Saturday, January 31, 2009

Collin Barber - Three Questions

Collin Barber lives in Marion, Arkansas, and works at a local hospital in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. He began writing haiku a few years ago, while spending hours on the banks of the Mississippi River reading the works of writers such as Richard Wright and Jack Kerouac.

He maintains a website of poetry at

1) Why do you write haiku?

I was hooked from the moment I discovered haiku. To me, there is a certain magic to a good one, and perhaps I enjoy the challenge of trying to create this myself.

2) What other poetic forms do your enjoy?

Naturally, I like tanka and haibun, but I also enjoy free verse poetry and sonnets. I must admit, however, that it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to write a free verse poem, because my attempts usually end up taking the shape of a haibun or tanka.

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

Deciding on my 'top three' was a difficult yet enjoyable challenge. What criteria does one use to do this? I suppose I chose these because I remember the moments so vividly:

autumn morning
I still have the tooth
I lost in my dream

Frogpond XXIX:3, autumn 2006

butterflies . . .
a child's name
set in stone

Modern Haiku 38.3, autumn 2007

honeymoon over my suntan peels

Frogpond XXX:1, winter 2007

Thanks, Curt.

If you've been enjoying this weekly series and have not contributed, please consider sharing your response to the three little questions that Collin answered. You must be a published poet in order to participate.

Darrell Byrd will be our guest next week.

Alexis Rotella reading - Part 1

Here is part one of a reading I happened across of the lovely Alexis Rotella.

I'll post part two as soon as it's available.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Publications, young haijin, and an interview

wind flow, the fourth chapbook from the Boston Haiku Society, has just been published featuring twenty-two poets from the Boston and New England region. Included in the perfect bound chapbook are examples of not only haiku and senryu, but haibun, tanka, haiga, and renku as well as a couple of sumi'e by the late Kaji Aso. It has been edited by Raffael de Gruttola, Karen Klein, and Judson Evans and features many new approaches to the poetic art form we love so dearly. Copies are $10. with $2.50 for postage and handling and can be ordered from Raffael de Gruttola, 4 Marshall Road, Natick, MA 01760.

Jack Fruit Moon, haiku and tanka by Robert D. Wilson (published by Modern English Tanka Press) is available from, major booksellers, and the publisher. Complete information and a mail or email order form are available online. Trade paperback price: $16.95 USD. ISBN 978-0-9817691-4-1. 204 pages, 6.00' x 9.00', perfect binding, 60# cream interior paper, black and white interior ink, 100# exterior paper, full-color exterior ink. Read the press release at Magnapoets.

The North Carolina Haiku Society received a special thank you message from Scott, a budding haijin in Mrs. Howell's fourth grade class at Arts Based Elementary School in Winston-Salem. NCHS member, Bob Moyer, has been teaching the students there how to write haiku. Scott and his classmates participated in their first public reading last month. Roberta Beary and Lenard D. Moore also read that night, capped off by a number of a cappella haiku by Fleur-de-Lisa.

It's comforting to know that a seed has been planted and a whole new generation of very talented poets are writing haiku.

Here is an interesting audio interview of Miriam Sagan. Sagan is a versatile writer, penning poems in a variety of styles including haibun, haiku, and tanka.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Publication notes, Lenard D. Moore and the HNA 2007 anthology

The new issue of LYNX: A Journal for Linking Poets is online and ready for viewing.

white lies: Red Moon Anthology 2008 is available from Red Moon Press. David Giacalone posted this message about the anthology on his f/k/a blog.

Lenard D. Moore had a beautiful poem published recently in The News & Observer. The poem is entitled Letterpoem, November 4, 2008.

I received my copy of Dandelion Wind today, an anthology of poems commemorating the 2007 Haiku North America conference held in Winston-Salem, NC last August. The anthology was edited by Michael Dylan Welch and Lenard D. Moore and contains several beautiful illustrations by Kate MacQueen. Here are a few poems:

deepening autumn
the strawman's smile

--Carlos Colon

losing myself
in purple heat
...hydrangea blossoms

--Roberta Beary

wrought-iron lamppost
tangled in ivy
evening light

--L. Teresa Church

teakettle whistle
on the way to the stove
she touches his knee

--Bob Moyer

The anthology also includes a poignant haiku by the late Bill Higginson:

after the Leonids
a falling leaf sets
the grassblade quivering

--William J. Higginson

Sunday, January 25, 2009

John McDonald - Three Questions

John McDonald is a retired stonemason living in Edinburgh, Scotland. He came to haiku in the mid-nineties, falling in love with the genre. He writes:

"I write my haiku in Scots, one of the two languages native to Scotland (the other being the Celtic rooted Gaelic). I had two publications released last year, The Throu-Gaun Chiel and Tuim Tin Tassie and another set for release in 2009."

John maintains a blog at

1) Why do you write haiku?

I don't wish to sound mystical but I don't write them as much as they find me. I will go out walking seeking some inspiration and something will impinge itself on my retina or in my subconsciousness and will not let me alone until I sit with it and a haiku is born - maybe there and then or maybe years later. The world wants to be heard and I think that's where we haijin come in - a space for that still small voice.

2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I love all poetic forms, but only write haiku. I am terrifically excited by gendai haiku and any similar contemporary form although, when writing, it depends on what is required: the subject may simply want a simple statement, but when it wants an expression in surrealist terms I am thrilled.

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

Like all writers I find this difficult as every poem is like a child and having favourites is difficult, but I think the best idea is to pick three that others have enjoyed.

Award winner 10th Annual Suruga Baika Literary Festival:

skreich o day —
licht muives athort
the boo o the aipple

dawn —
light moves across
the curve of the apple

(published in The Throu-Gaun Chiel)

Museum of Literature Award: Blithe Spirit:

laicher an laicher
the daffins' heids
i the weet

lower and lower
the daffodils' heads
in the rain

(published in The Throu-Gaun Chiel)

winner Haiku Ireland Kukai 1:

a skein o geese —
on the howe's haunle

a skein of geese —
on the hoe's handle

(published in The Throu-Gaun Chiel)

Thanks again Curtis. As a life-long fan of country blues and New Orleans jazz, it's been a thrill to have been allowed to stroll down Tobacco Road

aye John

If you've been enjoying this weekly series and have not contributed, please consider sharing your response to the three little questions that John answered. You must be a published poet in order to participate.

Collin Barber will be our guest next week.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Basho, Coorte, Bly, and Burns

Norbert Blei, proprietor of Basho's Road, posted an intriguing excerpt from Art is: The Audacity of Still Life, an article by Benjamin Moser published in the February 2009 issue of Harpers Magazine. There is an interesting comparison in the works of still-life artist Adriaen Coorte and poet Matsuo Basho.

Parts of the Old North State experienced the season's first significant snowfall last Tuesday, blanketing areas with an almost "still-life" yet moving quality best described in a poem that appeared in today's offering of The Writer's Almanac:

Snowfall In The Afternoon

by Robert Bly

The grass is half-covered with snow.
It was the sort of snowfall that starts in late afternoon,
And now the little houses of the grass are growing

If I could reach down, near the earth,
I could take handfuls of darkness!
A darkness that was always there, which we never

As the snow grows heavier, the cornstalks fade farther
And the barn moves nearer to the house.
The barn moves all alone in the growing storm.

The barn is full of corn, and moving toward us now,
Like a hulk blown toward us in a storm at sea;
All the sailors on deck have been blind for many

"Snowfall In The Afternoon" by Robert Bly, from Eating the Honey of Words: New and Selected Poems. © Harper Flamingo, 1999.

I'll close with an interesting article published in the Christian Science Monitor entitled Scotland turns to 18th-century poet for economic stimulus.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Poetry while you do your laundry

Here's an interesting video clip, proof that poetry readings can occur anywhere.

Haiku, Senryu, Tanka, and Rengay contest

2009 San Francisco International Competition

Haiku, Senryu, Tanka and Rengay

Sponsored by:
Haiku Poets of Northern California

Deadlines for
Haiku, Senryu, and Tanka: In hand, October 31, 2009

Deadlines for
Rengay: In hand, November 30, 2009


All entries must be original, unpublished, and not under consideration elsewhere. There is no limit to the number of submissions. A first prize of $100 will be awarded in each of the four categories. For the Haiku and Rengay contests, second and third prizes of $50 and $25 will be awarded. Contest results will be announced at the first HPNC meeting in January and in the HPNC Newsletter. Winning poems will be published in the Spring/Summer issue of Mariposa, the membership journal of the HPNC. All rights revert to authors after the contest results are announced. This contest is open to all except the HPNC president and, for their respective categories, the contest coordinators and the judges (who will remain anonymous until after the competition, except rengay contest).

Haiku, Senryu, and Tanka Submission Guidelines

Type or print each entry on two 3 x 5 cards. In the upper left corner of each card identify its category as Haiku, Senryu, or Tanka. On the back of one card only, print your name, address, telephone number and e-mail address (optional). The entry fee is $1.00 per poem. Send haiku, senryu and tanka submissions, along with entry fee, to HPNC, c/o John Thompson, 4607 Burlington Place, Santa Rosa, CA 95405.

Rengay Submission Guidelines

All rengay must be titled. For two people (Poet A and Poet B) follow this linked format: 3 lines/Poet A, 2 lines/Poet B, 3/A, 3/B, 2/A, 3/B. For three poets (A, B, and C) the format is: 3 lines/A, 2 lines/B, 3 lines/C, 2/A, 3/B, 2/C. Type or print each rengay on three letter-size sheets. Include full authorship information, stanza by stanza, as well as all poets' names, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses (optional) on one copy only. On the other two copies, mark stanzas with letters only (poet A, poet B, poet C) to indicate the sequence of authorship. The entry fee is $5.00 per rengay. 2009 rengay judge will be Billie Wilson. Send rengay submissions to HPNC, c/o Fay Aoyagi, 930 Pine St. #105, San Francisco CA 94108.

Entry Fees

Make checks or money orders payable in U.S. dollars to "Haiku Poets of Northern California (HPNC)." Cash (in U.S. currency) is OK. Enclose a business-size SASE (U.S. first class postage or an IRC) for notification of contest winners. No entries will be returned, with the exception of late submissions, or those received without payment. These will be returned using your SASE; without an SASE these entries will be discarded.

Thank you for participating in this year's contest.

If you have any questions, please contact Fay Aoyagi by e-mail (

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A haiku game and a reading

Dave Russo has an interesting post over at the North Carolina Haiku Society's blog about a haiku computer game.

There will be another tea tasting, haiku reading in Winston-Salem. Here are the details:

February 7th, 1 p.m. - 2 p.m.

PoetTea (a haiku reading and tea tasting)

Golden Flower
612 N. Trade Street
Winston-Salem, NC.

If you are in the area, please drop by. We had a wonderful time at the last reading/tasting.

A list of contest

Angelee Deodhar sent this list of upcoming contest:

J. Franklin Dew Award

Cash prizes totalling $US100 for a series of 3-4 haiku on a single theme. Winners announced on April 22 and posted to the Poetry Society of Virginia's website.
Closes: Postmarked January 19.
Cost: $US4/poem. No e-mail entries.
Full details from the website (category 12).

Lyman Haiku Award

Cash prizes totalling $US50. Limit 1 poem. Winner will receive a copy of Pinesong, and be invited to read at the North Carolina Poetry Society Awards Day meeting. Winner will be notified in April.
Closes: January 20.
Cost: Free if an NCPS member, otherwise $US3/poem.
Full details from the website.

Kikakuza Haibun Competition

Kikakuza is a group of haikai (linked-verse) poets founded in 2005 in honour of Kikaku (1661-1707), Basho's celebrated disciple. The contest will be judged by Nobuyuki Yuasa and Stephen Henry Gill and results announced in the Kikakuza Bulletin and on its homepage. There is a 30-line limit to entries (and 80 spaces per line!) with at least 1 haiku included.
Closes: January 31.
Cost: Free for those living outside Japan.
Send entries to Kikakuza (c/- Kifuu Futagami) 117-1 Nakogi, Hadano-shi, Kanagawa-ken, Japan 257-0024.
For full details see this website.

Anita Sadler Weiss Memorial Haiku Award

Cash prizes totalling $US300. Limit of 15 haiku. Winners will be named in April and poems published in The Dragonfly, newsletter of the Haiku Poets of Central Maryland.
Closes: January 31.
Cost: $US1/poem
Full details from the website. Last year's winners, and judges' comments, here.

Biennial British Haiku Society Haibun Anthology

Entries must be between 100 and 2000 words long, including haiku. Entries on disk (floppy or CD, in Word format) are preferred. It is anticipated that the anthology will be published by Christmas 2009. All those whose work is included will receive 1 copy of the anthology.
Closes: In hand February 1.
Cost: £6/$US12 for a single haibun, £3/$US6 for each additional haibun.
Full details from the website.

Moonset Competition

Separate categories for haiku, senryu, tanka, renku, haibun and haiga. Prizes of subscriptions to moonset. Winners notified by March 1, and results published in the [northern] spring/summer issue.
Closes: In-hand February 1.
Cost: $US2/ poem
For full details see the website where you can pay online and enter by e-mail.

Pinewood Haiku Contest

Cash prizes totalling $US175. Winners will be published in the April issue of Wisteria. Limit of 3. No e-mail entries.
Closes: February 14.
Cost: $US2/poem or 3 poems for $US5.
Full details from the website.

Betty Drevniok Award

Cash prizes totalling $C175. Winners announced in May with top 11 poems published in a Haiku Canada Sheet and distributed with the Haiku Canada Anthology.
Closes: February 14 (postmarked).
Cost: $C5 (in Canada)/ $US5 (outside Canada) for up to 3 haiku.
For a copy of the broadsheet with winning haiku include a business-size SAE and $US1 for postage. Full details from the website.

Ito En Oi Ocha New Haiku Contest

Cash prizes (in yen), green tea products and inclusion in an anthology. Winning haiku will appear on Oi Ocha product packaging from August; results announced in July. Entrants are encouraged to "express themselves freely". Limit of 6 haiku.
Closes: February 28.
Cost: Free. E-mail via the website.
Full details here.

Free XpresSion Haiku Contest

Cash prize for best single haiku of $A100; 1 sheet of 4 haiku is deemed to be 1 entry. Winners published in Free XpresSion. No name or contact details to appear on the poems, only the entry form.
Closes: February 28.
Cost: $A5/ sheet of 4 haiku; $A25/ 6 sheets.
For full details, entry forms and instructions on how to pay entry fee from outside Australia, e-mail editor Peter Pike or write to PO Box 4, West Hoxton, NSW 2171, Australia.

Jack Stamm Haiku Award

Cash prizes totalling $A175 with a competition anthology (1 copy free to each author selected). Results will be published in paper wasp in June, and the anthology in August. Haiku not to have been published on the internet.
Closes: March 1.
Cost: $A10 (from within Australia)/ $A12 (from NZ if paid in Australian currency)/ $US10 for each sheet of 3 haiku.
Full details from this website.

Robert Spiess Memorial Award

Cash prizes totalling $US175 and copies of Bob's books. Limit of 5 haiku on the theme of "speculation". Winning entries will be published in the (northern) summer issue of Modern Haiku and posted on the website.
Closes: In hand March 13.
Cost: $US1/haiku.
Full details from the website.

UkiaHaiku Festival

An annual festival dedicated to haiku in Ukiah, California. There are 2 categories of interest to overseas entrants: Traditional Haiku (5-7-5), and Contemporary Haiku Adult (free form). Limit of 3 poems per entrant per category. Awards will be presented at the April 29 festival.
Closes: March 17 (postmarked).
Cost: Traditonal - free; Contemporary - $US5/haiku or $US10/2-3 haiku.
Full details from the website.

Robert Frost Poetry Festival Haiku Contest

Cash prizes totalling $US175. Limit of 3 poems, 3-line haiku only.
Closes: March 23 (postmarked).
Cost: $US10/3 haiku.
Full details from the website.

True Vine Summer Chapbook Contest

Cash prize of $US20, plus 20 copies of the chapbook. Send 8-12 haiku/senryu on the theme of summer (previously published poems acceptable). The chapbook will be available from June. No e-mail entries.
Closes: March 30.
Cost: Free.
Full details from the website.

Haiku Magazine Contest

Limit of 6 haiku. Results will be published in the (northern) spring/summer issue of Haiku magazine and winners and selected others in an anthology.
Closes: March 31.
Cost: Free.
Full details from this website.

Mildred Kanterman Memorial Merit Book Awards

For excellence in published haiku, translation, and criticism. Cash prizes totalling $US650. A list of winners will be published in Frogpond and the HSA website. Books must have been published in 2008 and clearly must contain a printed 2008 ©. An author or publisher may submit more than one title.
Closes: In hand by March 31.
Cost: Free.
Full details from the website.

Kaji Aso Studio Contest

For haiku, senryua, tanka, haiga and "concise" haibun. Cash prizes totalling $US450, plus the Elizabeth Searle Lamb Memorial Prize of $US50. The top 13 poems will be published in Dasoku.
Closes: April 15 postmarked.
Cost: $US2/ 2 International Reply Coupons per poem. It is also possible to enter by text message.
For full details see the website.

Snapshot Press Haiku Calendar Contest

Cash prizes totalling £300. Twelve haiku will be picked as monthly winners; 40 others will be runners-up. All will be published. Haiku should include a seasonal word or activity. Results announced on June 30.
Closes: April 30.
Cost: £2.50/$US5/haiku; £5/$US10/3 haiku; £10/$US20 up to 10 haiku.
Full details (including advice on seasonal words, how to assign months and to see past winners) from the website.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Darko Plazanin has passed away

Carole Macrury notified me of this very sad news:

Dear Curtis,

This announcement just came in from Tomislav Maretic in Croatia. Darko Plazanin was well known in many countries, including people in our own. Some of us, including myself, participate in the Samobar Haiku Meetings through publication in their yearly anthology.

Tomislav Maretic's words:

Darko Plazanin passed away today.

A sad day - for Croatian haiku and for all of us who were his friends...

after the storm
a boy wiping the sky
from the tables

Ehime Prefecture first prize
1990 National Cultural Festival

Darko Plazanin
Samobor, Croatia

A longer bio of this remarkable poet is located at:

Please join me in extending our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Darko Plazanin.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Two Publication Notes

Angelika Wienert informed me that the WHC-German Winter Issue 2009 is online. Here are a couple of poems from this issue.

Stumme Wirbel ...
im Schneetreiben
sich selbst verlieren

silent twirls ...
to lose oneself
in the blowing snow

Marion Naumann D`Alnoncourt

im zarten neuschnee
der schlurfende schuhabdruck
vom kranken nachbarn

in delicate snow
the shuffling footmark
of the sick neighbour

Gabriele Brunsch

Browse over to the WHC-German Winter Issue 2009 web site to read the many other fine poems.

On a belated note, Issue 3 of Magnapoets arrived in my mailbox last week. This is the anniversary issue of a journal that includes/accepts haiku, senryu, tanka, longer forms of poetry, and short stories. Here are three poems from this poetry-packed issue:


free public library
concert, symphony and
singers, two hours of
Gustav Mahler and a
reception for everyone,
then through sliding
glass doors into bitter
winter weather . . .
moments of
so much more
than this homelessness. . .

-- ayaz daryl nielsen

spring cleaning
we neaten the piles
of junk

-- Liam Wilkinson

after driving for hours
I lie down
holding a pool
of the Atlantic Ocean
in my belly button

--Collin Barber

This issue also features the Pushcart Prize nominations. Subscription and submission information is available at

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Marjorie A. Buettner - Three Questions

Marjorie A. Buettner lives and writes in Minnesota. Her new collection of haiku and tanka is entitled Seeing It Now, published by Red Dragonfly Press. Marjorie's most recent journal publication credits are: Contemporary Haibun Online, Modern English Tanka, American Tanka, Simply Haiku, Ribbons, Gusts, Modern Haiku, and Frogpond. Her work has appeared in the following anthologies: Landfall, Ash Moon Anthology, Fire Pearls, Short Masterpieces of the Human Heart, County Roads, and The Tanka Prose Anthology. She also writes book reviews for moonset, Gusts, and Modern Haiku.

1) Why do you write haiku?

In Records of a Travel-Worn Satchel, Basho calls that special something inside which calls us to poetry a "wind-swept spirit." It is a deep calling and it seems I have been carried by this wind all of my life.

2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I love to write tanka, sijo, haibun and sedoka; each form depends upon the needs of the moment as long as you see, as the Sufi poets say, "with the eyes of the heart".

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

dark of the moon
the flavor of the hive
in the honey

(Third Place, Kusamakura International Haiku Competition, 2006)

winter rain —
finding that part of silence
which speaks to me

(Honorable Mention, Robert Spiess Memorial Haiku Award, 2005)

as if we could
change our lives . . .
summer moon

(Honorable Mention, Suruga-Baika 5th Literary Festival Award, 2003)

If you've been enjoying this weekly series and have not contributed, please consider sharing your response to the three little questions that Marjorie answered. You must be a published poet in order to participate.

John McDonald will be our guest next week.

moonset has a new web address

moonset has launched a new web site. Browse over to and check out the new look.

Submission guidelines are located on this page. Subscription information is available on this page.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lenard D. Moore recites haiku

Continuing our series of haiku readings, I present to you the current president of the Haiku Society of America, Lenard D. Moore.

I could have shortened the video a little, but Lenard's smile at the end is priceless.

I'd also like to thank Slap Johnson for giving me permission to use the wonderful saxophone riff at the beginning of the reading.

I shot this video with my very portable Flip Camcorder.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Contest, Journal, and Haiku Mastery

Angelee Deodhar sent in this information about The 20th Oi Ocha New Haiku Contest.

A new issue of Sketchbook is online and ready for viewing.

Merrill Gonzales sent a link to this video of editor, poet, and Red Moon Press publisher, Jim Kacian, discussing haiku mastery. Jim's talk is part of a much larger documentary by Tazuo Yamaguchi entitled Haiku: The Art of the Short Poem. The film and book combo is available for purchase at Brooks Books.

Jim Kacian on Haiku Mastery

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ryokan video & a free verse poem

Don Wentworth, proprietor of the always entertaining and informative Issa's Untidy Hut, has posted an intriguing video that contains a poem by Ryokan. I suppose you could call it a video haibun. The video is at the end of this post.

It's been ninety days since my free verse poem, Wheel Jammin', was published in the Christian Science Monitor. According to the contract I signed, rights revert back to me which means I can publish my poem on my web site or blog.

Wheel Jammin'

tapping bongo rhythms
on our steering wheels,
grooving to saxophone riffs,
setting the morning mood,
sun brighter, breeeeeze cooler,
all stoplights green;
for four minutes of radio time,
the lady in my rear-view mirror
isn't a soccer mom in a mini-van
and I'm not lost in an Olds,
we are lovers
of a smoooooth jazz song,
bobbing our heads
like bobblehead dolls,
wheel jammin' and smiling our way
through Hillsborough, North Carolina

--Curtis Dunlap

This poem was inspired by something I witnessed last April while driving to the North Carolina Haiku Society's annual Haiku Holiday. And for those of you curious as to what song was playing, I present via YouTube, the beautiful and lovely Sade:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Honoring Nick Virgilio

This just in from Ellen Compton:

Hello all,

The following letter invites you to an event honoring poet Nick Virgilio in the 20th year after his death. Attached are directions to the site of the event, with a map of campus on which it takes place. Please help to pass the invitation along.

Ellen Compton
Regional Coordinator
HSA Mid-Atlantic

Dear friends,

Nearly twenty years ago, on January 3, 1989, we lost a national treasure with the death of Nick Virgilio -- Camden resident and internationally renowned haiku poet. In the years since his death, the Nick Virgilio Haiku Association, formed to foster his legacy, has learned just how deeply his poetry and persona have influenced school children and poets laureate, other haiku poets and members of his Camden community from neighbors to high ranking elected officials.

We invite you to join with us as we celebrate – in our personal and collective stories and poetry, critical reflections and artists’ interpretations of Virgilio’s haiku – the gift of his life and art to all of us!

Sunday January 25th, 2009 from 2PM – 5PM
Rutgers University Campus Center, Camden New Jersey
Tickets are $10, but seating is limited.
Reserve your place now!*

Nick first discovered haiku when he found Kenneth Yasuda’s Pepper Pod at the Rutgers Library in 1962. Nick transformed himself from disc jockey and sports broadcaster to an early master within the American haiku movement. In the process, he touched many lives. His voice was heard on NPR, as a regular commentator on Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon in the 1980’s. At home he taught haiku in the schools, volunteered at Sacred Heart Church in Camden and was the poet in residence at the Walt Whitman Poetry Center when it was founded in 1976.

Renowned poet and critic Cor van den Heuvel called him “…one of America’s most loved haiku poets.” Fr. Michael Doyle said: “He was pure flame in a battered city, a spark in a dark place.”

Your participation in this event will help the Nick Virgilio Haiku Association to preserve his legacy for future generations, support teaching haiku in the schools, and further creative projects, including a possible one-man play, based on his life and art.

*Please reserve your place ($10 per person) today by calling (856) 365-0136 after 6PM, or by sending an e-mail to:

Warm regards,

Gary Warner responds to the Basho video

With Gary Warner's permission, I'm publishing an email he sent in regard to the Basho video.

I'm not sure if you are aware of two plays by Edward Bond that focus on this scene from Basho.

The first (1968) was "Narrow Road to the Deep North". Its described as a "satirical play on the British Empire", based on Oku no Hosomichi.

The second (1977) was called "The Bundle" and is basically a new version of the first. (Patrick Stewart actually played this role for the Royal Shakespeare Company, in December of 1977, which may have been its premiere)

Both would be well worth the read to people interested in the moral dilemma presented in the Basho video.

In the first, after Basho chooses not to adopt the baby by the river bank, the baby grows up into the tyrant Shogo. In the second, it is Basho who becomes the overlord, and the baby becomes "Wang", a revolutionary leader seeking to overthrow Basho.

Narrow Road opens with a Noh-style quickie context spoken by Basho:


"My name is Basho. I am, as you know, the great seventeenth-century Japanese poet, who brought the haiku verse form to perfection and gave it greater range and depth. For example:

Silent old pool
Frog jumps

I've just left my home in the village here (points offstage) and I'm going on a journey along the narrow road to the deep north and when I reach there I shall become a hermit and get enlightenment."

(There's some very nice interpretation and commentary on the play in "Dramatic strategies in the plays of Edward Bond" by Jenny S. Spencer. Spencer notes, however, that despite this being an accurate translation, it always invoked laughter from the audience. Spencer goes on to say "The Japanese priests of Narrow Road are portrayed as essentially comic, benign, and totally useless".

While Basho and the abandoned infant, risen to power as Shogo, battle things out in a traditional military way, Kiro, Basho's original traveling companion, turns out to be the sympathetic character of the play. Kiro is the one who takes up Basho's original search for enlightenment, and who is moved to despair by the events of the poem, giving the audience a moral compass with which to interpret the events of the play.

There's quite a bit of useful and insightful interpretation by Spencer in her book, on both plays. Her section on The Bundle comes later in the book (pp.125-135) under the heading "Political Parables", much of which can be found in Google Books here:

"Dramatic Strategies in the Plays of Edward Bond"

Here's a bit about "The Bundle" from "Modern British Drama" by C.D. Innes

"Edward Bond (1934-): rationalism, realism, and radical solutions

"Social themes and realistic modes"

"...The social role of art being his primary concern, Bond focuses on the figure of a poet as early as "Narrow Road to the Deep North" in 1968. Basho is an idealist who, in using the abstract ideals of art as an excuse for non-involvement, becomes responsible for atrocities. When the abandoned baby he leaves to die on his quest for 'Enlightenment' survives to revenge himself on society by seizing power, Basho brings in colonial overlords, ending up as the figurehead of an evil regime. He represents false culture; and as the only outright 'villain' in Bond's early plays, he reflects the strength of Bond's conviction that art must be politically committed. There is even the suggestion that if there were no injustice or oppression, then there would be no reason for art at all: 'In an ideal society...[Basho] would have picked that baby up, gone off the stage and there would have been no necessity for a play.'

"The Bundle" (1978) makes the point even clearer. Instead of an itinerant seeker of 'Enlightenment', Basho has become rich: the active agent of oppression, rather than merely its apologist. This time the abandoned baby turns into a revolutionary leader, radicalized by Basho's lack of principle; and the victory of the common people destroys Basho. He is merely a polemic figure.


So in "The Bundle", the writer's role has been taken over by the revolutionary activist, who spreads political consciousness through actions, not words. The ending, where the revolutionary throws a baby into the river as a conscious political act that the dramatic context supports, graphically reverses the standpoint of his earlier plays.

6 - Bond, interview in "Gambit", 5, no. 17 (1970), p.9


In the latter he grows up to be the revolutionary Wang. In the latter play, Wang, now an adult, himself finds an abandoned baby by the river. He scoops up the bundle and throws it into the river.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Liam Wilkinson - Three Questions

Liam Wilkinson lives in Yorkshire, England. His haiku, tanka and haiga have appeared in many online and print journals including Modern English Tanka, Ribbons, Simply Haiku and Presence. He is the founding editor and curator of the 3LIGHTS Gallery of Haiku & Tanka and co-editor of Modern Haiga. His website can be found at

1) Why do you write haiku?

I began writing haiku whilst studying at university in Scarborough on the North-east coast of England. At that time my free verse was being published here and there and I thought of haiku as a necessary relief to all that longer poetry. As time has moved on it's become apparent to me that haiku does the job better than longer poetry. I'm both fascinated and terrified by the rapidity of time and how quickly the present becomes the past. Haiku has helped me to seal the jar around particular moments in a way that no other art form could ever do.

2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I'm a tanka obsessive. I keep a tanka journal and take it with me wherever I go. In early 2008, I left a tanka at the World Trade Centre memorial in New York. It's become second nature to me to write tanka.

As for the poetry of others, I'm a big fan and collector of poems by Frank O'Hara and the New York School, including Ted Berrigan, James Schuyler, Ken Koch, Bill Berkson and John Ashbery.

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

this infinite morning—
a constellation of crumbs
on the carpet

(Magnapoets #1, 2008)

sea moving out
the pier legs
naked again

(Presence #29, 2006)

blowing the candle
blowing the candle
blowing the candle out

(Bottle Rockets #15, 2006)

If you've been enjoying this weekly series and have not contributed, please consider sharing your response to the three little questions that Liam answered. You must be a published poet in order to participate.

Marjorie A. Buettner will be our guest next week.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A column and a reading from the past

Paul David Mena has written an interesting haiku column over at The name of the column is haiku from the street - Wall Street. Paul writes:

While most haiku concern themselves with nature, taking their subject matter from the changes of season, the rise and fall of the stock market has its own cyclical attributes that can be readily observed...(the column continues here)

I stumbled across a gem of a reading while searching for haiku videos on YouTube. Here's a video of Raffael de Gruttola discussing haiku and reading a few poems that was recorded before there was a YouTube.

I've just realized that I've posted something about all three members of The Metro West Renku Association within a week. Perhaps Blogging Along Tobacco Road should do a feature on the group, eh? ;-)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bruce Ross on the Basho video

With his permission, I'm publishing an email I received from Bruce Ross in regards to the Basho video. If you would like to respond to Bruce's email, click the COMMENTS link at the end of the post. You will need a Blogger account to post a comment.

Concerning the Basho's abandoning the child, years back I checked the translation in response to others' outrage. But there it was.

At last night's Bangor Haiku Group meeting I brought up the video and everyone was outraged. Pressing for an understanding of Basho's act, Bob said Basho's haiku reflected a "cold, objective" attitude, one I had discerned in this incident, and therefore (and I would agree) Bob could see such an attitude in this act.

In our modern Western culture the homeless have a social net, if they want it, a majority of them probably mentally ill. This New Year's Eve in Boston I saw the same beggar standing in the same general area as the year before. I passed him without giving him any money. On the way back from a dramatic presentation, I saw him again:

New Year's Eve
the beggar again
in the chocolatier

Whether he was using the facilities on this bitter cold night or buying a sweet or both I didn't know.

Basho, it seems, would offer compassion where he could (he refused accompanying the courtesans in "Oku no hosomichi" because he was going in a different direction; he left rice for the child).

Perhaps an understanding of his act could be found in popular samauri films. In one episode in the series on the blind samurai Zatoichi, the main character is given a baby by a dying mother. Buddhist practicing Zatoichi not only immediately starts looking for the baby's father but sprinkles milk on his own breast for the baby to eat. The ex-Shogun Executioner in an episode of "Wolf with a Cub" is holding the rope that dangles his son in a well while preparing to do battle with some enemies who put the son in the well. He lectures the son, in a way not unlike Basho's prayer over the baby's fate, on a Buddhist understanding of fate and death. Zatoichi places the baby with relatives. The son does not drown in the well. But Basho's baby is presumably real.

Basho's abandoned baby will probably die from the elements as Basho implied in his prayer. Is this cruelty in the most extreme? An abandoned child in the contemporary West would be rescued by a human service agency. Was Basho too old to care for the baby? Was it too difficult for him to search for a relative or help? Or (forgive the thought) was Basho honoring the chain of fate set off by the baby's parents? A hard nut to crack.

I've been a fan of Zatoichi films for about a year now. I believe the scene that Bruce is referring to is below. Slide the progress bar over to the 2:30 mark to see Zatoichi's attempt at nursing an abandoned child.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

In response to the Basho video

I've received a number of email in response to the Bashô reenactment video I posted a couple of days ago. Not surprisingly, many of you were disturbed to see the manner in which the great poet handled the situation of finding an infant alone by a river.

By special permission of poet, Edward Zuk, and Modern Haiku, I'm reprinting this haibun which also addresses this event in Matsuo Bashô's life:

Edward Zuk
Orphans and Beggars

One of the most controversial passages in Matsuo Bashô’s writings occurs in his Journey of 1684, when the poet encounters a toddler who had been abandoned and left to starve:

Near the Fuji River, we found an abandoned child about three years old sobbing in a piteous voice. “Assailed by the autumn wind, the blossoms on the bush clover plant will surely scatter tonight or wither in the morning,” I thought. “The child’s parents, unable to withstand the waves of the floating world, must have brought him to this swift river to await the end of his dewlike life.” I left him some food from my sleeve.

You who hear the monkey’s cries:
what of an abandoned child
in the autumn wind?

How could this have happened? Were you the object of your father’s hatred? Of your mother’s neglect? I can’t believe that your father hated you or your mother neglected you. No, this is Heaven’s doing; you must simply lament the fact that you were born unlucky. [Translation by Helen McCullough]

When I first read Journey of 1684 at university, I was so upset by it that Bashô tumbled from my pantheon of revered poets, and his work seemed tainted by what I believed to be his moral failings. How could he have left the infant to die? How could he not have done more? His musings about fate and acceptance seemed like poetic blather in this situation, and I found it easy to work up a sense of outrage that the haiku poet had been an observer and not an advocate.

Of course, I had passed by dozens — perhaps even hundreds — of street youth in Vancouver with less thought than Bashô had given this child. At most I had tossed them some change, muttered some consoling words to them or to myself, and then written a haiku, exactly as Bashô had done. Now I can understand Bashô’s actions in this passage. Few people of any age rise to the level of the Good Samaritan. I am no longer enough of a hypocrite to denigrate a poet for being an observer rather than a hero, even if I see our inaction as a human failing that neither of us has overcome.

She has fallen asleep
while begging for change —
the autumn moon


Reprinted from Modern Haiku 39:3 (autumn 2008), 84–85, with the permission of the author and the publisher.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Day After Christmas - A haibun by Roberta Beary

Here's a video I shot with my little Flip Camcorder of my good friend, Roberta Beary, reading one of her haibun at the HSA quarterly meeting in Winston-Salem last month. I think you'll be able to tell that she was a hit with the crowd.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Basho video reenactment

Okay, sometimes something will pop into your inbox that can't wait until mid-week. :-) My pal and reading partner Kate MacQueen discovered the video below. This reenactment seems timely in light of my recent Basho book review. You may want to click the full screen button just to the right of the volume/speaker indicator.

Folks, I was mesmerized. I'd love to see a full-feature movie!


Brett Peruzzi - Three Questions

Brett Peruzzi writes from his home in Framingham, Massachusetts. After majoring in English as an undergraduate, he earned a graduate degree in technical and professional writing and has worked in the technical communication field for over twenty years as a writer, editor, educator, and manager. He also has worked as a freelance journalist, covering topics ranging from microbrewed beer to Italian proverbs. Brett began attending meetings of the fledgling Boston Haiku Society in the late 1980s and soon after started publishing haiku and haibun in a variety of publications and anthologies. He is a founding member of the Metro West Renku Association, a trio of poets combining the traditional Japanese renga form with blues-influenced music forms. In addition to his appearances in print and online poetry journals, he has also been a featured poetry performer at a wide variety of venues in the Boston area.

1) Why do you write haiku?

For me haiku has an economy and distilled essence of our lives and world that is unparalleled in literature. I have been writing and publishing haiku for over 20 years now and no matter how busy my life has become, with things like relationships, parenting, and my career, there is always time to write haiku, in comparison to longer literary forms. Also, as a long-time student and practitioner of Buddhism, haiku is a wonderful way of seeing things clearly, just as they are in the present moment, and discovering beauty in the simple things found in our everyday existence.

2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I write (as well as perform) a lot of renku with my friends Raffael DeGruttola and Paul David Mena as the Metro West Renku Association ( I also produce the occasional haibun. I have also written and published free verse poems periodically over the years.

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

deep summer —
the sweet-smelling wake
of a hay wagon

The Heron's Nest, Volume III, Number 3, March 2001

A phoebe's cry —
river water drips
from the stilled canoe paddle

Modern Haiku, Volume XXIII, Number 3, Fall, 1992

A car's dragging muffler
throws a trail of sparks
autumn night

Frogpond, Volume XIII, Number 4, November, 1990



If you've been enjoying this weekly series and have not contributed, please consider sharing your response to the three little questions that Brett answered. You must be a published poet in order to participate.

Liam Wilkinson will be our guest next week.

2008 Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Awards

Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Awards news from Lee Gurga:

The Masaoka Shiki International
Haiku Awards

1. Purpose and Background of the Awards

The inaugural Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Awards were held in the year 2000. These awards were established based on the principles set forth in the internationally-transmitted Matsuyama Declaration, which was adopted at the Shimanami Kaido '99 International Haiku Convention held in September 1999. It is hoped that the Awards, named after the renowned poet and founder of modern haiku, Masaoka Shiki, will not only significantly contribute to raising international awareness of both Shiki as a universally-praised poet and haiku itself as the shortest form of poetry in the world, but that this event will also play a major role in promoting the Prefecture of Ehime and stimulating cultural activities in local communities.

In September 2000, the first Grand Prize was awarded to the French poet Yves Bonnefoy, with four other poets becoming Haiku Prize recipients. Following this, the Grand Prize of 2002 was awarded to the American author Cor van den Heuvel, alongside two other Haiku Prize recipients, and in November 2004, Gary Snyder won the Grand Prize and other Haiku Prizes were given to three recipients. Again this year, for the fourth time, the Grand Prize and several other Haiku Prize winners have been selected.

2. Prospectus

Whether in the East or West, the ever-widening popularity of haiku appears borderless. Haiku is said to be the most actively written and widely read form of artistic literature in the world today. Unlimited in its creative potential and unparalleled amongst short poetry forms in its unique sense of familiarity for the reader, the future of haiku as a leading literary form for the 21st century and beyond seems boundless.

These international haiku awards honoring the life and works of Masaoka Shiki, the founder of modern haiku, are presented to exalt outstanding achievement in the creative development and evolution of this literary genre, regardless of nationality or language. Recipients of these prestigious awards are expected to have a deep interest in haiku, and to possess a broad International perspective. This being so, it is important to note that the awards are not limited to already renowned haiku poets or to any specific field of specialization. Candidates from all professions and walks of life, such as poets, writers, researchers, translators, essayists, editors and so on are all considered equally.

3. Organizers

Ehime Culture Foundation, Ehime Prefecture, Ehime Prefecture Board of Education, NHK Matsuyama Broadcast Station, Ehime Shimbun, Japan Center for Local Autonomy

The 2008 Awardees

The Masaoka Shiki
International Haiku Grand Prize
(one recipient)

Main prize: Certification
Additional prizes: Prize money of 2,000,000 Japanese yen, the NHK Matsuyama Broadcast Station Award (commemorative gift), and the Ehime Shimbun Award (commemorative gift)

Mr. Tota Kaneko, Japan (Age: 89)

Mr. Tota Kaneko is one of the most active post-war authors. Realizing more faithfully than anyone else one of Shiki Masaoka's original ideas that "Haiku is part of literature" ("Haikai Taiyo (Essentials of Haiku)"), Mr. Kaneko voluntarily took the initiative in advocating and stressing the importance of sociality, plasticism, and avant-garde qualities in haiku poems. His campaign marked one of the landmark events in the post-war haiku history, which deeply penetrated not only a limited number of schools but the entire haiku population. This is exemplified by the fact that, although avant-garde haiku tends to be labeled anti-traditional, Mr. Kaneko's efforts have, on the contrary, inspired and animated classical haiku to an undeniable extent. His pursuit of avant-garde qualities in haiku actually helped clarify what traditional haiku has endeavored to achieve and, as a result, gave birth to a new movement of classical haiku. Mr. Kaneko has been devoted to nouvelle haiku, without losing respect for popular poets such as Issa Kobayashi or other wandering haiku poets, as well as for indigenous poems associated with his own hometown Chichibu.

Furthermore, in the process of a sincere quest for what literature in the form of short poems beyond the genre of haiku should be, he did not hesitate to openly dissent from Kusatao Nakamura's viewpoint on modern literature and Kenkichi Yamamoto's interpretation of traditional haiku, and attempted to figure out a genuine standpoint of modern haiku. His achievement through such struggle is well represented in, among others, "Tanshi-kei Bungaku-ron (Perspectives on Literature in the Form of Short Poems)" co-authored with Takashi Okai.

By chairing a haiku group called "Kaitei" and by serving for a long time as the President of the Modern Haiku Association, not to mention in his works such as "Kyo no Haiku (Haiku of the Day)," Mr. Kaneko has contributed enormously toward popularizing and inspiring a new style of haiku and fostering a younger generation of haiku poets. In addition to the large number of honors and prizes he has already received, including the Modern Haiku Association Award, the Museum of Contemporary Japanese Poetry, Tanka and Haiku Prize, the Dakotsu Prize, and the Modern Haiku Grand Prize, he was awarded Person of Cultural Merits certificate in 2008 to celebrate his long-term commitment and achievement in the field of haiku.

He also made a great contribution in respect to the internationalization of haiku poetry, by visiting China and some western countries to promote haiku and by establishing an international department within the Modern Haiku Association.

Mr. Tota Kaneko was born in Saitama Prefecture on September 23, 1919. After attending Kumagaya Junior High School and the Department of Liberal Arts (German course) at Mito High School, he entered the Department of Economics at the Imperial University of Tokyo (these three schools only existed in the Japanese pre-war education system). In 1941, he first submitted his haiku to a group called "Kanrai" led by Shuson Kato. In 1943, he graduated the University earlier than scheduled and started working for the Bank of Japan, which he had to leave after only three days after enlisting in the Navy. When the War was over in November 1946, he came back to Japan and resumed his career at the BOJ in February next year. He rejoined "Kanrai," and also participated in the "Kaze" haiku group launched by Kinichi Sawaki. In January 1950, he co-published a haiku anthology "Kanae" (issued by Shichiyosha) with Hiryoshi Tagawa and Shuji Aoike. In 1955, he published a haiku anthology "Shonen," and was awarded the Modern Haiku Association Prize in the following year at the age of 37. It was around that time when he made up his mind to dedicate the rest of his life to the haiku poetry. In 1962, he launched and edited a coterie magazine named "Kaitei." In 1974, after retiring from the BOJ, he was appointed Professor of Jobu University (-1979). In 1978, he won the Saitama Prefecture Culture Award. In 1983, he was selected to be the President of the Modern Haiku Association. Since 1986 to present, he has been a regular haiku judge for "Asahi Haidan." In 1988, at the age of 69, he received the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon, followed by the 1994 4th Class Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette at the age of 75, both issued by the Government of Japan. In 1996, one of his haiku anthologies "Ryojin" won the Museum of Contemporary Japanese Poetry, Tanka and Haiku Prize. In 1997, he was given the NHK Broadcast Cultural Award. In 1999, he engaged in various projects related to the Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Awards. Since 2000 to present, he has been the Honorary President of the Modern Haiku Association. In 2002, another haiku anthology "Togokusho" won the 36th Dakotsu Prize, and "the Complete Works of Tota Kaneko" (four volumes) was published in the same year. In 2003, he received the Japan Art Academy Award, and was given the honor of being named as a permanent member of the Academy in 2005. In 2008, at the age of 89, he was awarded Person of Cultural Merits certificate. Mr. Kaneko remains a vigorous front runner in the world of haiku.

The Masaoka
Shiki International Haiku Prize
(one recipient)

Main prize: Certification
Additional prizes: Prize
money of 300,000 Japanese yen, the NHK Matsuyama Broadcast Station Award (commemorative gift), and the Ehime Shimbun Award (commemorative gift)

Mr. Biwao Kawahara, Japan (Age: 78)

Adjudicator's comments:

Mr. Biwao Kawahara creates haiku poems not only to represent nature but also to reflect ontological thoughts and recognitions. His haiku achieves exceptional prominence when he structures and visualizes in his mind an extraordinary world of poetic reality that widely differs from our daily experiences, and instantly verbalizes and sublimates such imaginary world into short poems.

Mr. Kawahara has impressed even those outside the field of haiku poetry. Makoto Ooka, for instance, greatly admires him, saying that "what makes his haiku so special and eminent is that it goes far beyond the realistic or objectively descriptive nature of haiku poems and ontologically approaches the mysterious domain of human beings," and that "he has pioneered a unique world that can be called a distinctive internal universe." Kunio Tsukamoto also reveres him, for the reason that "every now and then, the exquisite sharpness of Biwao's haiku, which even his master Koi Nagata was not able to attain, abruptly cuts into the mind of readers." Mr. Kawahara is a rare artist who has earned such enthusiastic praise from premier poets, authors, tanka and haiku poets, and Japanese literature scholars.

A collection of poetic fragments titled "Seifu no Hoho (Manners of the West Wind)" is one of his critically acclaimed works, and has often been rated on par with poems written by Novalis. It is an immense achievement that enriched the world of haiku by incorporating a sense of critique into haiku lines.


Mr. Biwao Kawahara was born in Hyogo Prefecture on April 28, 1930.

He graduated from Ryukoku University. He served in a variety of art-related positions including the Administrative Director of the Otani Memorial Art Museum in Nishinomiya.

While studying haiku under Koi Nagata, he joined the "Kotoza" haiku group.

He launched and edited a haiku magazine called "Jokyoku" (last published in 1989). He also used to be a regular contributor to the "Haiku Hyoron" coterie magazine.

He won the 3rd Haiku Criticism Award in 1967 and the 2nd Tategami Haiku Prize in 2004.

The Masaoka
Shiki International Haiku Prize Sweden Award
(two recipients)

Main prize:Certification
Additional prize: Traditional Swedish Pottery

      *The additional prize for the Sweden Award is offered by the Swedish Haiku Group. This new award is introduced to replace the EIJS (European Institute of Japanese Studies) Special Award presented in the previous three competitions.

Mr. Sonoo Uchida, Japan (Age: 84)

Adjudicator's comments:

Mr. Sonoo Uchida started composing haiku when he was a primary school student. After graduating from the Department of Law at the University of Tokyo, he entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As the Ambassador to Senegal, Mr. Uchida organized a haiku competition with the cooperation of the then president and a prestigious poet L.S. Senghor, which has gained great popularity over the last 30 years. The Moroccan haiku competition that he also initiated during his ambassadorship to the country has marked the seventh anniversary. Furthermore, when he was the Ambassador to the Vatican, he launched the "Italian Haiku Fellowship" to introduce and familiarize Italian people with haiku.

Upon retirement from the Foreign Ministry, he played a core role in establishing the International Haiku Association and, as its first chairman, endeavored to open the way for international exchange by means of haiku. His efforts at that time to promote mutual exchanges between countries by utilizing the momentum of haiku internationalization are detailed in his recent book "Sekai ni Hirogaru Haiku (Universally-recognized Haiku)." What he has achieved in terms of international exchange via haiku and its familiarization is totally unparalleled.

Yet he approaches international haiku in a very relaxed manner. "If you compare the Japanese classical haiku to the standard Sumo ring," he once said, "international haiku can be said to have a larger, square arena."


Mr. Sonoo Uchida was born in Singapore on March 28, 1924. After coming back to Japan, he attended a kindergarten situated in his father's hometown, Uwajima, for two years. Together with his father, he learned haiku under Tannu Ozaki, an old classmate of his father's at Uwajima Junior High School, who was one of Kyoshi Takahama's haiku pupils and who chaired the "Saezuri" haiku group. Mr. Uchida's first haiku was composed while he was only a primary school student.

He graduated from the Department of Law at the University of Tokyo, and further studied Graduate Studies at TCU (U.S.A.). His professional career started in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When he resided in Senegal, Morocco, and the Vatican as the Japanese Ambassador, he introduced and familiarized the local people with haiku. Upon retirement from the Foreign Ministry, he played a core role in establishing the International Haiku Association, where he was later appointed first Chairman. His efforts at that time to promote mutual exchanges between countries by utilizing the momentum of haiku internationalization are detailed in his recent book "Sekai ni Hirogaru Haiku (Universally-recognized Haiku)."

Mr. Uchida belongs to the Japan Art History Society and the International Association of Art Critics Japanese Section. He also advises the International Haiku Association, the Modern Haiku Association, the Association of Japanese Classical Haiku, and the Haiku Association of Japan. He used to contribute his haiku to the "Saezuri" haiku magazine. His haiku pen-name is Ensei.

Mr. O-nyong Yi, South Korea (Age: 74)

Adjudicator's comments:

Mr. O-nyong Yi is one of the most prominent South Korean scholars interested in Japan and its culture. Soon after graduating from the Seoul National University, he emerged as an editorial writer for major South Korean newspapers such as "Hankook Ilbo" and "Chosun Ilbo." Concurrently, he released a wide variety of literary reviews as Professor of Ewha Womans University. In 1982, while teaching as an Affiliate Professor at the University of Tokyo, Mr. Yi published "'Chijimi'-shiko no Nihonjin (The Japanese tradition of 'Smaller is better')," a phenomenal top best-seller that harshly criticizes its geographically-nearest neighbor country, yet tries to understand, the Japanese people who tend to blindly admire western culture, by comparing them to sunflowers ceaselessly following
the sun (= the West).

One of the crucial elements that inspired him to take particular note of the Japanese orientation toward the concept of "smaller is better" was haiku poetry, a super-short form literature. His interest was fully represented in "Haiku de Nihon wo Yomu: Naze 'Furu-ike no Kawazu' Nanoka - Nihonjin no Bi-ishiki, Kodo-yoshiki wo Saguru (Reading Japan with Haiku: Why 'a Frog in an Old Pond': An Analysis of Sense of Beauty and Behavior of the Japanese)," and was further detailed in "Kaeru wa Naze Furu-ike ni Tobikondaka: 'Haiku' to Nihonjin no Hasso (Why Did the Frog Jump in the Old Pond: 'Haiku' and the Japanese Imagination)." They are remarkable, philosophical critiques that, by effectively citing famous haiku poems by Basho, Buson, and Issa among others, succeeded in analyzing haiku’s charm and mysterious power that reflect the life, society, nature, and universe within the compact verse by mixing these themes altogether and then perfectly harmonizing them.


In 1934, Mr. O-nyong Yi was born in Chungcheongnam-do (South Chungcheong), South Korea. Following graduation from the Department of Korean Literature at the Seoul National University in 1956, he obtained a master's degree from the Graduate School of SNU in 1960. He then served in a variety of high-ranking posts such as a lecturer at SNU, editorial writer for "Hankook Ilbo" and "Chosun Ilbo," and professor of Ewha Womans University, as well as the first Director of the Culture Department (equivalent to the Minister of Culture and Education) in South Korea. He is also a literary critic who organizes and edits the "Philosophy of Literature" magazine.

His major works include: "'Chijimi'-shiko no Nihonjin (The Japanese tradition of 'Smaller is better')" (1982), "Haiku de Nihon wo Yomu: Naze 'Furu-ike no Kawazu' Nanoka - Nihonjin no Bi-ishiki, Kodo-yoshiki wo Saguru (Reading Japan with Haiku: Why 'a Frog in an Old Pond': An Analysis of Sense of Beauty and Behaviors of the Japanese)" (1983), and "Kaeru wa Naze Furu-ike ni Tobikondaka: 'Haiku' to Nihonjin no Hasso (Why Did the Frog Jump in the Old Pond: 'Haiku' and the Japanese Imagination)" (1993).

Previous Awardees

The First Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Awards

September 2000

Grand Prize: Yves Bonnefoy (France)

Haiku Prize: Li Mang (China), Bart Mesotten (Belgium), Robert Spiess (, United States of America)

EIJS Special Award: Kazuo Sato (Japan)

The Second Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Awards

December 2002

Haiku Prize: Cor van den Heuvel (United States of America), Satya Bhushan Verma (India)

EIJS Special Award: Shigeki Wada (Japan)

The Third Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Awards

November 2004

Grand Prize: Gary Snyder (United States of America)

Haiku Prize: Hidekazu Masuda (Brazil), Ko Reishi (Taiwan)

EIJS Special Award: Bansei Tsukushi (Japan)

The Adjudication Process


July 2008: Nomination of candidates for the prizes from the nominators (207 in Japan and 87 abroad)

September 8, 2008: First assembly of the Award Selection Committee in Tokyo to reach a consensus on general selection criteria and to fix the timeline

October 25, 2008: Meeting of the Organizing Committee in Tokyo to screen candidates

November 20, 2008: Second assembly of the Award Selection Committee in Tokyo to finalize the awardees

December 12, 2008: Awardees officially announced

February 15, 2009: Official Award Ceremony at the Himegin Hall (Ehime Prefectural Convention Hall) in Matsuyama

February 16, 2009: Commemorative Lectures in Tokyo

The Award Selection Committee

Akito Arima (Haiku poet, Chairman of the International Haiku Association)

Vice Chairman:
Toru Haga (Honorary President of Kyoto University of Art and Design)

Sagicho Aihara (Haiku poet, Chairman of the Ehime Haiku Association)

Teiko Inahata (Haiku poet, President of the Association of Japanese Classical Haiku)

Willy Vande Walle (Professor of Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium)

Kiyoko Uda (Haiku poet, President of the Modern Haiku Association)

Koji Kawamoto (President of Otemae University)

Yukitsuna Sasaki (Tanka poet, Professor of Waseda University)

Kazuko Shiraishi (Poet)

Shugyo Takaha (Haiku poet, President of the Association of Haiku Poets)

Miki Takeda (Director of the Matsuyama Municipal Shiki-Kinen Museum)

Haruo Shirane (Professor of Columbia University, U.S.A.)

Tsunehiko Hoshino (Haiku poet, Vice Chairman of the International Haiku Association)

Gozo Yoshimasu (Poet)

Lars Vargö (Swedish Ambassador, scholar of Japanese literature)

Lee Gurga (Haiku poet, haiku scholar)

Gania Nishimura (Haiku poet, former Director of Ehime Prefecture

The Organizing Committee

Koji Kawamoto (President of Otemae University)

Shuri Kido (Poet)

Shinji Saito (Haiku poet, President of Shinyasoshosha Publications)

Bansei Tsukushi (Haiku poet)

Yasuko Tsushima (Haiku poet)

Toshinori Tsubouchi (Haiku poet, Professor of Bukkyo University)

David Burleigh (Haiku poet, Associate Professor of Ferris University)

Kiwao Nomura (Poet)

Mamoru Murakami (Author)

Rie Yokoi (Haiku poet, Associate Professor of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)

Toru Haga (Honorary President of Kyoto University of Art and Design)

Gania Nishimura (Haiku poet, former Director of Ehime Prefecture)