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

February 21, 2009

is prune juice your cup of tea?

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 7:01 pm

…. Prune Juice Journal

at last in his coffin
depressed friend
is smiling

… by George Swede – Prune Juice (Issue 1, Winter 2009)

morning after—
what’s left of the cheese
has a bite

…. by Jim Kacian – Prune Juice (Issue 1)

.. Haiku legend Alexis Rotella has uncorked her first distillation of Prune Juice: Journal of Senryu and Kyoka (Issue 1, Winter 2009), which she describes as a biannual print and digital journal “dedicated to publishing and promoting fine senryu and kyoka in English.”  Issue 1 offers more than 130 poems by about four dozen haijin, many of them very well-known for their well-crafted poems and wry insight into human nature.

Senryu are structured like haiku, and kyoda like tanka, but their focus is different.  As Alexis explains:

“Senryu generally emphasize human foibles and frailties, usually satirically, ironically, humorously. Season words are not necessary nor usual in senryu. Kyoka have a different history than senryu; nevertheless, for modern kyoka in English, the definition is similar: a poem in the tanka form but with the satirical, ironic, humorous aspects of senryu.a poem in the tanka form but with the satirical, ironic, humorous aspects of senryu.”

Agreeing with the bumper sticker from StickEm2/CafePress, Alexis tells us that senyru “is an outlet, a therapy of sorts.”  She wants poets and readers to use senryu and kyoka to help reveal and share their real emotions, saying in her introduction to Issue I:

“I hope this issue inspires you to step up, to come and mingle with the rest of us—to make a toast with a glass of prune juice in honor of the plum blossoms who, without that delicious metaphorical elixir that gets things moving, would not exist. And if you are one who hides behind a potted plant, come out come out whoever you are.”

Alexis seeks to publish senryu and kyoka that range from “gently humorous to the most wicked satire”  — and advises that “Our tastes run towards the wicked end of the scale.”

Frankly, the curmudgeons in the f/k/a Gang like to sip, rather than swig, senryu. And, we’re a little wary (maybe even weary) of editors and poets trying to give us shocking or “wicked” poems.  So, we plan to decant our Prune Juice a little at a time. With Alexis Rotella at the helm, however, we’re pretty sure a lot of readers will be filling their cup to the brim with Prune Juice, and asking for refills.

Here are a few more poems by members of our f/k/a family of Honored Guest Poets from Prune Juice: Journal of Senryu and Kyoka (Issue 1, Winter 2009):

blind date—
the jangle
of handcuffs

……… by Roberta Beary

Instead of an air conditioner . . .
I return
with popsicles

… by Tom Clausen

new to the group—
sitting in back with
the artificial plants

… by Jim Kacian

reading of the will
cremated mother

the feud continues—
shoveled snow piled high
on the property line

first ice
on mother’s gravestone . . .
her tea time

…… by George SwedePrune Juice (Issue 1, Winter 2009)

.. click for an annual subscription to the Prune Juice print edition ($32 with S&H) ..

p.s. Seven-Day Countdown: Speaking of feeling our emotions, getting things moving and setting ourselves free, the f/k/a Gang plans to stop adding to this weblog as of March 1, 2009.   It will remain online, with thousands of haiku and senryu, and a lot of law-related and cultural punditry. But, the last f/k/a posting will roll off your Editor’s fingers no later than Feb. 28, 2009. We’ll try to write a few more posts related to lawyer fees before we hang up our blawger sword; then we’ll be looking for something more enjoyable and less stressful to do online.  Naturally, we’ll have a little more to say when we sign off at the end of this week.

afterwords: Many thanks to Scott Greenfield at Simply Justice for his kindly post reacting to my announcement that f/k/a is closing down production. See “Phoenix Rising” (Feb. 24, 2009)

the pond ices over –
impressionist to
cubist overnight

early March –
the weather vane goose
still heading south

small sad face
in the puddle –
last weekend’s snowman

…….. by David GiacaloneSimply Haiku (Autumn 2006, Vol. 4 no. 3)

February 18, 2009

frogpond brings HSA winners

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 7:22 pm

..  The newest issue of Frogpond [Vol. 32:1, Winter 2009], the journal of the Haiku Society of America, arrived at my door this snowy February afternoon.  Frogpond always has a lot of winning haiku, but this issue also announces the winners of HSA’s most prestigious annual contests: The 2008 Kanterman Merit Book Awards for best published books in 2007; the 2008 Henderson Award for best haiku; and the 2008 Brady Award for best senryu.

As usual, several of f/k/a‘s Honored Guest Poets have been honored this year.

  • John Stevenson received 1st and 3rd place awards in the Harold G. Henderson Haiku Contest for 2008:

fifteen minutes
of mince pie

[1st Place, 2008 Henderson Contest]

my attention
attention span

[3rd Place, 2008 Henderson Contest]

  • Michael Dylan Welch won 2nd Place in the Gerald Brady Memorial Contest for 2008, with this senryu:

busy Italian restaurant–
happy birthday
sung to the wrong table

[2nd Place, 2008 Brady contest]

  • Among the Mildred Kanterman Memorial Book Awards for 2008:
  • Roberta Beary’s The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press 2007) placed third [find poems and discussion at f/k/a here]
  • While Matt Morden’s Stumbles in Clover (Snapshot Press 2007; discussed here at f/k/a) shared Honorable Mention honors with Gary Hotham’s Missed Appointment (Lilliput Review 2007; featured at f/k/a in posts here and there)
  • The Best Anthology award went to Jim Kacian’s Big Sky – The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2006 (Red Moon Press 2007; find sample poems at the bottom of this prior post)
  • The Best Haibun award went to “Dr. Bill” w.f. owen for his book small events (Red Moon Press 2007)

.. In the very near future, we’ll share poems from the Winter 2009 issue of Frogpond written by our Honored Guests (update: go here and there).  Below the fold, you will find a list of all the winners from the three contests described above (soon, you will be able to find all the winning poems and the comments of the judges by clicking on the link for each contest at the HSA Haiku Contests page):


January 24, 2009

white lies: RMA 2008 is released

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu,Uncategorized — David Giacalone @ 2:17 pm

.. “white lies: Red Moon Anthology 2008” (by Jim Kacian and the Red Moon Press Editorial Staff, January 2009; ISBN: 1-978-893959-80-4; 182-pages, $17.00)

We’ve said it before: the publication of the annual Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku is a much anticipated event in the haijin community.  The annual “RMA” attempts to collect “the best English-language haiku and related writings from around the world” published in the prior calendar year, as selected by Red Moon Press owner Jim Kacian and a distinguished panel of editors.  Poets and readers of the genre love to see which poems and essays have been included.  Lately, there has even been some welcome controversy about the contents of RMA.

.. .. The f/k/a Gang was, therefore, very pleased to learn yesterday that the 13th volume in the RMA series is now available, “white lies: Red Moon Anthology 2008.”  It contains “133 poems, 18 linked pieces and five critical works which encapsulate the very best writing of the haiku world in English this year.”  Jim Kacian has held the line again on price, which is still $17.00.

Because we do not yet have a copy of RMA 2008 in hand, we can’t offer an overview nor yet present all of the works written by our Honored Guest Poets that were selected for inclusion in white lies.  I’m hoping that members of our f/k/a family of poets will let me know which of their poems have been chosen for this year’s RMA.  Here are the selected poems that I know about right now; I’ll add to this list as I learn of others.

to-do list done
the day softens
into dusk

…. by Billie WIlson
orig. pub. Upstate Dim Sum 2008/II

funeral dirge –
we bury the one
who could carry a tune

….. by  David Giacalone (in mem. Arthur P. Giacalone)
orig. pub. Frogpond – Spring 2008 (Vol. 31: 2)

the cool kids
walk arm-in-arm
. . . wild narcissus

hunger moon –
the words
i meant to say

winter dusk—
when dad
would phone

… by Roberta Beary
“the cool kids” – pub. credit: the heron’s nest 9:11
“hunger moon” – pub. credit: Haiku Ireland Kukai 10
“winter dusk” – pub. credit:  Anita Sadler Weiss Memorial Haiku Contest 2008

a cold cup
from a cold cupboard
morning moon

a new teacher
adjusts the globe

the smoothness
of a river stone
slow-moving clouds

….. by Peggy Willis Lyles
“a cold cup”– Acorn 20
“equinox” – Acorn 21
“the smoothness” – Valley Voices 8:1

— you’ll find more poems from white lies in our posts “quickies and white lies” (Feb. 3, 2009); “GAL’s alternative universe” (Feb. 5, 2009; “stein and hull and more white lies” (Feb. 9, 2009) —

December 4, 2008

a full, warm cup of ambrosia

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 1:05 pm

.. Poet-editor-publisher Denis M. Garrison has recently produced his first batch of Ambrosia.  Ambrosia comes in many forms, but Denis’ version won’t make you immortal, or give you hay fever; and, it’s not that green squiggly stuff your Aunt Tootsie brought for dessert at Thanksgiving.

It is, however, “something with an especially delicious flavor or fragrance.”  To be more precise, and in Denis’ own words:

“This premiere issue of Ambrosia: Journal of Fine Haiku includes 100 top drawer haiku from twenty-eight leading poets from around the world. All these poets, while writing in English, respect the formal values of traditional Japanese haiku.

“Ambrosia holds that a haiku in English, to be fine, must have the traditional shape and duration of haiku, its metre and music, and exhibit aspects of traditional Japanese poetic aesthetics. We prefer haiku written in a natural, modern, English idiom with great care for the sound of the verse when spoken. Ambrosia’s haiku touch the reader powerfully.”

The new, quarterly Ambrosia haiku journal is published by Modern English Tanka Press.   It comes in print form (as a 4.25″ x 6.87″ paperback pocket book) and as a PDF ebook (a steal at $4.95), both of which can be ordered from Ambrosia‘s webpage.  You can subscribe to the print edition here.  However, we are most pleased to tell fellow lovers of genuine haiku that Ambrosia is also available for free as a digital online magazine.

In addition to numerous poems by our Honored Guest poet Laryalee Fraser (you’ll find them below), this first issue of Ambrosia features several poems from each of these poets: Hortensia Anderson, Susan Constable, Bill Kenney, Michael McClintoch, Jo McInerney, Kirsty Karkow, and Raffael de Gruttola, plus offerings from twenty other haijin.

lightning storm —
biting into the blackness
of licorice

…. by Laryalee Fraser – Ambrosia (Issue 1 – Autumn 2008)

In his Editor’s Note, Denis tells us: “Ambrosia considers the traditional poetic aesthetics of Japan as necessary, not in order to pay homage to the tradition, but because without their understanding and skillful use, writing haiku worth reading is difficult, if not impossible.” At a time when some editors seem to mistake artifice for originality, unusual for unique, contrived for creative, and juvenile for rejuvenating, the f/k/a Gang applauds Denis Garrison for reminding us that the haiku genre does indeed have a recognizable shape and scent, and for insisting on standards of quality.

Or, as our crankily frank Prof. Yabut might say:

They may be one breath long, but every brain fart is not a publishable haiku!

Thanks to Laryalee Fraser for sending me over to Ambrosia, and for penning these haiku, which can found in Ambrosia (Issue 1 – Autumn 2008).

dragonfly —
skirting the edge
of a heron’s stillness

frayed sunlight
between the pilings —
summer’s end

cornflowers —
between the clouds
a handful of sky

a rainbow
over autumn maples…
the laundry forgotten

drowsy morning…
the bird that belongs
to the song

…. by Laryalee FraserAmbrosia (Issue 1 – Autumn 2008)

p.s. If you prefer quirky commentary to quirky poetry, we remind you to get a virtual shot of hot caffeine at the BabyBarista weblog (see our prior post), which was selected this week for the 2008 ABA Journal Blawg 100.  It’s a daily soap opera about the “reality” of life as a junior barrister at the English Bar — with characters to love and loathe, and plenty of ethical and anthropological issues to ponder over a cup of java.  If you enjoy BabyBarista, like we do, please consider voting for it in the “Beauty Pageant” going on from now until Jan. 2, 2009, at the ABA Journal website, by heading over to the Quirky category.

[orig. haiga here]

lipstick on his
coffee mug –
steam rising


October 31, 2008

a handful of haiga and haiku halloween treats

Filed under: Haiga or Haibun,haijin-haikai news,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 9:18 am

.…… a little news, then the treats:

  • Realizing that a sign with a big orange pumpkin on it might actually attract children to a house, Maryland parole agents sent out a pumpkin-less version of the sign this week to sex offenders, merely saying “No Candy at this Residence”.   Strangely, SO’s apparently have the option to use the pumpkin sign.  Parole officials deny they were affected by a Saturday Night Live skit poking fun at their sign (with Seth Myers saying “They are also being required to take down the signs that read, ‘Knock if you can keep a special secret.’”).  See: “Halloween & the Law, Part Deux: Targeting Sexual Offenders“ (Wall Street Journal Law Blog, October 30, 2008); and “Maryland Sex Offenders Under Close Watch on Halloween” (, Oct. 31, 2008, with audio)  [see our prior post for an image of the pumpkin sign and a discussion of this scary Halloween law]

half-moon Halloween –
a young face painted
like yin and yang

… by dagosan

  • David Brooks ably argues today in his New York Times column that any “stimulus package” include funds for improving our nation’s highway and bridges. “A National Mobility Project” (NYT, Oct. 31, 2008).  Such a Mobility Project will create jobs and make us a lot safer on the roads:

“In times like these, the best a sensible leader can do is to take the short-term panic and channel it into a program that is good on its own merits even if it does nothing to stimulate the economy over the next year. That’s why I’m hoping the next president takes the general resolve to spend gobs of money, and channels it into a National Mobility Project, a long-term investment in the country’s infrastructure.”

two pirates smooch
on the overpass –
the Pumpkin Patrol closes in

……… by dagosan

McCain mask at the door
no thank you
when we spread the wealth

… by dagosan

gets all the treats –
first Halloween

by dagosan (with help from Cyndi & Anny Miner, 1991)
(original in b&w at MagnaPoetsJF, Oct. 20, 2007)

starless night-
Mars and Milky Way
in the goblin’s bag

… by Yu Chang – Shiki Kukai (2nd Place, Oct. 1999)

the aroma
of roasting pumpkin seeds
jack-o-lantern’s grin

… by DeVar Dahl – Shiki Kukai (October 1999)

halloween party –
the shrink dances with a witch
and a cheerleader

Poem: David Giacalone
Photo by Cynthia Miner (1992)

……see the orig. haiga at MagnaPoetsJF (Oct. 28, 2007)

seeing ghosts …
grandma recalls
Hallowe’ens past

.. by Hilary Tann – Shiki Kukai (October 1999)


mistaken for a mime –
the vampire bites
his tongue

.. by dagosan (orig. at MagnaPoetsJF, Oct.26, 2007)
Photo by Cynthia Miner (1992)

. . .

No Costume No Treat”
goth kids
at my door

Photo: Mama G. (1955); Poem: David Giacalone

(orig. haiga in b&w, at MagnapoetsJF, Oct. 31, 2007)

halloween —
part of the moon
follows a bicycle home

… by Matt Morden – Morden Haiku

p.s. One last treat: We posted two new photos of Prof. Yabut’s new friend Wendy Savage, Esq., yesterday.

October 16, 2008

Beary wins the Basho Haiku Challenge, challenges some haijin flaws

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 1:49 pm

Don Wentworth of the Lilliput Review and the weblog Issa’s Untidy Hut, has announced today (October 16, 2008) that our lawyer-poet friend Roberta Beary is the winner of the 1st Annual Basho Haiku Challenge, with this poem:

on the church steps
a mourning dove
with mother’s eyes

….. by Roberta Beary (1st Place, Basho Haiku Challenge 2008)

Don was so impressed with the quality of poems submitted for the contest that he has decided to make it an annual event, and will be “publishing a chapbook of the best 24 poems received sometime after the 1st of the year.  19 poets will be featured.”  Congratulations to our much-honored friend and Honored Guest Roberta Beary, and to Don, who honors f/k/a with his frequent visits and friendly comments.

Roberta has often touched us with poems involving “mother.”  For example:

mother’s day
a nurse unties
the restraints

mother’s visit
side by side we outline
our lips

from here
to there
mother’s silence

………………… by Roberta Beary
“mother’s day” – The Heron’s Nest VII:2; Big Sky: RMA 2006The Unworn Necklace (2007)
“mother’s visit” –  from an untitled haibun, Modern Haiku Vol. 37:1 (Spring 2006); “from here” –  The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, 2007)

.. Ms. Beary is also on the minds of many of us in the haijin community this week, because the Revelations: Unedited section of the latest issue of Frogpond (Vol. 31: 3, Fall 2008; see our prior post) has her four-page op/ed piece “Five Musings on Matters Haiku.”  We can’t type up the entire Revelation for you, but will briefly touch upon each musing:

  • The Usual Suspects: Roberta notes “Of all the haiku conferences and meetings I’ve attended, I can’t think of one where he keynoe speaker was a woman,” and offers conference organizers a “gentle push” to invite haiku poets such as Penny Harter, Anita Virgil, Alexis Rotella, Marlene Mountain, and Alexis Rotella to give a keynote address at a major conference.
  • FOP Book Reviews: Roberta takes on rave book reviews written by Friends of the Poet.  She suggests editors should choose reviewers who are not haiku poets (and refuse to accept unsolicited reviews).  She also mentions similar sentiments voiced as a “sand flea” by George Swede in his Tracks in the Sand column for Simply Haiku journal, Spring 2007.

We checked out that column and found George bemoaning, “A long laudatory review that includes not even minor quibbles.” George suggests: “To foster more balanced, objective appraisals, we need critics who are devoted first to high standards of criticism and scholarship and only second, if at all, to careers as poets.”

  • Civility in Haiku USA:  Roberta notes that constructive criticism was enouraged among haijin in America in the 1990’s.  She believes “things have gotten much less civil lately,” with her email box “full of complaints about the mediocrity of haiku published in today’s journal.”  Roberta recommends, instead, the more “thoughtful approach” of using “a closely reasoned critique in a letter to the editor for publication.”  She also reminds editors that “each haiku submitted to editors should stand on its own, regardless of the name that appears below.”

Editor’s Note: The f/k/a Gang agrees with Roberta Beary that we need to think of constructive criticism as an important and encouraged part of our haiku community’s life and spirit.  It’s possible that Haiku Wars over definitional issues got so ugly in the 1990’s that haijin have sworn off confrontation and criticism.  But the result is whiny private email to our friends instead of public “criticism” in the sense of evaluation and analysis of a work of literature.  When someone [e.g., me] does go public with a serious critique, he or she can feel very lonely and out on a limb, with any support coming only in private messages and not in a public comment.

The self-censorship is such that even the courageous Ms. Beary has not named names.  Thus, in pieces here at f/k/a, yours truly has so far not talked about individual poems, poets or editors in my extensive criticism of the spread of “pysku.”  Once, when I publicly criticized an editor here at f/k/a for not living up to a journal’s published standards, I lost a friend.   On another occasion, at a group website, when I gingerly questioned whether a particular poem constituted either haiku or senryu, I was immediately told to lighten up.

If we are adults and consider haiku to be a “real” literary genre, we must accept, honor, encourage criticism.  Because print publications come out infrequently and have such limited space for criticism, I want to recommend that every publication have a website section — or a weblog (they’re free and easy to use) — with a Critics Corner that is moderated only to assure civility.

  • Serial Presenters: Roberta muses over the soporific benefits of having the same people give virtually the same presentation at more than one conference.
  • Book Blurbs by Dr. Who: Finally, Ms. B. chides folk who use the title “Dr.” to add weight to comment used in publicity blurbs for books.  She also notes that far too many books have only blurbs penned by males, even though “women make up a substantial part” of the book-buying public [not to mention, your editor notes, a substantial part of the most-respected and well-known haiku poets].

Please feel free to respond here to any of the points made by Roberta or myself.  For now, I’ll leave on a lighter Beary note:

first date —
the little pile
of anchovies

family picnic
the new wife’s rump
bigger than mine

ceremony over
the bride unveils
her tattoo

……………… by Roberta Beary
“first date” – 1st Place, HSA Gerald Brady Senryu Award 2006; The Unworn Necklace
“family picnic” – Modern Haiku (favorite senryu award, 2003) The Unworn Necklace
“ceremony over” – Simply Haiku (senryu, Winter 2005)

October 11, 2008

a haiku giant dies: William J. “Bill” Higginson

Filed under: haijin-haikai news — David Giacalone @ 10:00 pm

William J. “Bill” Higginson (1938 – 2008)

Bill Higginson, a man who helped bring haiku and linked-form Japanese poetry to the English-language world, and who was an admired friend and mentor to scores of “haijin”, died today. Bill was a Poet, Translator, Author, Workshop Leader, Editor, and Teacher, and a charter member and past president of the Haiku Society of America, but the sum of the person and his work was much more than the parts.  I was not fortunate enough to know Bill personally, but the affection and respect with which he is held by many of my haiku friends tells me how deeply he will be missed.

Holding the water,
held by it __
the dark mud

writing again
the tea water
boiled dry

from the sandy beach
I stumble into
path firefly

… by William J. Higginson
“Holding the water” — Haiku West 3/2; The Haiku Anthology (3rd Ed)
“writing again” – The Haiku Anthology (2nd, 3rd Eds.)
“from the sandy beach” – HIA

As Curtis Dunlap noted at his Tobacco Road weblog this evening, just about every serious haiku poet has a copy of The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku (1985), which Bill wrote with his wife and collaborator, Penny Harter. It was my first introduction to the history and aesthetics of haiku.  Bill’s love of renku and his many contributions to the genre can be seen at his Renku Home website. You will find a brief literary and academic bio, here, and much more at Bill’s 2HWeb “gateway” site.

Those who know Bill well will surely have much more to say about the haiku legend, the friend and teacher.  His loving wife Penny sent a message to Curtis Dunlap today about Bill’s last day and plans for memorial services, which you can find at Tobacco Road.

Any of Bill’s friends, students, or admirers who would like to leave a message or a poem celebrating his life or mourning his death, is welcome to do so in our Comment section. [Because Comments are moderated, there may be a delay before yours is posted.] My most sincere condolences go out to Penny and the rest of Bill’s family, and to all of his friends.

— You can share this post with this Tiny URL: —

clouds encircle
an almost-full moon —
we follow his footsteps

…. by dagosan (in mem., Bill Higginson, October 11, 2008)

. . . . . . .

— sunset over the Mohawk River, Schenectady, NY, October 11, 2008; by dag —

afterwords: See Don Wentworth’s and Greg Schwartz’s tributes to Bill Higginson (Oct. 12, 2008); and tribute poems for Bill H. at The Australian Haiku Society (via Curtis);

October 9, 2008

happy 60th birthday to John Stevenson

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 12:01 am

John Stevenson turns 60 today, October 9, 2008.  You may recall that we made a very big deal over Yu Chang’s 70th birthday back in August.  However, living to sixty isn’t all that impressive in 21st Century America.  It’s not John Stevenson’s age we’re impressed with, but the way he’s lived his six decades and enhanced our lives.  We celebrate sixty years well-lived and anticipate and wish him many more — filled with much accomplishment, joy, and friendship.

John Stevenson made his first appearance at f/k/a in March 2005.  If necessary, you can learn a bit of the record of this much-acclaimed haiku poet and editor at that first post, and here.  Suffice to say, if the haikai community gave out Lifetime Achievement Awards he’d already have one on his shelf.

summit view
my friend
examines his shoes

… by Hilary TannThe Heron’s Nest IV #1

John’s love for the art and craft of haiku (and related literary forms, like renku) has enthused others and created deep bonds of friendship and admiration.   He’s fully present in all he does — as poet, actor, kayaker, parent, friend, movie-goer, dinner companion, and much more (including, over the past couple of years, bocce player).   It’s his being fully there that makes John’s friends want to be at his side.

I’ve already said more than I intended.  The poems in this post were chosen by a few of John’s close haiku friends because they spoke to the poet of John and his spirit.  Click to enlarge the sparkling photographs, which were taken by his inveterate kayaking companion, Yu Chang (who has a lot of pictures of John’s back).  Speaking for many others, Yu says:

John is not only a very good friend,
but also a source of my inspiration.

autumn colors
we paddle closer
to the mountain

another spring
the nameless shoot
still nameless

star gazing
he pulls another chair
on the floating dock

… by Yu Chang

autumn night
in the white beard
60 birthdays

autumn settles
dark frosting
on a white beard

autumn evening
in the white of his beard
another birthday

. . . . by Roberta Beary

staring down
into stamens
of a water lily

one paddle
above the reeds

……. by Hilary Tann, who says:

John —  thinking of our Upstate Dim Sum camaraderie at Tai Pan
or renku at Onawa … Happy Day! Hilary

a kayak
on the roof rack–
long way home

…. by Peggy Willis Lyles

even the mime
sings along –
the glow of sixty candles

cake crumbs
on index cards —
the editor’s chair

.. by dagosan

winding road –
under the influence
of a strawberry moon

…… by David Giacalone – The Heron’s Nest VII: 4

autumn colors-
his train
on time

… by Tom Clausen

Happy 60th Birthday, John!

—  find links to hundreds of his poems here – –

September 21, 2008

summer ’08 exits with class

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu,Schenectady Synecdoche — David Giacalone @ 8:38 am

. . Yesterday’s weather here in Upstate New York was beyond picture perfect — pleasing all of our senses — and beyond my ability to capture adequately in words.  Hoping to savor every moment of the gorgeous day, the f/k/a Gang spent the last Saturday evening of Summer 2008 sitting on a brand new bench on the banks of the Mohawk River here in Schenectady’s Stockade neighborhood.   My haijin friends couldn’t join me in Riverside Park last night, for the summer’s penultimate sunset, but here are a few of their poems of the season, with images I snapped on September 20, 2008 between 7 and 8 P.M. (click on the images to enlarge).

end of summer–
mountain wildflower
pressed in her diary

…………… by Randy Brooks from School’s Out

cut grass
i sweep away
summer’s end
… by Roberta Beary – The Heron’s Nest (Sept. 2005)

summer’s end
riding a borrowed bicycle
past the graveyard

…….…… paul m – finding the way: haiku and field notes (2002)

. .  . .

summer’s end
waves disappear
beneath the pier

…. by paul m.Crinkled Sunshine, HSA Members’ Anthology (2000)

the home team
math’matically eliminated…
autumn equinox

…… by ed markowski

end of summer
the rain arrives
without thunder

end of summer
the warmth
of a borrowed shirt

……………. . by John StevensonUpstate Dim Sum (2003/I)

summer’s last sunset —
baked apple
for dessert

… by dagosan

every mannequin
wearing green flannel…
autumn equinox

…. by ed markowski

. . . .

a wasp nest
out of reach of the hose
autumn begins

. . . by paul m. – The Heron’s Nest (VIII: 3, Sept. 2006)

autumn equinox –
awaking to
summer’s last cricket

… by dagosanNisqually Delta Review

autumn begins–
lying down, looking at
snowy mountains

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

…. by Matt Morden — Morden Haiku (Sept. 19, 2008)

the slow creak
of the porch swing
late summer dusk

at dusk   summer ends  on the pier

… by w.f. owen –(haiku notebook,, 2007)

A year ago today, we had the honor to reproduce and present here at f/k/a the entire contents of the haiku and tanka chapbook “the hands of women” by Pamela Miller Ness. The loving commemoration of the “needlewomen” in Pamela’s life is a lovely reminder of the changes and constants in the cycles and seasons of our lives.  Here are three of the ten poems you will find in the hands of women:

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

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

Finally, Marcel Marceau’s death as autumn arrived last year inspired this poem by dagosan:

autumn equinox
not even the mime
can balance the egg

……………. by dagosan [In mem., Marcel Marceau, Sept. 23, 2007]

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) –


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:


August 8, 2008

it’s back! Jim Kacian’s Haiku Primer

Filed under: haijin-haikai news — David Giacalone @ 8:08 am

First Thoughts – Jim Kacian’s Haiku Primer announcer

What’s 84 pages long, with over 31,000 words, from one of the leading names in the world of English-language haiku? Hint: It’s informative and inspired, and was previewed in monthly installments here at f/k/a from December 2003 through January 2005. That’s right, it’s “First Thoughts — A Haiku Primer,” by Jim Kacian – award-winning haiku poet, editor, educator and publisher, as well as f/k/a‘s very first Honored Guest Poet and emissary to the haijin community.

— And it’s now back at f/k/a and available again for free 24/7! —


August 7, 2008

welcoming Frogpond‘s online sampler

Filed under: haijin-haikai news — David Giacalone @ 4:16 pm

On August 6, 2008, this notice was posted on the What’s New page of the Haiku Society of America website:

HSA launched the online Frogpond journal sampler that will feature some of the best work from each issue of Frogpond. It is located at: 08-06-08

Frankly, we’re thrilled (although Prof. Yabut adds, “It’s about time!”). Jim Kacian, its former editor, has correctly called Frogpond “one of the two most important haiku magazines, along with Modern Haiku, of haiku outside Japan in the world.” Although all three issues are available each year in hard copy as part of HSA’s modest annual membership dues (or separately), having a nice selection of Frogpond‘s content available regularly online is a treat for the haiku-loving public.

Frogpond‘s first online sampler covers the latest issue, Vol. 31.2 (Spring/Summer 2008). There are eight haiku and eight senryu presented from Vol. 31.2, along with two haibun and a rengay, a book review (of Marian Olson’s Desert Hours), and more. The poem chosen as the best unpublished work from the prior issue will also be included online.

Of course, f/k/a will continue to post works by our Honored Guests that appear in Frogpond. On July 1st, we presented 8 haiku from Vol. 31.2, and on July 2, we gave you six senryu, two haibun, and a rengay collaborative poem.

Welcome to the internet, Frogpond! Now, please make our cranky editor happy and try to filter out all those pesky psyku.

July 24, 2008

video of the Chautauqua Baseball Haiku Roundtable

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 11:38 am

. . Baseball Haiku at Chautauqua, June 26, 2008 . .

see the 49-minute Roundtable on video at

Has your game been rained out? Have storms or floods forced you indoors, too? Are you looking for a family- or workplace- safe video to watch at your computer this afternoon? Well, I suggest the 49-minute video of the Base Haiku Roundtable, from the Chautauqua Institution (June 26, 2008), available free online from

I just discovered today (thanks to Ed Markowski), and it is a Prolific Playground for the Pensive Procrastinator. As they say on their About page: delivers discourse, discussions and debates on the world’s most interesting political, social and cultural issues, and enables viewers to join the conversation. It provides deep, unfiltered content, tools for self-expression and a place for the interactive community to gather online.

After you’ve watched the Baseball Haiku video, savor some of the poems again, with this reprise from our June 28th recap of the Roundtable:

summer loneliness . . .
dropping the pop up
i toss to myself

… by Ed Markowski – Baseball Haiku (2007); pop up (tribe press, 2004)

biking to the field
under a cloudless sky
my glove on the handlebars

…. by Cor van den Heuvel – Baseball Haiku (2007) and Play Ball (Red Moon Press 1999)

at the produce stand
a kid with a baseball
plays catch with the awning

…. by Al Pizzarelli – from Baseball Haiku (2007); The Windswept Corner (2005)

rainy night
a hole in the radio
where a ballgame should be

…. by Ed MarkowskiBaseball Haiku (2007); Games (2004)

Cor & Ed at the Roundtable (by Sara Etten)

through the blue sky
the tape-wrapped baseball trails
a black streamer

conference on the mound
the pitcher looks down
at the ball in his hand

..… by Cor van den Heuvel, from Baseball Haiku (2007) and Play Ball (Red Moon Press 1999)

late innings
the shortstop backpedals
into fireflies

summer haze infielderG
i pick off
the invisible man on first

“red hots!”
for an instant i’m ten
father’s still alive

April rain
my grandson practices
his infield chatter

………………………. by ed markowskiBaseball Haiku (2007)

game over
all the empty seats
turn blue


at shortstop
between innings
sparrows dust-bathing

the score keeper
peeks out of the scoreboard
spring rain


.. by Al Pizzarelli – from Baseball Haiku (2007)
“score keeper” – The Windswept Corner (2005)
“at shortstop” – Past Time (1999)

One more reminder to check out Ed Markowski’s free online brochure, “American Sports . . . American Haiku” (June 2008; cover), which has two dozen sports haiku and senryu that were compiled to celebrate the Sport in America week at Chautauqua.

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