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Press Release: New Virgilio Collection

Started by Billie Wilson, April 05, 2012, 06:09:33 AM

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Billie Wilson

Just received the following press release from Rick Black of Turtle Light Press regarding a new book:  Nick Virgilio: A Life in Haiku.  Please also see the Events Calendar at for information about two book launch events to be held in Camden, New Jersey this month.

'The Bard of Camden' to be Honored With New Edition of Poems

Each day, Nick Virgilio went on a walk around his beloved hometown of Camden, New Jersey, a wandering poet in search of images that would inspire his haiku poetry. He was akin to great Japanese haiku poets who also went on long pilgrimages.

After hiking through neglected streambeds and past the run-down, crumbling buildings of Camden, which is still one of the poorest cities in the country, he would return to the basement studio of his family home on Niagara Road, where he spent hours under a bare light bulb, typing away on his old Remington in order to fine just the right words.

out of the water . . .
out of itself

One of the pioneers of haiku in the U.S., Virgilio wrote thousands of haiku poems ranging in subject matter from the Vietnam war to water lilies, from hookers on street corners to deaf mutes enjoying the World Series. He published two books in his lifetime but both are out of print and many of his other poems were simply left behind.

Now, a new editon of Virgilio's work is being published that incorporates his most famous poems, such as the "lily" poem above, as well as a large variety of poems that were either published in small journals or remained in his private papers.

"Without a doubt, Virgilio was one of the strongest haiku poets in the West," said Rick Black, the founding editor and owner of Turtle Light Press, which is releasing the collection, "Nick Virgilio: A Life in Haiku."

"When I found out that so many of his poems had never been published, I jumped at the opportunity," he added. "I have always loved his haiku, in particular his poems about his brother's death in Vietnam as well as life on the streets of Camden.

Haiku, short imagistic poems of 17 syllables or less, originated in Japan several hundred years ago and became popular in the U.S. at the start of the 20th century, then took off in popularity in the 1960s. It's a form of poetry that schoolchildren here are often taught because of its brevity and connection to nature but which can also be used to deal with a deep sense of loss.

Virgilio, whose papers are being archived at Rutgers University at Camden, is a beloved poet of many in the city, from the mayor to elementary school kids, and some of his poems have inspired street murals near the Sacred Heart Church and elsewhere. He was a regular commentator on the public radio program Weekend Edition with Scott Simon in its early years and was instrumental in helping to found the Walt Whitman Center for the Arts & Humanities in Camden.

The book, edited by Raffael de Gruttola – a former president of the Haiku Society of America – contains more than 100 unpublished gems as well as some of Virgilio's classic haiku, excerpts of an interview with him on Marty Moss-Coane's "Radio Times" show on WHYY in Philadelphia, two essays by Virgilio on writing haiku, a tribute by Monsignor Michael Doyle of Sacred Heart Church, photos and some facsimiles of the original manuscripts.

For more information, contact Rick Black: rick [at]turtlelightpress [dot] com


Alan Summers,
founder, Call of the Page

Chase Gagnon

That must be amazing to have a painting on a wall inspired by one of your poems. Amazing. This looks cool:)

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