Friday, April 25, 2008

Jeffrey Woodward - Three Questions

Haibun Today editor, Jeffrey Woodward, drops by Tobacco Road this week to share his response to Haiku - Three Questions.

1. Why do you write haiku?

I suffer from graphomania and am advised that there is no cure. Which is also why I write the haibun wherein many of my haiku are housed.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

All other poetic forms, verse or prose. I find, in every instance, that my pleasure in reading is increased by perceptible form and meaning. I try to practice moderation but am powerless before this vice.

3. Of the many wonderful haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three?

only after my shadow
into the deep summer
of a grove's recess

Nisqually Delta Review, May 2007

for the marionette
deprived of its falsetto,
a dream of dancing

Lynx, June 2007

rubbing a whetstone away —
cicadas at dusk

Contemporary Haibun Online, September 2007

Next week, Peggy Willis Lyles.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Roberta Beary's The Unworn Necklace honored by Poetry Society of America

Haiku blogs are ablaze today with news of our very own Roberta Beary's book entitled The Unworn Necklace being a finalist (one of two) for the William Carlos Williams Award given by the Poetry Society of America. You may recall that Roberta was our featured Haiku - Three Questions poet on March 9, 2008.

Dave Russo of the North Carolina Haiku Society has a detailed blog post here, as does Bill Higginson on his Wordfield's Haikai Pub, and David Giacalone on his f/k/a blog.

Congratulations, Roberta! What a tremendous victory for you and haiku!

Kudos also to John Barlow, Editor of Snapshot Press, for publishing this spectacular book of poems. The haiku community eagerly awaits your next publication.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tom Clausen - Three Questions

Tom Clausen lives in Ithaca, NY with his wife, Berta Gutierrez, and their son, Casey and daughter, Emma, in the same house Tom grew up in. Tom works in a library at Cornell University where he used to post haiku in an elevator for patrons. This has evolved to become a link at the Mann Library home page featuring a daily haiku. He became enchanted with haiku and other short poetic forms in the late 1980s after reading an article about Ruth Yarrow, a fellow Ithacan at the time.

Tom has five chapbook collections of haiku and tanka: Autumn Wind in the Cracks, Unraked Leaves, Standing Here, (self published) A Work of Love (Tiny Poems Press) and Homework (Snapshot Press, UK).

Tom is also a member of the Upstate Dim Sum Route 9 Haiku Group.

Tom shares his answers to Haiku - Three Questions with us this week.

1. Why do you write haiku?

I enjoy the challenge of trying to write something meaningful to myself and others in as few words possible. The human world is so bent on excess in terms of materials and expression and haiku has a refreshing antidote quality for all that is over the top too much! From reading haiku that have moved me and given me pause and solace I have fallen in love with the hope that serendipity might deliver me a few moments here and there that I can channel into something worthy to share. I like the brevity and always now concision of haiku. It is especially gratifying that haiku express appreciation for the qualities in our world that often are taken for granted or are so subtle that they often get missed. Just like my comments here may be overly wordy I love haiku for the simple reason that there must be discipline and avoidance of being overly wordy!

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I very much enjoy senryu, tanka, haibun and most any forms of poetry. I tend to be partial to free forms and anything that speaks to the universal in the utterly personal. When I read a poem that awakens in me an inner sense of truth or awareness or awakens me to something special I feel fortunate and renewed in my interest and gratitude for poetry.

3. Of the many wonderful haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three? (Please provide original publication credits.)

Not sure I have a top three but for the sake of this question and being what I am most often not: decisive! I'll pick three. . .

sidewalk sale —
wind twists a lifetime
guarantee tag

- Woodnotes

in the dark —
through the window light
my wife and child

- Modern Haiku

on the way home
more geese
on the way home. . .

- Frogpond

How would you respond to the questions that Tom answered? Think it over; if you would like to participate in Haiku - Three Questions, send your answers to me and I'll post them in the coming weeks.

Next week, Jeffrey Woodward.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ellen Compton - Three Questions

Ellen Compton is a freelance writer with a background in painting and theatre arts. She lives and works in Washington, DC, and is often drawn to the shores of nearby Chesapeake Bay.

Ellen shares her response to Haiku - Three Questions with us this week.

Hello Curtis:

1. Why do you write haiku?

Just some of the reasons I write haiku:

The study of haiku sharpens my awareness. In writing haiku I can touch what my memory holds and my senses and imagination perceive. Small is beautiful--one red maple leaf, or a couple of pebbles, a good haiku. And haiku is a pure poetry. Writing it teaches me more about poetry than I could ever learn in the classroom.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

Other poetic forms?

Well, I love and write tanka and have been experimenting with the possibilities of haibun. Rengay are always fun, and especially so when the poets are meeting in person. In the past I have written poems in other genre, and occasionally do so now. I read, learn from and greatly enjoy the work of non-haiku poets--Mary Oliver, Emily Dickinson, Hopkins, Blake, Billy Collins, Pablo Neruda, Ted Kooser, to name only a few of the many. And I somehow consider Thoreau among the poets.

3. Of the many wonderful haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three? (Please provide original publication credits.)

My top three? I'm probably not the best judge, but here are some I wouldn't mind being remembered for:

The little sound of a star

"kaleidoscope" first appeared in Modern Haiku,23:1, winter-spring 1992. Later Cor ven del Heuvel included it in the 1999 edition of The Haiku Anthology (New York: W. W. Norton).

motor stilled . . .
                   the headland echoes
            the loon

"motor stilled . . ." first appeared in South by Southeast, 5:1, 1998, and was selected for Snow on the Water, Red Moon Anthology 1998 (Red Moon Press, 1999).

sifting pebbles
my fingers pause to read
the broken one

"sifting pebbles" received Honorable Mention in the San Francisco International Competition, Haiku Poets of Northern California, and was published in Woodnotes, No. 27, Winter 1995.

If you're enjoying this weekly feature, please consider sending your response to the questions that Ellen answered.

Next week, Tom Clausen.

Route 9 Haiku Group reading

Perhaps one thing I enjoy more than reading haiku by other poets is listening to poets read their poems. I've discovered that listening to other poets can be inspiring, putting me in the mood or frame of mind to write my own poems.

The Route 9 Haiku Group (Hilary Tann, John Stevenson, Tom Clausen, and Yu Chang) conducted a reading at Cornell University's Mann Library on March 23, 2006.

Folks, this is one of those jewels on the Internet that you enjoy sharing with your friends. The links below will allow you to hear these wonderful poets read their poems.


MP3 Format:

MP4 Format:

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Richard Straw - Three Questions

Richard S. Straw copyedits technical documents and prepares bibliographic databases on health and substance use. He has lived in or near Raleigh, North Carolina, since 1984. Before then, he lived in central Ohio, where he taught freshman English composition at Ohio State University, edited technical papers for a trade journal, proofread for a digest of news from the former Soviet Union, and graduated from Ohio State University (BA in English, 1977; MA in English, 1980).

He has collected and read books of haiku, senryu, haibun, and haiga since 1966. In the late 1980s, he served as an editor of Pine Needles, a quarterly newsletter for the North Carolina Haiku Society (NCHS). He self-published A Hiker Sees His Shadow (2001), an eight-page chapbook dedicated to the memory of his dad. Selections of his published haiku are available at, courtesy of Dave Russo of the NCHS. Along with other NCHS members, he attends monthly haiku meetings, ginkos, and the annual NCHS Haiku Holiday.

Richard shares his response to Haiku - Three Questions with us this week.

1. Why do you write haiku?

Thanks for asking, Curtis, but I don't really know why I write. I just keep knocking on the door. It's a habit, something to do besides pray, but maybe it is prayer.

A few years ago, I made a list for someone else as to why I draft haiku. It’s a fuzzy and whimsical sort of list and probably applies now to my haibun writing, too:

1. To slow down and forget who I am.

2. To try to experience the world as a child again (or perhaps for the first time).

3. To record a feeling that may be self-therapeutic when read later on (perhaps much later on).

4. To dump the trash in my head in order to make room for something new.

5. To have something to do while avoiding worse mischief.

6. To trace an ephemerality or a shadow of something otherwise lost.

7. To leave a memorial for my family and friends in case the inevitable heart attack or car crash comes sooner than expected.

8. To focus on nothing in particular so as to be that little part of everything.

9. To pray without ceasing (so to speak).

10. To perhaps let others in on a secret I've only overheard faintly while half asleep.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I enjoy reading a variety of poetic forms, but mostly English translations of David's Psalms and his free verse descendants, such as Walt Whitman, Charles Reznikoff, and George Oppen. I also collect and study English translations of Marcus Aurelius' notebooks to himself and his prose poem descendants, especially Thomas à Kempis. And I enjoy comparing English translations of Bashō's and Issa’s haibun and reading haibun by their many descendants, mostly from the West. Besides haiku, I also draft personal voice haibun and occasionally free verse.

3. Of the many wonderful haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three? (Please provide original publication credits.)

This question is easy to answer because I've written just a few haiku that have been published, which might be the only objective gauge as to whether any of them can be considered "wonderful." Among those that have been published, I have three favorites, in no particular order, based on what relatives and friends (or both) have told me over the years:

hazy half-moon
in an azure-streaked sky...
wild roadside onions

(written on September 11, 1986; published in Modern Haiku, XIX:2, 1988)

a few red leaves —
strokes of the rower
quicken near the dock

(written on August 31, 1986; published in Frogpond, XIII:1, 1990)

dark shoreline
one last cast
with the wind

(written on July 26, 1987; published in Modern Haiku, XIX:2, 1988)

If you are enjoying this weekly feature, please consider sending your answers to the same questions.

Next week, Ellen Compton.