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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

May 25, 2005

ups and downs with Tom Clausen

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 2:33 pm

Tom Clausen has been a Haiku Advocate for a lot longer than haikuEsq.   Circa 1990,

the Cornell librarian and lifelong Ithacan started posting a daily haiku in the stacks

elevator where he worked (see Cornell Chronicle, “In Mann Library, the graffiti is poetic,

thanks to one man,” March 14, 1996).  After a decade of elevator haiku, Tom started

placing his daily offering (by an extended community of haijin friends) at the Main Door

of the Mann Library Addition.  Those who can’t be there in person, can find Tom’s daily

haiku by clicking a link on the home page of the Library’s website.


ClausenMug  Tom’s also been co-editor of the esteemed Red Moon Anthology of English

Language Haiku since its launching in 1996.  More important for our purposes, however,

Tom has been writing haiku since the late 1980’s.  Thanks to his generous spirit, visitors to

this site will be able to see and feel for themselves why his work has been recognized and

highly respected for more than a dozen years.


I connect with Tom’s haiku (and other short poetry, such as tanka) because his attitude

toward life’s vicissitudes seems to be much like mine.  The Red Moon Anthology says

that Tom Clausen “half accepts change yet is always grateful for the constancy of nature,

the seasons and haiku celebrating them.” In his essay “America’s Haiku Future,” Cor van

den Heuvel (Autumn 2003) notes:

“Though he treats the ups and downs of marriage and being a parent,

his experience seems to have been that the ups seem to make up for

the downs.”

Tom gives us a glimpse into his haiku ethos in the essay From Conflict to Poetry, which

appears in the newest edition of Simply Haiku (Summer 2005, vol. 3, #2): 

“Haiku is the perfect worry stone. In my life I have found considerable

solace in being able to write about my personal conflicts, moments where

I felt moved to pause, reflect, regroup and recognize that even in conflict

and distress are silver linings and the potential for poetry that each of us

can find in our heart . . . and in turn move on from our conflict through the

poetry we create from it.”

If you want to learn more about Tom and his poetry, I suggest the student papers  buddha 

done at Millikin University by Michelle Ground and Matt Whitsett.  As with all my

honored guests, of course, reading 17 syllables or less written by Tom is far more

telling than reading hundreds of words about his haiku.  So, I recommend that you

check out samples from Tom’s chapbook Homework, found at the foot of his Simply

Haiku Conflict essay (you can order the book here, from Snapshot Press), and that

you enjoy another sampling of his work on the TAO website, along with selections

from Upstate Dim Sum, a journal created by the exclusive Route 9 Haiku Group. 


First, however, I am most pleased to present a few of Tom Clausen’s haiku from 

frogpond, the Journal of the Haiku Society of America:


left and right

he follows the way

of his kicked stone




old farmhouse–

the pitch of the

patterned linoleum









having brushed off

several large ants

an extra large one . . .






to a simple question

my life story






       froglegs Tom Clausen from frogpond (XXVII, 2004)                                                                



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