December, summarized

IMG_6841In between decorating my Christmas tree and then staring at it adoringly every night, binge-watching TV shows as if they were about to discontinue TV, making perfect Yorkshire pudding for the first time in my life (#goals), oh, and working, I have sometimes found time this month to do things that pertain to poetry, such as writing it and reading it. In particular I’ve been reading a lot of haibun, because it’s my turn again to edit the next issue of Haibun Today. Which reminds me, you should send me some haibun. [And please don’t tell me you didn’t know the deadlines or the guidelines or, I don’t know, the fault lines, they’re all right there in the link.]

Uh, what do you mean you don’t write haibun? Don’t you think it’s time to try? I mean, read some first, maybe some of Harriot West’s or Peter Newton’s or Bob Lucky’s or Carol Pearce-Worthington’s, you know, the really great ones, and then lie around indolently thinking about the stories you have known, and then tap into that story-filled indolence and write, because spending hours lying around doing nothing before you start writing is how the real pros do it, trust me on this. Read, then stare into space, then write. It’s a time-honored formula.

Okay, I have to finish up an episode of “Broadchurch” and then get into bed and scribble while lying sideways with my eyes half closed. Now you know why my haiku so often make no sense whatsoever.

deep winter
the only moving thing
the eye of the poet

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haibun. today.

Hey, so that issue of Haibun Today that I’ve been editing for the last few months is on newsstands now. Um, I mean, of course, it’s on the Internet free of charge, right here

I read something like 180 haibun in the process of making selections for this issue and I found some amazing work, really some of my favorite haibun ever, so thanks to all of you who made it very difficult for me to make decisions this winter.

As you might have noticed, I’ve also been writing a ton of haibun myself lately. All in all I’ve probably thought more about haibun in the last three months than I did in the previous 4.5 years, which is about how long I’ve been aware that haibun existed. I’m not completely sure I understand what it is and how it works any better than I ever did, but I have many swirling and complicated thoughts about it, which I might even write down some day. 

In the meantime, you should head over to Haibun Today and read all the great haibun, as well as all the great tanka prose (edited by Claire Everett).

And then maybe try writing some of your own, because we all have some stories that are waiting around impatiently to be turned into something rare, and valuable, and poetic. You’re welcome, and thanks.

 

from the editor

So for your reading pleasure, a new issue of Haibun Today is out. I was first published in HT nearly four years ago when I didn’t really know what haibun were but thought they sounded cool so maybe I’d try to write some. I have a new haibun in the current issue (it’s called Polar Vortex!), and also I have an editor’s biography, because thrillingly, I am now one of four haibun editors that rock the house over at HT. We’re each editing one issue a year, and I’m up for the next (March) issue. Here’s the submissions page because I know you want to write a bunch of haibun and send them to me to read. You have until Jan. 30, so ready, set, go.

winter evening when you erase it

If you’re wondering what my personal editorial philosophy is, here’s something I wrote about the matter for HT when I was the haibun editor at Multiverses (a journal that sadly lasted only one issue and is no longer available on the web). You have to scroll down a bit to get to me, though it’s worth it to read what all the other editors have to say.

on the tip of my tongue only salt

I’m really looking forward to editing. Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but I might actually like editing better than writing. When you write, you have to come up with all those pesky ideas and the words to express them with. When you edit, someone else has already done all that hard work for you. I love playing with words and if the words have been neatly laid out for me to play with, so much the better. Also, as someone who has been assiduously edited herself in many contexts (and who should probably subject herself to even more editing), I can tell you that good editing is one of the not-so-secret keys to good writing. Sometimes people are afraid of editing because they think that if their work is edited then it isn’t really theirs anymore, but a good editor has the magic ability to take your words and mysteriously divine what you meant to say with them and help you figure out how to say that exact thing, except better. I should probably not claim here that I’m a good editor, let alone a magic one, or that you’ll like my editing, but I can tell you without reservation that I have been blessed with a multitude of good editors in my life and I have never, ever felt that what they did to my writing made it less mine. Actually it kind of seems like alchemy. (Except, you know, for the part about alchemy being totally fake and not actually working at all. Damn, I’m losing my metaphorical touch.)

five golden rings I promise to stop changing

Okay. Enough about me. On to you and the thrilling haibun you’re going to write, the things you’re going to say that no one else could say in a way that no one else could say them. And then I get to read them. What a great gig.

somebody has the last word and it isn’t me

 

What’s goin’ on

What am I doing lately? What, you mean besides calling in sick to work (because I was sick, don’t get any ideas) and sitting on my couch watching endless episodes of sitcoms on Netflix? Yeah, I wish I could say that I spend all my time engaged in high-toned cultural activities and churning out creative works, but no. Sometimes I like to rot my brain like everyone else. It’s the American way.

However, I did get a package in the mail lately from an Internet retailer that doesn’t need any more free advertising, containing these books, so they’ll probably be getting a look-in soon (you know, as soon as I’m done with the pressing task of finishing the first season of “How I Met Your Mother”):

Books

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And also I’ve been enjoying viewing and contributing to Aubrie Cox’s annual Doodleku festival over at Yay Words!, this year in glorious color.

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And also also I had a longer poem from one of my recent posts published over at Red Wolf Journal, whose current issue is concerned with “The Art of Habitation.”

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And also, also, also, the latest issue of Haibun Today features a very thoughtful and insightful commentary by Rich Youmans on my haibun “The Shape of Water.” I think it’s quite likely that Rich understands this haibun better than I do, which doesn’t surprise me at all — sometimes I wonder if I have the faintest idea what I’m doing when I write. (This issue of HT also features a lot of great haibun by people who are not me, because I need to get cracking.)

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I’ll be back tomorrow with your polar vortex poems. I’m pleased to report that writing poetry about it seems to have driven the polar vortex away and I’m hoping that this time it will stay in the actual polar region. 41 degrees today! I went out today without a coat (please, who needs a coat when it’s above freezing?) and tried to chip some of the ice off my driveway, but winter laughed at me. There’s like three inches of ice, it’s not going anywhere until actual spring arrives, wearing a jaunty hat and promising to stay forever. The lying tramp.

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late winter
I redecorate
my mind

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Frozen

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After an unseasonable October snowstorm, my mother’s power has been out for three days. She shuttles back and forth between friends’ houses and the hospital where my grandfather is eking out an existence in the wake of a heart attack he didn’t tell anyone he’d had, stopping at home every so often to check on her frozen foods buried in the snow. She tells me about her friend’s maple tree, the red leaves at the height of their beauty, the white snow setting them off in unexpected fashion. I get fixated on that image and forget to listen to what she’s telling me about her plans for my future.

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low clouds
from day to day
my bookmark never moves

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Haibun Today, September 2012

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REM Sleep

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It’s two a.m., but the nightmare’s not counting. It has no logic but it’s happy to point out the flaws in mine. The mistaken inferences I draw every time anyone else speaks. The sour smell of gullibility that clings to me like mother’s milk. The stains of the berries that are native to the fool’s paradise I live in. No reason to doubt any of it, why would my subconscious lie? It knows every thought that’s passed through my mind since the first neurotransmitters leapt the first synapses, and it’s not impressed. It’s tapping my shoulder, clearing its throat, trying to get my attention politely, but none of that’s working. Like most terrorists, it only acts out of desperation.

blank slate
every night
I erase the moon

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Haibun Today  6.3, September 2012

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Random…

…places where you can find stuff by and about me, lately.

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“Editing Haibun and Tanka Prose: A Haibun Today Colloquium”

18 editors of haibun, including me, share their thoughts on editing haibun in the most recent issue of Haibun Today.

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THF Haiku App

There’s an app for me now. Well, okay, for me and a whole bunch of other poets. A couple of months ago The Haiku Foundation released an updated version of THF Haiku at the App Store. (I reviewed the first version a while back.) There’s a whole new selection of several hundred haiku and one of them is mine. No, I’m not going to tell you which one. You’ll have to go get the app to find out. (It’s free.) Because I’m diabolical like that.

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Sari Grandstaff’s Haiku Library (on Pinterest)

As some of you may know, I am attending library school and some day I even plan to finish. Three of my classmates there started an amazing project last year called the “Library as Incubator Project,” which aims to document and encourage artists who use libraries to inspire and assist them in their work. (That’s my summary of what they do. I hope they’d agree with me.)

Anyway, back in April, which was National Poetry Month, they asked Sari Grandstaff, who is a haiku poet and school librarian, to put together a Pinterest board about haiku. And she did. There’s a link to this blog on it, for which I feel very honored and slightly freaked out. My worlds collide.

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“A meditation on namelessness” and “summer vacation”

On his blog “haiku and commentary and tales,” Jim “Sully” Sullivan writes commentary about various haiku that interest him. More of us should probably do this. A while back (I’m slow, people) Sully wrote about a one-line haiku that I posted on Monostich. Then more recently he wrote about a haiku I published in Kokako and also posted here. He is way more philosophical than me but almost everyone is. I enjoyed reading his commentary.

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