I went to Mineral Point to the Cradle of American Haiku conference (version 4.0) last weekend and that was fun. Okay, fun is really the wrong word. There is no place like that place in the whole entire world and there are no people like the people that come to that place to talk about writing haiku and sometimes even to write it. They’re my people. I don’t have much family around here but when I go there I have the same feeling I do when I walk into a large room full of people I’m related to. I know them and they know me and there’s hugging and that weird kind of tug, that gravitational pull, that I always assumed was DNA-related but is apparently not. I’m not really sure what I would do if I didn’t live near Mineral Point. It seems unutterably sad to think about, so I won’t.

There is probably no other place on the planet, for instance, where you could get three dozen people together in a room to attend a workshop on writing haibun, which is an art form that probably not significantly more than three dozen people in the English-speaking world have even heard of. Okay, I’m totally exaggerating, but not that much. There are probably more English-speaking people who haven’t heard of Kim Kardashian than have heard of haibun. (I’m sorry to bring up Kim Kardashian in this space. I won’t do it again.)

As I was saying. I went to Mineral Point and conducted a workshop on writing haibun, which made me feel a little bit like a little girl wearing her father’s cowboy boots, but it seemed to go okay. We talked a lot about the link between prose and haiku in haibun, which I have discovered in the past is something that haiku poets can talk about more or less forever with apparent interest. Connection. We’re totally into it. Then we did a little exercise and wrote a little haibun. I gave the attendees a total of twenty minutes to write and was stunned to discover that most of them seem to have written a complete haibun in that time. What are they, wizards? It takes me months, sometimes. Some of them read what they’d  written aloud, one minute after writing it, and it was beautiful, startling, like watching a bird hatch and dry and become itself.

I could say a lot more about Mineral Point and I probably will, but I feel I should return now to what really should be my regularly-scheduled programming, which is thinking and writing about how wild and difficult and stunning everything is, in and out of my brain.


back in the river we deepen it


Sometimes I find it helpful to imagine I’m a character in a book and to try to guess what I’ll do next. I’m easier to understand when I’ve been tidied up for literary purposes. The jungle of my history becomes a small, neat grove that no one could possibly get lost in; silt filters from the muddy, churning water of my motives and I look down to see the clearly marked channel on the river bottom. “Ah, so that’s who I am!” I murmur as I pick my way through, across, over, straining to see on the horizon the city of my imagination, the place where I’ll spin straw into gold, choose the right box, find the key that fits the door to the room that’s been locked all these years. But when the sun goes down on that blurry horizon the clear way disappears, and when I turn in my mind to the end of the book to try to read my fate, the remaining pages are as discouragingly blank as ever. And what’s more, the beginning of the story is never quite as I remembered it either.

glacial erratics
you hear the thunder
before I do

Cradle 4

I know I’m going to see a lot of you in Mineral Point in a few weeks for the Cradle of American Haiku 4-slash-3rd Quarterly Meeting of the Haiku Society of America. I’m hoping I can persuade a few more of you to come by tempting you with the program. Check it out, and if you’re interested, contact the one and only Gayle Bull, proprietor of The Foundry Books and haiku host extraordinaire.

I’m excited to be giving a workshop on haibun, because four years ago at Cradle 2 I took a workshop with Roberta Beary (now the haibun editor at Modern Haiku) that was my first real introduction to haibun. I’ve been semi-obsessed ever since. I have a few ideas that I think will be fun. Bring something to write with, like a purple crayon, and a bendy mind.


JULY 25-27, 2014

2:00 Registration at THE FOUNDRY BOOKS
Set up and begin selling poets books
Coffee, tea or iced tea on the porch
5:30 Opening reception at THE FOUNDRY BOOKS

(Lee Gurga, Randy Brooks and Charlie Trumbull)
Copies of their haiku will be distributed and we will take turns reading them.


Breakfast on your own.
Farmer’s Market, Water Tower Park

Presented by Aubrie Cox
While photographic haiga follows many of the same principles as traditional haiga, today’s technology often makes it easier for poets to attempt haiga through contemporary mediums. This presentation will explore not only the fundamentals of haiga, but also address key principles poets and artists should keep in mind when composing and creating photographic and digital haiga, such as typefaces, color, negative space, arrangement, and image editing programs. Attendees will have the chance to apply what they learn in the presentation with a hands-on activity.

9:00 “Polishing Your Haiku to be The Best for Publication,
Presented by Charlotte Digregorio
This workshop for beginning and intermediate haikuists will give you everything you need to write your poems with a critical eye and publish them successfully. There will be a general presentation on the content and style of haiku/senryu, analysis and discussion of excellent examples of it, followed by the nuts and bolts of submitting poems that will catch the editor’s eye. Handouts provided.

Presented by Randy and Shirley Brooks
Randy & Shirley Brooks, co-editors and publishers of Brooks Books (formerly High/Coo Press) will be sharing their experience of publishing haiku over the last four decades. In this presentation, they will share the experiments, shifts, and long-lasting traditions established through their publishing efforts and how that history corresponds with broader trends in the English-language haiku community.

Presented by Melissa Allen
In this workshop, we’ll spend some time talking about the relationship between prose and haiku in haibun, and then try a couple of exercises to build, or begin to build, a haibun from an already existing haiku. You can bring a haiku or two of your own, or I’ll provide some of mine for your linking pleasure.

12:00– 1:00 LUNCH ON YOU OWN

1:00 Between Bashô and Ban’ya (Bypassing Barthes): A New Brand of Haiku
Presented by Charlie Trumbull
In recent years a new style of haiku is being used by some of the leading English-language haikuists, They are clearly grounded in the Japanese- and
English-language traditions, yet bear resemblances to the “gendai” styleof haiku that is much in fashion these days. We will examine the evolutionof this innovative style of haiku and present a number of examples forcritique and discussion.

Presented by Marjorie Buettner
“Ten words of prose, once set down, do the duty of only ten words. They are frozen to the piece of paper. But two words of poetry, with their suggestive power, can create a mood or paint a picture that in prose would require perhaps five hundred words to effect.” Jun Fujita

This presentation will try to glimpse into Fujita’s world beyond the surface revealing a true renaissance man. This Power point presentation will show photographs of Jun Fujita’s cabin which I visited in 2007 and some of his art which was donated to the Chicago Institute of Art in 1963.

2:30 Newku for Old? Haiku 21 and Haiku 2014 as Guides to the Experimental and the Traditional in Haiku (with an extended digression into Disjunctive Dragonfly).
Presented by Lee Gurga

2:30 KUKAI
Presented by Randy Brooks and Aubrie Cox
Kukai is a playful competition in which anonymous haiku are read and appreciated—with favorites being selected by participants. In this session we will experience two approaches: (1) a “seashell”matching contest tournaments starting with 8 pairs of haiku and ending with a grand champion, and (2) traditional kukai with anonymous haiku being discussed and voted on as favorites in the competition. Participants will receive haiku book prizes from the competition coordinators.
Note: to participate as haiku writers in these kukai, please send your haiku to Randy or Aubrie by July 18, 2014. The traditional kukai is open topic and open style of haiku. The matching contest will pair haiku related to summer in the Midwest—the heat, summer foods or drinks, etc. Please DO NOT submit haiku that will not be anonymous through workshops, blogs, readings or previous publication. Part of the fun of kukai is hearing how participants love a haiku even though they have no idea who wrote it. Only after an anonymous haiku has been loved by readers do we ask who wrote it.
Presented by Jerome Cushman
Presented by Randy Brooks and Aubrie Cox
This presentation is designed for those who may not have experience teaching, but would be interested in non-academic based instruction. With education outreach being a recent push within the haiku community, we will be discussing how poets can create and conduct quality workshops on haiku and related forms for various age groups.
5:30 HSA Meeting
6:30 Dinner at Historic Walker House
7:30 Panel Discussion
Presented by our honored guests: Randy Brooks, Lee Gurga and Charlie Trumbull
8:30 Critique Session with panel.
Attendees may submit haiku on Friday during registration on 3X5 cards.
9:30 Open Reading

Folding Chairs

I’m sitting in the growing dark of an unfamiliar small town watching the people, who all seem like people I should know and probably, in another life, in another universe, do know. The dinner party conversation earlier was about the structure and history of the universe, the nature of the Big Bang. The fireworks are about to start. The fog is rolling in. I’ve put on a sweater to ward off the chill. In a few minutes a lost child will appear by my chair weeping and another universe will splinter into existence.

scratches out
an inapt phrase–
something faster
than the speed of light

Zeus in the Midwest

I don’t know how you know you’re alive but I derive certainty about the fact of my own existence from my observation of big, noisy storms, which might explain why thunderbolt-hurling gods have had such a good run over the centuries.

I undo
my last action