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

August 30, 2008

we’re celebrating Yu Chang’s 70th Birthday

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 2:36 pm

. . . HAPPY BIRTHDAY to YU! . . .

I count
my blessings

….. by Yu Chang – from Upstate Dim Sum (2003)

To the surprise of anyone familiar with his physical and mental vitality (and that cherubic face), Yu Chang is 70 years old today.  We couldn’t find a party room big enough for all his friends and admirers; and one weblog posting is not adequate to express the depth of our affection and breadth of our well-wishes for Yu.

just long enough
to leave an impression

….. by Yu Chang – Upstate Dim Sum

Yu Chang plays and lives many roles, including: husband, father of four, and grandfather; Union College professor of electrical and computer engineering; accomplished haiku poet and editor; skillful and enthusiastic photographer; avid chef and kayaker; tender of gardens (rock and floral); and — for especially lucky and undeserving ones like myself — generous, mischevous, and caring friend.  No matter how he enters your life, Yu leaves a positive, lasting impression, with his intelligence and talent, empathy, sense of humor, and humility.

Personal note: Many good things have come out of my discovery and love of haiku.  At the top of my haiku-related blessings is making the acquaintance and enjoying the friendship of my goombah and bocce-mate Yu Chang.  As told in the post introducing Yu here at f/k/a, “all poetics is local” (May 27, 2005), I admired his poetry for several years before realizing that Yu lives right down the road from me here in Schenectady.  He has become such an important part of my everyday life, it’s hard to believe it’s only been a few years since we met.

As poet-editor John Stevenson — Yu’s very good friend, frequent kayaking and dining companion, and Rt. 9 Haiku Club co-founder — wrote to me this morning:

My life has been immensely enriched by my friendship with Yu. I wish him a happy birthday and a happy day after. I suspect that he would prefer less fanfare for the occasion but he will be gracious about our effusions of affection today.

A couple days ago, I asked John and a few other haiku poet friends to contribute poems for Yu’s birthday celebration at f/k/a.  John sent back this revealing message:

“So many of my poems remind me of Yu or relate to him in ways that might not be clear to others. I could make a collection consisting entirely of poems I’ve written while kayaking with him and another of poems that reflect our summers in Maine. His editorial skill in producing our first sixteen issues of Upstate Dim Sum has added something special to many another poem, which forever carries additional resonance as a result of his juxtapositions with the work of Tom Clausen, Hilary Tann, or Yu himself.

Emblematic of Upstate Dim Sum (because it first appeared there), of my friendship with Yu, and of the present occasion, the following poem comes to mind:

marsh tide
turns around
a lily

Although not prone to produce on deadline (like so many other haiku poets I could name so often must do), John says:

In order to honor the occasion, I have attempted to produce a few overnight poems; something that Yu is known for accomplishing on a regular basis. It’s not my usual method, so I just hope that these are okay:

a few
fiercely red leaves

our two autumns
both of us

marsh explorers,
we bushwhack toward
the open water

…. by John Stevenson (written for Yu Chang’s 70th Birthday)

Ed. Note: They’re definitely more than “okay,” John.  As is the photo you took of Yu kayaking that we’re using with this posting. Many thanks.

Ed Markowski has long admired Yu Chang’s work and has heard about him and his personality from me over the past few years.  Ed wanted to join our party today, and wrote a few poems this morning for Yu’s birthday.

seven decades
the glow of a wind resistant
birthday candle

70 today
father’s soft voice
still stops us

the birthday boy lays rubber
with the lawn tractor

. . . by Ed Markowski (for Yu Chang’s 70th Birthday)

update (Aug. 31, 2008): Ed kept celebrating even after Yu went to bed last night:

70 today
his finger traces a trail
through the icing

another year older
sunflowers frame
father’s smile

Most of my closest friends will be turning sixty in 2008 or 2009.  And, frankly, some of us approach that number with a bit of anxiety over what all this aging might mean for our physical and mental capabilities.  Seeing Yu at 70 gives me — and probably many others — a lot more hope about the possibilities for continuing to thrive as the decades slip by.

Here’s what Tom Clausen, another member with Yu in the 4-poet Rt. 9 Haiku Club, wrote in response to my request for poems to honor Yu’s 70th birthday:

“I am honestly shocked by your message… I had heard Yu had a big birthday coming up and was not sure what age he is, but assumed he was turning 60… he is so incredibly young spirited, playfully wonderful a person that it hardly seems possible he could be 70, not that any age has to be thought of any particular way!”

From Tom’s cache of haiku and senryu, he sent along quite a few to help celebrate Yu’s special birthday:

in the attic
an old sleeping bag
rolled with childhood

moonlight bright-
a young woman there
stands in the swing

out my childhood window
tree silhouettes
grown up

droning plane fades out… 
how little difference it makes
what age I am

flats of seeds
meditation room

beach walking…
collecting pebbles
and letting them go

Milky Way-
a sprinkle of valley lights
way below

… by Tom Clausen and dedicated to his friend Yu Chang

Dagosan was up all night baking a virtual birthday cake, so he didn’t have much time to pen new poems.  These are offered with more than our usual humility:

71 candles
the smoke detector
sings along

photo after photo
he bends closer
to smell a rose

birthday party —
after dim sum
a little bocce

the stones chosen
the stones
not chosen

sharing the last
moon cake
autumn equinox

.. by dagosan (for Yu)

八 We all recently learned how lucky the number eight is in Chinese society. As Yu Chang begins his eighth decade, all of his friends, fans and loved ones wish him 8X8 luck and longevity, with gratitude for our good fortune in knowing this special man. Other haiku poets who want to join the party are invited to add greetings and/or poetry of their own (by email or in a Comment).

— Pass this Party to friends with this easy URL:

afterwords (Sept. 2, 2008): Yu’s friend and fellow Route-9er Hilary Tann was incommunicado while I was putting this post together, but just wrote in to send her greetings and good wishes to Yu.  Hilary offers this poem in tribute:

old friends –
sunlight plays
through the leaves

… by Hilary Tann – Upstate Dim Sum 6/II

Below the fold, Yu’s gift to us — a small sampler of his haiku and senryu. (Find many more by clicking the links on our Yu Chang Archive Page.

– Yu Chang – (Simply Haiku, Modern Haiga, Winter 2007) –


. . . for you from Yu Chang:

vacant lot
dandelion fluffs
and children’s laughter

– from Upstate Dim Sum (2004/I)

cutting the moon cake
just like my mother
Mid Autumn Festival

Upstate Dim Sum 2002/I

winter woods 
seeing myself
in black and white

old passport
the tug
of my father’s smile

“winter woods” – Update Dim Sum 2005/1
“old passport” – UDS, 2001/II; The Loose Thread: RMA 2001

after the handshake
we sit down for pasta
al dente

Frogpond Vol. XXX:2

winter evening
a cafeteria tray
at the end of the slope

. . . . Yu Chang – Upstate Dim Sum 2003/I

someone’s hat
left on a park bench
quiet afternoon

fund drive
the ivy covered building
has a new name

traffic jam
a plastic dog
keeps on nodding

Upstate Dim Sum (2002/II)

she leans
a little closer
ladybug on my palm

windless day – 
kissing snowflakes
on her hair

I count
my blessings

Upstate Dim Sum 2003

a long walk
with an old friend

French Open
a couch potato
pumps his fist

Upstate Dim Sum (2005/II)

.. Yu’s front yard Rock Garden, with our Schenectady  Central Park bocce forest in the background . . .

grandpa’s bocce balls – bocci
three generations
choose sides

.. by dagosan

postscript (February 14, 2010): I came out of weblog retirement today, to make a record here at f/k/a showing that Yu Chang has been chosen as Poet of the Year for Vol. XI/2009 in The Heron’s Nest Readers’ Choice Awards.   It wasn’t even close this year.  Here are the seven poems by Yu that appeared in 2009 at The Heron’s Nest:

what do I know
about the untethered balloon
my daughter’s embrace

. . . Editors’ Choice (Vol. XI, #1, March 2009)

mountain lake
I paddle the moon path
to your cabin

bearing down
on a borrowed pen
do not resuscitate

…. Editors’ Choice (Vol. XI, #2, June 2009)

distant thunder
a revolutionary cannon
green with age

stepping stones
a dragonfly lands
on my shoe

dead end street
bougainvillea overflows
the chain link fence

cracked boulder
an acorn
settles in


  1. when sandbox friends
    helped me dig
    to China
    were we looking
    for Yu?

    Happy birthday, treasured friend, and warm wishes from Bill, as well.

    Comment by Peggy Lyles — August 30, 2008 @ 6:31 pm

  2. blowing
    dandelion seeds
    one wish
    for every
    seventy years

    Pamela A. Babusci



    Comment by pamela a. babusci — September 11, 2008 @ 7:25 am

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