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Patricia Donegan

Patricia Donegan

May 2, 1945 - January 24, 2023

Patricia Donegan, MA, was a poet, translator, professor of creative writing, Fulbright scholar, meditation teacher, student of haiku poet Seishi Yamaguchi, and an advocate of haiku as an awareness practice. Previous poetry editor for Kyoto Journal, author of Haiku Mind: 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness & Open Your Heart and Haiku: Asian Arts for Creative Kids; and (with co-translator Yoshie Ishibashi) Love Haiku: Japanese Poems of Yearning, Passion & Remembrance; Chiyo-ni Woman Haiku Master. Her poetry collections include Without Warning, Bone Poems, and Hot Haiku. A new book of hers, an extraordinary collection of haiku and her elucidations, will be released in 2024 by Shambhala Publications. She was “Honorary Curator, 2017 – 2018” of the American Haiku Archives.
Patricia has died on, January 24th, 2023, following a short but onerous illness brought on by an allergic reaction to medication.
Her friend Elaine Martin shared the following:
During a recent visit with her brother she stated, 'I go willingly into the sound of the crickets.' Amazing that she uttered such words while moving between confusion, anxiety, and limited lucidity. She never stopped writing her poetry.
from: Remembering Patricia Donegan.

plucking my gray hairs—
beside my pillow
a cricket sounds
—Basho (1644-1694)

Awards and Other Honors:

First prize in the 1998 Mainichi International Haiku Contest; a Merit Book Award for translation from the Haiku Society of America for her book on Chiyo-ni (1998).

Books Published:

Hot Haiku, Kokoro Press, Boulder (1980); Bone Poems: Mini Cantos, Chinook Press, Boulder (1985); Without Warning, Parallax Press, Berkeley (1990) (foreword by Allen Ginsberg); Heralding the Milk Light: A Post High-Tech Poetics Cosmology, Kokoro Press, San Francisco (1993); Chiyo-ni Woman Haiku Master (with Yoshie Ishibashi), Tuttle Publishing, Tokyo (1998); Haiku: Asian Arts for Creative Kids Tuttle Publishing, Boston (2003); Haiku Mind: 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness & Open Your Heart, Shambhala Publications, Boston (2008); Love Haiku: Japanese Poems of Yearning, Passion & Remembrance (with Yoshie Ishibashi), Shambhala Publications, Boston (2010); Write Your Own Haiku for Kids, Tuttle Publishing, North Clarendon, Vermont (2017) [reissue of Haiku: Asian Arts & Crafts for Creative Kids, Tuttle, 2003].

Selected Work
last night lightning
this morning
the white iris
Summer twilight—
a woman’s song
mingles with the bath water.
Plum rain—
the young prostitute
washes her underwear.
I lay down
all the heavy package
autumn moon.
Alone tonight—
a cricket
in the fold of my nightgown.
the cypress tree & I
lean into the wind.
spring wind—
I too
am dust
into the darkness
the whisper
of silver grass
Winter afternoon
not one branch moves—
I listen to my bones
Moonlit night:
a bone
is broken.


“last night lightning” – Japan Air Lines Haiku Contest 1987-88; “Summer twilight” – Woodnotes #3, Autumn 1989; “Plum rain” – Woodnotes #6, Summer 1990; “I lay down” – Without Warning, Parallax Press, Berkeley (1990); “Alone tonight” – Harvest: 1991 Haiku North America Anthology ed. Michael Dylan Welch; “Tonight” – Haiku Moment: An Anthology of Contemporary North American Haiku, ed. Bruce Ross, Tuttle Publ. North Clarendon, VT (1993); “spring wind “–Mainichi Daily News Haiku Contest 1998; “into the darkness” – Into Our Words: 2009 Haiku North America Anthology eds. Michael Dylan Welch and Grant D. Savage; ”Moonlit night”; “Winter afternoon” - Bone Poems: Mini-Cantos, Chinook Press, 1985.

Additional Reading:

Haiku: The Birth and Death of Each Moment - essay in Kyoto Journal #50, 2002; Haiku Mind: 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness & Open Your Heart - reviewed by Randy Brooks, Modern Haiku Vol. 40.3, Autumn 2009;

American Haiku Archives: Honorary Curator Patricia Donegan [by Michael Dylan Welch, American Haiku Archives Advisory Board Co-chair].

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