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Elvis Has Left the Building . . .

Photograph by Sandra Simpson.
Photograph by Sandra Simpson.
We were all shocked to learn of the passing of Carlos Colón, aka Haiku Elvis, on October 30, 2016, apparently of a massive heart attack. Surprising, since Carlos seemed full of energy and radiated good health until the end, and no one, including those who saw him on a daily basis, saw it coming.

Many poets’ work moves us, as Carlos’ did. But he also made us laugh, which is perhaps a rarer thing. There was always a buzz in the crowd at Haiku North America in anticipation of his scheduled appearances, and it is no exaggeration to say that those performances were, for many, the highlight of past conferences. I know things will feel different in Santa Fe.

I had the good fortune to interview Carlos (and The King!) for his book Haiku Elvis (Laughing Cactus Press, 2013), which is a distillation of his approach to humorous storytelling in this vein. But he wrote in many other styles as well, and I recommend you become acquainted with them. He was a talented man, and you will not be disappointed.

Thank you, Carlos, thank you very much. You will be missed.

This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Carlos has been my friend and mentor since the early nineties when we were both in the Shreveport Writer’s Club together. Somewhere along the way he encouraged me to try haiku. Little did I know it would become a lifetime love of these three (or not) lines that link us all together. Carlos has been a constant source of knowledge and guidance to all of us in the haiku critique group here in Louisiana. He had a way of showing you the right way to proceed without sacrificing your dignity. I will always be indebted to him for all his words and I terribly miss my friend.

  2. Though I only knew Carlos from the internet, we connected through poetry. Such a kind and generous person! A profound loss not only for the haiku community but the whole of humanity.

  3. I so enjoyed time spent with Carlos at HNA in Albany. He was a kind, gentle and positive person who made you want to be the same. I also loved his performance as Haiku Elvis at the banquet. We shared a couple emails after the conference and were both looking forward to Santa Fe. It will not be the same without him.

    empty stage . . .
    in a pool of moonlight
    the missing rhinestone


  4. When I first met Carlos at the 2001 Haiku North America in Boston, my impression was that he was full of goodness and contentment. The last time I saw him, in his Elvis costume, I realized he was also full of joy!

  5. What a sad loss for the haiku community. I met Carlos at HNA 2015 and saw him again at a haiku conference in New Orleans. He has been a friend and a mentor to me ever since I met him. He did tell me he had a heart problem and seemed uncertain of what that meant for his future. When I remarked that one of my favorite haiku of his was the one about the starfish, he said, “That may be my death poem.” Last year I ordered some of his books from him, including The Inside Scoop: New and Selected Poems and Jiminy Limericks: A Collection of Animal Poems for Children. I highly recommend that you check out the links posted here, to see the wide range of his talents (if you aren’t already familiar with his non-haiku works). Carlos wrote me a note of encouragement as recently as last week, and it will take some time to realize he is gone. RIP, my friend, and thanks for your gentle poetic spirit that touched so many. You were wonderful to your father in his last years and I am glad you got to see your daughter married and your first grandchild before you left us. Here is the starfish haiku that appears in Haiku Elvis: A Life in 17 Syllables (or Less):

    my way home
    the starfish

  6. A sweet and gentle man with a sense of humor. I enjoyed meeting him for the first time at HNA in 2015. And, despite the rumors of Elvis in the building, I was surprised to witness him on stage. Just great fun. . . isn’t that what we’re here for I suppose.

    Peace to his family and his wide circle of friends.

  7. It was a real privilege to swap a few emails with Carlos as he edited some concrete haiku for me; his intelligence and warmth were obvious as was his genuine love of his craft. His ability to make us laugh is deeply appreciated and a blessing to us all – thank you Carlos.

  8. I was deeply saddened to hear the news last weekend.
    I first met Carlos at HNA 2013 and had the pleasure of meeting up again at HNA 2015.
    He had time for everyone and thoroughly enjoyed making people smile.

  9. Carlos and I got very close after meeting at HNA Seattle in 2011. We both shared a deep love for haiku and for our Catholic faith. I will miss him.

    Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let Your perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen

  10. I only met Carlos once, at HNA 2015, but before that, as Concrete Haiku Editor for the journal ‘Under the Basho’ he was a patient mentor while I was writing my one and only concrete haiku. In person, he was funny, modest and thoroughly nice. It was an honour to have known him, although so briefly.

  11. Carlos was a warm and generous man and a poet of many gifts–including that of laughter. He had as well the rare gift of humility, and a keen eye for what is real. And for me he was a dear friend. How we will miss him!

  12. The global haiku community has lost its Ambassador of Senryu. When I co-judged the HSA Brady Senryu Awards with Ellen Compton, we were happy to learn that Second Prize went to Carlos for this winning submission:

    in the middle
    of making love
    counting syllables

    Carlos Colon / Gerald Brady Memorial Senryu Award 2003

    Carlos was much more than a haiku poet. He was a generous friend, mentor, and family caregiver. If you were privileged to know Carlos, you understand why his loss is a deep one. He is forever missed.

  13. Carlos was a rare and wonderful being. He will indeed be missed . . . as is always the case with those we were most blessed to know.

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