Sunday, September 13, 2009

Three Questions - Rick Black

Rick BlackRick Black, a book artist, journalist and poet, is the founder of Turtle Light Press. Over the past few years, Rick has dedicated himself to learning the bookmaking trade so that he could combine his love of words and stories with his desire to work with his hands.

Rick has studied various facets of bookbinding with Maria Pisano, Susan Mills, Carolyn Chadwick, Yukari Hayashida, and Carol Barton, among others. In 2003, he was awarded one of eight emerging writer awards to attend an intensive Letterpress Printing Seminar at The Center For Book Arts in New York.

For more than twenty years, Rick was a professional journalist, including a three-year stint in the Jerusalem bureau of The New York Times. He has also freelanced for numerous newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, The Jerusalem Post, The Forward, Archeology, Cicada, and Cricket.

In addition to his work in journalism, Rick has been a haiku poet for the past ten years and has garnered several international awards for his poetry, including first prize in the James W. Hackett Award, sponsored by The British Haiku Society and third prize in the Betty Drevniok Competition, sponsored by Haiku Canada. His haiku have appeared in Frogpond, Cricket, RawNervz, Blithe Spirit, Still, and other journals. Peace and War is his first haiku chapbook.

Rick balances his work at TLP by gardening, reading, and spending time with his wife, Laura Ahearn, and their young daughter, Melanie.

1) Why do you write haiku?

I find writing haiku to be a meditative act that helps me maintain my balance and accept life in all its complexity, whether it be to my liking or not. I have always had a mind that registers seemingly insignificant moments, such as a woodpecker’s drilling, a firefly in the night, a geranium petal on an army boot. Crafting my own haiku has made me appreciate these moments even more by forcing me to concentrate on them and slow down.

2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I also enjoy writing longer, free verse poems that draw on the conciseness of haiku and the sense of haiku being, as R.H. Blyth wrote, “not a poem, not literature, but a hand beckoning, a door half-opened, a mirror wiped clean (Haiku, Volume 1, p. 243).” My poetry is nourished by many writers, but a few of my favorites are Matsuo Basho, Yehuda Amichai, and Mary Oliver. I also enjoy writing senryu as well as doing sumi-e painting though I have yet to combine my poetry and sumi-e in haiga. There are just too many things to do.

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

    my ailing father,
listening to the crickets;
    last day of August

Winner of the British Haiku Society’s James W. Hackett Award, 1996

    walking on the beach
remembering my mother —
    picking out seashells

Honorable Mention, British Haiku Society’s James W. Hackett Award, 1997

last clouds —
if only the violence
would drift away, too

Peace and War: A Collection of Haiku from Israel, 2007, Turtle Light Press

Thanks so much, Curtis, for providing this wonderful forum for the haiku community to get to know one another a little better by sharing our thoughts and poems.


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

Cathy Drinkwater Better will be our guest next week.


Pamela A. Babusci said...


loved your ailing father haiku!
so nice to see you here at tobacco

harmony & peace, pamela

haiku-shelf (Angelika Wienert) said...

I was so interesting to read this interview. Thank you!

And I love the last clouds-haiku!

Best wishes,