Month: September 2011

Across the Haikuverse, No. 24: Autumnal Equinox Edition

Hand holding compassThis season. This day. This darkness. This rain. This sky. This unspoken agreement. This repeated pattern. This internal quarrel. This blown litter. This temporary solitude. This empty box. These restless legs. These unwashed hands. This bent twig. This spent coin. This borrowed time. This vague memory. This dry leaf. This discarded assumption. This long pause. This interrupted stillness. This dark house. This hard fall.

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tilted axis
I continue
to surprise myself

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Haiku to Read Again

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just because
the sky is navigable –
thistledown

— Stella Pierides, Stella Pierides

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山を出るときどんぐりはみな捨てる 北 登猛
yama o deru toki donguri wa mina suteru

when I leave the mountain
I throw away
all acorns

— Tomo Kita, translated by Fay Aoyagi, Blue Willow Haiku World

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things that can wait and a dying wasp ::: autumn darkness

ting der kan vente og en døende hveps ::: efterårsmørke

— Johannes S.H. Bjerg, 2 tongues/2 tunger

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the difference
a sparrow makes –
bare branches

— Bill Kenney, haiku-usa
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somehow
our shrinking shadows touch
harvest moon

— Alegria Imperial, jornales
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banging about
inside my ribs
cherry blossom

— Sandra Simpson, DailyHaiku

With every step into
the lake, the water touches
me in a new place.

— Elissa, The Haiku Diary

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These next two both originally appeared at the September Moon Viewing Party at Haiku Bandit Society and were then turned into spectacular haiga by their authors, which you can see at their blogs.
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matchpoint…
the distance between
this moon and that

— sanjuktaa, wild berries

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this pumpkin
as full as that, harvest
moon

— Angie Werren, feathers

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Essayed

“Haiku as Poetic Spell”

I’m very grateful to Lynne Rees for republishing on her blog an open field this essay by Martin Lucas, which also appeared in evolution: the Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2010.

It’s a challenging, exciting essay, well worth reading in full, that contrasts what Lucas calls the “Internationally Accepted Formula” for haiku —

seasonal ref’rence—
then two lines of contrasting
foreground imagery

with a haiku aesthetic that he considers “an ideal that is poetic as opposed to prosaic, and secondly, an expression that is more akin to a magical utterance than a mere report of an incident, however consequential or inconsequential.”

Of the “Internationally Accepted Formula,” Lucas points out, “It’s an intriguing mix, but almost all the interest is in this content, and almost none in the expression.” Using many striking examples, he argues for (or rather urges) a greater emphasis in haiku on an effective use of language to create a “poetic spell”:

“Words that chime; words that beat; words that flow. … words have power. They are not dead and scribbled on a page, they are spoken like a charm; and they aren’t read, they’re heard. This is what I want from haiku: something primitive; something rare; something essential; not some tired iteration of patterns so familiar most of us can produce them in our sleep. It’s not the information content that counts, it’s the way that information is formed, cooked and combined.”

— Martin Lucas, “Haiku as Poetic Spell”

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Journaled

the zen zpace, Autumn 2011 Showcase

Marie Marshall, who also has a blog called kvenna ráð, put together this fine collection of haiku by seven poets. She’s calling for submissions for her next edition. A couple of samples:

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the last leaf of all
it will be picked up
by hand

— David Cobb

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the earliest of mornings
Substance presents itself
as an apple

— Johannes S.H. Bjerg

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Contemporary Haibun Online

If you have any interest in haibun you should hustle over and read the recently released October issue of cho, especially my favorites: Sonam Chhoki’s “Last Journey“; Susan Diridoni’s “awakening in ‘The City'”; Peter Newton’s “The Goal”; and Carol Pearce-Worthington’s “I Read Everything”.

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Applied

The Haiku Foundation, with their release of THF Haiku, their haiku app for the iPhone, has recently made waiting in line a task that is no longer fearful to me. I just pull out my phone, punch at the screen a bit to make the soothing THF Haiku backdrop appear, and then spend a relaxing few minutes shaking my phone (really, you just need to tilt it a little, so you won’t look completely insane in public) to see a new haiku with every shake. There’s a wonderful variety — 365 of them so far, with more promised for the future. Some I tilted into recently:

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midsummer solstice
the bonfire luring me back
to my maiden name

— an’ya
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the shadow in the folded napkin

— Cor van den Heuvel
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Every second, a tree, a bird, a chimney, a woman

— James Kirkup

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Dead Tree News

Beyond My View, by Joyce Clement. Endionpress, 2011

My Journey, by Lidia Rozmus. Deep North Press, 2004

Twenty Views from Mole Hill, by Lidia Rozmus. Deep North Press, 1999

Beyond My View, by Joyce ClementMy Journey, by Lidia Rozmus

20 Views from Mole Hill, by Lidia RozmusI am overdue to talk about these books. I bought the three of them this summer, one at each of the communal haiku events I attended. Joyce’s book I picked up at the Haiku Circle in Massachusetts in June, where she gave a wonderful reading and I enjoyed getting to know her. Twenty Views of Mole Hill I bought at Foundry Books in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, when I attended a Haiku Retreat there in June. Lidia was not in attendance there, but she was, as I have mentioned, my roommate at Haiku North America in Seattle in August, where I bought My Journey. So these books have bracketed my summer and followed me through it. I’ve read them each several times, because somehow they make me feel a little bit more like myself every time I read them.

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Beyond My View

Joyce does things with language and images that only she can do — the best writers are like that — but that make you feel like what she said was just on the tip of your tongue, because the best writers are like that too.

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age 88
all the whatchamacallits
in the spring wind

That’s what I was going to say.

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rolls over again
the earth, us with it
spring mud

This one I keep reading over and over again to see if I can see how she did it. The syntax seems awkward and garbled at first and then you see — oh! that’s the point! And then you see that there’s no other way to say it. And you feel like lying down and rolling in some warm mud.

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the
pine
grove
when
I
exhale

Yes, that’s it. I keep trying to do this kind of thing all the time. It’s not as easy as it looks.

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used to think
I’d want a gravestone
falling leaves

I still do want a gravestone, but something about this makes me think that maybe I won’t always.

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deep winter
their weight
milkless breasts

There are not enough haiku about the way women’s bodies feel — maybe there aren’t enough about the way anyone’s body feels. This one is perfect. Thanks, Joyce.

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Twenty Views of Mole Hill

first snow / I turn the lights off / to seeLidia calls the work she does that combines haibun and sumi-e painting “haibun-ga,” and the title page of Twenty Views … proclaims tongue-in-cheek that it is “The Last Haibun-ga of the Twentieth Century.” What is also is, is a meditation on place, a place seen in every season with the especially careful seeing of someone who is both an exemplary visual artist and a particularly sensitive poet.

Mole Hill is a hill, a small Illinois hill, that can be seen from Lidia’s apartment, and so she sees it.

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first snow
I turn the lights off —
……………..to see

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Haibun-gaThe seeing continues from December to December. The book takes the form of a series of unbound square cards, on each of which there is a haibun or a solitary haiku, as well as an evocative sumi-e painting. These are not illustrations of Mole Hill; they are minimalist evocations of a state of mind, a shape of thought, a unique vision. Lidia stays in one place; the world turns around her, and her mind travels. It’s as if these cards fall, one by one, into place as the seasons change.

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late afternoon
mosquito and I —
same blood type

(This is one, I think, that Issa would have written if he’d known about blood type.)

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.My Journey

In contrast to Twenty Views…, My Journey roams all over the world, from Poland and other locales in Eastern Europe, to North America, Western Europe, Japan. It also roams in time, or rather ventures through it, over fifty years of Lidia’s life, beginning with the first memory of a toddler. Again, the form of the book is important: it’s folded like an accordion, and the hinge point — the place where you turn the book over to begin folding through the pages on the reverse side — is Lidia’s immigration to the United States as a young adult.

immigration office / seeing my fingerprints / for the first time.

immigration office
seeing my fingerprints
for the first time

Like so many of Lidia’s haiku this one says so much more than it says.

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This book, too, contains both haibun and standalone haiku, illustrated with small black-and-white photographs — they read more as illustrations than as photos; you can’t see much detail, just enough to evoke a feeling or sense of place, so the overall effect is very similar to that of Lidia’s sumi-e. There is also an ink wash traced through with a wavy ink line that runs continuously along the bottom of the entire book, which of course is all in one uninterrupted piece, like a life. One continuous stretch of time, but paradoxically remembered by us in discrete chunks of episodic memory — pages, if you will.

geographical atlas / on one page / the whole world

geographical atlas
on one page
the whole world

As usual, Lidia said it better than I could. This is the last haiku in the book. Lidia’s life goes on, though, fortunately for us all.

___________________________________________

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As for me, I’m standing with my back to the wind these days. It seems to help. I wish I’d thought of it before.

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autumn wind / another / incorrect / assessment.

(cherry blossom)

cherry blossom / the expectant mother / counts the petals.

Honorable Mention, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational 2011

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I feel a little guilty receiving an honor for a haiku about cherry blossoms, considering I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever actually seen a cherry blossom in real life.

Lots of pictures of cherry blossoms, of course. They certainly look pretty. But not, as far as I can see anyway, any prettier than apple blossoms, which my life has been full of, entwined with. We had a tiny apple orchard in the backyard of my childhood home, which I mooned around every spring, and now I live a couple of miles from a famous arboretum full of dozens of apple trees that bloom spectacularly every May and attract hordes of visitors, including, always, me. So when I write haiku about cherry blossoms, frankly, I’m usually thinking “apple blossoms.” Seeing apple blossoms, smelling apple blossoms. Wishing it were time for apple blossoms again.

Yeah. I don’t think I’ll write any more haiku about cherry blossoms. It’s not like I’m one of those sticklers who insists that every haiku must be a faithful record of some event the poet has actually experienced. But I don’t usually write haiku about things that I have absolutely no experience of and, really, absolutely no feeling for. And honestly, this one smells fake to me, a plasticky gimmicky haiku I stuck together for contest-entrance purposes out of convenient haiku parts I happened to have to hand. Adorable little baby fingers. Imaginary, unimaginable, legendary blossoms. Some kind of blissful, sentimental Madonna bearing no resemblance to the grouchy, sick pregnant woman that I actually was.

Of course, the great thing about haiku is that what seems meaningless and pointless to one person can seem entirely different to another person with another set of life experiences and another point of view. Maybe you’re one of those people and this haiku speaks to you. I’m very happy to have shared it with you, if that’s the case.

But I still think I’ll be avoiding writing cherry-blossom haiku in the future. Watch this space for apple blossoms next spring.

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.T

Where We Live

It’s a tiny motel: four rooms, two tacked on to each end of our house like the spreading wings of a Southern plantation. But we’re the opposite of a plantation, we’re the site of endless uprootings. Poor soil for weak vegetation. The less successful variety of traveling salesman, in cheap suits, bearing leatherette briefcases and expressions of bewilderment at how fruitless their lives have turned out to be. Men who’ve been kicked out of the house by their wives and aren’t quite sure yet whether they can go home tomorrow. Drifters who’ve scrounged up enough money somewhere to settle down in one of our nineteen-dollar beds for the night, often leaving behind them the evidence that they had enough left over for a good-sized bender. Even hippies sometimes, though there aren’t a lot of them in this blue-collar, conservative town; maybe they’re just passing through on their way to someplace more congenial — a commune, a city squat, a rock festival. They arrive, unlike most of our customers, in clumps, too young yet to want or need or have to be alone. Most of these people don’t stay long; the wind blows them to us and then blows them away.

Then there’s Miss Knight. June comes and so does she, in her sky blue VW bus, crammed to the ceiling with everything she owns. All summer it sits in front of the motel, down by Room 4, which is her home for the summer and always has been. (As far as I know, anyway; my “always” isn’t very long.) She fills the room up quickly. She’s not the kind of wanderer who travels lightly, who pares down her possessions. She likes things. Not luxurious things but things that are her own, that make her feel at home. Her room feels like nothing so much as a nest, lined with bits of fluff and feathers and string, trifles that seem worthless on their own but make excellent insulation. She wears layers of clothing too, shapeless skirts and sweaters draped around her tiny thin body, even in the heat of summer. She coddles herself, but she thrives this way. Nothing blows her away; she’s rooted.

We don’t know how old she is. Seventy-five? Eighty-five? Her hair is pure white and scant, her spine bent, and sometimes her mind, to us, seems to travel on illogical paths — but maybe it’s our minds that are at fault, too limited to follow her flights of fancy, her mental travels into the less explored regions of the universe. She’s energetic, her eyes sparkle, she takes good care of herself and her dog, the Chihuahua that goes with her everywhere: so whatever age she is, it isn’t too old. We’re not inclined to be critical anyway; the place seems entirely different with her around, less like a dreary way station for the desperate, more like a bucolic paradise, a fit resting place for any respectable elderly woman who spends the year driving around New England in a VW bus. It never feels like summer until her bus arrives, to remind us that we have an acre of land out back, filled with fruit trees and shade trees and flowering bushes. Miss Knight takes daily constitutionals around it, looking at everything with appreciation and curiosity.

She’s friendly, even ebullient, but guarded. She looks hazy-eyed past questions. We don’t know her story, her past or her future. It’s as if she only exists here and now, in the summer in a small motel in Connecticut. The only indication we have of her life away from us is the one postcard that arrives every spring, in advance of her own arrival, letting us know to be on the lookout for her. It sits propped on the dining room table for weeks, while the weather grows warmer, the school year wears on, our other customers come and go, our own lives mutate and progress inexorably. It’s our surrogate for her; we read it over and over, day by day, until she pulls into the driveway again, and then we put it away in a drawer with the ones from every other year.

The year it doesn’t arrive, we all start wondering whether we’re any more real than she is.

summer solstice
how much of my life story
is invented

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Haibun Today 5:3, September 2011

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Little girl waving goodbye on the first day of school

Monostich, revisited

what is a poem compared to a dirigible.

If you were a one-line poem, where would you be? Well, frankly, you could be just about anywhere these days, they’re getting to be all the rage, but a lot of them, as I’ve mentioned before, hang out on this blog called Monostich that fourteen of us collaborate on. I try to post something there every few weeks, although since my memory is more or less shot, sometimes it’s not that often.

Below is most of what I’ve posted on Monostich since the last time I wrote about it. Be merciful, this whole thing is a grand and beautiful and sometimes disastrously failed experiment. Like most of life. You should go over and see what some of my co-conspirators have posted if you want a better sense of the possibilities of the form.

(By the way, the sound at the end of “monostich” is “k,” not “ch.” And there’s no “t” in it. It’s not a monostitch-in-time, although that would be very poetic.)

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suspecting rain in everything he does

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luna moth her see-through skirt

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individually wrapped pieces of rain

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solar flares fireflies shift allegiance

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bees buzzing my dread of namelessness

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after the haiku about fireflies the fireflies

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old pond its acoustic properties

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snowandthenithappens

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Red Airplane

He’s not easy to shop for. He never wants anything. Or rather, everything he wants he has. When he does feel a need for some consumer product — some electronic components from Radio Shack, say, or a new mechanical pencil — he takes his own money and bikes to the store and buys it. Even his computer he saved up for on his own: didn’t spend any of his allowance or Christmas or birthday money for five years.

What do you do with a kid like that? I try to imagine what he might want if money were no object. And then wish that it weren’t.

.Red airplane flying over mountains and through clouds

for b.a.o. born 9/6/1994

The Lives of Poets, No. 1: Peter Newton

A while back I conceived this idea to harass all my favorite poets by sending them an interminable list of questions and whining until they answered them all so I could post the answers here. I immediately sat down and drew up the list of questions and saved it as a Word doc entitled “Questions to Annoy Poets With.” But then I wasn’t brave enough to actually do anything about it for a while. Because, you know, I might annoy someone.

Then over the summer I met Peter Newton, whose poetry I’ve admired for a long time, at the Haiku Circle in Northfield, Massachusetts. He was friendly and kind and since we’ve exchanged cordial email messages off and on for a while, it occurred to me that he probably wouldn’t actually bite if I sent him this long list of troublesome questions and audaciously invited him to lay bare his poet’s heart. Plus, with school starting again today, I needed to come up with some way of formulating interesting blog posts without actually writing them myself. The idea of making other people write them was getting more attractive all the time.

And to my delight, Peter not only responded to my request but did so at great and thoughtful and illuminating length. I’m so pleased to present his words to you and hope I’ll have the opportunity to do the same with many more poets in the future. But for now I’ll just get out of the way and let Peter speak.

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Peter Newton

Peter Newton: The Interview

The Basics

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Name/pen name:

Peter Newton

Day job/occupation:

Stained glass artist.

Website/blog/Twitter feed (if any):

Generally, I’m a low-tech person. I work with my hands all day. I’ve never owned a cell phone and I use my laptop as a typewriter that remembers everything. However, the idea of the Twitter stream interested me a few years ago. I think I’m up to a whopping 300 or so tweets, mostly poems of mine and poetry related information. Twitter.com: @ThePeterNewton

Family, pets, non-poetry hobbies, etc.:

Partner of 27 years is Mark Pietrzak. No kids. A dog named Possum. Since I’m self-employed and work at home, my hobbies include working on my old house (1883) and dabbling in yardwork (cutting the lawn).  I’m pretty active in my small town of Winchendon, Massachusetts (aka “Toy Town”). I belong to the Historical Society, community volunteer groups, etc. One of the great things about living in a small, remote place is that one person can make a difference.

Love to plant things, just as long as they can take care of themselves after awhile. I spend two months a year up in Vermont where I work at The Bread Loaf School of English and The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Something I’ve done for two dozen summers. Not much of my free time is non-poetry related, I must admit. Though I went to college and got my M.A. to become an English teacher I now spend most of my days in a small glass workshop making fun, funky, 3-D creations for the mass gift market. And I feel like I’m right where I need to be. What’s that zen saying: “No snowflake falls in the wrong place.”

How long you’ve been writing haiku and what gave you the idea to do such a crazy thing in the first place:

I started writing haiku in the early 90s while I was living in Atlanta. I was struck by a reading William Matthews gave up at Bread Loaf around that time. He opened his reading with a dozen or so one-line poems (with titles, which I always thought was kind of cheating) and they were great. I was impressed with how much could be conveyed in a handful of words. They were funny and serious but all were almost philosophical. And surprising.

Matthews got me thinking about words in a new way. If they were the right words in the right order, they were like seeds in the reader’s mind that could grow and grow. I think that was my first interest in really exploring short form poems of my own. Then of course came the long and tedious tutelage of Robert Spiess at Modern Haiku. I say tedious because as many out there know his criticisms were even shorter than the poems he wrote. And I say tutelage because he was very patient and kind toward me and my early efforts at haiku and senryu. I spent years re-teaching myself how to write. Re-thinking how I look at the world. Learning to pay attention. Still at it.

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The Nitty-Gritty

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Do you have a personal philosophy of haiku or a particular vision of haiku poetics? What do you think haiku are, or should look like, or should be, in English? What do you think their purpose is?

A haiku is a poem and far more than a poem. It’s the road and the destination at the same time. I know that sounds a bit vague and Zen-ny but the point is that haiku have allowed me to see the world with “fresh eyes,” as Basho said. A world that I had spent many years observing closely as a poet but in some ways never really lived in. Some sort of barrier was removed between me and the rest of the world when I started reading, writing and studying haiku seriously. Through my awareness of ordinary things and occurrences I feel like I am able to appreciate my place in the world. The haiku poet learns to look at life very democratically. A blade of grass can equal many things. Birdsong becomes the soundtrack for your life. Along with the wind, the swell of tides, a person’s voice. You get the idea. Haiku means going green. Not just back to nature, but back to your roots as a human being. Fresh eyes. Picasso had a saying: “It takes a long time to become young.” Makes sense to me.

Haiku has been a kind of reincarnation in my poetic life. I had given up on the whole mainstream poetry publishing game. Haiku allowed me to see poetry as something new and exciting. To see poetry for what it is and always has been, for me anyway, a small song about the world I live in. A glimpse. An elevation of the pedestrian detail—the dog asleep in her strip of sunlight, the cardinal’s red, the sunflower’s bow. Haiku are the way I make my real life imaginary. And my imaginary life real.

If I have any haiku philosophy it is: say it from the start. Don’t hold back. No one else can say whatever it is you have to say. Even if they wanted to. If you don’t say it, no one else will. As Emerson said “writing means hurling yourself at the mark when all your arrows are spent.” My approach to haiku is my approach to life, which is also short.

Rediscovering haiku has been like finding a homeland I didn’t know I had. Each day is another adventure on Haiku Island, to borrow Jim Kacian’s analogy. Here on the island, I am free to wander like a curious kid who’s old enough to know there’s always more to learn. Haiku are the lessons you teach yourself. Bookmarks in the good parts of your life you might want to come back to, or share with someone else. A chronicle of perfect moments, I’ve said before. And that remains true.

What should haiku look like? Not for me to say. Whatever can be imagined. They probably should fit on a bumper sticker though. A t-shirt, maybe. I do believe in the underlying principles of Japanese haiku construction: our relationship with nature, collaboration with the reader, a wabi-sabi appreciation. A less is more approach. Less intellect and more sense. And that haiku be the poetry of the people. Inclusive, not exclusive.

I like to tell the story I either heard or made up at this point but the one about the famous old poet being interviewed by a reporter. The reporter asks: “So, what made you start writing poetry in the first place?” And the famous old poet answers: “The question is not what made me start writing poetry. It’s what made everyone else stop?”

The Haiku Society of America has an Education Committee but really it includes each of us reading and writing haiku today. We need to help spread the word about the risks of confusing haiku with the limerick, for example and the rewards of noticing something in your own back yard, for the first time, and setting it to words.

As far as the purpose of haiku? Discipline, restraint, gratitude. These are not bad life lessons just in case we didn’t get enough growing up. Basho set out on his 1,500-mile field trip for a lot of reasons, many of which we’ll never know. But one thing is clear to me. Basho sought a greater awareness and enjoyment of the fact that we, as people, are more alike than we are different. Certainly, all poetry tells us this.

So I say haiku is a way of life and people sometimes ask: what do you mean by that? Like some kind of poetry cult? Not exactly. It’s just that no matter how many times I hear the red-winged blackbird skip its stone song across the pond. I stop. Keep quiet. It’s the only proper way I know how to answer. That’s the haiku way of life.

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What does your haiku writing practice look like? Do you write daily or regularly? Do you have special times or places you like to write? Do you write longhand or on a computer? Do you revise extensively? Is there anything in particular you do to put yourself in “haiku mode?”

Again, working backward toward the truth. I have to start from now, just like in haiku. It’s more a matter of what I don’t do in order to get into the haiku mode. I try to back away from the fray. I’m a bit of an ostrich in that I stick my head in the sand when it comes to the goings-on of the world at large. That reminds me, I really do need to cancel my satellite dish service. The world will go on with or without me. Better for me to focus on the tasks at hand. This poem. This breath. Okay, that yard full of leaves. That woodpile to be stacked. “Haiku mode” is synonymous for living well. Life is full enough without being plugged-in 24/7. Am I sounding like a Luddite yet?

Writing haiku is a daily practice for me, in the early mornings, usually, sitting in the same spot with a cup of coffee and the same view that only changes with the seasons. I have stared out that east window toward the cupola of our old barn for so many years I feel part swallow, part squirrel – the one we never seem to be able to get rid of. I give up. And discover that the state of surrender is a pretty cool place to live. I continue to strive toward that home anyway. The next haiku I write starts out as an invitation to sit awhile. Be quiet. I am a witness to generations of yard fowl. I watch the hemlocks grow into themselves.

I write on my laptop from notes I scribble on pieces of paper that I carry around in my pockets. I’m not obsessed but more automatic when it comes to carrying a pen and paper. I learned early on that the role of the writer is to write what you know. So, it’s a good idea to take notes along the way. Life’s distracting. I’m sure there are many wonderful poems out there that got forgotten by me and many others. We should arm ourselves with writing utensils. At the ready.

Haiku revision? Absolutely. Only after days or weeks or longer of repeating words, committing some to memory do the real words emerge. Imposters fall away. They can’t hold on long enough. True haiku stay with you. Kerouac said “Haiku should be plain as porridge.” Maybe he also meant that the good ones fill you up, stick to your ribs.

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What does your haiku reading practice look like? Are there poets you particularly appreciate? Journals you find especially inspiring? Do you read haiku daily? Do you read mostly English-language haiku or do you read a great deal of Japanese haiku (in translation or not) or haiku in other languages? Are there books you would recommend, either of haiku or about haiku?

Read people you love. And, of course, I mean that figuratively. Read people whose poems you love. I keep certain books close by at all times. And a pile by the bed, a few on the shelf, some in the car. It’s silly almost. Books are scattered throughout my life. No one would ever guess that I actually know where and how they are “filed.” How I look at Peggy Willis Lyles’ haiku as a kind of touchstone. At Stan Forrester’s as the perfect gift. John Stevenson as a friend I never met. And many others. I have relationships with books and look at libraries with a reverence some reserve for church.

So, I read haiku everyday. A few, dozens or maybe a hundred. By all different poets. All in English. None in translation unless they are published in the handful of journals I check in on regularly: Acorn, Chrysanthemum, Frogpond, Modern Haiku, The Heron’s Nest, Notes from the Gean, Roadrunner. And a few blogs and websites I admire aside from this one include: Curtis Dunlap’s Blogging Along Tobacco Road, Kuniharu Shimizu’s haiga site See Haiku Here, Don Wentworth’s Issa’s Untidy Hut, The Haiku Foundation’s various forums, Cornell’s Mann Library’s Daily Haiku, Tinywords, and occasionally Twitter, which streams a surprising number of true talents if you don’t mind wading through a little drivel, some of it, no doubt, my own.

One thing’s for sure. I could spend my life reading the work of all the haiku poets out there. And I think that number is growing. Hope it is.

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Is there anything else you’d like to say about writing haiku? Or about how annoying these questions are?

Just a reminder to myself to always be open to new voices—my own and those of others just arriving on Haiku Island.

Rumi said: “You become what you love.” And I believe him. I like to think that I’m part haiku by now . . . open, unfinished, imperfect.

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Which of your haiku would you like to share with my readers?

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over my thoughts the hush of pines

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in the cat’s mouth
a handful of feathers
& how many songs

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mid-argument
wind chimes
we gave each other

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whatever I was thinking the cardinal’s red

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— Peter Newton

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