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

May 18, 2008

opening Dr. Bill’s notebook

Filed under: Book Reviews,haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 1:01 pm

w.f. owen’s haiku notebook . . .
. . . . the book and the weblog . . . .

My chronic fascination with the “search strings” that bring Googlers (and Yahoo!’s) to this website paid off big a couple days ago, when I noticed that someone had visited us after Googling /haiku professor bald/. Our Search Engine Visitor found George Swede’s classic senryu here at f/k/a:

as the professor speaks
only his bald spot
is illuminated

…. by George Swede from Almost Unseen: Selected Haiku of George Swede

What I discovered by following a nearby Google link was this one-line haiku:

spring moon from the balcony a bald head

haiku notebook blog (March 28, 2008)

and, a cure for the frequent lament that “I never have enough new haiku by w.f. — Dr. Bill — owen.” That’s because “spring moon . . .” was located at a weblog called “haiku notebook by w. f. owen,” and the site is described as:

“[A]n extension of the ideas presented in my book (haiku notebook,, 2007). It is intended to be a forum for discussing haiku and haibun. My hope as an educator is to stimulate interest in writing these forms. So, please feel free to post.”

Like any “family member” who feels forlornly out of the loop, my first thought was the whiny “why I am always the last to know?” But, my very next thought was “yippee! more Dr. Bill for me and you and f/k/a!” There’s at least two points that need to be made about haiku notebook:

  • the the weblog offers a Bill Owen poem virtually every day — and frequently many more than one, with commentary; and
  • the book haiku notebook is 58 pages long, and has a couple hundred haiku and senryu by Dr. Bill, and can be ordered from in hard copy for $15, or downloaded for a mere $3.95. Because the pdf. version is such a bargain — and arrives instantly — I downloaded a book for the first time yesterday and am very glad that I did. Because (unlike many avid and intelligent readers and writers of haiku) I have never really cared to know what a poet had in mind when he or she penned a poem, I have so far merely skimmed the commentary in haiku notebook. For me, it’s the poems that are the prize and this collection is a winner.

Here is a little more information about the book haiku notebook, from the multi-award-winning author:

“This notebook is a bridge between technical manuals on how to write haiku poetry and collections of haiku. There are two hundred haiku and senryu poems from w. f. owen’s last several years of writing. As a professor of interpersonal communication and an award-winning haiku writer, the author presents commentaries, perceptions, brief stories and haibun that are intended to help authors new to this art compose their poems.”

Over the past few days, therefore, I have been enjoying myself reading new and old favorite poems by w.f. owen. For example, this posting on “moon haiku” from January 25, 2008:

moon haiku

The moon, traditionally, has stimulated many diverse haiku.
I find it particularly compelling as “moon” cuts across many
seasons and, therefore, conjures many moods and feelings.

day moon
dipping a toe
in the river

crescent moon
hair pulled across
his bald spot

winter moon
she tests the milk
on her wrist

pale moon
the pulsing
heart monitor

moonless night
footfalls silenced
by snow

… by w. f. owen

At the weblog, you might notice right away that every poem since the mid-April posting is a one-liner. Because Dr. Bill encourages comments, and I have been having a lot of doubts about the (over-)use of one-liners, I asked him for his thoughts on the subject, and we have been having a very friendly and informal conversation about one-liner haiku at the May 14th comment section. Despite my G.U. Foreign Service School degree, I have chosen to play devil’s advocate rather than diplomat on the topic, so I urge you to check out and join the discussion of one-liner haiku. You might first read Dr. Bill posting “one line haiku or three?” from Feb. 15, 2008, and “the form(s) of English-language haiku” (Jan. 21, 2008).

day of the funeral I wake to a mourning dove

.. by w.f. owen (May 14, 2008)

Meanwhile, inside “haiku notebook: the book” there was way too much to peruse, much less digest and savor over a weekend. But, here are a few poems on the subject of death:

long shadows I lie flat beside her grave

after his death
the width of our
favorite path

the hole half dug
workers run out
of daylight

closed casket
the widow’s

and, a trio relating to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia (there are many more at pages 28 and 29):

dwindling light
she straightens
his collar

in and out of fog
driving him
to the home

autumn deepens
he searches the pan
for my name

steaming rice
grandpa’s story
trails off

Plus, three more from the very last page of the book:

wrapping gifts
the dog stops panting
for a pet

late for work
the honking
of geese

autumn evening her pills lined up by size

………….. by w.f. owen – from “haiku notebook: the book” ( 2007)

Lucky for all of us, Dr. Bill will keep posting more poems at his weblog, and I’ll keep finding more gems in the book to share with you here at f/k/a.

Now, a little housekeeping: If you happen to be one of our Honored Guest Poets with a weblog or new book of haiku I should know about, please drop me a line. Consider yourself nagged.

p.s. a big haibun event: Many people know w. f. owen as the premiere author of haibun (short prose pieces with subtly-linked haiku or senryu). It was, there, a big event last year, when the Redmoon Press released small events, haibun by w. f. owen (2007, $12.00).

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