (2008), the log he kept in poetic form while making extended cruises aboard a skipjack. He is editor-in-chief of Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka.

Sanford Goldstein writes: "As for my own work, I have been a tanka poet for about fifty years. I am called a co-translator of six collections of famous Japanese tanka poets. Even with years of study of Japanese, I could do nothing alone. Two books took five years each, though it was still enjoyable to do the translations. I know what it means to be rejected quite often these 65 years as a writer. So I join in sympathy with those whose tanka have not appeared in our edition."

Pamela A. Babusci is an award winning poet and artist. Some of her awards include: Museum of Haiku Literature Award, Tanka Splendor Awards, First Place Yellow Moon Tanka Competition, First Place Kokako Tanka Competition, Basho Festival Haiku Contest, and HM Suruga Baika Literary Festival. Pamela has illustrated several books, including: Full Moon Tide: The Best of Tanka Splendor Awards, Taboo Haiku, Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka and the forthcoming haiku chapbook, Chasing The Sun. She was the logo artist for Haiku North America in NYC in 2003 and Haiku North America in Winston-Salem, NC in 2007. She says poetry & art have been an integral part of her existence since her early teenage years & will continue to be a driving force until she meets her creator.

Patricia Prime retired from teaching pre-school a couple of years ago, but is still involved in relief teaching and working with children at her local school with English as a second language. She is the co-editor of the NZ haiku magazine Kokako, reviews editor of Takahe and Stylus, and assistant editor of Haibun Today. Patricia’s tanka has been published in Modern English Tanka, Atlas Poetica, Eucalypt, Ribbons, moonset, Gusts, 3 Lights Gallery, Kokako, Time Haiku, Presence and Blithe Spirit. Her haiku have been published in several magazines and her haibun have been published in Contemporary Haibun Online andHaibun Today. She has been published, with three other poets, in the haibun collaboration Quartet and is currently working on a tanka prose collaboration with three other poets. Patricia also writes articles, mainstream poetry, annually judges a formal poetry contest, is one of the nominees for the tanka for Gusts, and is on the panel of judges for the Presence Seashell Game.

Bob Lucky holds degrees from Dartmouth College and the University of Washington. He is currently in the online MFA program through the University of Texas at El Paso. His work has appeared in various international journals. He has spent stretches of his adult life living and working throughout Asia. Currently, he lives with his wife and son in Hangzhou, China, where he teaches history and makes noise on an assortment of ukuleles.

Kala Ramesh is a musician and haiku poet. Her work, consisting of more than 200 haiku, tanka, senryu, haibun, renku and one-line haiku, have appeared in leading e-zines and anthologies. _kala heads the World Haiku Club in India. As director, she organised the World Haiku Club Meet in Pune in 2006. The four-day 9th World Haiku Festival she organized at Bangalore in February 2008 was sponsored jointly by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji and Sri Ratan Tata Trust. Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The World Haiku Review, also she is an in-house editor of poetry in Katha, a leading publishing house in India. _kala is an exponent of both Carnatic and Hindustani Classical Music styles. She has performed professionally in major cities in India.

For media inquiries or to arrange an interview with the author, contact editor-in-chief M. Kei by e-mail at Publisher information

This book is available from and from the publisher. Complete information and mail/email order forms are available online Price: $16.95 USD. ISBN 978-1-935398-08-0. Trade paperback. 240 pages, 6.00" x 9.00", perfect binding, 60# cream interior paper, black and white interior ink, 100# exterior paper, full-color exterior ink.

About Modern English Tanka Press:

Modern English Tanka Press (MET Press) is an independent publishing house in Baltimore, Maryland, dedicated to producing books and periodicals of lasting literary value, especially poetry. A family business, we treat our customers and partners in publishing like family. We use modern print-on-demand production and distribution methods. Our special mission is to promote the tanka form of poetry and to educate newcomers about this most ancient poetic form.


Denis M. Garrison, owner
Modern English Tanka Press
Email to

Magnapoets print is now accepting submissions for print issue # 4 (published July 2009), in the haiku category only. The guest editor for this issue is Pamela A. Babusci.Send up to 10 previously unpublished haiku to Pamela at moongate44 AT gmail DOT com. Be sure to place MAGNAPOETS in the subject line. All other submission categories open in May.

Payment: One contributor's copy.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

H. Gene Murtha - Three Questions

H. Gene Murtha
H. Gene Murtha, a naturalist and poet, was born on October 19, 1955 under the sign of Libra in Philadelphia, Pa. He has won or placed high in a number of haikai contest around the world. Gene sponsored and judged the first haiku contest for the inner city children of Camden, NJ., for the Virgilio Group, of which he is an lifetime member. With renku partners Bill (Wm. J.) Higginson and Paul MacNeil, he is co-inventor of the single-words shisan renku entitled, Cobweb. His memberships include the Pennsylvania Poetry Society, Mad Poets Society, The Haiku Society of America, and the Nick Virgilio Haiku Association.

1) Why do you write haiku

I would love to answer this query the same way that Hortensia Anderson did, but I won't. Honestly, I am not sure. Being a Naturalist, it is natural that the flora and fauna leaks into my poetry regardless of form and/or genre. I have been writing since the late 80s with some success, although, I never thought a lot of haiku until 1999, when two poets started posting haiku at one of my old free form poetry Yahoo Clubs. I gave up writing haiku twice between 1999 and 2001, and I probably only stuck with haiku, because I could not write a three line poem that resonated.

2) What other poetic forms do your enjoy?

Performance poetry is were I started; spoken word, then I started writing free form after a couple of fans wanted to read my poetry in print. I am a huge Beat Poet fan. Gary Snyder is my favorite poet, along with Allen Ginsberg. My interest in both tanka and haibun stated in 2001, although, I do enjoy writing linked verse, such as: rengay, tan renga, renku, etc., along with haiku.

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

Oh, I hope that I have not written my best haiku, but these are a couple of my best noted poems:

spring mist –
a mallard paddles
through our stillborn's ashes

The Heron's Nest, vol.4:11, 2002
The Valentine Issue of The Heron's Nest, Special Mentions February 2003

where my brother stood –
twilight chill

The Heron's Nest vol.6, 2006 and was included within the Special Mentions section for the year.

summer haze
a crow flaps free
of the asphalt

Frogpond v. 27:1, 2004

Thank you for this opportunity to gather and share my thoughts on haiku, Curtis. And thanks for your important Three Questions project here on Tobacco Road.

If you've been enjoying this weekly series and have not contributed, please consider sharing your response - whether it be for haiku or tanka - to the three little questions that Gene answered. You must be a published poet in order to participate.

Deborah P. Kolodji will be our guest next week.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Walking Into April Poetry Day at Barton College

HSA President Lenard D. Moore will participate in the seventh annual Walking Into April Poetry Day at Barton College on Saturday, April 11th. Here is a snippet from the Barton College News web site:

The seventh annual Walking Into April Poetry Day at Barton College is scheduled for Saturday, April 11, at The Sam and Marjorie Ragan Writing Center and is sponsored by the North Carolina Poetry Society (NCPS), the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series, and Barton College. Registration opens at 9:15 a.m., and the program begins at 9:45 a.m.

Featured poets include Flatlanders Nancy Tripp King and Marty Silverthorne, and Eastern North Carolina's Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Lenard Moore. Reading with Moore will be three student poets: Morgan Whaley from Mount Olive College and Onslow County adult student poets Donna M. Graham and Patsy Kennedy Lain. The three students were selected for this year's Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series.

Click here to continue reading. . .

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

In the Company of Crows: HAIKU and TANKA Between the Tides - Book Review

Author: Carole MacRury

Editor: Cathy Drinkwater Better

Foreword: Beverley George

Illustrations: Ion Codrescu

Publisher: Black Cat Press

Paperback: 160 pages

ISBN 0-9766407-7-5

Reading In the Company of Crows: HAIKU and TANKA Between the Tides by award winning poet Carole MacRury is akin to receiving an invitation to visit the poet at her home in Point Roberts, Washington, located on a peninsula in the Strait of Georgia. It does not take the reader long to surmise that MacRury's home is fertile ground for the naturalist and the poet; her haiku are as compelling and diverse as the wildlife:

winter drizzle
a lone crow huddles
on the stone gargoyle

through the fog. . .
the sound of whales

heat wave
a horse blinks away
a gnat's life

The last poem illustrates MacRury's sharp attention to detail, but the following poem is a prime example of just how acute and observant her poetic senses are, even when she is...

half asleep —
the rhythm
    of receding rain

I would wager that she keeps a pen and pad by the nightstand. I only wonder if she fought off sleep long enough to pen the poem right then or waited until morning. :)

MacRury is equally skilled as a tanka poet:

spring yard work —
together we turn the earth
turn the worms. . .
the roots of our marriage
both forgiving and deep

we sip in silence
lost in a familiar tune
as the rising moon
turns our red wine blue

late summer kisses
on berry-stained lips
in the dusk
we turn past sins
into sweetness

All three poems are superb examples of English language tanka, bridging the natural world with the human condition to forge beautiful and romantic poems. Yes, I know, tanka do not have to be romantic, but such poems are my favorites. (Call me an old softy!)

Haiku and tanka sequences also grace the pages of this volume along with a number of beautiful illustrations by Ion Codrescu.

In the Company of Crows: HAIKU and TANKA Between the Tides is a book that will be read more than once and will likely find a prominent place on your bookshelf. It is a fabulous book of haiku and tanka; each poem flows smoothly when read aloud. MacRury is a poet who knows which form or genre best fits the poem.

To order, send $18.00 in US funds to the author; cash, check, or money order, payable to "Carole MacRury," to:

In the Company of Crows,
c/o Carole MacRury,
1636 Edwards Drive,
Point Roberts, WA 98281 USA.

For more information, e-mail:

It may also interest the reader to know that Ms MacRury is the featured poet on the Mann Library's Daily Haiku web site for the entire month of April.

Submissions - haiku & tanka

Sketchbook is currently seeking haiku, tanka, rengay, renga, haiga, sijo and other eastern / or western genre including cinquain, free verse, tetractys, fibonacci, etc. for the March / April 30, 2009 issue. Subissions are open to the general public. Send the submission in the body of an e-mail. Haiga must be sent as attachments.

Send to:
Subject: Submission + Genre(s) + Author Name
Deadline: April 20, 2009 : Midnight

The current Sketchbook issue is on-line. Thank you for participating in Sketchbook activities.

The With Words International Online Haiku Competition 2009 is open for submissions until Sunday Midnight May 31st.

Results of the 1st With Words International Online Haiku Competition (2008) are located on this page along with the chosen charity and donation details.


From: TSA

10th Anniversary Tanka Society of America 2009
International Tanka Contest -- Call for Submissions

Deadline: Postmark date of May 10, 2009.

Eligibility: Open to all, members and non-members alike, except TSA officers and judges.

Regulations: Any number of tanka may be submitted. Entries must be original, in English, unpublished, and not submitted for publication or to any other contest.

Entry Fee: $1.00 per tanka, U.S. funds only. Please make checks/money orders payable to the "Tanka Society of America."

Submissions: Submit each tanka on three separate 3 x 5 inch cards, two with the tanka only (for anonymous judging), the third with the tanka and the author's name and address in the upper left-hand corner. Type or print neatly please.

Submit entries and fees to: Carole MacRury, 1636 Edwards Drive, Point Roberts, WA 98281-8511 USA

Awards: First prize: $100; Second Prize: $50; Third Prize: $25. Amount of prizes may be reduced if an insufficient number of entries are received. Winning poems will be published in Ribbons, the Tanka Society of America journal.

Adjudication: The name(s) of the judge(s) will be announced after the contest.

Rights: All rights revert to the authors after publication.

Correspondence: Unfortunately, entries cannot be returned. Please send a business size SASE for answers to queries or for a list of winning entries. For foreign entries, send a self-addressed envelope and one international reply coupon.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fifth Annual Anita Sadler Weiss Memorial Haiku Awards-2009 Results

This just in from cathy drinkwater better:

FIRST PLACE: Ernest J. Berry

spring growth stepping stones to nowhere

This could well become a classic example of a minimalist haiku. Some might whisper that this haiku is rather Santoka-like. However, it needs reference neither to Santoka nor to minimalism, as it can stand on its own. It strikes me as if this haiku were a rare example of haiku which are born rather than composed. Technically, it has natural and successful hidden kireji (caesura) after "growth," partly because one naturally has a breath pause after saying "spring growth," and partly because the next word is in an "-ing" form (gerund), making it difficult for us to read continually from the previous two words.

Apart from the surface interpretation of a wonderful sketch of a young life ("spring growth") gradually overtaking the old, cold, and rigid entities ("stepping stones") until they disappear, the haiku seems to me to have a deeper perception akin to the famous Basho haiku of "summer grass...all that remains is an ancient soldiers' dream." Basho's is a much more striking and specific contrast, while the contrast shown in this haiku between "spring growth" and "stepping stones" is more subtle and general.

As a traditionalist in haiku, I am naturally pleased to see kigo (season words) used in this haiku. The tone of this haiku is quiet, but its impact is far-reaching. Moreover, this haiku has the splendid last two words which clinch the poem and do much more. They present a Zen-like enigma and profundity, or a curious attractiveness of nihilism, where life is contrasted with, or perhaps compared to, nothingness (death, maybe), presenting a quiet but nevertheless certain, pessimism. Oh, what glorious pessimism amidst a myriad of ostentatious signs of optimism!

SECOND PLACE: Origa (Olga Hooper)

off the cliff. . .

flying to the very core

of being

This haiku is the most original and interesting of all the eight best selected. If in a different mood, be it metaphysical or avant-garde, I might well have chosen this as the winner! Why, then, do I not do it now?

It is because I cannot be 100 percent sure whether I understand the situation in the haiku completely. Who is flying, for a start? Is it the author him/herself, or such things as penguin babies to attempt the first "flight" to get to the sea before being gobbled up by predators or crushed against the rock; or those baby seagulls in Sir David Attenborough's documentary, launching a life-or-death attempt at flying for the first time in life; or someone using a special sport parachute, or some kind of an imaginary flight in a metaphysical dream, or even in some macabre circumstances someone finally attempting to find out conclusively what it means for a human being to exist on this planet, or even in this universe, by jumping off the cliff and flying into that which may give him the ultimate answer: death?

Perhaps these things do not matter. What matters may only be the sense of profound fulfillment that some kind of an existentialist expression has been made possible of haiku, by haiku, and for haiku, just as in the case of philosophy, paintings, or much longer English poems. This haiku is a blessing and tribute indeed to the organisers of this haiku contest and all those participants and others who have been connected to it, since they can be celebrated and honoured for having realised this special haiku in their fifth contest and attracted this special haiku poet in their midst.

THIRD PLACE: Pamela A. Babusci

winter mountains

i lose myself

in whiteness

One of the characteristics of many haiku by Kyoshi Takahama (1867-1959) is depiction of a "big picture." The same can be applied to other eminent haiku poets, including Buson Yosa and Seison Yamaguchi. The "big picture" test is passed by this haiku with flying colours, quite apart from its most obvious excellence, such as: clear and striking image; unforced (i.e., natural) sense of brevity, which is far more important than the irksome theories of minimalist fundamentalists; wonderful rendering of snow without naming it; and implied man's humility towards nature, not vanquished by her power but quite awestruck by her beauty.

Another amazing thing about this haiku is that it is a highly "abstract" haiku which is painted by nothing other than specific and concrete objects. The sentiment expressed in this haiku is everybody's experience, namely, that which they have already known, and yet what a new and fresh discovery this is!

As there is nothing in the haiku which indicates the country where the author is, it has that universality and timelessness which are seen in many good haiku. This, of course , does not mean that country-specific or anything-specific haiku poems are bad. Sometimes good haiku have both of these characteristics. So, I go back to my old "dictum" that good haiku are good and bad haiku are bad, regardless of everything.

The clean, simple, and beautiful image of this haiku does not diminish its worth or significance at all. This means that we do not really need big words or pedantic terminology to express our innermost feelings. Are any of the words used in this haiku big, long, or difficult? Haiku started off by using ordinary language and plain words. It is the modern man's conceptualisation, theorisation, and unreasoning partisanship that have made modern haiku go astray. We must go right back to basics, that is, to the essence of haiku. This haiku is a timely reminder of this vitally important requirement.


marigold at dusk:

a bee's behind


This poem demonstrates a haiku-like sense of humour, which is an important ingredient of good haiku somehow ostracised from the American-led haiku movement. Those who feel dismissive of this haiku because it seems to them to make light of haiku's sanctity and importance as a serious business are proving themselves to be under the influence of that movement and to be merrily oblivious of the importance either of the sense of humour or the lightness (karumi) in haiku.

However, this is not just a sketch of a humourous scene. The key is the phrase "at dusk." Though one should refrain from reading too much into any haiku (a common mistake called fuka-yomi in Japan), the phrase stimulates an intriguing speculation. It is not in the morning that the sketch was done with all its hopes and freshness. Nor is it in the sunny afternoon when everything looked merry, happy, and shining. The dusk had set in and we were heading for darkness with all its negative implications.

Second Honorable Mention: Ernest J. Berry

snake skin

the Indian summer

slips away

The line 3 is an excellent play on words, probably unintended, in its association with the snake having shed its skin and sneakily disappeared. Also, there is wonderful alliteration everywhere with pleasant "s" sounds repeated, once again perhaps inadvertently administered.

Such treasured tools of Western prosody as these must not be discarded outright in haiku-writing as un-haiku-like. They enrich this haiku rather than diminish it. For example, without the pun, the first line could have looked irrelevant, having nothing to do with the Indian summer. The pun connects line 1 and line 3 and pulls all the lines together as a satisfactorily integral whole.

However, with or without such Western ways, this haiku is successful in its own right. Firstly, the theme, "the Indian summer," is a very haiku-like topic, and our sentiment towards it is universal whether you are Japanese or American. Secondly, the whole scene in the haiku is also universal (well, except for very cold places on earth) and even timeless, a very distinct characteristic of good, or even great, haiku. Thirdly, there is some kind of irony or sense of humour here, which is an important ingredient of haiku. Fourthly, it flows well and "swiftly" at that. Fifthly, the contrast between the joy of having Indian summer and the disappointment of it going so quickly and easily cannot be better written. Sixthly...and seventhly...etc.

Third Honorable Mention: Desiree McMurry

cemetery tree

the wind takes

its final leaf

The sentiment of the last two lines has been seen in other haiku. However, it is the combination of that sentiment with the first line that makes this haiku especially poignant and deep. It is also a good first line, strong and clear, and a reminder that a good first line is also good news for a prospective good haiku even before the second and third lines are written.

The season is expressed here in a subtle and clever way, as it is integrated in the main theme rather than forced artificially in the haiku like a necessary evil.

The cemetery tree, the wind, and the final leaf are in a sense all symbols of something else, though there is no need to look at them that way. Quite what they are symbols of is a guessing game to all readers, ranging from the most obvious to the most obscure. When this judge's wife died recently, the symbols were more than clear.

Fourth Honorable Mention: Karen VanOstrand

at the cottage

throaty frogs

serenade my dreams

"Throaty frogs" is a very humorous and haiku-like theme. "Dreams" put in this way is a very Japanese (originally Chinese) thing. The poem therefore is an apt way of putting things together to make it haiku. Line 1 and the word "serenade" are obvious problems.

"Serenade" is too easy and obvious a word to choose. It is, however, perhaps OK, partly because there are no other alternative words as good; say for example, "sing," "tell," or "orchestrate."

"At the cottage" is a little bit trickier because it does not seem to mean anything and therefore seems irrelevant and redundant. Is it put there as some kind of a toriawase (juxtaposition)? If the first line were something else, say for example, "full moon...", "spring night," "lonesome cottage," or "alone in bed," the haiku could well have been among the best three. And yet it is a good enough haiku to be given the position in the honourable mention.

Fifth Honorable Mention: Ernest J. Berry


my golden retriever

rolls in it

What a delightful way of depicting summer! Any dog lover would understand this. The pleasure the dog is having is also the pleasure of the author enjoying the coming of summer and all the lovely things one can do during the season.

This is an excellent example of haiku where certain perceptions (such as the joy of summer, or the beauty of an aspect of nature or loneliness or melancholy) can and should be expressed not by abstract words or adjectives but by picturing some other concrete facts or acts. Haiku is a specific art which is capable of expressing abstract notions.

What makes this haiku more than ordinary is the last word, "it" (i.e., summer). A dog rolling in summer is a fantastic leap of image.

Curiously, it is not gimmicky, helped significantly by the pronoun "it," which softens the impact and makes the expression more subtle, compared with the more direct "rolls in summer." Also, the "it" creates a surprise, an effective factor in haiku, because we almost automatically or blindly expect the third line to be something like, "rolls in the grass," "rolls in cow patches," or "rolls on the dry ground."

The affection of the author for the animal, his/her sense of humour, and the tried-and-tested philosophy that life after all is worth living, and that this world, all considered, is not that bad in the end are all exuding an optimistic feel-good factor and a sense of celebration of the whole universe. This is because dogs roll in all seasons!

Publication & Contest Information

This just in from the editors of DailyHaiku:

DailyHaiku Cycle 7 is now Online!

We are thrilled to announce our new contributor team, selected from a record number of excellent submissions. The new contributors are (in order of publication): Catherine J.S. Lee, Greg Schwartz, Richard Krawiec, Patricia Benedict, Robert Moyer, and Megan Arkenberg. Congratulations to our new team; we think you'll be as excited as we are when you see their work.

Also online is a new special feature by Ray Rasmussen: Special Feature 5—Modern English Language Haibun. Ray's article gives both background and insights on the haibun form, and shares some of his recent work (text and audio).

Lastly, we are happy to welcome to DailyHaiku our first Invited Poet: Frogpond editor and a founder of Haiku Canada, George Swede. Each cycle, we will invite a different poet to help kick off our new contributor team with a week of brand new haiku; we are honoured to have George as the first poet in this series.

We hope you enjoy the new cycle!

Wishing you a Zen-like spring,
Patrick M. Pilarski and Nicole Pakan—Editors, DailyHaiku

In other haiku news:

The Shiki Monthly Kukai April 2009 Call for Submissions

The KIGO SECTION requires haiku using the designated seasonal subject or keyword used with a seasonal reference. Our kigo for April is "April Fools" and must be present in all accepted haiku.

The FREE FORMAT SECTION requires a haiku on a particular object, theme, or setting that may occur at any time within a given year. This is a free format haiku, in that the writer can compose and include a season word or submit a poem with no seasonal reference.

Additional information is located on the Shiki Monthly Kukai web page.

Lyrical Passion Poetry E-Zine "HAIKU Blossoms" Contest


Limit 3 Haiku poems per entry. This is a free format haiku contest. Seeking high quality haiku poetry pertaining to spring/summer. Please type "HAIKU Blossoms" in subject line to avoid deletion. Enter as often as you like by email or snail mail, 3 haiku per submission but you can make 1 total payment by paypal, US check or US money order.

More information is available on the contest announcement web page.

Announcing Sketchbook "spring dream(s)" April 2009 Kukai

The April 2009 Kukai theme is "spring dream(s)". Use the exact words "spring dream(s)" in the haiku. No more than a total of three haiku may be submitted. Haiku submitted to the kukai should not be workshopped, appear on-line in forums, or in print.

More information is located on the "spring dream(s)" April 2009 Kukai web site.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

M. Kei - Three Questions (Tanka)

M. Kei
M. Kei is an award-winning poet who lives on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, USA. He crews aboard a skipjack, a traditional wooden sailboat used to fish for oysters. He is the editor of Atlas Poetica : A Journal of Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka and the editor-in-chief of the forthcoming anthology: Take Five : Best Contemporary Tanka. His second collection is Slow Motion : Log of a Chesapeake Bay Skipjack (2008). Over 1000 of his tanka have been published in ten countries and five languages. He also writes scholarly articles about tanka and compiles the Bibliography of English-Language Tanka.

1) Why do you write tanka?

I find a tanka is very much like a sketch or snapshot that allows me to capture a specific image or moment, yet which implies a great deal more than it states. A tanka, like a good photograph, does not stop at the borders of the image, it invites, even requires, the viewer to walk outside the frame of reference and conduct their own exploration. In this way reader and writer are co-authors, and no poem is ever the same twice as a result.

2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I'm a tanka loyalist. Although I have published several hundred haiku, tercets, free verse, and other forms, tanka and its variations, such as tanka prose and tanka sequences interest me greatly. I am also interested in scholarship about tanka. I have published over a thousand tanka. Although you didn't ask it, my other favorite subject for reading and writing is naval fiction and history.

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

I'm a terrible judge of my own poetry. I'm frequently surprised when people admire poems that don't seem special to me, and fail to admire poems that I like very much. All three of the poems below reflect my love of the Chesapeake Bay and the time I spend as a volunteer crewman aboard a skipjack, a traditional wooden sailboat used to dredge for oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.

as night
surrenders to dawn,
a slim mast
emerges from
the mist of Red Cap Creek

Slow Motion : The Log of a Chesapeake Bay Skipjack. Baltimore, MD: Modern English Tanka Press, 2008.

shaking the bats
out of the mainsail
a cloud of night
made homeless
by my hands

Ribbons : Journal of the Tanka Society of America, 2:4. Crescent, OR: Tanka Society of America. Winter, 2006.

she talks as she sails
the old wooden boat
of oyster days
and summer bays
and watermen grown old

Heron Sea, Short Poems of the Chesapeake Bay. Perryville, MD: Keibooks, 2007.

If you've been enjoying this weekly series and have not contributed, please consider sharing your response - whether it be for haiku or tanka - to the three little questions that M. Kei answered. You must be a published poet in order to participate.

H. Gene Murtha will be our guest next week.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lilliput Review 167 & 168

Issues 167 & 168 of Lilliput Review arrived in my mailbox the other day, validating the phrase that the best things sometimes come in small packages. Editor, Don Wentworth, accepts short poems (10 lines are less) and is vigilant in seeing that each issue maintains a high standard. Here are a couple of poems from issue #167:

Milky Way:
an anchor chain clinks
in the harbor

Mike Dillon
Indianola, WA

So many stone Buddhas
it is easy to forget that the one who walks through the garden
is made out of flesh.

Charlie Mehrhoff
Oakland, ME

And two from issue #168

Rented Rooms

There was a city in her moans
and I resided
in every room
on every block.

Jonathan Treadway
Bowling Green, KY

From the Chinese

The white petals
of the plum tree,
and the wheeling
night sky beyond.

Stephen Kagarise
Greensboro, NC

Each issue also contains illustrations that are often contributed by one or more poets.

Subscription information and submission guidelines are available on the Lilliput Review web site. And while you're at it, browse over to Issa's Untidy Hut, the official blog for Lilliput Review.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Publications & Call for Submissions

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature has published its National Poetry Month issue. South Carolina Poet Laureate, Marjory Wentworth, is but one of seventeen poets featured in this issue.

Oh, and if the child standing beside the mule on the cover looks familiar, that's my dad, Helon Dunlap.

Atlas Poetica : A Journal of Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka is open to submissions from 1 March to 30 May, 2009. We solicit individual tanka, tanka sequences and sets, tanka prose, review, articles, announcements, and anything else relating to tanka poetry of place in traditional or innovative forms. We regret that we cannot publish illustrated tanka. A complete set of guidelines is available online at: We strongly recommend reading the free sample issue (ATPO 3) located on the website if you are unfamiliar with tanka, poetry of place, or Atlas Poetica.

Atlas Poetica includes sections of topical tanka. For issue four we are seeking topical tanka on the subjects of :


We accept tanka on all themes and topics at all times; the topical tanka are a special section within the journal.


M. Kei
Editor, Atlas Poetica : A Journal of Poetry of Place in Modern English Tanka

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New WHR, HNA 2009 Poster, & Haiku on Tea

The new issue of World Haiku Review is online.

The Haiku North America 2009 crosscurrents poster is available. Click the picture below to see a larger image.

Ito En is sponsoring a haiku project that could put your poems on bottles of green tea:

ITO EN (North America), INC., the world's leading purveyor of green tea products and beverages, today announced its call-for-entries for"Haiku Project 2009." Inspired by the spirit of change in our country today, participants can enter a haiku around the themes of "Change," "Hope" and "Progress". The winning haiku will grace the bottles of ITO EN's award-winning tea line, TEAS' TEA, a naturally brewed ready-to-drink tea line that is rich in antioxidants and Vitamin C.

See this page for more information.