Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mark Brooks - Three Questions

Mark BrooksShimi (Mark Brooks) lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and two boys. Mark was very active in the haiku and renku communities in the early 2000s, eventually launching the popular haikai journal, haijinx, an international web-based affair that focused on the hai in haiku. haijinx suspended activity from 2003 through 2009.

In 2010, Mark's haikai twitter feed @haijinx started up and the blog portion of haijinx relaunched in March 2010. The archives of the original issues of haijinx are being converted for the new site and will be back online soon. and

Mark's poetry has been published and anthologized worldwide, including several editions of the Red Moon Anthology. His haiku and renku have often been honored with awards, including the Mainichi Haiku Contest (first prize), the BHS's James W. Hackett International Haiku Award (highly commended), the HSA's Bernard Lionel Einbond Renku Competition (multiple firsts and seconds), the Snapshots Haiku Calendar Competition (winner and runners-up), and the Penumbra Haiku Competition (finalists).

Mark's first manuscript won The Snapshot Press Haiku Collection Competition in 2002 and was published as A Handful of Pebbles (Snapshot Press, 2006).

Mark has used the haigô Shimi (silverfish) for haikai since 2004. Earlier haiku and renku are signed Mark Brooks.

1) Why do you write haiku?

That's a tricky question for me having disengaged with the haikai community for a few years.

I have always loved haiku, ever since working through Bill Higginson's (with Penny Harter) The Haiku Handbook in high school. When I came to renku, I really dove into haiku. And even while not active in the community the last few years, I kept writing and sharing haiku privately.

And that's my answer. I write haiku to share my experience by creating a new experience for the reader.

For me, the best haiku search out key elements of a drop of experience, juxtapose them, and thus encapsulate the whole glorious happening for others. These are not faux shasei moments of scientific “objectivity”. Emotions, implicit or explicit, permeate the best haiku and there is always a mixture of self and other. When such a happening is related well, haiku create a new drop, a new experience for the reader, one that hopefully moves them in some way.

2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

Oh, all types.

As a poet, I love renku, the communal aspects especially.

Old Japanese and Chinese poetry, particularly collections and poets that influenced haikai, are of particular interest. Han Shan (Cold Mountain) is a personal favorite, especially the Red Pine translations, though I love Gary Snyder's work. I enjoy Billy Collins, Frank O'Hara, Allen Ginsberg, etc. Eliot, Cummings, Blake, Rimbaud. I'm naming poets not forms, oh well. I'll stop.

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

I have a very hard time with this top three concept. I'm always partial to things I've written recently and then startled by something from long ago. The following older haiku tend to be well received and were reprinted here and there. All are included in my collection, A Handful of Pebbles.

heat lightning
an armadillo skitters
into a ditch

The Heron's Nest — Volume III, Number 3 (March, 2001), editor Christopher Herold

withering wind
the fence-builder pulls a nail
from his lips

5th Annual Mainichi Haiku Contest, International Section - 1st Prize, judge Toru Haga, 2001

rainy day
a tattered saijiki
holds open the door

Acorn 9, editor A. C. Missias (2002)

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 Mark answered. You must be a published poet to participate.


Area 17 said...

As Mark will know, these are my favourites too, along with many others as well of course. ;-)


Unknown said...

it is difficult for me to pick a favorite, all three of these poems I have always enjoyed too.

It is good to see you back Mark!

snowbird said...

Hi, Mark, I'm glad you listed poets as I too came through Han Shan and Frank O'Hara and the NY School taught me a great deal about objectivity... I'm glad you decided to answer the Three Questions. There is much to learn from your answers.

Jessie Carty said...

picking favorites is so very difficult but i really like the withering wind one :)