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Eric W. Amann

Eric W. Amann

January 16, 1934 - March 12, 2016

Eric (Escha) Amann was born in Munich in 1934. That same year, his father, Heinrich Amann, a well-known Communist, was arrested and sent to Dachau. His mother Franzika divorced Heinrich in 1935. His father was released from Dachau in 1941, survived the Russian front, and then remarried. His mother remarried in 1946 and she, her husband and Eric emigrated to Chester, Pennsylvania in 1952. In 1953, Eric was drafted for the Korean War and escaped to Winnipeg where he stayed with family friends from Munich. He earned his medical degree in 1961.
    Amann's interest in haiku began in the 1960s, sparked by the six volumes written by R.H. Blyth. Amann edited and published the first Canadian haiku magazine Haiku from 1967-1970. In 1977, he co-founded the Canadian Haiku Society with Betty Drevniok and George Swede. He edited and published Cicada from 1977-1982, and published one issue of konkret [a journey into the concrete and visual] in 1979. In the preface to the 1986 edition of The Haiku Anthology, Cor van den Heuvel wrote that Haiku and Cicada [were] perhaps English language haiku's most influential magazines [and that they] are still unsurpassed for excellence in both content and design, though both have ceased publication."
    In "A History of Haiku in Canada", Terry Ann Carter referred to him as "Perhaps the most influential figure in the formative years of the haiku movement in Canada."

Awards and Other Honors: Modern Haiku (1969); His work appears in all three editions (1974, 1986, 1999) of Cor van den Heuvel's The Haiku Anthology; Eminent Mention Award, Modern Haiku (1978); Yukuharu Grand Prize (1978); Eminent Mention Award, Modern Haiku (1979). Some of his work was selected to appear in Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years in 2013, but the editors did not receive a response from him.

Books Published: Plastic Flowers [a collection of poems] (1964); The Wordless Poem: A Study of Zen in Haiku (Haiku Publications, 1969); Cicada Voices: Selected Haiku of Eric Amann 1966-1979 [editor, George Swede] (High/Coo Press, 1983); No More Questions, No More Answers [a collection of one-liners] (1980); The House on Fountain Street [a memoir of growing up in Winnipeg] (2006).

Amann's The Wordless Poem: A Study of Zen in Haiku is available in The Haiku Foundation Digital Library.

Selected Work
 
Billboards
   wet
      in spring
         rain …
 
last day of autumn:
     and still the sunset lingers
in a one-way street.
 
 
 
Summer loneliness;
through the endless afternoon
cicada voices
 
First snow:
a nun in grey
feeding the pigeons
 
 
 
A night train passes:
pictures of the dead are trembling
on the mantelpiece
 
Snow falling
   on the empty parking-lot:
      Christmas eve …
 
 
 
The names of the dead
sinking deeper and deeper
into the autumn leaves
 
Winter burial:
a stone angel points his hand
at the empty sky
 
 
 
The circus tent
   all folded up:
      October mist
 
A mouse stirs
in the kitchen cupboard;
winter solitude
 
 

Credits: "Billboards" - Haiku Magazine 1:1 (1967); van den Heuvel, Cor, ed., The Haiku Anthology, New York: Anchor Books (1974); Cicada Voices: Selected Haiku of Eric Amann 1966-1979 [editor, George Swede] (High/Coo Press, 1983); Frogpond 7:1 (1984) [review]; van den Heuvel, Cor, ed., The Haiku Anthology, New York: Simon & Schuster (1986); van den Heuvel, Cor, ed., The Haiku Anthology, New York/London: W.W. Norton & Co. (1999); "Summer loneliness" - Cicada Voices: Selected Haiku of Eric Amann 1966-1979 [editor, George Swede] (High/Coo Press, 1983); Still 1:3 (1997); "A night train passes" - Cicada Voices: Selected Haiku of Eric Amann 1966-1979 [editor, George Swede] (High/Coo Press, 1983); van den Heuvel, Cor, ed., The Haiku Anthology, New York: Simon & Schuster (1986); Howard, Dorothy, and André Duhaime, editors, Haïku: Anthologie Canadienne / Canadian Anthology [Hull, Ont. / Aylmer, Que.: Éditions Asticou, 1985]; Frogpond 10:2 (May 1987) [review]; van den Heuvel, Cor, ed., The Haiku Anthology, New York/London: W.W. Norton & Co. (1999); "The names of the dead" - Haiku Journal 2:1 (1978); Yukuharu Grand Prize (1978); Cicada Voices: Selected Haiku of Eric Amann 1966-1979 [editor, George Swede] (High/Coo Press, 1983); van den Heuvel, Cor, ed., The Haiku Anthology, New York: Simon & Schuster (1986); Howard, Dorothy, and André Duhaime, editors, Haïku: Anthologie Canadienne / Canadian Anthology [Hull, Ont. / Aylmer, Que.: Éditions Asticou, 1985]; Frogpond Supplement (1997); van den Heuvel, Cor, ed., The Haiku Anthology, New York/London: W.W. Norton & Co. (1999); "The circus tent" - Haiku Spotlight 22 (February 1969); van den Heuvel, Cor, ed., The Haiku Anthology, New York: Anchor Books (1974); Amann, “Western Haiku”; Cicada Voices: Selected Haiku of Eric Amann 1966-1979 [editor, George Swede] (High/Coo Press, 1983); van den Heuvel, Cor, ed., The Haiku Anthology, New York: Simon & Schuster (1986); Still 1:4 (1997); van den Heuvel, Cor, ed., The Haiku Anthology, New York/London: W.W. Norton & Co. (1999); "last day of autumn" - Modern Haiku 1:1 (winter 1969) [Eminent Mention]; Cicada Voices: Selected Haiku of Eric Amann 1966-1979 [editor, George Swede] (High/Coo Press, 1983); Frogpond 7:1 (1984) [review]; Rotella, "Off the Page"; Alexis, M.D. Rotella (Editor), The Rise and Fall of Sparrows: A Collection of North American Haiku (Los Hombres Press, 1990); Frogpond 7:1 (1984) [review]; still 1:4 (1997); "First snow" - Cicada Voices: Selected Haiku of Eric Amann 1966-1979 [editor, George Swede] (High/Coo Press, 1983); Woodnotes 16 (spring 1993); "Snow falling" - Haiku Spotlight 67 (January 1970); van den Heuvel, Cor, ed., The Haiku Anthology, New York: Anchor Books (1974); Cicada Voices: Selected Haiku of Eric Amann 1966-1979 [editor, George Swede] (High/Coo Press, 1983); Modern Haiku 6:3 (1975); van den Heuvel, Cor, ed., The Haiku Anthology, New York: Simon & Schuster (1986); Frogpond 20:3 (December 1997); van den Heuvel, Cor, ed., The Haiku Anthology, New York/London: W.W. Norton & Co. (1999); Frogpond 24:2 (2001); "Winter burial" - Modern Haiku (1978) [Eminent Mention Award]; Cicada Voices: Selected Haiku of Eric Amann 1966-1979 [editor, George Swede] (High/Coo Press, 1983); van den Heuvel, Cor, ed., The Haiku Anthology, New York: Simon & Schuster (1986); van den Heuvel, Cor, ed., The Haiku Anthology, New York/London: W.W. Norton & Co. (1999); Still 2:1 (1998); "A mouse stirs" - Cicada Voices: Selected Haiku of Eric Amann 1966-1979 [editor, George Swede] (High/Coo Press, 1983); Frogpond 7:1 (1984) [review]; Rotella, "Off the Page"; Alexis, M.D. Rotella (Editor), The Rise and Fall of Sparrows: A Collection of North American Haiku (Los Hombres Press, 1990).

Sources Biography: George Swede; "A History of Haiku in Canada (in Two Parts)" by Terry Ann Carter; The Haiku Anthology (1974); The Haiku Anthology, 1974 and 1986, and 1999, Cor van den Heuvel; "Exploring the Zen Tradition of Haiku Through the Work of Eric Amann" an essay by Kathrin Walsch for the Millikin University library.

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