Sunday, August 2, 2009

William Cullen Jr - Three Questions

Bill Cullen published his first haiku in Modern Haiku in 1988. His poems have appeared in many of the major journals over the years as well as several of the Red Moon Anthologies and in a number of contests (Henderson, Mainichi, Mie Times among others). He lives with his wife and fellow haiku poet Brenda Gannam in Brooklyn, New York. They have two college-age sons, Emmett and Charlie.

1) Why do you write haiku?

To release images within me that yearn to be free, so maybe, someday when I die, someone will take kindness on me and release my soul from the prison of my body and mind.

Other reasons I hope I aspire to include elevating the moral imagination of my people, making a contribution to the literature of my age, and learning to be a better husband, father, and friend.

2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I can’t think of a poetic form that I don’t enjoy.

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

It’s hard for me to say whether any of the haiku I've written qualify as 'wonderful', but three haiku of recent years that I have recalled are:

All Souls' Day
drop by drop by drop
yesterday's rain

Modern Haiku, 37.1, Winter Spring 2006

full moon
mist from my whisper
on her silver earring

Frogpond, 29:1, Winter 2006

a yacht on top
of a sand dune

Mainichi Daily News, March 3, 2009

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 Bill answered. You must be a published poet in order to participate.

Peter Newton will be our guest next week.


Area 17 said...

I liked all of Bill's haiku, but in particular, I thought this was stunning!

full moon
mist from my whisper
on her silver earring

With Words

Unknown said...

I only ever met you once Bill, and
I have to say that I am impressed
with your response: "learning to be a better husband, father, and friend"

I believe that Bill and Penny were
leading a renku workshop and you
happened to get stuck with me?

In my mind you are as prolific as John Stevenson is, which isn't a
compliment that I offer up this freely. When I open a journal, I look for you Bill.

snowbird said...

I too am impressed with your silver whisper...fascinating mind. "releasing the images within you..." Sometimes I try to understand them better??? But I like your idea to just release them. Still...once a word is chosen it's eternal....
Very interesting interview. Thanks. Merrill

Anonymous said...

gorgeous poetry ... hello ! its always lovely to find someone else to read ...

i love

full moon
mist from my whisper
on her silver earring

will explore and see if i can find more of your writings ..

so nice ... >>>Gina

Anonymous said...

Alan, Gene, Merill and Gina,

Thanks for your kind words.


Bill Cullen

Unknown said...


I see you published a poem in the Mainichi Daily News. I recall you giving a talk on haiku a few years ago in New York where you mentioned that American haiku poets seemed to need to cling to Japan for their poetic self-esteem.

Have you any further thoughts or reflections on that subject?


snowbird said...

Hi, Ron and Bill,
Re: clinging to Japanese haiku
Sounds very intesting. Sounds like a good topic for The Haiku
Foundation? If you two know any more on this topic I'd be delighted to hear from you.
Merrill Ann Gonzales

Anonymous said...


The obsessional need for a significant number of influential American poets to sacrifice our poetic heritage for a bit of the spotlight in the rising sun is the millstone around every American poet's neck who chooses to deal seriously with the haiku form. I don't know why that seems to be the case. It has nothing to do with the Japanese themselves; they have graciously given support to the genre throughout the world (such as the poem in the Mainichi Daily News which you referred to). Personally, I'm grateful for that.

But there's a difference when it comes to a deliberate turning away from one's own traditions as well as its developing needs. There's still alot of American poets who play at haiku like it was some kind of parlor game and they were retainers at the old Imperial Court. The whole attitude permeates their conversations, their writings and their poems.

Just take the word "master" and see how that's constantly bandied about. I don't know any “masters.” I just know other poets (personally or by their work). The concept of "master" is utterly foreign to the American tradition. A poet is as masterful as the last poem he or she has published.

Blogging is not my forte. The best commentary on haiku is another haiku. That's one of the reasons I keep writing it: to "snipe" away at those on the high ground who refuse to let the American flag share in the sunlight.


Jessie Carty said...

The silver moon haiku is my favorite, as well :)