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

December 18, 2008

the allure of HSA’s “dandelion clocks

Filed under: Book Reviews,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 11:16 am

dandelion clocks – Haiku Society of America Members’ Anthology 2008 (Roberta Beary and Ellen Compton, Editors, 2008; cover)

Like kids of all ages, I’ve always been attracted to the downy white globe of seeds that forms at the top of a dandelion.   We called them dandelion puffs in my Upstate New York hometown, but they’re also known as “dandelion clocks” to people around the world.  They’re used for making wishes, and telling time.  They bring a smile to the lips of young lovers, and a curse to the tongue of many an elderly homeowner, for whom they symbolize a neglected lawn and an enemy guerrilla army fighting an endless war over precious turf.

It was a treat, therefore, to hear that a poem I wrote featuring dandelion clocks was selected by editors Ellen Compton and Roberta Beary for inclusion in this year’s Haiku Society of America Members’ Anthology.  It was also a surprising honor to recently learn that the title of this years Anthology would be dandelion clocks.

As we’ve written in prior years, the HSA Members’ Anthology includes one haiku or senryu from every member who submits poems for selection by the volume’s editors (see the guidelines).  This year, 177 members participated in the call for entries in the 2008 Anthology; they come from the USA and ten other countries.  The result is an impressive collection, chosen with care by Beary and Compton, who came to the task as last-minute pinch-hitters, but brought with them the experience gained editing fish in love, the HSA 2006 Members’ Anthology, which won a special 2007 HSA Merit Book Honorable Mention for Anthology.

The Introduction to dandelion clocks is written by HSA President Lenard D. Moore, who says:

. “This collection of haiku indicates the diversity that is prevalent in the twenty-first century. During the fortieth year of the Haiku Society of America, editors Roberta Beary and Ellen Compton perhaps had gender and culture in mind while selecting the best available haiku from members of the Haiku Society of America.  What about identity and its meaning in this rich anthology? How do the poets engage political, social, and cultural dimensions in a technological world?  What subjects are important to the poets in this book in the first decade of the century?  How do these poets transform haiku?  The answers are in the poems, though with stylistic differences. . . “


August 24, 2008

John Barlow: not only for the birds

Filed under: Book Reviews,haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 8:44 pm

With the QE2 going into retirement later this year, the UK needs a grand new symbol of British culture and craft, and of its ties to far-flung shores. Snapshot Press may have found the answer, with the launching, on September 18, 2008, of the monumental Wing Beats: British Birds in Haiku (ISBN 978-1-903543-24-5; to order). The 320-page volume features 323 experiential haiku and 131 species of British birds. It is written and compiled by John Barlow and Matthew Paul (with haiku by 30 additional poets, such as f/k/a’s Guest Matt Morden), and has photographic-watercolor illustrations by Sean Gray, plus a foreword by BBC’s naturalist Stephen Moss.

Wing Beats, with its extensive texts that “explore both British avifauna and the history and intricacies of haiku poetry, considering the relationships between these in a global context,” might do for birding and haiku what Cor van den Heuvel’s Baseball Haiku did last year to link the American past-time with the poetic genre — by demonstrating their natural affinity, turn haiku fans into lovers of birds and birders into lovers of haiku.

In the Forward, the Stephen Moss says, ‘The poems in this volume are worthy heirs to three great traditions: the British love of nature, especially birds; the poetic approach of John Clare, rooted in observation and reality but taking the reader to a higher plane; and finally, of course, the long and venerable tradition of haiku. Similarly, haiku poet, editor and author William J. Higginson says:


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:


March 27, 2008

reviewing book review jargon (and reviving “eschew”)

Filed under: Book Reviews,Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 3:36 pm

Seven Deadly Words of Book Reviewing. Last Monday, at the NYT weblog Paper Cuts [“a blog about books”], Bob Harris presented the “Seven Deadly Words of Book Reviewing” (March 25, 2008). Harris says:

“Like all professions book reviewing has a lingo. Out of laziness, haste or a misguided effort to sound ‘literary,’ reviewers use some words with startling predictability. Each of these seven entries is a perfectly good word (well, maybe not eschew), but they crop up in book reviews with wearying regularity.”

With a sensibility that sounds much like our perspective on writing haiku, Harris favorably quotes Wilson Follett’s admonition that “The best critics are those who use the plainest words and who make their taste rational by describing actions rather than by reporting or imputing feelings.”

In his Paper Cuts posting, Harris condemns the abuse and overuse of these seven words by book reviewers: poignant, compelling, intriguing, eschew, craft, muse, lyrical, and explains the appropriate use of each. He also gives a telling example, noting that “It’s possible to (mis)use all seven words in a one-sentence book report:”

“Mario Puzo’s intriguing novel eschews the lyrical as the author instead crafts a poignant tale of family life and muses on the compelling doings of the Mob.”

Harris suggests that readers might want to add their favorite overused reviewer lingo. As of this afternoon, he has received over 200 comments. Many of the words suggested by his commentors could have easily made Harris’ original list (e.g., nuanced and sublte). Perhaps, as the Vatican did recently, he should expand past seven.

Cranky old Prof. Yabut gleefully looked at the dozen postings in our own Book Review category for offending usage of Harris’ deadly words. I’m pleased to say that “lyrical” did not appear in any of our reviews (perhaps not so surprising, as I am not particularly fond of haiku that attempt to be lyrical, and don’t bother reviewing offended volumes). Also, the one appearance each of “poignant,” “compelling,” and “craft[ed],” all came in quotations from other reviewers. In addition, we did use “eschew” once in our mini-multi-review posting on Cyber Monday 2007, but it was not referring to any particular book, but instead to the choice of one type of book over another.

As to the word “muse,” we confess that the f/k/a review of Kevin Mednick’s “An Almost Life” includes the clause: “lawyer Samuels is bemused over the ‘party hacks’ (and sports heroes) who too often get to be judges around here.” But, we’re more than willing to argue at the Pearly Gates that it was only a venial sin.

avoiding the wildflowers
he squats…
sumo champion

the lover cat
licking his chops

………… by Kobayashi Issa, translated by Prof. David G. Lanoue

I’m in agreement with most of Harris’ piece, but draw the line when he suggests that eschew might not be a “perfectly good word.” Harris states:

eschew: No one actually says this word in real life. It appears almost exclusively in writing when the perp is stretching for a flashy synonym for avoid or reject or shun.

We (to use a cliche) beg to differ (despite occasional doubts about a weblog being “real life”). As you might have noticed, the f/k/a Gang has never shunned the word “eschew.” See, e.g., “please eschew thoroughly” (Nov. 11, 2004). We even use it to make annoyingly bad puns — as in a recent post where I struggled to uphold our ban on political punditry:

Did we bite off more than we can eschew, when promising to end all commentary on politics and legal ethics at this weblog?

The Online Etymology Dictionary shows the perfectly fine history and source of the word:

.. eschew: 1340, from O.Fr. eschiver, from Frank. *skiuhan “dread, avoid, shun” (cf. O.H.G. sciuhen “make fearful”), from P.Gmc. *skeukhwaz. Related to shy (v.).

And, The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition (2000), includes “eschew” among synonyms collected at the definition of “escape.” The discerning wordsmith surely can and should distinguish between the various verbs that “mean to get or stay away from persons or things.” For example, while “Shun refers to deliberately keeping clear of what is unwelcome or undesirable,” and “Escape can mean to get free or to remain untouched or unaffected by something unwanted,”

“Eschew involves staying clear of something because to do otherwise would be unwise or morally wrong: ‘Eschew evil, and do good’ (Book of Common Prayer).”

To be honest, I fear that most educated people who eschew using the fun-to-say word “eschew” very often suffer from an anti-social form of reverse snobbery. Don’t shun them, dear readers, but try to avoid or elude their debilitating malady.

the swallows, too ooh
avoid it this year…
patch of weeds

hey spear holder!
don’t let the spring

from the great bronze
Buddha’s nostrils
mist escapes

ExitSignArrow … by Kobayashi Issa, translated by Prof. David G. Lanoue

February 27, 2008

An Almost Life — p/i lawyer Kevin Mednick’s fine first novel

Filed under: Book Reviews,lawyer news or ethics,Schenectady Synecdoche — David Giacalone @ 6:59 pm

An Almost Life” by Kevin Mednick (The Permanent Press, December 2007; 240 pp; ISBN-13: 978-1579621575; interview with the author; cover image)

Mini-Review: This first novel by lawyer Mednick is fully satisfying and genuinely successful. Its protagonist is a frank, witty, self-deprecating personal injury attorney in a small upstate New York city, who is going through midlife and mid-career crises. If you enjoy novels about (realistic) lawyers and lawyering, or you’re looking to be entertained by characters you care about, while learning a bit about the human predicament and the workings of an important (and often misunderstood) social institution, you should read An Almost Life. Despite having the “rather-be-napping” winter blahs all last week, I finished this book (which has no murderous socio-paths or life-and-death escapes driving the narrative) in two days, reading well past midnight, and wishing it were longer. (scroll down for the full review)

new novel
the sun sets
without me

… by dagosan/ david giacalone, The Heron’s Nest (March 2005)

Kevin Mednick is a plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer in the small Schenectady-NY-based firm of Bendall & Mednick, which has three attorneys and a branch office in Atlanta. His publisher says Kevin’s “legal career includes stints as an Assistant District Attorney, house counsel for an insurance company, associate counsel for a large personal injury defense firm, and law clerk for a County Court Judge.”

Mednick has been with B&M for 15 years. They call themselves “Real Lawyers for Real People” in low-key tv ads and at their informative and purposefully unflashy website. Among lawyers in the New York Capital Region, Bendall & Mednick is known for doing high-quality work in complicated p/i and medical malpractice cases. When I’m asked for the name of a p/i firm by friends or acquaintances, I always suggest B&M. Nonetheless, although Kevin is only a few years younger than myself, and I pass the lovely old house that serves as his office on my way to the supermarket each week, I’ve never met him, nor spoken on the phone with Kevin, and the only internet/email correspondence we’ve had consisted of my request for a copy of his book to review here at f/k/a, and his short reply saying he had no copies but would have one sent. (I did meet the firm’s founder, James W. Bendall, once around 1990.)

In fact, I only heard about Kevin’s novel during a chance meeting with a local judge I admire, in a line at the Post Office mailing Valentine parcels, about two weeks ago. When I did a Google Blog Search later that day and found no review of the book, and no mention of it on any blawg, I decided I owed it to our town and profession to check out this novel.

What I’m trying to say, of course, is that — despite our geographic proximity and this rave review — I did not pick up this book out of devotion or friendship for Kevin or his law firm, and I doubt that he even knew my name when I contacted his firm about An Almost Life (unless I’m infamous among his p/i colleagues for my stance on standard contingency fees, or lionized for my defense of lawyer advertising and battles against the Bar’s Dignity Police).

I first heard Kevin Mednick’s voice when he was doing his weekly Real Law segment, on Thursday, February 14, 2008, on the very popular Don Weeks morning radio show on 810 WGY-AM at 7:50 AM. That segment focused on baseball steroids and Slip and Fall accidents (hear it here), and I paid particular attention because I recently experienced a slip-n-fall of my own on a neighbor’s icy sidewalk. Kevin made good sense on that topic (as does the brief description of the issues involved in S-n-F cases on the B&M website). This morning, I heard Kevin again in this interview about his practice and his novel, at B&M’s under-used weblog (which is hosted by the firm’s youngest member, Atlanta lawyer and comedy-club owner, Jamie Bendall). Frankly, though, neither exposure to Kevin — the sensible, competent p/i lawyer — made me want to brave a Schenectady winter, with its mid-February crop of potholes and slippery roads, to head down Union St. to make his acquaintance and shake his hand. However, reading An Almost Life definitely did. The author who gave the character Mike Samuels his voice is clearly worth meeting.

An Almost Life” makes it easy to answer my two basic questions when reviewing a book: 1) Was my time spent reading the book a good investment? and 2) Who (if anyone) is likely to benefit from (or enjoy) reading it?

Time Well Spent? As simple “pleasure reading,” AAL was a constant treat. The main character, Mike Samuels (who surely has a lot of Kevin Mednick in him, even if they might have had different reactions when that exotic dancer wanted to show Samuels her breast-surgery scars in his office) is recognizable, insightful, likable and entertaining. Whether he’s trying to figure out just when most of himself “stopped bothering” and started to leave for places unknown, or how his secretary can always be in such a good mood and so often save him from himself, or how to feel about the ex-wife who left him for a Bigger-Better-Deal, Samuels charms, entertains, and endears himself to the reader. Ditto when he describes his relationships with a teenage son and daughter, or with an anti-anxiety medication that somehow causes both drowsiness and insomnia, while really taking “the edge off.”

As a novel about lawyers and lawyering, An Almost Life was even more rewarding for me. As Publishers Weekly reports, when Samuels “accepts the case of Evelyn Walker, who is suing her former employer over a debilitating job-related injury, Mike is forced to shake off his ennui and get focused to defend his client.” What we are allowed to see is not the tacky tort lawyer who assaults us in tv and radio ads, nor — thankfully — the self-aggrandizing martyr-champion of the downtrodden, the whiny victim of the nasty tort-reformers, the happy-face (or chest-beating) warrior who appears so often online, or the death-defying, miracle-working hero of blockbuster books and movies. Instead, a good lawyer and good man gives us a peek at his fears and insecurities, while pointing out the foibles of others, and painlessly explaining the psychology and strategy that goes into making a personal injury negligence case and bringing it to trial.

The review in The Independent got it right:

“Despite Medrick s narrative skill in keeping readers curious about the outcome of Evelyn s case, which will be tried in a small town in upstate NY, the book s most compelling and incisively funny – sections have to do with Mike s commentary and asides on lawyers, judges, justice and contemporary culture, including the inanity of golf, the psychology of the working-class in rural America, the pathetic comedy of small-claims night court, and the fear of jurors who want to run home and barricade their doors and remove themselves from a world that’s too complicated, too confusing and too dangerous.

Four authors are quoted on the dust-jacket of An Almost Life, and have spot-on remarks. Andrew Neiderman, who wrote The Devil’s Advocate, says “Kevin Mednick’s depiction of an attorney’s stream of conscious and his capture of a distinct narrative voice enables the reader truly to appreciate the American justice system. An Almost Life is a witty, entertaining novel and a great effort by a budding new talent.” Three lawyer-novelists add their thoughts, with which I concur:

  • Bruce Ducker, author of Bloodlines, deposes and says, “Kevin Mednick’s novel is that rare combination — a great read told in spot-on prose. The staccato dialogue, the sure sense of place, and the parade of quirky characters give the reader a telling insight into the life of a small-town courthourse lawyer.”
  • John Keegan, author of A Good Divorce, opines: “Mike Samuels breaks all the old lawyer cliches — he’s self-conscious, he’s tentative, and he’s almost human. It’s as if he’s just kicking a dented beer can down the street. Mednick has a gift for self-deprecating, intelligent humor. His book is a deft exploration of the schism between who we are and what we do for a living. An Almost Life sneaks up on you and won’t let you go.” And,
  • Peter Friedman, author of Ideal Marriage, swears to tell the whole truth: “I felt myself in the hands of not only a fine story teller, but also a lawyer with a wonderful grasp of the battles that rage over every case. I don’t recall ever reading such an engaging illumination of how a trial lawyer actually makes — or doesn’t make his money. I finished An Almost Life almost regretfully, as it reads so well.”

Speaking of the dust-jacket, it is the only thing about An Almost Life that I would change. Mike Samuels might have felt as if he were invisible, but no book should be stuck with a cover image that makes the novel nearly invisible in a store display. The cover photo was taken by Kevin’s senior partner, Jim Bendall, but the kindness of that gesture does not make up for its ho-hum effect. Let’s hope the second printing, or paperback edition, has more pizazz.

A Novel for Just About Everybody. So, who do I think would benefit from An Almost Life? Just about every adult with a sense or humor and justice, and five or six hours to devote to the pleasures of a fine first novel. Read it for the sheer entertainment; for its insights into middle-aging, or finding yourself, your mate, or your place in the world; or (whether you’re a non-lawyer or an attorney looking in from another part of the profession) to get a realistic impression of the job and the role of a personal injury lawyer who is in it for more than the money and glory. I’m glad I got to meet Mike Samuels and — since he works right down the road — hope to meet his creator, before Kevin Mednick flees to that lovely land where successful lawyer-novelists dwell.

snack room —
the litigator takes
one-third of the donuts

…………………………………….. dagosan
– looking for more lawyer-related haiku? well, click that link —

p.s. I must admit that the local setting (even if masked with fictitious characters and place names) made parts of Mike Samuels’ musing even more amusing and enjoyable for me. For example, like myself, lawyer Samuels is bemused over the “party hacks” (and sports heroes) who too often get to be judges around here, despite having virtually no experience in trying or negotiating a case. [We have elected judges, but I soon found out after arriving in Schenectady that county party chairmen at times select themselves for important judgeships, and the parties often cross-endorse each other’s chosen candidates.] Don’t fear, though, the book won’t leave you disenchanted with all judges, and your living outside of upstate New York won’t reduce the experience of reading An Almost Life.

– Below the fold, you’ll find a few great quotes from An Almost Life. –


January 11, 2008

called home late: BBS strikes again

Filed under: Book Reviews,Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 1:15 pm

As often happens, real news had a somewhat sobering effect on what started out as a typically irreverent-flippant posting here yesterday at f/k/a. about my increasingly faulty memory. See “Sufferers of Early Onset Alzheimer’s Describe Life with the Disease” (PBS NewsHour, Jan. 10, 2008), and the related NewsHour Insider Forum“Early Onset Alzheimer’s Patients Take Your Questions on Disease” (Jan. 10, 2008). For more information on the October 2007 Early Memory Loss Forum, go here and here. Also of interest (and concern) “Alzheimer’s Has an Effect on Kids, Too: Visits With Ill Relatives Are Sad but Important” (Washington Post, Jan. 8, 2008); “Dementia in More Educated Hits Later But Harder: More schooling delayed disease onset, but decline was more rapid afterward, study finds” (Health Day, October 23, 2007); and check out the Alzheimer’s Association’s Maintain Your Brain page for suggestions and information on keeping mental acuity.

My hopes and empathetic concern go out to all those truly suffering from the serious condition of Early-onset Alzheimer’s and Early Memory Loss, and to their families. Watching my father’s dementia the past few years has been a sad experience. A bemused sense of humor and horror is still about all I can manage for my own situation.

Boomer Braino Syndrome [“BBS”] is not something I’ll ever get used to — despite having experienced, joked, fretted and pontificated about it for several years (see, e.g., our first piece on “peridemenita” and our graying of the bar opus). A few days ago, it dawned on me that I had somehow totally overlooked the wonderful little book called home, by our Honored Guest poet paul m., in our cyber-Monday list of recommended holiday gifts, on November 29, 2007.

fog on the bridge
this small truck
for all our belongings

… by paul m. from called home (Red Moon Press 2006) CalledHomePaulM

We featured five poems from Called Home last May, when we introduced the book, and five more in August, when reporting that Paul’s volume of haiku and senryu received the Third Place prize in the Haiku Society of America’s Merit Book Awards for 2007 (for books published in 2006). It has more than one hundred poems and will surely help you or a loved one get through that inevitable post-holiday slump. You can click on the link above or write to Red Moon Press, P.O. Box 2461 Winchester, Virginia 22604-1661, for a copy of called moon, which is available in the USA for $12.00.

I can think of no better way to cap off the holiday season, and welcome the New Year, than sharing five more poems by Paul M. from his fine called home collection. Of course, I apologize heartily to Paul and all our readers for yet another cruel example of BBS-generated agita.

weights reset CalledHomePaulM
in the grandfather clock
morning snow

moving the cow
closer to baby Jesus
yesterday’s snow

the tree still draws water
a calendar
declaring a new year

and the snow is melting . . .
her thinness

snow outside
everyone else rises
to receive the host

winter light
flour, sugar, and the canister
that held dog biscuits

CalledHomePaulM … by paul m. from called home (Red Moon Press 2006)

Meanwhile, I have been unexpectedly and prematurely called home today, to mourn and celebrate the life of a man I loved very much. See “dad inspired some haiku.”

that little grunt
dad always made–
putting on my socks

………………………….. dagosan; photo by Nick DiTucci

frogpond (XXVIII: 2, 2005); inside the mirror: The Red Moon Anthology 2005

November 26, 2007

cyber monday at f/k/a

Filed under: Book Reviews,Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 11:23 am

shoppingCart Because time is the only thing you can spend here at f/k/a (along, perhaps, with your patience), we can’t offer you any Cyber Monday Specials this morning. You can browse the pixelated aisles of our Main Page for free any day to stumble serendipitously across haiku and senryu from some of the finest haijin around (and by the Editor’s nepotistic alter ego dagosan), along with the priceless punditry of Prof. Yabut, ethicalEsq and the rest of the f/k/a Gang.

And, you can always head to our Guest Poet Archives Index to find the home page of a particular poet: from roberta beary to billie wilson and everyone in between (randy brooks; yu chang; tom clausen; devar dahl; devar dahl; alice frampton; laryalee fraser; barry george; lee gurga; carolyn hall; gary hotham; kobayashi issa; jim kacian; david g. lanoue; rebecca lilly; peggy willis lyles; paul m; ed markowski; matt morden; pamela miller ness; w.f. owen; tom painting; andrew riutta; john stevenson; george swede; hilary tann; michael dylan welch).

Nonetheless, if you’re itching to spend some money on Cyber Monday, I thought I’d remind you about a few books we’ve highlighted this year at this weblog. Each contains haiku or senryu written by one or more of our f/k/a family of Honored Guest poets, and each is a bargain at its everyday price. [In the next couple of days, I hope to spotlight echoes 1, the new anthology from Red Moon Press, which updates the haiku careers of the poets featured in Red Moon’s always-giftable “New Resonance” series of “emerging” English-language haiku poets — many of whom are now part of the f/k/a family.]

BaseballHaikuCover We’ve told you often about the 200-page Baseball Haiku (Cor van den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura, eds., W.W. Norton Press, April 2007), with sampled poems by our Honored Guests, such as here, there, here, can there. One reviewer correctly noted that this book might make baseball fans out of haiku lovers and haiku lovers out of baseball fans. You do not have to be a weblog-diva Yankee partisan, nor a Bay State blogging BoSox booster, to ask Santa to bring you this book. Don’t just take my biased opinion (as a two-poem contributor to the book and friend of many of its writers); see the review of Baseball Haiku by npr’s Scott Simon in the Summer 2007 edition of Modern Haiku.

empty baseball field
a dandelion seed floats through
the strike zone

village ball game
through knotholes in the old fence
evening sunbeams

…………………… by George SwedeBaseball Haiku (2007)
“empty baseball field” – orig. pub. Almost Unseen (2000)
“village ball game” – orig. pub. As Far As the Sea Can Eye (1979)

p.s. Additional proof that this book belongs in your collection: It will be featured, on June 26, 2008, at the Chautauqua Institute [NY], during its Sport in America week (2008 program page). Cor will lead a discussion and readings from the book, joined by two other major contributors, Alan Pizzarelli and our Ed Markowski.

In October, we got all dreamy-eyed telling you about The Unworn Necklace: Haiku and Senryu, by Roberta Beary (Snapshot Press 2007). It’s Roberta’s first individual collection and is a classic for the ages. Indeed, your favorite divorce lawyer, blawger, or mediator, or recently-divorced friend, won’t have to be a haiku lover to love this book — for its truths and its hope.

autumn breeze
the new smell
of my red jacket

laundry day
rain becoming snow
becoming rain

custody weekend sunglassesG
inside her backpack

it’s over
slicing his shirt
for the ragbag

…………… Roberta Beary, The Unworn Necklace (2007)

See our post reproducing Pamela Miller Ness‘s chapbook “The Hands of Women,” which celebrates the “needlewomen” in Pamela’s life with a remarkable sequence of 6 haiku and 4 tanka. At the foot of the post, you will find details for ordering the lovely little book directly from Pamela; it’s the perfect $5 stocking-stuffer for someone who knits or crochets in your family. Here are the opening and closing poems:

first day of the year
I take up my needles
and knit a row

Binding off
the baby blanket
I wind
and store the unused yarn.
Last day of the year.

Just last week, we wrote at length praising Stumbles in Clover by Matt Morden (Snapshot Press 2007). If you, or a weblogger you know (like the Host of this week’s treat-filled Blawg Review #136), likes the “u’s” left in your haiku (or knows what a “cockle truck” is), this volume out of the UK might be just the thing:

afternoon thaw
a car parked across
two lined spaces

bend in the road
what little colour’s left
in the floral tribute

…………………. Matt Morden, Stumbles in Clover (Snapshot Press, 2007)

If your giftee would prefer to eschew the soft, artsy haiku realm, don’t forget our review of The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet (Yale Univ. Press, October 2007; download Chapter 1 here for free).

googling the poet
she finds an advocate and
a sex offender

……………………………………………. by dagosan

afterthought (Nov. 28, 2007): Many thanks to Anne Reed at Deliberations, for pointing to this post, and then compiling her own “Gift Ideas for Jury Fans” (Nov. 27, 2007). Anne notes “None of these books is about the courtroom, or even about the law. There are lots of books about juries and trial work, and many are tremendous, but they’re not where my focus has been lately. Instead, writing about juries has drawn me to authors who challenge my thinking about how other people react, respond, decide, and simply are.”

In case Anne’s family and friends miss her hint, wishing for a haiku book for Christmas, I hope she does a little self-help and prints out one of dagosan’s tri-fold haiku/senryu brochures.

As noted above, we plan to do a positive mini-review of echoes 1, soon. It contains this poem, which belongs in one of our posts on sex offender hysteria:

summer’s end
i stop myself talking
to a stranger’s child

………………………… by matt morden, orig. pub Presence 19

November 21, 2007

Stumbles in Clover by Matt Morden: more is more

Filed under: Book Reviews,haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 2:38 pm

Stumbles in Clover by Matt Morden (Snapshot Press 2007)

a bumblebee
stumbles in clover

If you’re one of the many, mildly-manic fans of Matt Morden’s haiku and senryu, you surely have been wondering just when we’ll have a full volume of his one-breath poems to munch, mull over, or otherwise savor. Seeing Matt’s work in an occasional journal, or even at his personal weblog Morden Haiku, seems far too much like a tease, an appetizer setting the taste buds for the filling, main course stew.

If so, Stumbles in Clover (2007; order form), from UK haiku publisher Snapshot Press, is not merely a most-satisfying meal — it is a haiku lover’s Holiday Feast, combining an abundance of tastes and textures, traditional and modern, to please a multi-generational family of both fussy and hearty eaters. Moreover, unlike the proverbial cake, you can have it, and eat, and have it again.

washing away
the thunderstorm

autumn rain
the ice cream van chimes
out of tune

shortest day
all of the yellow
beaten out of eggs

I’m still not used to reviewing haiku books, and am as reluctant as ever to try to summarize or encapsulate any book with a string of literary, artsy-sounding adjectives and motifs. So, I’m going to let Matt’s poems and a few of his friends do the talking, except for this simple summation:

By bringing 72 of his poems together as Exhibit One, Stumbles in Clover provides more than ample evidence that Matt Morden is one of the finest haiku and senryu poets writing today — that he brings depth and staying-power to his art. Matt writes the kind of poems I wish would come readily and often off the tips of my own tongue and fingers. I don’t need an Exhibit Two to rule on this matter, but I’d love to pore over the evidence at length, as soon as his next collection is submitted for our consideration.

end of the holiday
a square of pale grass
beneath the tent

Those who hang around the Comment section of the group weblog MagnaPoets Japanese Form, know how much I hate to agree in public with the MagnaPoets proprietrix, my friend poet-artist Aurora Antonovic, who is also the haiga editor of the Simply Haiku Journal. Nonetheless, I must admit, the quote you will find by “Agitaora” on the back cover of Stumbles in Clover is spot on:

“The resonant haiku in Stumbles in Clover bear the hallmark of a honed writer. Precise, keen, and image- and nature-rich, these multilayered poems explore ordinary occurrences in an unordinary way. Classic topics such as life, death, relationships, and change are treated with Morden’s fresh touch, ensuring each poem is relevant, open-ended, and highly authenic.”
……………………………………………. Aurora Antonovic

snowed in
ice takes
the shape of wire

Matt’s fellow Welshman, poet and journalist Nigel Jenkins, also adds his praise for Stumbles in Clover, with which I concur:

“These seventy-two haiku — with not a makeweight among them — are instinct with the ‘loneliness, tenderness and slenderness’ that Tony Conran has characterised as the essence of haiku. They are as spare and translucent as it’s possible to be, yet they are deeply affecting (especially the family-based poems) and, particularly when in senryu mode, wryly humourous.”
……………………………….. Nigel Jenkins

march wind
mother and baby
share a shawl

first day of term
her new school uniform
bright in the mist

summer’s end
my children try to teach me
how to smile

Likewise, poet-editor Ferris Gilli captures the spirit of this volume with a handful of words: “Matt Morden infuses his beautifully concise poems with appealing light, color, sound and texture, vividly presenting everyday events so that readers can discover unexpected drama in the substrata. Stumbles in Clover will keep fans coming back for more.”

higher and higher
on the trampoline
spring rain

I’ve got packing to do, before I head home for Thanksgiving. So, I’m going to end this little review of Stumbles in Clover. I hope someone treats you to a copy of Matt’s first collection during this holiday season (order; a steal at $14 American, so pamper yourself). Until you have one of your own, you’ll find many samples of his work by clicking the links on Matt’s f/k/a archive page and by heading over to Morden Haiku. No more stumble puns or clover cliches. Get this book, if you love really good haiku, and be thankful for more Morden haiku.

p.s. Thank you, Matt Morden, for this fine collection, and for leaving out the psyku and similar “tell-ems” that have been plaguing so many haiku publications in recent years.

Below the fold, you’ll find credits for the original publishers of the above poems.


November 8, 2007

let’s gossip about The Future of Reputation

Filed under: Book Reviews,Haiku or Senryu,lawyer news or ethics — David Giacalone @ 9:09 pm

Daniel J. Solove , the Godfather of Cyber-Privacy, recently made a few fortunate webloggers an offer many of us couldn’t refuse: a free copy of his new book in exchange for a review at our weblog. The George Washington U. Law professor, who is a prime contributor to the popular and critically-acclaimed Concurring Opinions weblog, didn’t let my frank review of the novel Anonymous Lawyer, nor my coining of the word e-shaming, deter him from sending me a copy of The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet (Yale Univ. Press, October 2007; download Chapter 1 here for free; now the full text is available for free here).

When the snappily-covered book arrived over the weekend, Solove’s part of the deal was fully performed and I was stuck (also thrilled to see it was a thin volume). So, thus, and to wit, here is my review of The Future of Reputation, which “offers a fascinating account of how the Internet is transforming gossip, the way we shame others, and our ability to protect our own reputations,” and whose author “contends: unless we establish a balance between privacy and free speech, we may discover that the freedom of the Internet makes us less free.”

The Future of Reputation (Yale Univ. Press, Oct. 2007)

When I’m “reviewing” a book — whether orally for a friend or online for mass consumption — I implicitly start with two questions: 1) Was my time spent reading the book a good investment? and 2) Who (if anyone) is likely to benefit from (or enjoy) reading it?

The answer to #1 is easy: I’m glad I read this book cover-to-cover (well, okay, I skipped most of the footnotes). Although I’ve thought about many of the topics before, and discussed a few here at f/k/a, Dan Solove’s The Future of Reputation brings together the themes in useful and interesting ways, showing important connections and ramifications, and making me want to talk about them with friends (and foes) and to find solutions to the problems he raises. For example, now that it is all-too-easy to do: “Should people’s social transgressions follow them on a digital rap sheet that can never be expunged?” And, if your answer is “no”, what can and should the law do about it?

sleuthSm More important, having read his book, I want to sound the alarm Dan has raised, and I can now cite a respected and knowledgeable law professor if credentials are helpful. As Seton Hall Law Professor Frank Pasquale says in his post “Solove’s Future of Reputation” (October 17th, 2007):

“The lasting contribution of FutureRep is that Solove dons his other scholarly hat–as an interpreter of the humanities–to give us reasons why we should want to protect our privacy–and respect that of others.”

Confession: I even enjoyed reading many of the reviews of FoR, and I’m going to quote from and point to a few of them in this post. Inspiring thoughtful reviews is often the sign of a valuable book. The Future of Reputation is doing that, and many members of the public who wouldn’t be likely to pick up and peruse the volume will benefit from their summaries of the issues and themes, as well as their constructive criticism and suggestions for further study and inquiry. I hope Dan will continue to compile links to the better reviews and discussion at Concurring Opinions. [Update (Nov.10, 2007): Today, Dan started summarizing and responding to weblog reviews of FofR, including ours, here at Concurring Opinions.]

digital age
aging digits
on the keyboard

…………………………………. by dagosan

Question #2 takes a bit more thought. Here’s my answer to “Who (if anyone) is likely to benefit from (or enjoy) reading it?”

  • Everyone Who Cares About Kids (including future-oblivious young adults): If your child(ren), students, or young relatives post information about themselves online, or have friends who do, you need to read this book — and then perhaps read the kids The Future of Reputation Riot Act. Prof. Solove, using examples that are bizarre enough to keep youngsters interested, has a message that needs to be grasped by folk who often have little comprehension or care about the longterm consequences of today’s actions (think, e.g., tattoo sleeves):

magglass “From the dawn of time, people have gossiped, circulated rumors, and shamed others. These social practices are now moving over to the Internet, where they are taking on new dimensions. They transform from forgettable whispers within small local groups to a widespread and permanent chronicle of people’s lives. An entire generation is growing up in a very different world, one where people will accumulate detailed records beginning with childhood that will stay with them for life wherever they go. .”

As criminal defense lawyer Scott H. Greenfield ably states at Simple Justice (“Book Review: The Future of Reputation,” Oct. 30, 2007):

“The first half of the book is quite a cautionary tale, to be read and digested by anyone who posts online, or knows anyone who posts online, or doesn’t know anyone and rarely leaves the house. The point is, no one is safe, and Dan backs up the claim with example after example. The only reason the stories are funny is because they aren’t about you. Yet.”

And, Kathleen Fitzpatrick got Solove’s message and issues this warning in her Barnes & Noble review of The Future of Reputation:

erasingSF Bizarrely, the threat that we faced in childhood, that some stupid thing we’d done in third grade would be placed on our “permanent record,” suddenly has the potential to be real — and available to anyone with a few minutes, a web browser, and access to Google.

Of course, it’s the stupid things we did when old enough to know better, but not wise enough to restrain ourselves, that should really worry us.

  • Libertarians and Free-Speech Absolutists who believe that, when it comes to speech, having No Laws and No Norms always increases our freedom and liberty: Prof. Solove argues that “protecting privacy — and restricting free speech in some cases — can actually advance the reasons why we protect free speech in the first place.” He notes that “this seems paradoxical, [and] some explanation is in order,” and thus spends a good many pages persuasively showing that “privacy often furthers the same goals as free speech” — including the enhancement of personal autonomy, democratic discussion and debate, and achieving truth in the marketplace of ideas.

. Therefore, The Future of Reputation insists that a balancing of free speech and privacy issues is necessary, and “speech of private concern should be given less protection than speech of public concern.” Among the many pertinent points made by Solove in FofR, you’ll find:

Invidual Autonomy Requires Privacy: “The disclosure of personal information [even when true] can severely inhibit a person’s autonomy and self-development. . . . Privacy allows people to be free from worrying about what everybody else will think, and this is liberating and important to free choice.”

Preserve the Privacy Torts: “Several scholars think that the Supreme Court should abolish the privacy torts when they conflict with free speech. . . . There are compelling reasons, however, why the Supreme Court is right not to eliminate the privacy torts, especially the public-disclosure torts.”

erasingSF Permanent Shaming Stifles Freedom: Beyond a tendency to impose excessive punishment for the “crime,” the indelible Digital Scarlet Letter — which can now be attached through internet gossiping and exposure of misdeeds — can greatly limit the freedom of shamed individuals. “Shame’s tendency to lead to withdrawal and alienation makes it troubling. Without allowing a wrongdoer to reenter community life, shame becomes quite destructive. Wrongdoers are not educated or simply taught a lesson. Their reputation is wounded, and they are left without a chance to become part of the community again.” This alienation hurts the subject of shame, as well as the society that loses the fruits of his or her full participation and contributions.

Our society and our Constitution protect speech for policy reasons — to promote certain goals and values — not because free speech is a deified (or reified) goal in itself. Therefore, I hope free-speech absolutists and those tending in that direction will attend to this book. If they bring an open mind to the discussion, they’ll benefit, and so will the rest of us.

  • Techno-Fatalists & Digi-Philes who accept every new form of privacy invasion as merely “the price of progress” (or of free enterprise), who are hypnotized into paralysis by repetition of the word “transparency,” or who believe there is nothing we can do about it: These folks need to read and heed Dan Solove’s warnings and his suggested solutions (and, like a good professor, he repeats them often to help them sink in). As a society, we can nurture appropriate norms and evolve news ones. As citizens of a Republic, and committed legal experts, judges and law makers, we can find workable legal solutions to at least some of the problems.

the gossip
her yard fills
with leaves

…………………………. byTom Painting – from his chapbook piano practice

In her review for the New York Sun, “The Web As Knitting Circle” (November 1, 2007) Christine Rosen says “As Mr. Solove’s thoughtful book reminds us, our technologies give us a heretofore-unknown level of control over information. But when it comes to our ability to manage information about ourselves — including the basic human need to defend our reputations — this control can prove illusory.” Solove doesn’t solve all the legal and social problems and threats to privacy, but Prof. Pasquale puts it well:

“His recommendations subtly weave together proposed changes in law, norms, and technology to help tame the reputational ramifications of persistently searchable, replicable, and unaccountable data stores.”

  • CyberLaw Nerds and Groupies: As sentences like the one immediately above, suggest, this bunch gets pretty excited thinking about the intersection of technologies and law. Pasquale even called FofR “a fun read,” and Solove admits to being “giddy with excitement” over the issues raised by the evolving internet. It’s easy to spot this crowd, and this book is obviously for them — but, forget about waiting for Christmas to send it as a gift. They’ll have it read, and thoroughly highlighted, long before then.
  • Anyone who cares about her or his own Reputation (and has ever made a mistake, revealed too much, or been lied about or misunderstood by family, friends or foe): If you don’t understand that gossip online is much more dangerous than old-fashioned rumor-spreading and idle chitchat over coffee or on the phone, you need to read this book. Ditto, if you think that staying offline yourself insulates you from the problems raised by Dan Solove. As the book’s Synopsis suggests, if you care about your reputation, you need to consider:

What information about you is available on the Internet?

What if it’s wrong, humiliating, or true but regrettable?

Will it ever go away?

Once you’ve thought about it, you will surely agree with Dan Solove that (1) there must be a broadened scope of protection for privacy. It cannot merely be a binary question, where anything said or done in public automatically forfeits all privacy rights. In the age of the internet, our concept of protected privacy must take into account “a cluster of nuanced expectations of accessibility, confidentiality, and control.”

And (2) the law must “address the problems productively yet with moderation.” Neither “The Libertarian Approach” (with its great reluctance to hinder the flow of information) nor The Authoritarian Approach (“designed to employ strict controls over the spread of information”) is appropriate. The law would take a moderate path and “help shape the norms that govern the circulation of information.” However, Solove stresses that the law “works best when it can hover as a threat in the background but allow most problems to be worked out informally.”

  • Legal Policy Wonks: This book is the perfect playground and mosh pit for guys and gals who enjoy designing or critiquing statutory (or common law) legal solutions to important societal problems. Dan Solove has suggested an ample variety of potential legal changes (with lots of details both offered and lacking) to keep the wonks up late at night debating the proposals — talking them out, fleshing them out, or throwing them out. Of course, law students and professors, lawyers and legislative staffers, come readily to mind. But, you don’t need a law degree to be intrigued by the proposals in The Future of Reputation, and to have a contribution to make in the discussion this book should inspire and provoke. While admitting that “the law is far from a magic elixir,” Solove’s Suggestions for better protecting privacy and reputation include:
  • denying webloggers immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, for defamatory statements posted by commentors, once the target puts the weblog proprietor on notice of the defamation and asks for a take-down
  • greatly expanding the right/duty of confidentiality for information that is private and not newsworthy
  • requiring, in order to avoid inappropriate and excessively expensive lawsuits, that “a plaintiff first exhaust informal mechanisms for dealing with the problem,” and
  • limiting monetary damages
  • borrowing lessons from copyright law in how to control the spread of information

first glass of wine
Google keeps asking
“Did you mean . . . . ”

…………………………………. by dagosan

It’s rare that I want a non-fiction book to be longer, but The Future of Reputation would have been more satisfying if it went into more depth on many of the issues it raises (and especially on the solutions offered) — if only in appendices for readers needing further explanation. For example:

Dan speaks of wanting the law to “cast a wider net, yet have a less painful bite,” and of using the law to shape norms rather than imposing direct prohibitions. But, laws that create wider nets of responsibility and impose new restrictions are unlikely to be effective if their “bite” doesn’t draw some blood or leave a scar. Likewise, new norms usually only make an impression and change behavior when there is a genuine downside to ignoring their prescriptions and proscriptions.

I assume Dan doesn’t want to give specifics that would scare away the freedom-loving, often self-absorbed denizens of the internet he is trying to convert into responsible citizens. But, without more detail and discussion of how laws and legal principles would be shaped — so as to impose discipline on the likes of bloggers, angry consumers, jilted lovers, and social network entrepeneurs — practical-minded lawyers, judges and law-makers are left unconvinced that the Moderate Approach will really have significant moderating effects.

The Future of Reputation says “The law should increase its recognition of duties of confidentiality.” Dan writes:

“When we share information with friends, family, and even strangers, an implicit expectation often exists that they will keep it to themselves. The law should protect and reinforce these expectations. More broadly, the law should afford people greater control over their personal information.”

Frankly, being told that lawyers and doctors have to keep confidences, so the rest of us should, too, is not sufficient explanation. The law has created limited rules of professional confidentiality because we as a society have something to gain from clients, patients, and penitents being fully truthful with lawyers and doctors and priests. Despite this, those confidentiality protections are often circumscribed, limited in application, and under attack. [We don’t even require blanket confidentiality now within a marriage, but merely allow a spouse to invoke it when being asked to divulge information about the other spouse.] The lawyer-client analogy simply doesn’t get us very far. There does not seem to be an analogous reason to motivate individuals to tell the whole truth about their personal situations to families, lovers, and friends. Before imposing penalties for the disclosure of “confidential” information, we need more justification and more details on how it might work in practice.

I’d also wish Dan helped us understand better whether it is possible to ever remove information completely from the Internet. Can search engines resurrect old gossip from

Although he notes that gossip can have benefits and isn’t always hurtful, Dan Solove pretty much wants to remove gossip from the internet (or at least give affected individuals the power to have it removed), and says “People should avoid Internet shaming,” and bloggers should “ask permission before speaking about others’ private lives” or “posting pictures.” I’d like working definitions of terms such as “gossip,” “shaming” and “private lives,” and more explanation of just how the law would/could differentiate between “newsworthy” facts about the lives of individuals and “personal information” that we can insist be kept private and off the internet. Both gossip and shaming can play useful or neutral roles [see our prior posts “good gossip bad gossip” (Nov. 7, 2007) and “e-shaming and lawyer conduct” (March 2005)]. Until we understand better what Dan wants to ban from cyberspace, I can only embrace his proposals very tentatively.

searching my name —
she finds an advocate and
a sex offender

……………………………………………. by dagosan

Like Kathleen Fitzpatrick, I believe it’s “a bit jarring when, late in the book, Solove points to current copyright law as a model for how private information might be controlled. In her Barnes & Noble review, she notes that:

umpireS “[Solove] acknowledges that the ‘balance of freedom and control’ in copyright law ‘has been the subject of considerable debate and controversy,’ but he doesn’t consider the difference between the control of information for profit-making purposes and for purposes of maintaining personal privacy. Copyright law and privacy issues make odd bedfellows; is the suggestion that we ‘own’ the details of our private lives?”

I’m not a copyright expert (nor even a neophyte), but I believe that body of law offers no protection to facts qua facts — it doesn’t protect information, it protects the artist’s creative “work”. We need more input on how copyright law might inform privacy law. Perhaps some experts in that field will review the book and help us sort it out.

Likewise, Scott H. Greenfield ‘s doubts about requiring an attempt at alternative dispute resolution prior to bringing a lawsuit to protect internet privacy rights seem justified (and I was a mediation pioneer and strong advocate of avoiding litigation). In his book review at Simple Justice, Scott says:

“Boiled down, Dan would require putative plaintiffs and defendants to engage in informal efforts to resolve problems (mediation and/or arbitration) before litigation. How would one compel this? Who would mediate? What would happen with the ongoing ruination of a person’s life while they were awaiting an appointment with a mediator? There are no answers.”

To those questions, I would add: Are we going to require telephonic or internet-based ADR, for parties who do not (miraculously) happen to live in the same area? I also wonder if Prof. Solove has considered how the typical injured person will afford the expense of mediation, not to mention the much more formalized option of arbitration. We need more flesh on these bones before concluding that Dan’s middle ground approach will offer any real deterrent to those who injure the reputation or invade the privacy of others in cyberspace.

Wishing The Future of Reputation had more explication and specification in no way keeps me from recommending it strongly to both those who understand the dangers it describes and, especially, to those who don’t. Scott Greenberg captured my own feelings last week:

“While The Future of Reputation may not produce any iable cure, it is more than worthwhile to read to understand and appreciate the illness. Reputation makes it evident that we who live in the age of the internet have much more at risk than we realize, and to the extent it’s possible, it is up to us, our friends and acquaintances, and even our enemies, to create a new set of norms that will allow us to survive with some vestige of privacy, and maybe even some dignity, intact. For this alone, Reputation is important and should be read by parents, children, and especially anyone who thinks this could never touch them.”

Thanks to Dan Solove for sending me The Future of Reputation. I hope he’ll use the book’s website as a place to answer some of the questions raised by his reviewers, and perhaps to present proposals made and developed by others. The stakes are high, and I’m going to be driving my kith and kin crazy over the holiday season telling them about the issues raised in The Future of Reputation. Someday, they’ll thank me and Dan for sounding the alert.

ashamed– honest flip
eating then going to bed
I hear the winter prayers

……………………………………… by ISSA, translated by David G. Lanoue

empty bottle
a few words
I would like to take back

……………………………..……… by John StevensonQuiet Enough (2004)

phone old p.s. For other f/k/a posts treating issues raised in The Future of Reputation, see “e-shaming and lawyer conduct” (March 2005); “Ethics for the Web? Lean Don’t Lie” (January 19, 2004); “did shakespeare want to kill all the journalists? bloggers?” (Nov. 8, 2004); and “the heedless snowman” (Dec. 27, 2004)

Afterthoughts & Updates:

(Nov. 9, 2007): Add corporate General Counsel to the list of folks who should buy this book and make its contents widely know. See “GCs to Employees: Think Before You Send” (Fulton County Daily Report/, Nov. 9, 2007). Due to electronic discovery, the message for employees from their GCs is: “E-mails, text messages, BlackBerry communications all are potential time bombs if not worded thoughtfully and with discipline. . . . [A]bove all . . . never say anything in an e-mail that you wouldn’t want to see displayed on a giant screen in a court room in front of a judge and jury even years from now.”

October 9, 2007

The Unworn Necklace: roberta beary’s gems

Filed under: Book Reviews,haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 4:09 pm

The Unworn Necklace: Haiku and Senryu, by Roberta Beary
(Snapshot Press 2007)

When I first mentioned lawyer Roberta Beary at f/k/a, in August 2004, I confessed that her haiku made me “feel like a poseur” for using the pseudonym haikuEsq. Since that time, I’ve grown more and more certain that only Roberta Beary deserves the sobriquet “haikuEsq” — not only because of the quality and quantity of her haiku and senryu, and all the recognition heaped upon her by the haijin community [see our post “yes, her again“], but because she continues (unlike myself and f/k/a Honored Guest Barry George, J.D.) to actively practice law, as a member of the Washington, D.C. Bar.

custody hearing
seeing his arms cross
i uncross mine

custody weekend sunglassesG
inside her backpack

“custody hearing” – The Unworn Necklace; & pocket change
“custody weekend” – Simply Haiku (Summer 2007, vol 5 no 2)

Of course, most lovers of fine haiku don’t know or care that Roberta has a law degree and is a real estate finance attorney. For them, she’s not “the best lawyer haiku poet,” she’s quite simply one of the best damn haiku poets alive — and she has proven it in haiku journals, contests and anthologies, year in and year out, for over a decade. However, to the chagrin of Roberta Beary fans worldwide, there has never been an entire volume of her haiku in existence, to grace our lives and book shelves.

the empty place
inside me
. . . wild lupine

— not until now, that is. For throngs of haiku/senryu aficionados, therefore, the publication by Great Britain’s Snapshot Press, in August 2007, of The Unworn Necklace, by Roberta Beary, is a long-awaited, much-anticipated haikai milestone.

In case you can’t tell, TUN‘s arrival in late September on this side of the Atlantic, so that I could actually hold it in my warm little hands, was a special treat for me. And, although I . . .:

  • am well known for holding my friends to especially high standards and doling out praise to them in a miserly fashion
  • have never, to put it mildly, been a lawyer-phile who feels a bond with others simply because they are lawyers
  • rarely feel any ancestral tug toward Italy and Sicily (not even around Columbus Day)
  • never feel the need to write book reviews, especially ones that wax poetic about volumes of poetry; and
  • do not at all understand why people are “proud” of achievements by other individuals in which they have played no part (e.g., local sports teams, fellow countrymen, relatives)

. . . beary . . . I, nonetheless, feel an enormous need to say how thrilled I am that Roberta Beary — friend, and fellow-lawyer, Baby Boomer, Bethesdan, born skeptic, and 50-percent decendent of Sicilians — has finally given us the 69-poem volume entitled The Unworn Necklace. Those who know me well, know that I do not consider myself a poetry lover. Indeed, my attraction to haiku — and especially the haiku of Roberta Beary — is the very fact that it is the most “unpoetic” of poetic genre, without frills or fancy verbiage, finery or hyper-prosody.

I especially like the focus of haiku and senryu on the concrete, the small things that are part of everyday life. Roberta excels at that focus, while courageously revealing moments (as well as cycles and seasons) of pain, and understanding that darkness and hurt are not only natural parts of life, but can be as life-affirming as the joys and beauty she also finds and shares.

So, I know Roberta will excuse me for not “waxing poetic,” with flowery words or theoretical flourishes, about the book as a collection of poems. I shall let more scholarly experts do that — to wit, from the Back Cover of The Unworn Necklace:

‘Moving full circle from the opening to closing poems,
this substantial collection of Roberta Beary’s haiku
offers a feast for the inner eye and heart.
Beary’s haiku record life passages—love and loss,
anger and forgiveness, family and solitude—linking
human nature and the natural world with exquisite
sensitivity and striking clarity. A stunning collection!’

……………………… Penny Harter

necklaceG ‘Remarkably depicted and balanced, The Unworn
Necklace unravels and extends like a poignant novel.
A prescription for healing, its poems seem as if they
were chiseled, exhibiting just the right words. Many
of these haiku will become classics, yet this is the book
to tell others about right now.’

………………………. Lenard D. Moore, Haiku Editor, Simply Haiku, and upcoming president of the Haiku Society of America

If you are a frequent visitor to this weblog, you may have in fact [talk about added value] already seen most of the poems that are presented in The Unworn Necklace. (Click on the posts listed on f/k/a‘s Roberta Beary Archives Page to find scores of her poems.) Indeed, the first poem we posted the first time we specifically featured Roberta was this one, from A New Resonance 2 (Red Moon Press 2001):

all day long
I feel its weight
the unworn necklace

Last January, when her manuscript won the Snapshot Press grand prize and was therefore slated for publication later this year, we posted five poems from Roberta’s upcoming book. One favorite was this one, originally published in Frogpond, which won 1st Place in the Haiku Society of America’s 2006 Gerald Brady Senryu Contest:

first date—
the little pile
of anchovies

Since receiving a copy of the actual book two weeks ago, I’ve shared a pair of poems from TUN, here, and another there. To be honest, there are so many great poems — which Lenard correctly says “will become classics” — that I cannot readily (especially under the influence today of a flu virus that is spreading across Upstate New York) choose representative examples from TUN. Instead, I shall literally open the book, at random, to three even-numbered pages, and type each of the poems right here for you, the f/k/a reader.

snow melt
the logs
he left behind

mother’s day
a nurse unties
the restraints

early spring walk
your hand
in my pocket

………………… by Roberta Beary – from The Unworn Necklace (Snapshots Press, 2007)

If the above doesn’t make you want to click the link to the Snapshot Press Order Form, or to the page that just went up today at, I guess you must be suffering from flu-brain-fog, too. All there remains for me to say, in closing, is: Thank you, Roberta, for creating this collection. Please don’t wait so long to give us a second volume. And, please don’t feel that you have to “suffer for your art” this next decade. Don’t visit the Dark Side just for your fans’ sake. But, do take us wherever life brings you.

update: See our posting “PSA honors haiku — Roberta Beary’s The Unworn Necklace” (April 22, 2008)

September 21, 2007

the hands of women by pamela miller ness

Filed under: Book Reviews,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 10:38 pm

To mark the activities of Haiku North America 2007, in August 2007, our honored guest poet Pamela Miller Ness (current President of the Haiku Society of America, and editor/publisher of Red Lights Tanka Journal) had 250 copies of the chapbook The Hands of Women printed by Swamp Press/Lily Pond Press. This loving commemoration of the “needlewomen” in Pamela’s life is a remarkable sequence of 6 haiku and 4 tanka, which I wanted to share with the readers of f/k/a. When I asked Pamela if I could post her chapbook in full, she immediately and generously gave her permission. Therefore, you will find The Hands of Women reprinted below in its entirety. Many thanks to Pamela.

. . . . . .

. . . . . . . .

first day of the year
I take up my needles
and knit a row

She knits
a Fair Isle sweater
each stitch formed
by the hands of women
who have gone before.

first day of spring
I wind the ball
of lime green yarn

of her 80th year
she knits a shawl
all the colors
of the rainbow

hurricane over
the click click click
of knitting needles

the wee hours
weaving loose ends
into my knitting

she knits a scarf
the color of sky

winter solstice
I unravel my knitting
and begin again

Midwinter dusk:
you practice flute,
I crochet . . .
would that it could
always be so.

Binding off
the baby blanket
I wind
and store the unused yarn.
Last day of the year.

my mother & grandmothers
and all the needlewomen
who have gone before

by Pamela Miller NessThe Hands of Women
(Lily Pond Press/Swamp Press, August 2007)

Some of these poems have appeared in
Mariposa, Modern English Tanka,
Modern Haiku, Penumbra,
Sixty Sunflowers
(TSA Members
Antholgy) & Solaris Hill

If you would like a letter-press printed copy of Pamela’s chapbook The Hands of Women, please contact her directly at – DeuceDK AT aol DOT com . The $5.00 price includes an envelope for gift-giving and postage. Even if the “needlewomen” [or needlemen] you know aren’t yet haiku and tanka lovers, they will appreciate this beautifully-written and printed chapbook.

September 6, 2007

um, i confess

Filed under: Book Reviews,Haiku or Senryu,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 1:18 pm

Um the Book ..

With summer gone, it’s about time to take down that virtual hammock and try to put my, um, chronic procrastinating behind me. The first task is to create and stick to a Summer Fall To-Read List and Schedule. A realistic list, this time.

to-read list napHammock
and summer corn
growing, growing

…………………. by David Giacalone, Legal Studies Forum XXIX:1 (2005) Reprinted: Law in Popular Culture Collection, Univ. of Texas, Tarlton Law Library

Without a doubt, Michael Erard‘s new book “Um. . .: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean” (Pantheon, August 21, 2007) is at the top of my nonfiction To Read List. (I just reserved it at our public library, and hope it will arrive right after I finish “Taxi!: A Social History of the New York City Cabdriver,” by Graham Russell Gao Hodges.) National Public Radio featured Um last week in a book review segment, “Breaking Down the, Uh, Blunders of Speech” (All Things Considered, Sept. 1, 2007), and I knew that it was a Need-to-Read for me. You see, uh, some of my closest blood relatives do an awful lot of umming (my twin “yums” conistently) and I’ve always feared that the little annoying habit is deeply imbedded in my character, through nature and nurture.

Finding a cure — or, perhaps only an explanation — has been a secret hope of mine. Doing so through a book that Prof. Geoff Nunberg, University of California at Berkeley, calls a “page-turner” and “a fascinating meditation on why blunders happen, and what they tell us about language and ourselves,” is too much to resist.

In the book, journalist Erard categorizes blunders, investigates why we make them and serves up a generous amount of slips, malapropisms and even Bushisms. In his volume of “applied blunderology”, Erard “found that there are two main categories of blunders: slips of the tongue and speech disfluencies.’ A slip happens when a person loses control over their speaking, and disfluencies – which happen in every language – are interruption and pause fillers like ‘uh’ and ‘um’ that we think should constitute smoothly flowing talk.”

  • The most telling use of “um” that I could find here at f/k/a concerned felonious attorney Andrew Capoccia’s co-conspiring-lawyer-partner Howard Sinnott. Howard got on the stand at Capoccia’s criminal trial and, according to The Bennington Banner (March 24, 2005)“teared up telling the jury he expects to be disbarred for his crimes.” . . . “Seeing what I’ve done, I’m not sure I have, um,” he said, pausing and looking down, “the character to practice law.”

the um in her voice
before offering me
the senior discount

….. by Carolyn Hall – A New Resonance 2; Frogpond XXIII:2

Last month, Erard pinch hit at The Word column of The Boston Globe (“The Beast Within,” August 5, 2007; via Ben Zimmer, of Language Log, who I hope will soon give us his review of Um), and said:

” It’s typical to think of verbal blunders as embarrassing slip-ups that we should avoid. But I’ve just written a whole book about verbal blunders, and I find them fascinating. Why? Because they’re signs of the wild. Not in the sense of rough or savage, but because they’re pure and untameable. They provide a window into what humans really are: biological organisms who live in complex groups and have really amazing brains. Blunders of the verbal sort may seem like violations of the order of language, but in fact they’re spontaneous eruptions of the qualities that gave us this order in the first place.”

I’ve always loved Spoonerisms, and you can read or listen to an excerpt from Um‘s chapter “The Secrets of Reverend Spooner” at NPR, to see if Um belongs on your To-Read List.

schoolgirls take turns
mimicking a stutter–
March wind
. . . . . . ……… . . . . Barry George, Frogpond XXV:2

even for the tongue-tied
crow of the east…
spring’s first dawn


stuttering about
the olden days…
a cuckoo

tripping over the dog
night of winter rain

on the wrinkles of my hand…

today’s last voice
is raised . . .
summer cicada

…………………… Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

drunks stumble in and out of her .
like cartoon characters—
wet with fallen leaves
this dark road home

one lone cricket
louder than all the others—
not one of us
has ever found the words
to comfort the living

…………………… tanka by Andrew Riutta – from Simply Haiku (Spring 2006)

sudden lightning–
the street mime

………………. by michael dylan welch – snow on the water: The Red Moon Anthology Anthology 1997 of English-Language Haiku 1998 (Jim Kacian, Ed.)

winter fog
everyone crowds around
the mime

…………………………………………… by ed markowski

the mime
in our mittens

early Alzheimer’s
she says she’ll have . . .
the usual

……………………………… by John StevensonQuiet Enough (2004)

not on
the tip of my tongue –
the name of the pretty one

a third helping
of Thanksgiving politics
I bite my tongue

………………………………………………….. by dagosan

Um, I don’t quite know how to say this, but one book that I am not, er, excited about reading cover to cover is the well-critiqued “The Party of the First Part: The Curious World of Legalese,” by Adam Freedman (Henry Holt and Co., September 4, 2007). I’m simply too burnt out over the fight for the use of Plain English in the legal community, having fought it for three decades (see, e.g., this posting at the weblog shlep), and finding little entertainment value reading about Legalese or battles to defend or obliterate it. That’s too bad, since I’d like to keep Henry Holt publishers happy (I dream, someday, of “f/k/a the book,” which will bring my alter egos to life, while describing the travails of a consumer-client advocate and a Type A with chronic fatigue syndrome). In addition, I like Freedman’s “The Party of the First Part” Weblog, where you will find both information on his “Golden Gobbledygook Awards” — “a Prize for the best example of bad legalese” — and the “Legalese Hall of Shame“.

I’m also intrigued by Freedman’s 2003 book of short stories: “Elated by Details” He says: This collection won the Mayhaven Award for fiction. called Elated by Details, “a collection of small gems aimed squarely at folks who remember Woody Allen’s longer prose pieces for The New Yorker.”


all tongue ..
the clam in the fire’s

tongue out
the boy guides a new airplane
round and round

…………….. by Randy Brooks
“tongue out” – The Heron’s Nest (VIII: 1, March 2006)
“all tongue” – School’s Out (1999)

... Afterthought (9 PM, Sept. 6, 2007): As is his wont, Robert Ambrogi has focused on three quite interesting topics today over at Legal Blog Watch, and has summarized the issues well, with useful links. See:

And, um, No Sex With Clients — or Their Mothers, which tells the story of Wisconsin lawyer Carlos Gamino (see Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). s[Note: As I argued four years ago, the Bar’s total “sexual relations ban with clients is overbroad“, treating lawyers and clients like children, and showing a sad inability to make distinctions. Nonetheless, it’s almost never a good idea to have sex with the parent of a minor client while you are still representing that client.]

August 2, 2007

more honors for Hall, Miller, Kacian and Beary

Filed under: Book Reviews,haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 7:47 am

HSALogo The Haiku Society of America honors “excellence in published haiku, translation and criticism” every year, through its Mildred Kanterman Memorial Merit Book Award. The 2007 HSA Merit Book winners were just announced, and the 2007 Award Report posted by this year’s judges, our f/k/a Honored Guest friend Ed Markowski and well-known haijin Yvonne Cabalona. The f/k/a Gang is proud to report that members of our family of guest poets has again been remarkably successful, with awards for haiku publishing excellence going to Carolyn Hall, Paul Miller (a/k/a “paul m”), Jim Kacian, and Roberta Beary.

Congratulations to Jeanne Emrich and the Reeds haiga organization. At $16, their First Place winning anthology Reeds: Contemporary Haiga 2006 must surely also be the Best Haikai Value for 2006. The contest judges say: “Beautifully arranged, this collection of haiga from 35 contributing poets and painters delivers inspiration, surprise and delight from cover to cover.”

Here is the official list of all the 2007 HSA Merit Book winners:

First Place: Reeds: Contemporary Haiga 2006, edited by Jeanne Emrich
Lone Egret Press. 6566 France Avenue South. Suite 1210. Edina, Minnesota USA 55435. $16.00

Second Place: Water Lines by Carolyn Hall
Snapshot Press. P.O. Box 132, Waterloo, Liverpool England L22 8WZ US $14.00 UK 7.99 (pounds) Canada $17.00

Third Place: called home by paul m. CalledHomePaulM
Red Moon Press P.O. Box 2461 Winchester, Virginia 22604-1661 USA $12.00

Fourth Place: paperweight for nothing by vincent tripi
Tribe Press 42 Franklin Street. Grenfield, Massachusetts 01301 USA $20.00

Special Category Honorable Mention For Haibun: Business in Eden by David Cobb
Equinox Press. Sinodun Shalford Braintree Essex CM7 5 HN Great Britain. 7.95 (pounds)

fish in love

Special Category Honorable Mention for Anthology: fish in love, edited by Roberta Beary and Ellen Compton. The Haiku Society of America Members Anthology 2006. Available from and published by The Haiku Society of America. [ed. note: fish in love is apparently sold out; let’s hope this honor results in a 2nd printing.]

Special Category Honorable Mention for Best International Collaboration: Presents of Mind by Jim Kacian. Translation into Japanese by The Kon Nichi Haiku Circle, Kumamoto University. Red Moon Press. P.O. Box 2461 Winchster, Virginia 22604-1661 USA $20.00 US 22.00 yen Japan

(see cover) In awarding Carolyn Hall‘s Water Lines Second Place, the Kanterman judges said “From first poem to last, one is taken on a smooth journey marked by ordinary scenery that becomes extraordinary by virtue of the poet’s keen and guiding eye.” We previewed Water Lines when it was still a manuscript and was a winner in the 2005 Snapshots Press haiku collection contest. The book was reviewed at Modern Haiku (Summer 2007), by Paul Miller. Here is a sample of Carolyn’s fine haiku from Water Lines:


January 12, 2007

Baseball Haiku (the book): on deck

Filed under: Book Reviews,Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 1:49 pm

infielderG Much-honored poet and editor Cor van den Heuvel (see this profile) loves haiku and he loves baseball. He is perhaps best known by haiku enthusiasts for his milestone tome The Haiku Anthology, which is in its 3rd edition. Many others, however, cherish his 1999 compilation Play Ball: Baseball Haiku (Red Moon Press), and have been sitting on the edge of their stadium seats for years waiting for a new collection.

With almost-springlike weather in much of the USA most of this winter, it’s not surprising that many people (e.g., webloggers here, here, and always there) have continued to talk about the baseball. The first spurt of “real” winter weather here in Schenectady the past few days certainly has me hankering for the scent of cherry blossoms and lilacs and the sounds of infield chatter from our neighborhood playground. It was, therefore, a very pleasant surprise yesterday to discover a page at for

BaseballHaikuCover Baseball Haiku (Cor van den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura, eds., W.W. Norton Press, April 2007)

That’s right, sportsfans, in April, a new volume with over 200 of “the best haiku ever written about the game” will arrive with the buds and birds of spring. Here’s how the publisher describes Baseball Haiku:

One of the most unusual baseball books of the 2007 season, this remarkable new collection, which includes poems from both America and Japan, captures perfectly the thrill of baseball—a double play, a game of catch, or the hushed pause as a pitcher looks in before hurling his pitch. Like haiku, the game is concerned with the nature of the seasons: joyous in the spring, thrilling in summer’s heat, ripening with the descent of fall, and remembered fondly in winter. . . . Baseball Haiku, a literary and baseball treasure, will make a marvelous gift for the baseball fan in your family.

W.W. Norton says the book features the work of Jack Kerouac, Alan Pizzarelli, and Masaoka Shiki (“one of the four great pillars of Japanese haiku”), but I am thrilled to say that it also includes a dugout-full of haiku from f/k/a‘s mascot Ed Markowski, along with selections from 8 other of our Honored Guest Poets: randy brooks, tom clausen, lee gurga, jim kacian, tom painting, john stevenson, george swede, michael dylan welch. Even dagosan (who, frankly, enjoys baseball haiku more than baseball these days) snuck two of his poems into Baseball Haiku — a special honor, given the other haijin on the roster.

baseballG I’m not sure why the publisher hasn’t included examples of poems from Baseball Haiku in its online description and publicity. The broader sports audience may need some reassurance before seeking out a poetry book, or might incorrectly identify the term haiku with the 17-syllable doggerel and pseudo-haiku that is all over the internet. I don’t know which poems have been selected from other poets, but here’s one from dagosan’s collection that is included:

squinting to see him —
another generation
sent to right field

Roadrunner Haiku Journal (V:4, Nov. 2005; tie Scorpion Prize)

I hope Baseball Haiku contains these classics by Cor van den Heuvel himself (which appear in The Haiku Anthology):

the batter checks
the placement of his feet
“Strike One!”

summer afternoon
the long fly ball to center field
takes its time

. . . by Cor van den Heuvel BaseballHaikuCoverN

If you can’t wait until April, or you’d like to see what our Honored Guests can do with the topic, head over to the f/k/a baseball haiku page, which has a few dozen poems. Here are a gloveful from that page:

update (May 28, 2008): See our posting “Baseball Haiku recap and update” which has links to f/k/a posts reporting on this book (including reviews). You can find poems by our Honored Guest poets that appear in Baseball Haiku throughout this website, including, e.g., here, there, and here. And see our post “npr spotlights Baseball Haiku” (March 31, 207)

April rain
my grandson practices
his infield chatter

late innings infielderG
the shortstop backpedals
into fireflies

. . . by Ed Markowski

the toddler
runs to third base

bases loaded
a full moon clears
the right field fence

. . . by Tom Painting from his chapbook Piano Practice

empty baseball field atBatN
a dandelion seed floats through
the strike zone

score tied
both team jerseys look the same
in the August twilight

. . .
. . . by George Swede from Almost Unseen (2000)

of the old man’s

my so-called friends
send in my sister
to pinch-hit for me

… by John Stevenson baseballDiamond
“sting” from Upstate Dim Sum (2005/II)

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