Author Topic: How did you meet haiku?  (Read 4533 times)

Julie B. K.

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How did you meet haiku?
« on: December 30, 2010, 11:34:01 PM »
As recently as 2008, I would have told you that I hated haiku.  It was my least favorite poetic form.  Somewhere along the line, I became convinced that I could never write - nor understand - these short forms.  In my family-friendly science blog, I had this to say:

a difficult form
even with 5-7-5
this is not haiku

However, since I like both science and poetry, I bumped into science fiction poetry.  This led me to write Fibonacci Sequences and scifaiku.  For reasons that I can't explain, scifaiku got past my anti-haiku bias.  Once I started writing these little poems, I became obsessed.  I discovered Scifaikuest and submitted a few poems for publication.  In my cover letter, I mentioned that this was my first batch of scifaiku.  Editor teri santitoro was very encouraging and published some of my work.

So, for me, scifaiku provided an entry into haiku.  I doubt that I ever would have developed a passion for haiku if not for scifaiku.   

How did you meet haiku?

Julie B. K.


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Re: How did you meet haiku?
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2010, 07:06:43 AM »
Hi Julie,

I think I heard a "haiku" being read in the British poetry group I was in, back in 1990.  It just sounded very clever and cryptic, and on hindsight now, I doubt it was a haiku.  It put me off until I discovered Ross Clark's Local Seasonings while I was living in Queensland, Australia.  It turned me around. ;-) 

Fortune had it that Ross was holding a workshop in a few days time, and what really spellbound me, was when he performed his collection.  Ross is a musician, performance poet, and page poet winning the Centenary of Federation Medal, and Queensland Writers' Centre Johnno Award, "for outstanding contribution to Queensland writers and writing".

Ross performed his haiku in an entirely different way to the reverential way I read his book, and I knew immediately I was onto something that would hook me forever.

I was further lucky that my local Ipswich branch library in Queensland had two copies of Bill's Haiku Handbook, which was a veritable treasure trove.  I got the book out and took it to my education event in KL, Malaysia and devoured it cover to cover, and borrowed the book on several occasions until I bought my own copy a few years later.

I joined the Haiku Society of America, and shortly after Bill sent out a call for haiku for his Haiku Seasons Project which resulted in the Haiku Seasons and Haiku World books originally published by Kodansha.  It was my first major publication (see rainforest animals for one of them) and spurred me on. 

As I was leaving Australia to go back to the U.K. I was invited by Paper Wasp (then a Brisbane haiku group only) to join them alongside Janice Bostok.  So I joined, but became an overseas member.  Fortunately Paper Wasp soon became international. 

Then I was asked about advice about an Australian Haiku Society being formed. It took a few years until John Bird made it happen with Janice Bostok, but here we are, and I'm proud to say that I am a Foundation Member of haikuoz aka the Australian Haiku Society. ;-)

Lots of things help me stayed hooked on haiku.  I was General Secretary of the British Haiku Society which saw some interesting developments, and at the start of the 21st Century I created Naked Haijin Productions which led some very innovative haiku activities. 

A few years ago With Words was created because of my increasing wish to work with schools and families, as well as organise major events such as the triple book launch of Wing Beats: British Birds in Haiku by Snapshot Press. 

In fact we had two booklaunches in one day!  Royal Festival Hall in the morning and afternoon as part of the Mayor's Festival and Japan-UK 150 (which saw 500,000 people attend the entire festival in London) where I also ran micro-workshops where people had to write a haiku to win my Haiku Journal which I also launched at the RFH; and the U.K. Poetry Society launch using up their cafe and lower levels to a packed audience.  We finished celebrating the launch at midnight, last haiku poets standing were myself and John Barlow!  I hasten to add that we weren't inebriated, just exhausted, as we both continued to add items to the events to make them even better. ;-)

My Area 17 blog shows a history of some of the many different kinds of events I do, but it's the combination of writing and experiencing haiku, plus the incredible live events be they haiku or renku.

In fact my long held ambition to run a huge renku session was realised when With Words was commissioned for the Hull Global Renga Project which elicited over 3000 contributions, and where I spoke and workshopped with around 4000 people who all enjoyed the experience.  The senku and accompanying book are due out later in 2011.

So how did I meet haiku?  I think it came looking for me, because I needed it.


Edward Zuk

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Re: How did you meet haiku?
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2011, 01:36:16 AM »
When in university, I began to read whatever I could about Japanese history and culture to get in touch with that part of my heritage (I am half-Japanese on my mother's side).  I read the chapter on haiku in Daisetz T. Suzuki's Zen and Japanese Culture and was hooked.  I began writing dozens of bad haiku influenced by Zen, or what I thought was Zen. 

I remember showing them to a girl who lived in the same residence.  She wrote hundreds of bad haiku influenced by Zen, which made her an authority of sorts.  But I didn't understand her haiku, she didn't understand mine, and that was that.


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Re: How did you meet haiku?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2011, 05:58:14 PM »
I was introduced to haiku by my 7th grade teacher in 1966,
I began to use the form to reduce my journals in the 70's,
by the 80's I was exercising the form to illuminate my paintings,
during the 90's I supposed that exercising the form had informed my thinking about my experience,
now I discover that haiku is an unending fount of ideas and information for me
into the new year
I look forward to haiku
teaching me wonder

Larry Bole

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Re: How did you meet haiku?
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2011, 07:08:24 PM »
My first contact with haiku was through Blyth's Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics in college, a paperback book long ago given away. Next was D. T. Suzuki's Zen Buddhism and Its Influence on Japanese Culture, a hardcover printed Showa XIII  1938, a gift from a college teacher, which I still have. Then in no particular order, Snyder's The Back Country, Kerouac's Dharma Bums and Desolation Angels, and then onto Blyth's 4 vol. Haiku, and 2 vol. History of Haiku. I bought those at J. Toguri Mercantile on Belmont Ave. in Chicago, run by the family of THE Tokyo Rose, the one that was prosecuted. I used to see her working quietly around the store, and wondered what her life was like.

What got me past the alleged Zen of haiku was reading Ueda's Modern Japanese Haiku. This book has a great introduction. And then a number of other books on down to today, as well as haiku-related journals, both print and online. But who can keep up with all of those? The first haiku magazine I read was Modern Haiku, which I first found in Madison, WI.