Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dave Russo - Three Questions

Dave Russo
Dave Russo's haiku have appeared in Simply Haiku, Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Acorn, and other journals. He is included in big sky: The Red Moon Anthology 2006 and the 2007 New Resonance anthology (Red Moon Press). He is the Webmaster for Haiku North America, the North Carolina Haiku Society, and Red Moon Press. He was one of the local organizers for Haiku North America 2007. Dave won the head-to-head haiku slam competition held at that conference.

1. Why do you write haiku?

About 10 years ago, a friend gave me a copy of Robert Hass's Essential Haiku, versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa. This book swept away my assumptions about what haiku are and what they can express. It made me want to write poems that sounded like the poems in this book.

Yet, I was reluctant to write haiku because I had such a bad impression of haiku in English. Any haiku that I might have read by Gary Snyder or Jack Kerouac were drowned in a tsunami of pop-culture haiku about cats, spam, rednecks, and the like. Haiku in English seemed to be a kind of limerick, a verse form that was completely defined by the 5-7-5 syllable pattern, a kind of poetry game suitable only for popular contests and arts programs for kids.

Luckily, however, I happened to go to a literary festival where I heard Lenard D. Moore read his haiku and other poetry. It was clear that for Lenard, haiku were poems: not experiments with an exotic form; not trifles dashed off between stints of real work. They were American, yet they had an unmistakable family resemblance to the Japanese haiku I had read in translation. I think I started writing haiku in earnest after that.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I’m not the sort of person who wakes up in the morning and says, "I think I’ll write a sijo today. Or maybe a ghazal." But if I take "forms" to mean "kinds", I can say that I like many kinds of poetry, from many ages and many parts of the world.

I must confess that I have not yet made peace with renku. Renku sessions, with their rules, socializing, multiple sources of advice, shifts of perspective—and the pressure to write something while your partners are waiting—are quite confusing for an introvert like me. On the other hand I really enjoyed the small renku session we had with Paul MacNeil when he came for Haiku Holiday some years ago, so maybe there is hope for me yet.

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

Hmm. Well, excuse me for 100 years while I go and try to write some wonderful haiku! In the meantime here are some one-liners. I’d like to write more of these.

roasting a rattlesnake we talk about girls

walking alone ghost water down a dry creek

a duck's wake in blown pollen dad's voice weaker

Credits: “roasting”: New Resonance 5 (Red Moon Press: 2007). “walking alone”: Modern Haiku 37:2. “a duck’s wake”: Simply Haiku: Winter 2006, vol 4 no 4.

Angelee Deodhar shares her response to Haiku - Three Questions with us next week.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bill and Penny need your prayers

Please keep Bill Higginson and Penny Harter in your thoughts and prayers. Bill has been hospitalized for two weeks, including having had minor surgery to get a sample of the quickly growing and inoperable tumor in the center of his chest. Today, the tumor was diagnosed as malignant but highly treatable. Since the mass has been pressing on the esophagus and, therefore, inhibiting Bill's ability to eat much, he has been getting adjunct nourishment, and will continue to do so until the tumor shrinks.

He will start chemo this Friday in the hospital, to be followed, after several chemo cycles to shrink the mass, with targeted radiation. His case was so difficult to diagnose that the hospital's tumor board, which includes several Sloan Kettering physicians, will discuss the case on Thursday. If all goes well, he may come home late next week and continue treatment on an outpatient basis. Here is Bill and Penny's address:

Penny Harter / William J. Higginson
P. O. Box 1402
Summit, NJ 07902

Penny's email address is

I know these two wonderful people would greatly appreciate your prayers, cards, and get well wishes.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Matthew Paul - Three Questions

Matthew Paul has contributed haiku to journals in the United Kingdom and the United States for seventeen years, and many of these appear in his collection The Regulars (Snapshot Press, 2008). He is the reviews editor for Presence haiku magazine, has a poetry blog at and lives and works in London. His latest book, Wing Beats: British Birds in Haiku, written and compiled with John Barlow, is available from

1. Why do you write haiku?

Because it's essential! I first encountered haiku at school, around 1982, and I came across some key haiku books, including Henderson's, when I was at university, so when the British Haiku Society started up in 1990, my interest soon became much more than a habit. Writing haiku is, to me, as natural as any other urge and I rarely go more than a day or two without coming up with at least a proto-haiku.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I enjoy reading most forms of poetry, although long lyrical poetry tends to bore me rigid. I write the occasional tanka and longer poems too, some of which I post at:

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

As all your other respondents seem to have said, it's hard to pick out the 'best', but these are three of my favourites. The first is from the Blue Ridge Mountains after last year's Haiku North America conference.

evening heat
the unseen sapsucker
drums five times

Simply Haiku

crows muster
at the edge of the marsh
a patch of celandines

Blithe Spirit

the bistro chef
smoking out the back
misty rain


All the best,

Matthew (Paul)

A couple of readers of this blog have suggested that Haiku - Three Questions be made into a book. Perhaps, someday, after contributor responses no longer drop into my inbox, I'll seek a publisher.

Which reminds me, if you haven't already participated in this little project, please consider doing so. Also, tell your friends about this blog. You can email me directly or use this online form to send your thoughts/answers to Haiku - Three Questions.

Dave Russo will be our guest next week.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Terry Ann Carter - Three Questions

Terry Ann Carter is a past vice president of Haiku Canada and Education Chair for The League of Canadian Poets. She has organized four conferences for Haiku Canada at Carleton University (visit this link for William J. Higginson's photo essay on Haiku Canada's 2007 conference) and will take on HNA (with the help of a local committee) next summer. She is co-founder (with Marianne Bluger) of KaDo Ottawa, a local haikai group that meets seasonally and launches a broadsheet each spring at the Japanese Embassy in Ottawa. (

1. Why do you write haiku?

Haiku came to me through my mentor and friend Marianne Bluger, the "godmother" of Japanese literary forms here in Canada. With her encouragement I began the slow process of trial and error. "Take a risk", she used to say. I write haiku as a kind of death poem for a particular moment, a moment I will never experience exactly the same way again. With Marianne's death in 2005, haiku is even more intrinsically bound to this notion, for often she is mystically present in the poems where I am reaching deepest into the core of nature, into the core of myself. I write senryu as a kind of comic relief, to find humour in the small spaces and chaos of my life. Together, these two approaches: death poems and comedy, inform and inspire my poetry. With two sons living in distant cities: Singapore and Vancouver, British Columbia, I often have opportunities to travel. I love writing haiku in small spiral bound notebooks as I move around the world...for no other reason than to simply say yes, I am here, and it is wonderful to be alive.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

As a member of The League of Canadian Poets, I have been writing free verse (lyric poetry) for many years, and have published two collections: Waiting for Julia, Third Eye Press, 1999, (now out of print) and Transplanted, Borealis Press, 2006. An example of a recent lyric poem can be found at the website for Tree Poetry, Ottawa's oldest reading series – Just as my musical tastes run from opera to rhythm and blues and from Jazz to folk (depending on my mood and the weather) my poetry horizon is always stretching. I enjoy composing tanka, and haibun and creating haiga with travel photos and artworks from friends. My lyric poetry readings always include a recent haiku or senryu and as a poet-in-the-school under the sponsorship of The League, I try to give as many haiku workshops as I can. Part of the great experience of writing any kind of poetry is the tremendous pleasure in sharing what has been composed.

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

This is an impossibly difficult question to answer, (as other poets have noted) but I have come up with three favourites.

underground parking
no space
for the moon

R. H. Blyth "People's Choice Award" 2005

street hockey
young boys shoot cherry petals
into the net

Best Canadian Poem, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, 2007

winter dusk
in my mother's log cabin quilt
my father's red shirt

Carpe Diem: Anthologie Canadienne du Haiku/Canadian Haiku Anthology 2008

I would like to add a note of explanation to "street hockey". This poem was composed in Shaughnessy, a very affluent section of Vancouver, British Columbia, where homes sell for millions of dollars and celebrities from Hollywood and all over the world are often cited. This particular spring afternoon, I was with a friend who was picking up her daughter who attended a private school there. As I waited in the car, I happened to spy a few boys probably 6 or 7 years old. They had gathered a huge pile of cherry petals that had fallen onto the street into one amazing heap. Then they took turns whacking it with their hockey sticks. Street hockey is a culture unto its own for many young Canadian boys and girls (who often use regular pucks or frozen dog turds in winter) and it was an indelible moment as I heard their laughter in this simple old fashioned game that they had created with the resources around them. To watch the sprinkling of petals as they fell for a second time, earthbound, was indeed, an added pleasure. I was surprised that the poem went on to win an award a number of years later, for I had not written it for that purpose, but of course, I was pleased to receive the recognition which included an engraving on a large stone in the VanDusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver.

Thank you Curtis, for this opportunity to share some thoughts with my wonderful American poet friends, south of our border. The archive of other poets is also a treasure. Thank you for all your diligent work.

Terry Ann Carter
Ottawa, Canada

Matthew Paul shares his response to Haiku - Three Questions next week.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

International Kusamakura Haiku Competition

There is still time left to enter the International Kusamakura Haiku Competition. A contest description is available here.

As stated in the submission guidelines, the entry fee is free. Also note that if you submitted haiku between June 1st and June 10th, your poems could have been lost.

You may submit up to two haiku via their convenient online form.

Past winners in the English section (and poems) can be viewed here.

The web sites listed in this post have, at times, been unavailable. If you cannot access these sites, try again later.

Good luck! Perhaps you will win an all expense paid trip to the beautiful country that gave us haiku.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lenard D. Moore Radio Interview

Lenard D. Moore, President of the Haiku Society of America, was interviewed on North Carolina Public Radio yesterday. Lenard talked about his new book of poems entitled A Temple Looming. He also read a few poems from the book.

The interview can be heard in its entirety at:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bruce Ross - Three Questions

Bruce Ross is a humanities educator. He edited HAIKU MOMENT, An Anthology of Contemporary North American Haiku and Journey to the Interior, American Versions of Haibun. He authored How to Haiku, A Writer's Guide to Haiku and Related Forms and four collections of haiku, most recently summer drizzles . . . haiku and haibun. Bruce is also an editor for the journal Contemporary Haibun Online.

1. Why do you write haiku?

I write haiku because it is an experience of enlightenment. Hui-neng wrote: "Realizing one's own real essence is the ultimate expression of enlightenment." This world of ours is where this happens as we move from birth to death.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I have from an early period enjoyed lyrical/philosophical poetry from all periods and cultures, writing original nature lyrics early on. Later in life I began to sort of enjoy the discipline of writing haibun prose.

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

My favorite haiku was my first real understanding of deep pathos:

abandoned house —
the lilacs just as bright
this spring

It originally appeared in my HAIKU MOMENT.

One that originally appeared in Persimmon others seems to like, as I do too, is:

singing its heart out
to no one in particular
morning blackbird

A final haiku, which I like, won some attention in the 2008 Mainichi Daily News annual choices:

lightning flash
after lightning flash
and a firefly

Terry Ann Carter will be our Haiku - Three Questions guest next week

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pamela A. Babusci - Three Questions

Pamela A. BabusciPamela A. Babusci is an internationally award winning haiku, tanka, and haiga artist. Some of her awards include: Museum of Haiku Literature Award, International Tanka Splendor Awards, First Place Yellow Moon Competition (tanka category), First Place Kokako Tanka Competition, Basho Festival Haiku Contest (Japan), Honorable Mention Suruga Baika Literary Festival (Japan), and Joint 3rd prize for the 1st With Words International Online Haiku Competition. Pamela has illustrated several books, including: Full Moon Tide: The Best of Tanka Splendor Awards and Taboo Haiku. She was the logo artist for Haiku North America in NYC in 2003 and Haiku North America in Winston-Salem, NC in 2007. You can visit her solo exhibit listed under archives at: She is the sponsor and judge for the First International Erotic Tanka Contest for 2008. Pamela has a deep desire to be creative on a daily basis, which feeds her spirit and soul and gives meaning to her life. Poetry and art have been an integral part of her existence since her early teen age years and will continue to be a driving force until she meets her creator.

1. Why do you write haiku?

i write haiku because it brings an inner-peace & serenity into my essence. it teaches me to observe life, in all its forms more closely & carefully; to distill & write down these moments into a haiku which brings enlightenment. i am content to be a droplet in the pond of haiku, for as the droplet falls, its ripples can reverberate for many years.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

free verse poetry & tanka are some of the other poetry forms i write. i was introduced to tanka around 1995 through my friendship with kenneth tanemura, a wonderful tanka poet & i continue to write tanka on a daily basis, over a cup or two of morning java.

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

my three favorite haiku:

i climb the mountain with my eyes never ending snow

Museum of Haiku Literature Award 1995 Frogpond

no attachments
to this world
falling plum petals

World Haiku Competition HM 2000

before the monk
& his walking stick
ageless mountain

Basho Haiku Festival 2007

curtis, thank you so very much for doing this wonderful haiku site. i am sure it will enrich the haiku community for years to come.

harmony, pamela

Next week, Bruce Ross shares his response to the same three questions.