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Librarian’s Cache: Ty Hadman on Helen Chenoweth

Helen Stiles Chenoweth
by Ty Hadman

In an essay almost as lyrical as the poetry it celebrates, Ty Hadman discusses the haiku of Helen Chenoweth. He finds in her work alone almost sufficient reason to divert attention from the works of the past toward modern American accomplishments in this form. One of Chenoweth’s haiku in particular is even a worthy rival for Basho’s ‘old pond’, and he urges we discuss it with as much gravity and veneration as Basho’s poem typically receives.

Apart from the ethnocentrism, however, Hadman’s comment, from around the year 2000, heralded a change in tone, an assertion of maturity that echoed American writers of the 19C such as Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman, when they sought to desert European influences in favor of the challenges of the frontier, the new Adam and the ancient far East.

 

eaton200x200Garry Eaton is the Digital Librarian for The Haiku Foundation. On the first Wednesday of each month he will highlight some part of the Foundation’s holdings.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. I remember Helen very well. Jim and I were often in contact with her and the haiku group she was leading at the time. They were quite strict about the 5-7-5 haiku as most were in the 60’s.
    Many of her early haiku were published in American Haiku.
    I’m very happy to see that some of the early American haiku poets are being looked at again.

  2. Very interesting essay; sent me in search of HSC’s haiku and found in one of my old copies of Modern (Haiku Vol. 4. No. 3) one of her sequences titled “Lonely Things” complete with illustration.

    1. Thanks Roberta. It’s unfortunate we do not yet have a representative collection of Helen Chenoweth’s haiku in our Digital Library. However, I’m working on it.

      Garry

      1. I have found good used books at Amazon, at good prices. In looking for more information about Helen Chenoweth today, I saw that they have used copies of Pageant of Seasons: A Collection of American Haiku.

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