The Cradle of American Haiku: Come see me…

…not to mention a lot of other people who are a lot more interesting than I am. I probably should have said something about the event described below quite a while ago–it’s happening in three weeks, which makes planning difficult for those of you who live at some distance from Mineral Point, Wisconsin. However, if you can make it, I cannot possibly recommend it highly enough.

The second event in this series was the first haiku conference I ever attended, two years ago when I was new to haiku and had even less idea than I do now what I was doing. I found myself surrounded by kind and talented and generous people, many of whom are now very close friends of mine and have supported me, challenged me, educated me, and generally made my life infinitely more wonderful. Most of them will be there again this time. I’d love to meet you too, if I haven’t already.

Important: If you’re interested in coming, please contact and register with Gayle Bull at the email address listed below. She is one of the world’s great hosts, but she’d like to have some idea of the number of people she’ll have to host.

And if you have any other questions about this event that aren’t answered below, feel free to ask me, I love to talk about it!


will be held in Mineral Point, WI, July 20-22. The Cradle Festivals celebrate the importance of the Midwest in the development of English-language haiku. The first Cradle Festival honored Raymond Roseliep of Dubuque, Iowa, one of the best of the early American Haiku poets; the second Cradle Festival honored Robert Spiess of Madison, Wisconsin, one of the best early poets and editors of English-language haiku journals. This Cradle Festival will honor the development of American Haiku magazine, the first magazine devoted exclusively to English-language haiku, started in Platteville, Wisconsin. Don Eulert, one of the founders of American Haiku, will be among the honored guests and presenters.

The three days will feature readings, presentations, food, and fun. Some of the presenters and panelists are Charles Trumbull, Jerome Cushman, Gayle Bull, Marjorie Buettner, Charlotte Digregorio, Francine Banwarth, Melissa Allen, Bill Pauly, Aubrie Cox, Mike Montreuil, and Lidia Rozmus. A complete schedule of events is below.

The fee for the three-day Festival is $45.00, which will include all the presentations, workshops, readings, and the Saturday night picnic. We encourage pre-registration to make it easier to determine the amount of food and the facilities needed.

Throughout the Festival, there will be coffee, tea, iced tea, water and assorted goodies on the front porch at Foundry Books for those who just want to sit, relax, talk and write.

We look forward to seeing you at the CRADLE OF AMERICAN HAIKU FESTIVAL 3. Check for accommodations.  If you have any questions, please contact Gayle Bull at


Friday, July 20—
3:00 – 7:00  Registration (Foundry Books)
7:00 – 8:00 Opening Reception and Welcome (Foundry Books)
8:00 – ?  Open Reading (Foundry Books)
Saturday, July 21
8:00 – 9:00 Registration (Foundry Books)
8:00  Farmers Market at Water Tower Park (lots of good inspiration for Haiku came from this last summer)
9:00  Welcome (Opera House)
9:15 – 10:15 Charlie Trumbull — Black Haiku: The Uses of Haiku by African American Poets. From the earliest years that haiku has been written in the United States, African American poets have been among the foremost experimenters in the genre. The result has been, for the most part, a tradition of haiku writing that runs parallel to what we might call the haiku mainstream. This presentation will trace the history of “black haiku” in America, from the Harlem Renaissance movement of the 1920s and ’30s to the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and ‘70s to today¹s “blues haiku” of Sonia Sanchez and the jazz haiku of Kalamu ya Salaam and others. (Opera House)
10:30 – 11:45   AMERICAN HAIKU PANEL – Don Eulert, who with Jim Bull founded American Haiku magazine; Gayle Bull, Charlie Trumbull. Jerome Cushman will moderate the panel. (Opera House)
11:45 – 1:00 Lunch on your own
1:00 – 2:00  Marjorie Buettner –- There is a Season: A Memorial Reading, 2011 (first presented at HNA, Seattle, 2011). “Whatever circles comes from the center. We circle what we love.” Rumi. The memorial reading will have a combination of Powerpoint presentation, music, and a memorial flyer. It will be an hourlong presentation reviewing the lives and haiku of 22 haiku poets who have died in the past couple of years.

2:30 – 5:30 Breakout sessions
2:30 – 4:00 Charlotte Digregorio — “Polish Your Haiku for Publication.”  This workshop will include lecture, analysis of great haiku, and critique of participants’ work. Participants will receive training on the finer points of writing haiku to ensure that their submissions are first-rate. Handouts will include samples of haiku, along with an extensive bibliography and list of resource tools for haikuists to take their writing to publication level. Highly recommended for beginning and intermediate haikuists.  (Opera House)
2:30 – 4:00 Aubrie  Cox — “Why Did My Teachers Lie to Me?”: Teaching Haiku in and out of the Classroom. Teaching haiku can be both challenging and rewarding. We will discuss the fundamentals, benefits, and possibilities of teaching how to read and write contemporary English-Language haiku in classes, workshops, and on a one-on-one basis. (Pendarvis Education Center)
2:30 – 5:30  Lidia Rozmus — “One brush stroke.” Sumi-e and traditional haiga workshop by Lidia Rozmus. There will be 2 back-to-back sessions with each session lasting 1.5 hours.(Limit 10 per session.) (Foundry Books)
4:00 – 5:30  HAIKU WORKSHOP. Francine Banwarth, Bill Pauly, Charlie Trumbull, Jerome Cushman. This is a critique session.  Bring your haiku or just come and listen to some top poets and editors talk about haiku. (Pendarvis Education Center)
4:00 – 5:30 Mike Montreuil, Haibun Editor of One Hundred GourdsTELL ME A STORY: Writing Haibun. The first half of this 90-minute workshop will present two Japanese Masters of haibun: Basho, the originator of the form, and Issa. A small discussion on why haibun lost its appeal until its resurgence in the late 20th century will follow. We will also look at a longer haibun from Robert Spiess, who was one of the first writers of English North-American haibun. Next, modern and shorter haibun by Roberta Beary and Jeff Winke will be read. Finally very short haibun by Larry Kimmel will be presented. The last half of the workshop will focus on writing haibun. Attendees will be asked to either complete a haibun from a partially completed text that I will supply or write a haibun using their own ideas. I will ask those attending the workshop to rework them and then e-mail them to me, if they wish, so they may be considered for a future issue of A Hundred Gourds. (Foundry Books)
5:30 – 6:30  Free time
6:30 – 7:30 Midwest Picnic (Foundry Books)
7:30 – 8:30 Open Reading (Foundry Books)
9:00 – ? Public Reading at Wine Bar

Sunday, July 22
9:30 – 10:30 Ginko at Pendarvis
10:30 – 11:30  Melissa Allen — Become a Motorcycle: Understanding and Writing Gendai Haiku. In Japanese, “gendai” means “modern,” and when applied to haiku this word signifies that a poem has moved away from traditional haiku poetics, whether in subject matter, structure, or language use. Bring a gendai haiku you have written if you have one (please feel free to attend if you don’t, and even if you know little or nothing about gendai!). We will briefly discuss the nature of gendai and read some well-known examples (such as the “motorcycle” haiku by Kaneko Tohta quoted in the workshop’s title); then we will discuss our own haiku and in the process try to understand better what is meant by “gendai.” (Pendarvis Education Center)
12:00 – ?  Lunch, ginko readings and closing remarks (Gray Dog Deli)

23 thoughts on “The Cradle of American Haiku: Come see me…

  1. This is like seeing my worst enemy drive over a cliff in my new Cadilac…(or whatever is the high priced car nowadays!) What a shedule to have to miss! What a great group of people, poets, haijin, friends gathering … the energy you guys will generate will keep haiku going around here for a long time… How I hate missing these things!

  2. I surely wish I could go to the Haiku Workshop… I not only wish to go but I need to go badly! What will come out of that will be such a depth of understanding and the perceptions priceless.

      • probably better not to know exactly. Will you delve into what we think of when we say “gendai” and “modern”? Do the two words really mean the same thing? I’m not talking about definitions. Is gendai in English influenced mainly by the contemporary Japanese take on what they call modern? If so, how does that differ from what we call modern. Are either really modern? These are questions I ask myself, and I don’t think they have pat answers.

        • All excellent questions and yes, I think about them too. Modern, postmodern… lots of people have pointed out how much of the work of, e.g., Basho and Issa is way more “modern” or even “postmodern” than a lot of contemporary haiku. I’m actually less and less interested in labeling things partly because I think all these names for things tend to create more confusion and misunderstanding than they resolve, although it can be geekily satisfying to sort things into these categories. I wish people would spend more time thinking about whether poems work (and yeah, what that means opens up another whole can of worms, or maybe one of those cans of exploding fake snake) than about whether they follow rules or adhere to definitions. Mostly I think what I want to do with this workshop is give people a lot of examples of very short poems that work even if they don’t adhere to someone’s preconception of what haiku is or has to be. I care less about expanding vocabularies, more about expanding horizons…

          • Hi, Melissa, I too wish there was more emphasis on what makes a poem work than labeling things… It seems to me that there are some people who enjoy and delight in word games, and then there are those who write on a more emotional level, and then there are those who find the truth of life revealed… there are all sorts of people and I think there should be all sorts of haiku too. I’ve been coming across a lot of people (in blogging) who really would be delighted with haiku if we could open it up to what makes a good poem work. Just last night I came across a fellow who was photographing photo that had all the elements of haiku in them, and was trying to write haiku too. There are a lot of us folks who think in images and I’ve been having a grand time planting a few seeds out in the wilderness.

            • in rebellion against the increasing narrowness of the format here, I want to say I wish I could join you in Wisconsin (my birthplace) and sit quietly in the back and listen. You have a lot to contribute, Melissa (Merrill too!). Thanks, I’m sometimes appalled at how my posts appear to be, what, overly skeptical (?), which I don’t feel. I hope you have a blast and learn a lot,

  3. aloha Melissa. amazing. if I traveled as I once did. this event. wow. this event. I know what it is. this event brings up that long ago desire I once had to travel and explore travel. that’s what it is. I know you will have an awing time. cool on that.

    motorcycles. wow again. I convinced myself to get one again. I won’t now. for a number of reasons. among them my computer is fading so there is that choice of one or the other. still on the street. on my walks. for the last ?? 8-10+ months or so, I’ve been snapping quick bike shots as well as stationay shots. among my other photos. I don’t often use them. yet.

    and now you tell me there are these ‘ “motorcycle” haiku by Kaneko Tohta’. now I don’t know if I should chase them down or not. I want to, but perhaps I will try to find my own way first. I’ve used a couple in posts. okay, I need to do more. I usually do.

    be enjoying your days. this is a terrific looking event. aloha aloha.

    • There’s just one motorcycle ku by Tohta (that I know of):

      After a heated argument
      I go out to the street
      and become a motorcycle
      — Kaneko Tohta

      Which is pretty awesome.
      We had a great time this weekend, next time you’re not six thousand miles from Wisconsin you should drop by. 😉

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