It has been a while since the THF Roving Ambassador, Roberta Beary, has updated her itinerary. Of course COVID was one of many factors in this enforced hiatus. Happily she recently had the opportunity to visit the United Kingdom. Here is a report of her visit to Bristol from Alan Summers.
It’s always wonderful to hear that Haiku Foundation Roving Ambassador, Roberta Beary, is visiting the UK,! We arranged to meet in Bristol after a Flash Fiction conference, for an evening meal. As Bristol is my former childhood city, it was doubly wonderful for Karen Hoy and me, both representing Call of the Page, to meet Roberta and her husband Frank Stella at the Hilton Garden Hotel, where were staying and a mere “stone the crow’s throw” or “yell” away from Bristol’s Temple Meads train station (designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel).
We talked during the walk to find a restaurant, talked during our longish wait for our meals, and ate, talked, and enjoyed the food once it arrived! The restaurant was sussed out by Karen & Roberta, as both of them need gluten free meals with other dietary concerns. Karen made sure we were somewhere not crowded and outside, and this place was just off one of Bristol’s many harbour sections, and not too close to anyone else for health and haiku reasons. I have actually witnessed an entire pub, on its upper floor, emptied due to an overzealous poetry co-ordinator in the past, so we were not anywhere close to anyone at all!
Various topics came under discussion, between Karen and Roberta when I was talking to Frank, and myself and Roberta when Karen was talking to Frank! Frank is such good company and there was no way we’d make him a “haiku or haibun widower”!
One tip for haibun, and even haiku, via cover letters!
We did talk about ‘cover letters’ and this has been ruminating with me ever since. Now, as we are talking about the distilled genres of haiku and haibun (and related genres), the order of the day is to keep the cover letter just as short as a haiku, or even shorter! Be reassured the editors want to read your work, your submitted poems, so it’s best not to delay or frustrate them with any introduction/cover letter that is beyond a single short sentence, as it will greatly slow them down getting down to actually reading the work itself!
It also doesn’t matter if you are a new name, or only ever written a lot of haiku over the years but never haibun, until now: Remember that the work represents you far better than any extensive cover letter.
Avoid the Goldilock’s method!
Roberta’s chat about haibun and cover letters inspired me to formulate how to present our work “better”. Whether it’s our first haibun ever, or our 30th haibun, we mustn’t treat these haibun like Goldilocks treated the three bears! And if you insist on re-enacting Goldilocks, we should do it privately, get through any mistakes, as there will be a few, as we all make them. So check over your grammar and syntax again, be sure it’s really the “best words best order” etc…, and then be really really sure to deliver the right goods to the editor in question.
I tend to read submission guidelines every time I submit again, whether they have changed or updated something, which is quite likely. It’s best to be sure we are getting it “just right” for the submission and for the editor. Our own ‘just right’ might be okay but don’t assume that is enough: Go through everything as if you are the editor yourself, and the most demanding one ever on the planet!
What to say in a cover letter?
Keep it incredibly simple and polite. Address the editor by name, and simply inform them you are submitting haibun, and let them know how many, going by the submission guidelines, and don’t go over the maximum that you can submit, and only send the maximum if they are truly really ready! Better to send one or two and leave one behind if there’s even a slight smidgin of doubt that it’s not quite ready.
Roberta Beary is the haibun editor for Modern Haiku.
Modern Haiku submissions regarding haibun:
“Please send up to 3 haibun per submission by e-mail or post. No more than one submission per issue, please. So send your best work. Please do not submit haibun that include previously published haiku.”
by Roberta Beary
Breakfast? Of course we all met up again the following day for breakfast, and had more fun! I do hope some of you get to meet Roberta, and Frank, great company, humour, and Roberta is an expert at so many creative forms of writing! As well as haiku and haibun, Roberta writes Flash Fiction, and prose poems (Deflection, a prose poetry collection, was named as National Poetry Month Best Pick by Washington Independent Review of Books).
The Haiku Foundation created the position of Roving Ambassador in January 2017, in collaboration with our Education Resources program, the initiative of our longstanding benefactor Roberta Beary. Ms. Beary fulfilled the role in 2017, as she embarked on round-the-world travel which saw her engage with haiku cultures on three continents. Her tenure was so successful that The Haiku Foundation was eager to have her continue in this role, and she has agreed. So, Ms. Beary continues as the THF Roving Amabassador for 2018. During this time she will help people around the world become more aware of the Foundation and its activities, in addition to giving readings and presentations. Now based in Ireland, her planned stops for the year include Italy and Portugal, and northern UK in summer. We’ll update you with her whereabouts as time goes along, and be sure to check here for her reports. Please notify her if you would like to try to schedule an appearance.