During his more than sixty years, Harley King has been gainfully employed as a carpenter, street sweeper, car hop, corn detasseler, hospital orderly, radio announcer, book editor, publisher, freelance writer, bus driver, sports writer, bookkeeper, policy and procedures writer, forms designer, marketing vice-president, corporate executive, professional speaker, facilitator, salesman, trainer, organizational development consultant, ad writer and communications executive. Some jobs he has held for a whole day and others he has held for years. He has also had more than thirty different bosses.
Harley holds a B.A. degree in English, a M.A. in the School of Hard Knocks and is working on a Ph.D. in the Survival of the Unknown Writer.
While Harley grew up in central Illinois, he has managed to visit forty-five states and has lived in five of them. He has been fortunate to step on the soil of Canada, Mexico, Jamaica and Venezuela. He is currently living in Ohio with his wife of over 35 years.
Harley King has been writing and publishing poetry for over 34 years. He spent 7 years writing only haiku. He has published 12 books of poetry and 2 works of non-fiction.
Harley has been speaking on leadership and customer service for over 20 years. He has delivered more than 4,000 presentations. For one nine year stretch, he averaged over 250 presentations a year.
1) Why do you write haiku?
I was first introduced to haiku in my freshman year of college (1967) when I read The Three Pillars of Zen by Philip Kapleau Roshi. During my college years, I carried a note book in which I jotted down my thoughts in haiku form. In 1975 when I began writing seriously, I focused exclusively on writing haiku. I wrote haiku initially because working full-time did not allow much time for writing. I spent seven years writing, reading and studying only haiku. In April 1976 my first haiku was published in Dragonfly:
on the rotted log
an old man sits — April winds
tug at his collar
Since that publication I have had over 200 haiku published in over 25 magazines, newspapers and books including: Dragonfly, Modern Haiku, Bonsai, Outch, Cicada, Frogpond, Gusto, High/Coo, Leanfrog, and Wind Chimes. My haiku have been collected and published in three books: Winter Silence, Empty Playground and Mother, Don’t Lock Me in that Closet! My first haiku to be published in Modern Haiku (Winter/Spring 1978) was:
the bearded old man
hand in hand with the woman —
full autumn moon
Over 200 of my haiku including my reading of my first book, Winter Silence, can be found on my website: http://web.mac.com/hgking
Japanese Haiku Poets who have most influenced my haiku: Basho, Issa, Santoka Taneda.
2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?
After seven years of writing haiku, I created a seven-line poem that had its roots in haiku.
I started with three haiku (9 lines) strung together and shortened it over time to seven lines. In 1984 I wrote over 400 of these seven line poems. In 1999 I began writing long narrative story poems. In 2002 I began writing the long narrative poems in response to works of art. In 2006 I developed a 20 line poem. I still write in all four forms today.
3) Of the many wonderful haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three?
Illinois farmland —
pheasant scoots across the snow
the pickup heads home
Dragonfly, July 1977, Vol. 5 No. 3, p. 41.
the grave digger
smokes his last cigarette...
soft spring rain
Dragonfly, October 1977, Vol. 5 No. 4, p. 32.
an old friend
Matrix Six, Red Herring Press, 1981, p. 1.
If you've been enjoying this weekly series and have not contributed, please consider sharing your response (whether it be for haiku or tanka) to the three little questions that Harley answered. You must be a published poet to participate.