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In the early 2000s, vince tripi was living in Novato, California, about a forty-minute drive from my rented cabin in Lagunitas. We corresponded for a while; his imaginative poems had awakened me to the possibilities of haiku, and I’d made him my mentor. I was too sick with Lyme to travel much, so he borrowed his roommate’s car and visited me a few times before moving East. I showed him the land, its peach and apple trees, paper wasp and hawks’ nests, and field of—my favorite—columbine, in ten different colors with beetle egg sacs stuck to the petals. His poem “monk and i” was inspired by the log bridge over Arroyo Creek, adjacent to the backyard, where I watched salmon spawn nine autumns in a row.
I don’t remember how he got the idea to start a series of pinch books; maybe it was from Longhouse Books’s folded broadsides, which look similar. But I remember that he wanted to work with artisan Ed Rayher of Swamp Press, and that he wanted me to be the first author because I was so new to haiku. I gave him lots of poems, I don’t know, maybe thirty. He liked four. He suggested changes for three more. Reading the poems, you can hear his influence.
vince chose beautiful colors and glued the books himself. Then I wrapped and inscribed them, using the pen to touch up my “bee” on the cover. I didn’t like it, had wanted to go with a more elegantly rendered ant and call the book a line of ants, but that had apparently been done. (I also at one point had the brilliant idea of calling it paper wasp.) Plus, vince suggested that people like bees. So bee dance it was, heralded by a perfect, stationary fly.
Since then I’ve moved several times: into town, then to Tucson, and then back to this town near San Fransisco, temporarily sandwiched between the highway and some old railroad tracks you can follow to the mall (with the traffic thoroughfare directly beyond). This summer the tracks will be ripped out and paved over, transformed into a smartrail . . . a far cry from salmon runs at Arroyo Creek. I am so grateful to vince for his initiative, for giving me something to give—not only to editors who had encouraged me and to other poets in the series, with whom I traded books—but also to my immediate community. Though my copy has been in storage for almost a decade, occasionally a local will tell me that they still have theirs, and for that moment it feels like home.