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

June 29, 2008

Snapshot Press announces its 2008 Haiku Calendar Competition Winners

Filed under: haijin-haikai news — David Giacalone @ 10:12 pm

John Barlow of Snapshot Press has announced the winners in this year’s Haiku Calendar Competition. Each of the 12 winning poems will be featured in the 2009 Haiku Calendar from Snapshot. In addition, 40 other “runner-up” poems will be included in the calendar, which contains the work of 33 poets from around the world. The Haiku Calendar 2009 can be ordered online or by mail order.

  As usual, several of our Honored Guest poets were selected for this year’s calendar. f/k/a‘s Winners include: John Stevenson (January) and Carolyn Hall (February). Runner-up poems were penned by Roberta Beary, David Giacalone, Carolyn Hall (two more), and Peggy Willis Lyles.

The f/k/a Gangs tip our hats to all the winners, but especially to Ellen Compton, Jack Berry and Chad Lee Robinson, who will each have 4 poems in the 2009 calendar.

You can find three of the Winning poems here.

June 28, 2008

Chautauqua grand slam

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 6:33 pm

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

see the 49-minute Roundtable on video at

plus, the 13-minute Interview with Jim Roselle on WJTN1240 AM —

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)

More than 150 fans of baseball and haiku gathered at the Chautauqua Institution’s Hall of Philosophy, on Thursday afternoon, June 26, for a Roundtable on Baseball Haiku, as part of CI’s “Sport in America” week. Sponsored by Chautauqa’s Literary and Scientific Circle, the lecture was presented by Cor van den Heuvel, co-editor of Baseball Haiku (W.W. Norton Press, 2007), along with two major contributors to that volume, Al Pizzarelli and Ed Markowski. f/k/a‘s editor was lucky enough to be present for the event.

Cor started the presentation with a discussion of the relationship that both haiku and baseball have with nature and the present moment. That theme was also stressed by Al Pizzarelli in a front page article published that morning in The Daily Chautauquan.

baseballdiamond Cor, Ed and Al also had an entertaining live interview on Thursday morning, by the popular host Joe Roselle, for his daily radio talk show on WJTN News Talk 1240 (Jamestown, NY)

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

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

After Cor’s introductory remarks for the Roundtable, Ed, Al and Cor read their haiku, and helped prove again that “Haiku and baseball were made for each other.”

Here are more of the baseball haiku and senryu presented by Cor, Ed, and Al at the CI Roundtable.

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 new free brochure, “American Sports . . . American Haiku” (June 2008; cover), which has two dozen sports haiku and senryu that were compiled to celebrate this week at Chautauqua.

Below the fold, you will also find several photographs from our two-day stay at the Chautauqua Institution. [See more photos here by Ed’s niece Sara Etten] Meeting Ed and Laurice Markowski and dining-schmoozing with them and Cor, and Al and Donna, made the long drive from Schenectady to Chautauqua, NY, much more than worthwhile. Many thanks to Cor van den Heuvel for brining Baseball Haiku to fruition and making our Chautauqua experience possible.


June 25, 2008

off to Chautauqua

Filed under: haijin-haikai news — David Giacalone @ 5:00 am

The f/k/a Gang is heading off to the Chautauqua Institution this morning — with all of my alter egos squeezing into our little Mazda for a 330-mile drive from Schenectady to the southwestern corner of New York State. As reported here on June 11th, the theme at Chautauqua this week is “Sport in America.”

dispute at second base
the catcher lets some dirt
run through his fingers

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

… by Cor van den Heuvel, from Baseball Haiku

Along with big-wig executives of sports leagues and tv networks, they’ve invited Cor van den Heuvel to present a Roundtable, on June 26th, spotlighting the Baseball Haiku book (W.W. Norton 2007), which he co-edited. Ed Markowski and Al Pizzarelli will join Cor on stage, presenting their haiku and senryu from the book. Ed has promised to include a few new poems. HaikuEsq will be in the audience and dagosan might add his two cents. Prof. Yabut hopes to be sharing an ice cream soda with a cheerleader by then and might miss the Roundtable.

law firm picnic
the ump consults
his Blackberry

…… by David Giacalone – Baseball Haiku (2007)

Don’t forget to check out Ed Markowski‘s new free brochure, “American Sports . . . American Haiku” (June 2008; cover), which has two dozen sports haiku and senryu that were compiled to celebrate this week at Chautauqua.

half moon
a long flyball crosses
the dark side

… by Ed Markowski

This trip will be my first significant opportunity to adhere to the f/k/a pledge to observe the speed limit on all highways. Thank goodness for Cruise Control and audio books. [update (July 4, 2008): As I noted in the post “speed limit politics:” With the help of the Cruise Control lever, I kept my promise to abide by the 65-mpg speed limit on the New York State Thruway last week, while traveling over 700 miles to and from the Chautauqua Institution. Yes, I was passed a lot. More important, I achieved my best fuel efficiency ever. In fact, for a 200-mile all-Thruway segment of the return trip, my 2000 Mazda Protege, which was rated by the government at 30 mpg for highway travel, averaged over 35 miles per gallon.

p.s. If you leave a Comment that needs to be “moderated,” I apologize in advance for any delays in getting it approved and posted while we’re away.

update (June 29, 2008): Read about the event in “Chautauqua grand slam” (June 29, 2008) .

June 11, 2008

American Sports Haiku from Ed Markowski

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 4:31 pm

American Sports . . . American Haiku

– two dozen haiku & senryu by Ed Markowski

Fourth of July
a refugee stands
in center field

The f/k/a Gang has a special treat today for haiku lovers who happen to be sports fans, and perhaps for sports fans who don’t know yet how much they will come to appreciate haiku. We’re unveiling a new (free) haiku collection by our Honored Guest Poet and friend Ed Markowski, titled “American Sports . . . American Haiku” (June 2008; cover). The two dozen sports haiku and senryu were compiled (and many specifically written) to celebrate the Chautauqua Institution’s “Sport in America” Week (June 21 – 28, 2008), and its June 26th Roundtable featuring last year’s much-praised book Baseball Haiku (Cor van den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura, eds., W.W. Norton, 2007).

You can click this link [or use this URL:] to see the 3- page web version of “American Sports . . . American Haiku.” At Chautauqua’s Sport in America Week, Ed will be handing out a tri-fold (two-sided) brochure version. Click tri-fold version to see the pre-folded brochure, or print one for yourself.

Ed contributed over twenty of the 200 “best haiku ever written about the sport” in Baseball Haiku. But, Ed plays — or once played — and fanatically watches quite a few other sports (especially Detroit’s pro teams), and often treats them with his poetic touch. We hope the American Sports haiku collection will demonstrate once and for all that Ed Markowski is not just a one-sport poet. Of course, frequent readers of this weblog (or the top haiku journals and anthologies) did not need convincing. [You can access hundreds of Ed’s haiku and senryu from his f/k/a Archive Page. He even inspired dagosan today.]

late summer
beyond the scarecrow
tackling dummies

city moon 
my basketball flattened
by a shard of glass

– Ed in NYC for a Baseball Haiku party (May 2007) –

autumn gale
tacklers left in the wake
of the halfback

deep winter
a young boy stickhandles
into a snow squall

cross-town rivals
the point guards compare

Ed is always quite pleased when his poetry gets some attention and accolades (as it did last week at “Basho’s Road“) — but he downplays the praise. This week, however, Ed has other priorities, and there was real excitement in his voice on the phone yesterday. You see, Papa Ed has been joyously awaiting the birth of his second grandchild, and Nicholas arrived yesterday morning, June 10, 2008, at 8:39 A.M., weighing in at almost 8 pounds, and stretching out to 25 inches. Congratulations to mother and father (Becky and Dan), and to the doting maternal grandparents, Laurice and Ed. (As soon as I have a photo of Ed and Nicholas, I’ll add it to this post.)

April rain
my grandson practices
his infield chatter

…… by Ed Markowski – American Sports . . . American Haiku (June 2008); Haiku Harvest (Spring 2006)

– Ed and Matthew, Grandson #1, April 2008 [larger]

update (June 12, 2008): Baby Nicholas on Day 2:

. . . this will have to do, until he gets a Tigers’ cap (larger)

Grampa’s Pride: Matthew & Nicholas in Becky’s Arms:



June 5, 2008

ed markowski strolls basho’s road

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 11:32 am

Author-poet Norbert Blei discovered f/k/a‘s Honored Guest and Friend Ed Markowski at in 2006, and has admired and sought out Ed’s work ever since. Yesterday, Blei helped to bring Ed Markowski to a broader group of poetry lovers — beyond regular readers of haiku — with an extended posting at his Basho’s Road website (which Blei created to focus on “the small poem and the quiet voice within”). Please see and enjoy Ed Markowski at Basho’s Road (June 4, 2008). [For more on the spirit of Japan’s master haikuist Basho, check out his classic book, and this commentary.]

Blei says this was probably the first of Ed’s poems he ever read:

dad’s grave . . .
all the flowers
he wouldn’t let mother plant

… by ed markowski – from Haiku Harvest (Fall/Winter 2005)

His reaction: “And, that’s it. Right there. He ‘nailed it‘ , so to speak. That what we’re after. That’s what Basho’s Road is all about.”

After seeing more Markowski, Blei concluded:

“He’s got it, I said to myself. The Scene. The eye to see inside. To simply lay the words on the line and let you see/feel for yourself.

In my humble estimation, my own small world of small poetry, he’s on his way to haiku master — if not already there.

. . . Basho’s Road in mind, he seemed a perfect stranger/poet to meet along the way and share with others.”

In addition to showcasing a few of Ed’s poems (you can find several hundred more here at f/k/a, by starting at his archive page), Blei let’s Ed speak. And his words are as pithy and sharp as his poetry. For instance:

. . . i don’t look for haiku moments, i think it’s more a matter of learning the craft, and placing things within that framework . . .

 . . . “i think the ‘haiku moment’ is basically a mirage perpetrated by people who like to think they see the world in some special sort of way, or that they’re tuned into some higher frequency.”

I especially enjoyed seeing online Ed’s insistence that this poem “is about raking leaves & nothing else” — despite an admiring critic who read much more into it:

fog . . .
i’ve got to begin

– from Roadrunner Haiku Journal (Feb. 2006)

When we first posted Ed’s above poem about “dad’s grave” at f/k/a, I said:

While the rest of us sleep, eat, and work, Ed Markowski does all of those, gets in a lot of gardening and ESPN, and “finds” more haiku and senryu than a dozen other haijin combined.

I continue to be amazed by the ability of Ed-da-Prolific to “find” so many quality haiku so quickly (despite his recent decision to cut back, after judging a book contest for HSA last year “burned me out completely”). He’s especially impressive on frantic, short-deadline requests from me, when I want a few poems to go with a topic here at this weblog. Although he pooh-poohed to me Blei’s notion of Ed “being on his way to haiku master,” I reminded him that “master” has so many meanings, one is sure to stick.

If “haiku master” means achieving a high degree of skill and being worthy of teaching others (directly or by example), I am going to embarrass my friend Ed Markowski by agreeing with Norbert Blei, that “he’s on his way to haiku master — if not already there.” [Of course, as I’ve mentioned before to Ed (as to other haijin friends), I hope he’ll stay away from too much fooling around with spacing and line dispersion, and from those darn tell-ems — and stick to the simple, insightful presentation and juxtaposition of sensory images, which he does so well.]

Many thanks to Norbert Blei for sharing Ed Markowski with a broad audience of poetry lovers, at his lovely website, Basho’s Road.

June 3, 2008

good haiku by kids

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 4:56 pm

Yesterday, we talked about an infant who fell unnoticed out of his baby stroller (and under a bus). Today, I want to spotlight children who have apparently never been dropped on their heads, and who — more importantly — have been nurturing their inner poetic muses. These kids have been writing some pretty darn good haiku.

The Haiku Society of America has just announced the 2008 Winners of the Nicholas A. Virgilio Memorial Haiku Competition. The Virgilio Competition was founded in 1990 and is for students in Grades 7-12. It is sponsored and administered by the Nick Virgilio Haiku Association in memory of Nicholas A. Virgilio, a charter member of the Haiku Society of America, who died in 1989. [See the Nick Virgilio Poetry Project Website for more about Nick.] HSA cosponsors the contest, provides judges, and publishes the contest results in its journal, Frogpond, and at the HSA Website.

Tony Pupello and f/k/a Honored Guest Pamela Miller Ness were the judges for the 2008 Nicholas A. Virgilio Haiku Contest — which attracted 85 entries. Click to see their Judges Commentary, which notes:

“We would like to express our appreciation to all the young poets who submitted to this year’s contest and to the teachers who instructed them in the craft and special characteristics of haiku. It was a privilege to be invited to enter their haiku moments and a pleasure to share their imagery and language. . . . Many of the entries were sophisticated in their use of imagery and juxtaposition, and were very proficiently crafted. As with very fine haiku and senryu, many were layered and functioned on multiple levels. . . .”

In the Virgilio Winners Circle you will once again find students of poet-teacher Tom Painting — one of our very first Honored Guest Poets (since May 27, 2004). Indeed, five of the six winning poems were written by students at the School for the Arts, in Rochester, NY. (my birthplace), where Tom teaches Creative Writing. Three 12th graders from the School of the Arts had winning haiku: Asha Bishi (with two poems), Alexa Navarez and Desire Collier. In addition, 7th grader Gracie Elliot had a winner. Somehow, one non-Rochesterian — Lauren Fresch, grade 12, Sandusky, OH — had a winner, too. [Since 2003, the Virgilio Contest winners have been unranked; don’t get me started.]

f/k/a does not publish poems without the author’s permission, so we urge you to click here for the 2008 Virgilio Contest Winners to see what the fuss is all about. Of course, if any of the winners leaves a comment or sends an email granting permission, we’d be most pleased to add them right here.

We also want to remind you about the website Two Dragonflies, which features haiku and music for children, and is presented by award-winning children’s song-writer and haiku poet, Johnette Downing. The site has information about haiku, including an Educator’s Packet, and lots of links.

On its Haiku by Children page, Two Dragonflies has four poems by another young Rochesterian, who is still too young to enter the Virgilio Contest — Sarah Painting, who we’ve told you about here and there, and who is a 4th-grader and the daughter of Tom Painting. Two of those poems can be found in our “introduction to Sarah Painting” (Sept. 16, 2007). Here are the other two from Two Dragonflies:

watching a bee
skim the flowers-
summer’s end

November 11th
cemetery flags
Old and tattered

……………… by Sarah Painting – Two Dragonflies

You will find more poems by kids at Two Dragonflies — along with inspiration and instruction to help nurture more young haijin. Also, every day, you can click on the HSA Virgilio Contest Collection page to see the annual winners since 1990. I’m inspired by all the young haiku talent I’ve seen demonstrated today. After a nap, I hope to write a celebratory haiku, too, with beginner’s mind.

May 28, 2008

baseball haiku recap and update

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 5:52 pm

It’s the second season for last year’s MVPoetry volume Baseball Haiku (Cor van den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura, eds., W.W. Norton Press, 2007). The book contains over 200 of the best haiku written about baseball, by 44 poets (both American and Japanese). In a starred review at its release, Library Journal said:

“Not one of those parody collections, this is a gathering of elegantly observed moments capturing the interplay between baseball and the other seasons . . . This collection will inspire some ball fans to be poets and some poets to be ballplayers.”

That reviewer was correct. This past year, I’ve often used the book as a gift for relatives and friends who love baseball, but were not yet haiku fans. They have been consistently pleased. Learn more about the book, and read or hear some of the poems, but checking out the segment of National Public Radio’s All Thing’s Considered titled “Spring Signals the Return of Baseball (Haiku)” (Debbie Elliott, March 31, 2007; Listen).

infielderG If you’d like to see or re-read more samples, f/k/a has frequently shared poems from Baseball Haiku written by our Honored Guest poets — e.g., here, there, and here. And see our post “npr spotlights Baseball Haiku” (March 31, 207)

What I wanted to tell you today is that Baseball Haiku has continued to get favorable attention this season. In addition to a review last Sunday in Poet’s Corner (Washington Post Book Review section, May 25, 2008), Sheila Lennon — “features & interactive producer of, the Web site of The Providence (R.I.) Journal” — featured the book this morning, in a Subterranean Homepage News weblog posting titled “Try your hand at baseball haiku” (May 28, 2008).

update (June 5, 2008): I discovered another favorable article on Baseball Haiku. It is the Japan Times review by David Burleigh, “Who says there’s no poetry in a game?” (May 11, 2008).

BaseballHaikuCover Meanwhile, haiku poet Curtis Dunlap reminded us over the weekend, at his Tobacco Road weblog, that Baseball Haiku will be featured at the Chautauqua Institution, on June 26, 2008, at 3:30 P.M. At the Chautauqua Roundtable, editor-poet Cor van den Heuvel, will be joined by two of the largest contributors to Baseball Haiku — “our” Ed Markowski, and Al Pizzarelli. After Cor discusses haiku, and baseball, all three will read their baseball haiku and senryu, and then answer questions.

We told you about the Chautauqua Roundtable event last November. But, it’s now only four weeks away, and the f/k/a Gang — which plans to be there, in the lovely Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York, on June 26 — would love to see a few of our readers and friends attend. The Chautauqua theme that week is Sport in America. Click that link to see the full schedule for week #1 of the Chautauqua season. Here’s how the week is described at the CI website:

• Week 1 June 21-28 – Sport in America

Roger Goodell, long-time Chautauquan and commissioner of the National Football League, will be among the featured lecturers in Week One. Sport looms large in the American culture, whether from an economic perspective or through the lens of its impact on our lifestyles and customs. Fun, competitive, entertaining? Yes. But big business too. Some estimates tag the sports business industry in the U.S. at over $300 billion annually. From youth and amateur athletics to college sports to the pros, we will examine the economics and the impact of sports on our cities, our youth, education, and culture. We will look at Title 9, the influence of television and escalating salaries, and the future of Olympic sports. And we will explore whether the interest of the general fan has been eclipsed by big money.

update (June 29, 2008): Read about the event in “Chautauqua grand slam” (June 28, 2008) .

BaseballHaikuCover Here are a few of the poems from Baseball Haiku that we posted last March, in a post about multitasking and distractions:

bases loaded
the rookie pitcher
blows a bubble

late innings infielderG
the shortstop backpedals
into fireflies

…………………………by ed markowski from Baseball Haiku (2007) “bases loaded” – orig. pub. Haiku Sun #10 (2004)

geese flying north
the pitcher stops his windup
to watch

hot day baseballDiamond
listening to the ball game
while washing the car

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

Speaking of distractions and non sequiturs: Tomorrow, May 29, 2008, marks the 5th Anniversary of our very first substantive posting at this website.

Back then, there was no haiku at f/k/a, which was originally known as ethicalEsq — see our URL for proof. That post dealt with the nation’s inadequate system of lawyer discipline (“D for Discipline“). The next few had to do with excessive lawyer fees. We’ve spread our topical wings since then.

Since wood is the traditional gift for one’s 5th Anniversary, please feel free to leave us haiku or senryu that include that subject (no woody jokes, please, this is usually a family website).

last day of school . . .
the crack of a bat
through an open window

…………by Randy Brooks – Baseball Haiku (2007)

tied in the ninth
pitcher and batter
cross themselves

…………. by dagosan

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:


April 22, 2008

PSA honors haiku — Roberta Beary’s The Unworn Necklace

Filed under: haijin-haikai news — David Giacalone @ 10:44 am

The Poetry Society of America finally gave haiku a little respect last night, April 21, 2008. At its 98TH ANNUAL AWARDS CEREMONY, in The Grand Ballroom of The National Arts Club, in New York City, PSA officially announced the winners of its twelve annual awards.

We’re very pleased to tell you that one of the two Finalists for the William Carlos Williams Award — which was given to “Complete Minimal Poems” by Aram Saroyan — was The Unworn Necklace: Haiku and Senryu (Snapshot Press 2007) by “our” lawyer-poet friend Roberta Beary.

Renowned poet and poetry commentator Ron Silliman was the judge for this year’s William Carlos Williams Award [which is for a book of poetry by a single author, published by a small press, non-profit, or university press]. At his Silliman blog this morning, Ron explains why he chose The Unworn Necklace and the very different “Sorry, Tree” by Eileen Myles as finalists — “the term that the Poetry Society of America prefers for those books that also deserve some special attention.”

He had this to say about the relationship of haiku to the rest of the world of literary poetry:

“If slam poets & visual poets go around thinking that nobody takes their genres seriously as literature, haiku poetry has been off the map altogether – a genuinely popular literary art form that receives no attention whatsoever from what Charles Bernstein would call Official Verse Culture unless it is for a new translation of one of the classics, or work by a poet, such as Anselm Hollo, already widely known and respected for writing in other forms. The whole idea of all these contests – not unlike slam competitions – is to create its own alternative institutional universe.”

Silliman later notes: “This is a book I never would have picked up – probably never would have seen, although it’s already gone into a second printing – that made me completely grateful to the Poetry Society of America and the Williams Carlos Williams Award for putting it into my hands.” I’m grateful that Ron Silliman had the courage to bring haiku into the spotlight of this “alternative institutional universe” — an important first step that should mean a little more respectability and appreciation for the genre as it has evolved in the English-language haiku world.

Silliman then goes on with great insight describing Roberta’s The Unworn Necklace. I hope you’ll read his entire posting to see why he felt TUN was a book worthy of special attention. After noting that her

the roses shift
into shadow

“might tell you a lot about a poet like Beary” [e.g., she likes subtle formalities and specificity of detail] but, Silliman says:

sunglassesG “By itself, tho, it’s hardly distinct from any of the hundreds of well-written works in these books, not just my final 19 volumes or even the broader group of books I liked. The reality, tho, is that it’s atypical of The Unworn Necklace, which is really a 70-poem not-quite-narrative cycle that has the weight and emotional force of a novel. A sprawling & powerful novel. A novel specifically about a woman’s midlife relationships as her marriage goes south, her father dies, her daughter takes flight, a new relationship is tested.”

Silliman then gives a couple examples of more typical TUN poems:

his death notice . . .
the get-well card
still in my briefcase


mother’s day
a nurse unties
the restraints

and declares: “These poems are compact, but remarkably well placed in the construction of a larger whole. . . . [T]he aesthetic here of absolutely minimal strokes accumulating to create a far more powerful picture is really overwhelming.”

beary If Silliman and PSA have whet your Beary appetite, check out our f/k/a review of The Unworn Necklace, which includes and has links to many of the poems in TUN. And, find many more of Roberta’s poems by clicking the links on her f/k/a Archives Page.

Here’s his final tribute to the two William Carlos Williams Award Finalists:

“Absent Aram Saroyan’s Complete Minimal Poems, I knew I would have given the WCW Award to one of these two books. . . . The only thing these books share in common is their power, and it’s interesting to imagine what kind of statement either would have made had it been the volume selected. This is what I just hate about contests. Each of these volumes is a total winner.”

Bravo to Roberta Beary and congratulations to the haiku genre, which can perhaps now start to overcome its little poetic self-esteem problem.

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

p.s. Snapshot Press has been in the process of “comprehensively redesigning and updating” its website for several years. It’s homepage now promises that “The new site will be launched in May 2008.” I hope so. And, I hope the new site will do a much better job than the old one of spotlighting each of its publications — especially the individual collections by haiku poets such as Roberta Beary, Carolyn Hall and Paul Miller.

update (April 23, 2008): John Barlow, editor of Snapshot Press, deserves a lot of credit for the overall feel of The Unworn Necklace. He has written a lengthy piece about Roberta’s Finalist status, and you can read it at the North Carolina Haiku Society Blog. John concludes:

necklaceG “We feel this landmark achievement for the ‘haiku community’ underlines a belief that haiku has a considerable potential audience beyond this community, and that English-language haiku of the highest quality can break down barriers that both exist, and are perceived to exist, between ‘mainstream’ poetry and haiku. This will ultimately be to the benefit of all in the haiku community – haiku needs readers – but it will only be possible if we are collectively and individually supportive of such opportunities as they arise.”

afterthoughts (April 23, 2008): The PSA recognition for The Unworn Necklace is a wonderful development. I am a little worried, however, that the haiku community might conclude the way to be recognized by “mainstream poetry” critics and readers is to produce another “narrative cycle that has the weight and emotional force of a novel” — rather than collections of excellent haiku by an individual poet. The result, I fear, would be (in the hands of less talented poets or editors) — as Ed Markowski suggested to me yesterday — tediously long “haiku sequences” or a one-haijin “anthology” covering a particular theme. A collection of haiku and senryu can surely be much more than the sum of each poem, but I fear we are devaluing the individual poem and distorting the genre if we ask a collection to have a novel-like over-arching impact and theme in order to be serious literary poetry. What do you think?

prof yabut afterwords (April 24, 2008): My cranky alter ego Prof. Yabut wanted me to clarify why I think recognition by PSA is good for haiku. It is not because I think haiku needs validation by “mainstream” or even “cutting edge” poets or poetry’s High Priests to be a worthy literary genre. My own enjoyment and appreciation of haiku — as a reader and a writer of genuine haiku — is in no way dependent upon the attitude toward haiku of what Ron Silliman and Charles Bernstein call the “Official Verse Culture.” (In some ways, their ignoring the genre makes me feel even better about being part of the humble little haiku community.) For me, PSA recognition of Roberta Beary’s wonderful book of haiku and senryu is to be celebrated because it makes it much more likely that many poetry lovers who have previously shunned or ignored the genre (or confused it with the parody-ku that is all too abundant on the web and in the media) will be exposed to it and will be able to discover for themselves its joys and unique gifts. Some will love it. Some will hate it. Some will be indifferent and never pick up another haiku volume. But, they will at least have given haiku a chance, by seeing what a modern English-language master of the form can do with 17 syllables or less.

update (April 28, 2008): A week after the award announcement, I’ve heard from several sources (e.g., here) that The Unworn Necklace has seen a nice jump in sales at, as have other “serious” haiku books. At 3 PM today, the TUN page at says:

Popular in these categories: (What’s this?)

#1 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > Japanese & Haiku

This is, of course, one of the hoped-for results of recognition by the PSA. As we had also hoped with the publication a year ago of “Baseball Haiku,” more exposure and sales of genuine haiku (as contrasted with Cowboy-ku and Cat-ku, etc.) will make it possible for more good haiku to be seen and published.

April 10, 2008

off the wire: some haiku winners

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 5:29 pm

The past couple of weeks, while waiting to get over the flu, I’ve been catching up on the first four seasons of the HBO show The Wire. I can understand why some have called it the best show on television, with “scope, observational precision and moral vision of great literature.” I hope the dvd set of the 5th and final season, which ended on January 6, 2008, is available soon and added to the Schenectady Public Library’s collection, so this cable-less soul can see how it all ended.

As you may know, the show takes place in Baltimore, MD, a City that I only tend to think about while driving down I-95 to D.C. (when required to either bypass or traverse its tunnel). However, much of the political maneuvering in The Wire involved the Baltimore mayor, so I couldn’t help but think of my old law school classmate Kurt Schmoke, who spent quite a few years as Baltimore’s mayor, and made ripples by arguing for drug legalization.

Kurt popped up in one episode during Season 3 (shadowing his current academic role as dean of Howard Law School), which raised drug immunity-legalization issues. (a prior f/k/a post featured Schmoke’s thoughts on law school rankings).

after hours gym –
a heavy bag sways slowly
in the window

Barry George Haiku Harvest (Jan-Feb 2003)

No, I don’t know where I’m going with this musing — chalk it up to my flu-addled brain. So let me just transition to the real purpose of this post, which is to tell you about the winners of the 2008 Anita Sadler Weiss Memorial Haiku Awards, which were announced last week (and see the NCHS Blog), and the poems honored in the Mainichi News Annual Selection 2007 as the best haiku from that publication in 2007.

The Weiss Awards are sponsored annually by the Haiku Poets of Central Maryland, which serves haikuists in the greater Baltimore Metro Area [hey, there was a tenuous connection to The Wire]. Anita Sadler Weiss was a much-respected and loved Baltimore-based haiku poet, enthusiast, and teacher. This year’s First Place prize went to a poem by Tony A. Thompson, of Lufkin, Texas. As you know, we don’t reprint poems here without permission from the author, so I can’t share Tony’s “mountain stillness” haiku with you — but, I’ll provide a link as soon as one is available.

Among the other winners, however, are three of our f/k/a Honored Guest Poets, allowing us to share them with you. Of course, the honorees are among the usual suspects:

Second Place:

winter dusk—
when dad
would phone

…………….. by Roberta Beary, Washington, DC

Third Honorable Mention:

at Gettysburg…

………………. by Barry George, Philadelphia, PA

Fifth Honorable Mention:

scenic vista
looking out
for ticks

…….. by Paul Miller, Bristol, RI

I‘m sorry to say that one of the Weiss “winners” has garnered a spot on our hold the anchovies page of notable “tell-em” psyku. It’s a fine example of half a haiku attached to a (not particularly interesting or creative) intellectual conclusion.

The Annual Selection 2007 from Mainichi editor Isamu Hashimoto: Every month, you’ll find a dozen or so new poems on the English haiku page of Mainichi Daily News. This year’s First Prize went to a poem by Hubertus Thum, of Barsinghausen, Germany, who had ten poems chosen for Mainichi publication in 2007. The “best of” selections by Editor Hashimoto also include the following poems by our f/k/a Poet Family:

2nd Prize, co-wiiner:

distant shoreline —
silence catches up
with the train

—- Laryalee Fraser (Salmon Arm, BC, Canada)

Honorable Mention . . .

I start to judge
the haiku contest entries …
falling leaves

… by George Swede

grey Atlantic
a pelican crosses
the rainbow

… by Peggy Willis Lyles

Congratulations to all the winners!

March 15, 2008

idles of march

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,q.s. quickies — David Giacalone @ 9:13 am

The f/k/a Gang would prefer to be idle today, Saturday March 15, 2008. However, we’ve noticed that the term “Ides of March” is still being used in the media as “a metaphor for impending doom.” We can, of course, blame William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar for popularizing this slur of an otherwise perfectly fine day. Sure, the much-idolized emperor was attacked and stabbed on the Ides of March by a group of Roman Senators (including his good friend Brutus, who called themselves the Liberators and feared Caesar might become a tyrant). But that’s not a very good reason to dread the day 2052 years later.

To help demystify and word “ides,” we’ve been using it regularly around this weblog in accord with its mundane meaning from the Roman calendar — the middle of the month: the 15th of March or May or July or October or the 13th of any other month.

Since we are the home of “one-breath poetry” [haiku and senryu short enough to be said with one breath] and are trying to conserve our breath on this lazy weekend morning, we’d like to again suggest a better way to commemorate Caesar’s death: Forget the doom and dread; stay calm, and “take a deep breath” that unites you with Caesar and every other human who ever exhaled and inhaled on this planet [including Echkart Tolle and his webcast buddy Oprah].

As Robert Krulwich reminded us on NPR in 2006, chemistry teachers have long used Caesar’s last breath — consisting perhaps of “10 to the 23rd” power of molecules — as a teaching tool:

“Over the years, a number of scholars have tried to figure out what typically would happen to all those molecules. They figured some were absorbed by plants, some by animals, some by water — and a large portion would float free and spread themselves all around the globe in a pattern so predictable that (this is the fun part) if you take a deep breath right now, at least one of the molecules entering your lungs literally came from Caesar’s last breath.”

Yes, a lot of fairly unsavory folks also contributed to that lungful of molecules, but who’s counting? Not us, it’s just another mid-month Saturday — and we’re glad to still be breathing.

on my sleeve
catching his breath…
worn-out firefly

off to one side
they’re breath-taking…
blossom viewing

in scattering blossoms
holding their breath…
sea gulls

leaving the town
breathing easier…

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

Ides of March? ooh
she yawns and hands me
the butter knife

………. by dagosan

the cattails
lose their heads
march wind

…. by Tom Painting from the haiku chapbook piano practice

February 16, 2008

magnapoets journal: congratulations A to Z

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 11:23 am

The premiere print edition of the Magnapoets Journal (January 2008) arrived yesterday, courtesy of its Editor-in-Chief and publisher (our friend) Aurora Antonovic, who is “a Canadian writer, editor and visual artist” acclaimed for her work in many poetic and literary forms. Along with Nick Zegarac, who is also a writer/editor, graphics artist and weblogger, Aurora launched the online MagnaPoets cluster of weblogs in early 2007, “covering every literary category” and presenting “some of the best modern poets.” With this print edition of Magnapoets, Antonovic and Zegarac continue their mission of “taking over the world one poem at a time,” and deserve thanks and congratulations for their efforts.

The first print issue of MagnaPoets has a gorgeous, glossy cover photograph of Mont Blanc by Milorad Pavic. The semiannual journal is magazine-sized, (8.5″ x 11″), with over 30 pages, and features “all forms of poetry, short stories, interviews, and essays.” Its $5 price per issue in Canada and U.S.A. — that’s $10 for a one-year subscription, and not the memorable typo [$120] shown on the last page (which I enjoyed too much not to mention here) — seems like a very good deal for readers interested in quality modern poetry and other short literary forms.  Word from MP Central is that Volume One has been selling out rapidly in college bookstores and other locations throughout North America.  You can find subscription information here.

In this issue, you’ll find “poetry from Joseph Armstead, an’ya, Kirsty Karkow, Peggy Willis Lyles, Margarita Engle, Taylor Graham, Gilda Kreuter, and more. Featuring an interview with former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky.”

The 15 haiku and senryu included in the premiere issue (edited by Matt Morden), include this pair by f/k/a‘s Peggy Lyles:

cemetery road
the pines almost ready
to harvest again

bath water
resurrects the daisises__
solstice moon

………………………… by Peggy Willis Lyles, MagnaPoets Journal (Vol. I:1, Jan. 2008)

February 11, 2008

THN announces 2007 Readers’ Choice Awards

Filed under: haijin-haikai news,Haiku or Senryu — David Giacalone @ 11:13 am

The Heron’s Nest Readers’ Choice Awards for 2007 were announced last night (illustration by Doris Thurston). Congratulations to skipping stones editor Chad Lee Robinson, who was the Grand Prize winner in both categories — Poem of the Year and Poet of the Year. (This will perhaps be a year for handing the torch to a new generation in both poetics and politics: Chad was born in Pierre, SD, in 1980.) This is the favorite poem from Volume IX of The Heron’s Nest:

buffalo bones
wind less than a whisper
in the summer grass

……………………….. by Chad Lee Robinson,
The Heron’s Nest, Reader’s Choice Poem of the Year 2007

This year, eighty-eight “readers” took the time to muse over and evaluate the 485 poems that (after review by “five critical editors”) appeared in The Heron’s Nest in 2007. As often happens (see our “such naches” posting this time last year), members of our f/k/a Honored Guest Poet family were prominently represented among the winning Readers’ Choice poems and poets. To wit:

Favorite Poems

First Runner-up:

circle of lamplight —
I complete the baby quilt
begun for me

…………………. Carolyn Hall

Second Runner-up:

between windows
the space the spider
lived and died
………………… Tom Clausen

Poet of the Year:

First Runner-up

……………. John Stevenson

Second Runner-up

……………… Carolyn Hall

Third Runner-up

……………….. Yu Chang

The Heron’s Nest Vol. IX (due April 2008) [cover detail, Jamie Edgecombe]
As The Heron’s Nest‘s founding editor Christopher Herold reminds us:

Full coverage of the awards, including an overview, editorial commentary,
thirty additional poems that merit inclusion in the “special mention”
section, and comments by several voters will all be presented along with
the four quarterly issues in their entirety in the paper edition of
Volume IX, due to come out early in April.

The cost to purchase a copy of Volume IX is $16 in the United States,
u.s.$18 in Canada or Mexico, and u.s.$20 elsewhere. Please make checks
or money orders payable in U.S. funds to The Heron’s Nest or
Christopher Herold and send to:

The Heron’s Nest
Christopher Herold, Ed.
816 Taft Street
Port Townsend, WA 98368

Click here to see the winning illustrations that will be included in the paper edition of THN IX.

No poet can have more than 8 poems accepted for publication in THN in any year. Only John Stevenson (who is has now taken over as Managing Editor at THN and will no longer by gracing its pages with his poetry) and Yu Chang had 8 poems in THN Volume IX. Carolyn Hall had six. You’ve already seen them here at f/k/a, but here is a reprise of a pair of haiku from each of our aptly-named Honored Guests:

Mother’s Day
filling the bare spots
with nasturtiums

scudding clouds —
the creak of wagon wheels
through Grandfather’s journal

…………………………………………………….. by Carolyn Hall
“deep autumn” – The Heron’s Nest, Vol. IX:2 (June 2007:)
“scudding clouds —” – The Heron’s Nest Vol. IX: 3 (September 2007).

lucky bamboo
a single leaf
tipped with sun

longer days
a nameless bug
on my bicycle

………………. by Yu ChangThe Heron’s Nest, Vol. IX:2 (June 2007)

spring morning —
the hand of a student who
may know the answer

the rooster’s
first five syllables . . .
all he’s got

.… by John StevensonThe Heron’s Nest, Vol. IX:2 (June 2007)

February 4, 2008

check out the American Haiku Archives website

Filed under: haijin-haikai news — David Giacalone @ 11:02 am

The American Haiku Archives launched its website on February 1, 1008. At the site, I learned that

“The American Haiku Archives is the world’s largest public collection of haiku and related poetry books and papers outside Japan. This repository is housed at the California State Library in Sacramento, California, and is dedicated to preserving the history of North American haiku.”

Garry Gay and Randy Brooks are co-chairs of the AHA advisory board. Brooks designed the site, and Michael Dylan Welch is the webmaster. Click to learn how to do online research at AHA. The Archives is seeking donors to help support its mission, which includes “promotion of haiku and related poetry as a vital component of literature in the English language.

Go here, for answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and find a link for sending additional queries to Michael Dylan Welch.

tai chi
with my wife . . .
morning glories open

school’s out—
a boy follows his dog
into the woods

creek water warm . . .
I swing the grapevine
up to my cousin

……………………………………….. by Randy Brooks

first star—
a sea shell held
to my baby’s ear

after the quake
the weathervane
pointing to earth

warm winter evening—
the chairs askew
after the poetry reading

…………………………………………… by Michael Dylan Welch

[Note: the original publishers of the above poems were not credited at the AHA website.]

Best wishes and thanks to all those working to make the American Haiku Archives a success.

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