Sunday, March 15, 2009

Carlos Colón - Three Questions

Carlos Colón by Rose-Marie Lillian
Carlos Colón is the author of 11 chapbooks including Mountain Climbing and Clocking Out, two collections of haiku and concrete poetry; Sassy, a collection of linked poems written with Alexis Rotella, and Circling Bats and Wall Street Park, two books of concrete renku written with Raffael de Gruttola. His work has appeared in a variety of publications including The Red Moon Anthology, Modern Haiku, Journal of Poetry Therapy, Writer’s Digest, and Louisiana Literature. His poetry has also been part of three public art projects: the “Let the Good Times Roll” mural in Shreveport’s Festival Plaza, "Highway Haiku," and a renku display outside of a temple on Sado Island in Japan. In addition, Colón edited Voices and Echoes, the 2001 Haiku Society of America Members' Anthology and is editor of Shreve Memorial Library's Electronic Poetry Network (

1. Why do you write haiku?

The first reason: Through my years of writing poetry, I had most of my success by writing short poetry (usually humorous rhymed poetry), so when I came across a number of haiku publications in the 1990 Poet's Market, I decided to give them a try. Also, because I had been writing poems in various shapes, I felt I could easily work within the constraints of a haiku. I had previously written a rhymed poem in the shape of a turkey, and the poem even had internal rhyme as well, so I figured I should be able to shape my thoughts into 17 syllables. Well, it wasn't that easy! I spent weeks on one haiku, and I never got it right. A few years later, I revised it enough for publication, but I still consider it more abandoned than finished.

The second reason: Modern Haiku editor Robert Spiess's rapid response for rejection or acceptance was one of the overriding reasons I continued writing and submitting haiku. After waiting three or four months for each rejection, a two-week rejection was refreshing . . . well, in a way.

The third reason: Discovering Marlene Mountain's concrete poetry in The Haiku Anthology was also a significant event, because I had been writing concrete poetry for 20 years, but had never considered using it in a haiku context. I feel very fortunate to have been able to later collaborate with Marlene Mountain, and with Alexis Rotella, and with many more writers whom I greatly admire.

This explanation was originally published as part of a "Beginner's Mind" article in Woodnotes 30 (1996).

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

Concrete poetry, renku, limericks, sonnets, quatrains, free-verse, and a little tanka, haiga, and haibun.

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

my way home
the starfish

published in RAW NerVZ HAIKU III:1 (1996) as part of "Mardi Gras Parade"

at the hazardous
        waste site
an eight-leaf clover

Point Judith Light II.2 (1993)

zen concert
an air guitar
slightly out of tune

published in RAW NerVZ HAIKU III:1 (1996) as part of "Mardi Gras Parade"
w/ Alexis K. Rotella

Thank you for this opportunity, Curtis, and for this important on-going series.


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

Billie Wilson will be our guest next week.


Harry Gilleland said...

This is an interesting post, with quite informative answers from Carlos. I enjoyed reading it.


Harry Gilleland

DickWhyte said...

Man - that Air Guitar poem is the one that got me into Carlos' work. What a fine poet.

Nice work.