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

October 16, 2005

introducing andrew riutta

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:22 pm

Earlier this week, f/k/a presented two sneak previews of the haiku

of Andrew Riutta.  One reason should be obvious, once you read his 

poetry: haikuEsq was too excited about having Andrew’s work on

this humble website to wait for a formal introductory post.  The other

reason for putting off an introduction is perhaps a little less obvious:

haikuEsq is trained as a lawyer, not a literary critic, and he’s been

having a hard time finding the right words to explain what makes

Andrew’s haiku stand out — for both their excellence and their unique


tiny check Our other alter ego dagosan put it like this:  When I

see most high-quality haiku, I allow myself the conceit of

thinking “I could have written that (at least with a lot more

practice).”  With Riutta’s haiku, I often sigh, “I never

would have seen that connection, or said so much

with so few words.”

“RiuttaA”  In an interview with the poet-editor Robert Wilson, in the

Summer 2005 edition of Wilson’s Simply Haiku Magazine, we get

a glimpse of Andrew that helps explain his art and craft — and allows

him to provide the words haikuEsq hasn’t yet found.  Asked which poets

have influenced him, Andrew includes Ralph Waldo Emerson, saying: 

One of the quotes that has become one of my templates is by Emerson:

‘Step out of the house to see the moon and it is mere tinsel; it will not

please as when its light shines upon your necessary journey’.”


When asked his goals, he explains:

Since I am rather new to all of this, my goals still consist

of attempting to give that which seems to have very little

voice in our world, a voice: the bond and the distance between

humanity and the world in which it lives. Ultimately we are all

moving in the same direction, and yet so very few people you

meet are willing to acknowledge this fact.  I want to continue to

notice and write about the little moments that depict this scenario.

Then, after saying that he would like to help people develop their own voices,

Andrew reveals a longterm goal (that resonates with this weblog’s Editor):

There’s also a part of me that would love to help haiku appeal

to those who may not be interested in it because they believe

that it conveys that which is already obvious. I would like to

help people recognize that each of us is participating in all

these moments, and therefore, each of us has the depth to

be able to perceive them in a manner that no one else can.


                                                                                  leaves flying

Juxtaposing emotion (often conflict) with the natural world around us,

Andrew writes haiku that create a mood with a simple image and a

human connection.   He tells us he will “always be a newcomer” to

haiku, because “Every day is a new day.”  That’s not a cliche for

Andrew; it’s the attitude that makes his poetry alive, with real moments

and mood, not contrived ones.


Enough introduction.  Here’s another course in the ongoing feast that

Andrew Riutta has generously allowed f/k/a to share with you.  You can

find links to posts that feature his work on his archive page.





quiet lake—
all these years
he has held his breath





I leave it to die
in the pasture







the silver leaves
that were once my life—
autumn wind




every time
a child blinks…
another dandelion





such a long way
to stillness





leafless trees—
an old man stares at himself
in the river


MichiganG  Andrew Riutta from Simply Haiku (Autumn 2005)



p.s.   Those who like biographical information, should know that Andrew 

Riutta lives in northern Michigan, along with his wife, Lori, and their four-year

old daughter, Issabella (gotta love that name!).  [Her first published haiku

appeared in the Spring 2005 edition of Canadian Zen Haiku.]


Andrew grew up on the shores of Lake Superior, surrounded by freighters

and agates; orchards and farms. When not writing or reading poetry, Andrew

loves to sew hand-stitched bags out of canvas and leather. He also loves

listening to wide band and shortwave radio. Mostly, he loves “learning from

his daughter about the world.”






Publius seems dubious

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:13 am

For years, I’ve wanted to re-acquaint myself with The Federalist Papers.

They are, of course, practically Holy Writ for many of my blawgisphere

colleagues, who quote them often.   Refreshing my recollection seems like

a very good idea, therefore — if only to make sure the Devil isn’t doing the



 MiersBush  Since the nomination of Harriet Miers for a seat on the

Supreme Court, I’ve been especially eager to sit down with my recently-

purchased copy of TFP.   I’ve been wanting to see whether — beyond the

cronyism discussion in The Federalist No. 76 (prior post) — it might help

me better understand:

(1) the runaway rush to judgment by so many law-wonk

and “movement” (love that word) conservatives;


(2) the bitterness in the bickering between those who 

support Miers and those who oppose her


(3) the cocksure assertion by so many “federalists” that

only their construction-theory-alchemy offers an orthodox,

objective mechanism for interpreting the Constitution;


(4) their demand for affirmative action — sorta like a quota —  mjudge

ensuring a conservative, pointy-headed, strict-constructionist

or originalist seat on the Supreme Court; and


(5) the constant complaining by conservative intellectuals that

they have heroically endured the gauntlet of academia (and

think-tankademia), while Harriet Miers has purportedly never

done “anything brave, anything that took backbone.”  [Note:

Hamilton, Madison and Jay were real revolutionaries, as well as 

intellectuals, who truly risked their lives by living their principles;

and Harriet Miers was a true trailblazer for women in the muy

macho Texas Bar.]

With all this in mind, I went to bed last night intending to spend a good  

deal of time today with The Federalist Papers.   To my amazement, an

email arrived at my In Box overnight that seems to have saved me a lot

of time.  I don’t know the identity of the sender, who used the pseudonym

PubliEsq.  The Subject line rather cryptically says: “you can’t always

pick your followers.”  There was no explanation in the message, but

merely a number of passages from The Federalist Papers, with links to

an online version.  


MadisonMug I’m not going to speculate on PubliEsq‘s purposes.  I won’t even 

add our breathless punditry to discern lessons we might apply to the Miers

confirmation process, or to point fingers at those who may be violating

the spirit of Hamilton, Madison and Jay



Instead, I’m going to place the excerpts — from five of the numbered papers —

in a separate post, available here, and spotlight below a few lines from each

of them, which were in bold print in the version sent by PubliEsq.  Those who

are far more familiar than I with TFP may be able to point us to other pertinent

sections.  My hope, and probably that of PubliEsq, is that fair-minded people

will draw reasonable conclusions from the text and start to act accordingly.



tiny check  from Federalist No. 1

. . . we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the

wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first

magnitude to society.  This circumstance, if duly attended to,

would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever

so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy.


. . . Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many   FedPapersG

other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as well

upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question.

tiny check  from Federalist No. 10:


The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and

we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according

to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions

concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points,

as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders

ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of

other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human

passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with

mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and

oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong

is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no

substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful

distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and

excite their most violent conflicts 

“tny check”  from Federalist No. 37:

[These papers] . . . solicit the attention of those only, who add to a

sincere zeal for the happiness of their country, a temper favorable to

a just estimate of the means of promoting it.        


Persons of this character will proceed to an examination of the plan submitted

by the convention, not only without a disposition to find or to magnify faults; but

will see the propriety of reflecting, that a faultless plan was not to be expected.

Nor will they barely make allowances for the errors which may be chargeable on

the fallibility to which the convention, as a body of men, were liable; but will keep

in mind, that they themselves also are but men, and ought not to assume an

infallibility in rejudging the fallible opinions of others.  . . . . 


FedPapers   Experience has instructed us that no skill in the science of govern-

ment has yet been able to discriminate and define, with sufficient certainty, its three

great provinces the legislative, executive, and judiciary; or even the privileges and

powers of the different legislative branches. Questions daily occur in the course of

practice, which prove the obscurity which reins in these subjects, and which puzzle

the greatest adepts in political science. . . .


Here, then, are three sources of vague and incorrect definitions: indistinctness of

the object, imperfection of the organ of conception, inadequateness of the vehicle of

ideas. Any one of these must produce a certain degree of obscurity. . . .  There

are features in the Constitution which warrant each of these suppositions; and as far

as either of them is well founded, it shows that the convention must have been

compelled to sacrifice theoretical propriety to the force of extraneous


tiny check  from Federalist 78:

To avoid an arbitrary discretion in the courts, it is indispensable that they should be

bound down by strict rules and precedents, which serve to define and point out their

duty in every particular case that comes before them; and it will readily be conceived

from the variety of controversies which grow out of the folly and wickedness of mankind,

that the records of those precedents must unavoidably swell to a very considerable bulk,

and must demand long and laborious study to acquire a competent knowledge of them.

Hence it is, that there can be but few men in the society who will have sufficient

skill in the laws to qualify them for the stations of judges. And making the proper

deductions for the ordinary depravity of human nature, the number must be still

smaller of those who unite the requisite integrity with the requisite knowledge.



update: Today’s NYT has an article that reminded me of the

treatment of Harriet Miers in the blogisphere — “Confronting

Bullies Who Wound with Words” (Oct. 16, 2005).  Although

its focus is middle school, the article notes:

“And the Internet is making matters a great deal worse . .

because it provides a cloak of anonymity and removes

physical size and bravery from the equation. Children as

young as 7 or 8, who would never have dared to belittle

or confront a classmate face to face, are empowered to

be vulgar and vengeful at the keyboard.”


vain clouds
forming vain peaks
in vain


vain man…
the autumn moon




sparrows at the gate–
the brothers’ first


       translated by David G. Lanoue    




all through
his temper tantrum
her calm




after speaking importantly
  she quickly resumes
  sucking her thumb


      Tom Clausen

           from Homework (2000)





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