Ephemera given away by poets at Haiku North American 2013


I’ve worked in several archives and I can tell you that one of the best words you will encounter there is “ephemera.” This refers to printed material that is (naturally) meant to be ephemeral, to serve a specific purpose and then be discarded — or, as the case may be, preserved in a scrapbook or collected or hoarded or pounced upon by some archivist who perceives historical value in it and tucks it neatly into an acid-free folder and gives it an accession number. Tickets, for instance, are ephemera. Menus. Playbills. Business cards. Dance cards. (Dance cards? What, are we partying like it’s 1899?)


by moonlight
a sheet of stickers
with unreadable faces


These objects above might or might not be classified as ephemera, depending on how likely you thought it was that their creators wanted or intended them to be preserved. What they are is giveaways from various poets at last month’s Haiku North America — samples, if you will, of their work. “Samples” sounds a bit ephemeral, but really, these lovely objects don’t look as if they were meant to be discarded. They look like art. Which they are.


light years can’t explain how we got here


From top left, clockwise and into center:

  • Postcard by Sandra Simpson
  • a primer of organic forms, booklet by Jim Kacian
  • Art trading card by Linda Papanicolaou
  • Bookmark by Lee Gurga
  • Brochure with map of Japan by Susan Diridoni
  • Pamphlet by Lidia Rozmus


last day of summer
the wrong words
to the right song


I would say that they’re going into my personal archives, except that mine is not maintained in a way any self-respecting archivist would ever approve of. For instance I have already used Lee’s bookmark as a bookmark and I’ve been pawing through Jim’s amazing little book while eating spaghetti so it may or may not have some extraneous material attached to it now. I think what I’ll actually do is pile these things in a basket on top of the bookcase I keep my Haiku Stuff in, so they can be Haiku Stuff too. All of it both ephemeral and eternal.


between two hills the rest of my life


4 thoughts on “ephemera

  1. Beautiful, Melissa. So happy to see you’re posting again, missed you.
    Even the word – did I say even? -ephemera is sublime. Love to think of the ephemerals, Spring wildflowers, “ephemeral and eternal.” You are an inspiration. Haiku North America sounds like a wonderful event. Someday?

  2. aloha Melissa. ephemera has long been a favorite among postal art people. those seasoned in swaps often include ephemera in envelopes for the host or their trading partners often with the idea that it may resurface in some postal art work or be passed on to others until it finds the right place.

    I’m not organized in a way anyone could find things in my spaces. other than me that is. that is, I can find something or people can find me (usually) in my spaces.

    I have sense-feel connections that extend back to my youngest childhood. I know by this sense-feel where what I want is and I go get it from there. I know this way in my mind and in my physical surroundings. that’s how I know my space and rarely rarely now allow others into it. others often do not understand my organization. they see it as chaos. so what does it matter if they pick some thing up and deposit it someplace else?. it matters greatly to me because that breaks my sense-feel connection. and it becomes as lost to me as an E word filed under Y.

    as you say, listening to the way something wants to become is much more effective than pushing something into the shape I thought I wanted it to be. that listening is what I call half of the dialogue. it seems to work best when it’s my half. but then the other half is the thing in me half and that is mine too. and I still have to listen until the thing, work, writing comes out the way it wants to be.

    and who are you to say what is or is not attractive? I happen to like and find myself very attracted to finger writing. yours as well as mine. finger on. it’s just so way fun to come across your words again. I know that barn. it’s a favored space. so are the fields around it.

    butterfly trail
    I follow my path
    into flight

    aloha. Rick

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