I live in Santa Clara and work as a Librarian in San Jose, California. My embrace of (and commitment to) haiku has been a long, drawn-out affair. I became aware of haiku in 1962 through one of those Peter Pauper books. I started writing haiku seriously in 1984. I published a chapbook, Shorelines, with my friend Tony Mariano in 1998. My publishing career otherwise remained at a low-level until 2008. Other interests include haiku theory and haiku practice. In the last few years I also began writing and publishing tanka. My fever for these forms might cool within the next sixteen years.
1) Why do you write haiku?
A haiku is like a short diary entry. Accumulate hundreds and possibly thousands over the years, and you have your life and your world, as lived and imagined, in telegram form.
There is a certain satisfying work and surprise in writing haiku. You can wrestle an initial raw haiku into a worthy form. Sometimes, you can literally yank a haiku out of your head and onto a piece of paper through your hand.
a startled haiku
My goal is to write haiku that covers the ground around and between realism and magical realism. I want to remain somewhere in the public realm, even if minimally. I don’t want to veer off into the too, too private abyss of surrealism and abstract symbolism. Beyond a certain point, words and meanings become blank, white stones.
and your stones don’t speak
to each other
One extreme position tends to lead to its extreme opposite position. A certain amount of novelty and risk over time is always wanted and needed. Some English haiku writers are heading off into a long infatuation with gendai haiku. They are following after the Japanese again, and the Japanese have probably moved on elsewhere. So what. There's a momentum to this desire to do something different, so it sort of has to happen. But be prepared; it will get weird.
2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?
I can best answer this by naming some poets and books I enjoy: Juan Ramón Jiménez; Theodore Roethke; Technicians of the Sacred; Eskimo Poems from Canada and Greenland; News of the Universe; Rumi; Han-Shan; and various translations of the Tao Te Ching. Also, there are individual Zen and non-Zen poems in books and anthologies too numerous to mention.
3) Of the many wonderful haiku you’ve written, what do you consider to be your top three?
As I walk
stones leap into butterflies
land back into stones
Frogpond, 33.1, Winter 2010
the roses wither –
no screaming here
Mu, Online Issue 1, February 2011
in a blizzard and thankful
for my cup of tea
Haiku Now!, 2011 Noteworthy Mention in Innovative Category
If you are enjoying this series and have not contributed, please consider sharing your response - whether it be for haibun, haiku or tanka - to the three little questions that Bruce answered. You must be a published poet to participate.