Bill Pauly is a recipient of a Touchstone Distinguished Books Honorable Mention for 2021 for his volume Walking Uneven Ground: Selected Haiku by Bill Pauly (Edited by Randy and Shirley Brooks. Taylorville IL: Brooks Books, 2021).
Commentary from the Panel:
In 2021 we lost one of our best champions for haiku and senryu. Those who have not read Bill’s poetry will enjoy learning from a dedicated teacher and poet of haiku and senryu. He won almost every award you can garner in his five decades as a haiku poet, but always seemed to be moving forward looking for a new way to express himself in this short form. You can see this progression in this wonderful presentation of his work that encompasses his entire time in haiku.
Here in this early haiku of his from 1977, you can see his mastery of the economy of the moment:
His poetry found senryu and he made it a form all his own, as this thoughtfully touching poem from 1980 shows us:
the deaf man
at his windowpane
The ability of Bill to turn tenderness into an art form is exemplified in this one that was discovered after his passing:
snow storm . . .
her in the dark
Bill’s humor and sharp wit are on full display in his senryu from the 2005 Brady competition:
grinding sausage meat
she recounts the times
her husband cheated
Always unafraid to tackle any subject, this poem written at the time of the Iraq War resonates in the current day just as strongly:
her son gone to war
thin hand translucent
And the title for this collection is taken from one of his last published poems that is a monument to his tenderheartedness:
walking uneven ground
to tend her grave . . .
There is much to glean from this collection of Bill’s work, and a lot to learn about the progression of haiku and senryu over the decades. But what stands out is the way Bill Pauly always seemed to lead the way rather than follow. One of his students quoted this advice he gave: “Find an editor worthy of your work!” Advice that any experienced or aspiring haiku poet can take to heart to this day.
See the complete list of winners of both Individual Poem Awards and Distinguished Books Awards in the Touchstone Archives.