Sunday, June 29, 2008

Adelaide B. Shaw - Three Questions

Adelaide B. Shaw is our Haiku - Three Questions guest this week. Adelaide's debut collection of haiku entitled An Unknown Road is available for purchase online at Modern English Tanka Press,, and from major booksellers.

While preparing this week's post, I was surprised and pleased to Google a preview of An Unknown Road at The cover is very appealing; the haiku within the preview are evocative and of the highest quality. This book of poems comes highly recommended to me by several readers of this blog. I will definitely add this book to my collection.

1. Why do you write haiku?

Haiku provide me with an outlet for preserving small, pleasurable moments. It’s a way to express an instant awareness of an image, a sound, a fleeting experience of the senses. I was drawn to haiku because, with its brevity, it is the ideal poetic form to convey these brief moments. In rereading haiku written months before or even years before, I find that they bring back memories which otherwise would probably have been forgotten.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I also write tanka and haibun. On occasion I have collaborated with others to write renku and rengay.

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

I have chosen three haiku that bring back memories in a way that a prose narrative describing the incident would not provide. They revive the instant shock of an earthquake, the sadness I felt seeing my father asleep in our backyard, and the strangeness of our first Christmas living in rural Switzerland far away from Los Angeles.

the pre-dawn quake
jolts us out of bed
to view the sunrise

Haiku Highlights, vol.8, No.3, 1971

wind-tossed leaves–
the withered old man
asleep on a bench

Mayfly, #36, winter 2003

Christmas far from home–
the odor of hay and manure
from an open barn

The Heron’s Nest, Vol. VII, No. 1, March 2005
Editors’ Choice

Next week, Michael Dylan Welch responds to Haiku - Three Questions.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

HNA 2009: Call for Proposals

This just in from Dave Russo:

Please spread the word that the organizers for Haiku North America 2009 are ready to accept proposals for presentations and workshops. See the HNA 2009 section of our Website for details:

There is also a detailed post on the North Carolina Haiku Society Blog:

Workshop and Reading July 19

Time: Saturday, July 19, 2008 2:00 p.m.
Location: Regulator Bookshop
Title of Event: Haiku Festival

To complement the Japanese Festival at ADF, North Carolina poet Richard Krawiec will present a free workshop for all ages, "How to Write Haiku." This is appropriate for poets, teachers, and children. After the workshop, participants, and haiku poets from NC, will read their poems. This will be followed at 3 p.m. by a song performance by the a cappella group Fleur de Lisa, who have recorded a CD of original music, Songs From the Willow, based on haiku by NC writers. Fleur de Lisa will be singing songs from this collection, as well as other original work. To sign up for the free workshop, or if you wish to read, contact

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Paul MacNeil - Three Questions

Every editor that I've had the pleasure of corresponding with has helped me mature as a poet. There is no way I can ever repay you kind folks for the guidance and support that's been patiently given to me over the years (you know who you are). I think nurturing is the word that best describes the relationship I've had with overseers of anthologies, journals, and magazines. You all have my sincerest thanks.

Paul MacNeil was the first editor to take me under his wing (or, brawny arm). He was patient with this fledgling, offering an encouraging word when declining less than adequate poems...tutoring, and nudging me in the right direction when I had the makings of a decent haiku.

Paul shares his response to Haiku – Three Questions with us this week.

1. Why do you write haiku?

In my 40’s, I bought a spy novel, a thick paperback for “summer” reading. It was set in both New York City and “exotic” Japan. Embedded in it were several haiku, identified as such. They appealed to me and made me pause and read each again. I started a long course of study about “haiku.” Quite soon, I started writing. In a few years I had one hundred typed out (remember typewriters?). Prowling a bookstore I found Bill’s "Handbook of Haiku" (William J. Higginson). I later bought "The Essential Haiku" ed. by Hass. Still a student, I now realize a few of the things that attracted me were the simplicity of nature described, and the conciseness of the language used in these little poems. I try to capture, so to share, the little “truths” of what I experience -- in places I love.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I grew up a child of a minister so the poetry of the Bible and my father’s voice were early in my ear. I have read or seen most plays of Shakespeare, master to us all in the English language. Beyond that, I never had an affinity for traditional Western poetry and did not write any. I am so glad that haiku do not rhyme, employ “poetic” words or contractions so as to make a meter, and are not full of pregnant simile and clever metaphor.

In addition to haiku, I am involved with renku and write a few haibun and tanka. Several of my haiku have been published as haiga to visual art by others.

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

I’m not your first responder, Curtis, to be unsure about choosing three favorites. These are such subjective and momentary choices. The 3rd one is Yu Chang’s favorite and one of mine.

Thank you for asking me to participate.

- Paul MacNeil


water lilies
the stiff stance
of a bull



a boy catching leaves
in a tricorn hat



paddle at rest
beads of water slide
from the loon’s bill

Modern Haiku

Next week, Adelaide B. Shaw.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Penny Harter - Three Questions

Penny HarterAward winning author and poet, Penny Harter, stops by Blogging Along Tobacco Road this week with her response to Haiku - Three Questions.

Hi Curtis,

Bill reminds me that I've been meaning to answer your three questions. My answer to your first question is excerpted from my essay in The Unswept Path: Contemporary American Haiku (edited by John Brandi and Dennis Maloney, © 2005).

1. Why do you write haiku?

Writing haiku opens my mind, my senses, and my spirit. It helps me get in touch with what is most important—paying attention to what I’ve called, “that click in the gut,” or ‘leap of the spirit.” When asked to define poetry, I have always said that writing a poem is, first and foremost, an act of seeing, followed by connecting. Writing haiku helps me to feel relationship between myself and other, so that, in a way, I become other. . . . Both my haiku and longer poems result from a sudden awareness of connection between a perception and the feelings that arise from it, or from my sensing a unique relationship between and among aspects of the object or experience perceived, remembered, or created.

For me, each haiku I write is like breathing out, giving back to the earth recognition, affirmation, and gratitude. I am reminded of how seldom we really notice what is going on around us, and how important the most ordinary things can be. Writing haiku is one way of translating the Earth--honoring what the mountain, the dragonfly, the neighbor, and even the dirt under our feet mean to our existence. Whether we know it or not, we are one with them. The writing and sharing of haiku can bring us together as we celebrate our connections with the larger world that we share, while at the same time affirming the particular times and places of our lives and our human responses to them.

2. What other poetic genres do you enjoy? (Agreeing with Charles Trumbull, I changed "forms" to "genres" in your question.)

I like to read all kinds of poetry, from William Carlos Williams' epic, Paterson, and the work of numerous contemporary American poets, to poetry in translation from many cultures. I appreciate haibun and tanka, and have written both. Most often, I read and write longer poems--what to call them? Organic verse? Free verse? Lyric poetry? All these names have been assigned to "regular" poems as opposed to haiku and other genres of Japanese origin. And recently I've written a few sonnets. Those who may be interested in my published collections of longer poems can visit my web site through Bill's and my mutual portal at, where a number of my published books have their own pages, with sample poems. And my now out-of-print book of haiku for children, Shadow Play is also featured there, with examples of both the illustrations and haiku. (I invite readers to visit the publisher's page for my new book The Night Marsh at

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 a hard one. I don't rate poems like that. That said, I do very much like the following three, the first two of which appeared in The Unswept Path (mentioned above); "evening rain" also appeared in The Heron's Nest; "fog shrouded" is previously unpublished.

evening rain
I braid my hair
into the dark

closed bedroom door —
her shadow darkens
the crack of light

fog shrouded
this morning's robin sings
inside me

Thanks for what you're doing here.


Next week, Paul MacNeil.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Naia - Three Questions

Naia's Poetry & Art Gallery is a wonderful looking web site loaded with great poetry. One feature that I especially enjoy is listening to her recite her poems. This very talented lady stops by Blogging Along Tobacco Road and shares her response to Haiku - Three Questions.

1. Why do you write haiku?

For me writing haiku is an organic expression of all the little ways of being that too often pass our notice. When I began writing haiku I also began perceiving the world differently, more intuitively within each moment.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I enjoy well-crafted, insightful poems no matter the form. I love writing in a variety of forms other than haiku, especially tanka, cinquain, haibun, and a favorite of mine - haiga, with my watercolor or photographic images. And I am drawn to the free flow of formless words that by their very placement with others create a magical journey one is at odds to define but is compelled to feel.

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

Selecting a "top three" is not something I'm able to do. I can tell you what I tend to gravitate toward, but then that usually changes with what I'm writing in the moment. However, the following three seem to have a resonance that, to me, lingers over time and space. I hope you enjoy them.

songbird . . .
   even the crow in the next tree

BASHO Festival Anthology, 2001 (Japan)

footsteps in new snow . . .
    the weight of them
        all day long

Hermitage, 2006

scented breeze . . .
    the whir of a hummingbird

Modern Haiku Vol XXXIII Nr 2 (Summer 2002)

Next week, Penny Harter shares her response to Haiku - Three Questions.