skip to Main Content
Ross Figgins

Ross Figgins

March 10, 1936 - March 26, 2016

Ross Figgins, a Californian since age eleven, was born in Plainfield, New Jersey. He obtained a B.A. at California State University – Northridge, an M.A. at University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. at University of Southern California. He was professor emeritus, retired from Cal Poly Pomona, where he taught 30 years in the Departments of English and Communication Arts. He authored several textbooks, but the haiku form fascinated him ever since the 1960s, when he began studying haiku and its connections to Zen. Over the years almost 2000 of his haiku were published. In 2014 he published Sketching the Wind, a 130-page book containing about 300 of his best haiku and 36 of his drawings. Other favorite pursuits were book collecting, Asian art, drawing and painting in acrylics, tai chi, jazz, and philately. In his earlier years he climbed Mount Whitney, got his pilot's license when he was eighteen, started a fraternity at Cal State Northridge (it became a chapter of Sigma Chi) when he was there, caught a marlin about one and a half times his height, made dozens of bonsai, edited a union newspaper, and hiked with a friend all over Mexico, where he collected ghost stories from a bruja and climbed many of the country’s pyramids. He had a contracting business for a while and did plumbing and carpentry. He and his wife lived in Claremont and enjoyed extensive travel, some favorite trips being China, Egypt, Russia, and many destinations in Europe. A beer aficionado, he contributed columns to the magazine All About Beer and in 2009 published Beer, Man Food, Man Cooking, and Beer, a book of recipes and beer folklore.

Awards and Other Honors: Eminent Mention (First Place), Modern Haiku Quarterly Award Competition ["Each cratered raindrop" (#104)], Modern Haiku I:4 (Autumn, 1970), 31; First Place, Haiku Highlights Quarterly Award Competition ["Placing his bets" (#278)], Haiku Highlights VIII:5 (September/October, 1971), 12; First Place, Haiku Highlights Haiku Sequence Contest ["Cantina:" "Latching the gate" (#402), "The white bearded man" (#401), “Evening—“ (#112), "Hours pass" (#397), and "Closing time" (#329)] Haiku Highlights VIIIa:3 (May/June, 1972), 8; First Place, Haiku Highlights Quarterly Award Competition ["Frost whitened grass--" (#420)], Haiku Highlights VIIIa:6 (November/December, 1972), 6; First Place, Dragonfly Quarterly Award Competition ["Bamboo shadows" (#444)], Dragonfly I:2 (April, 1973), 6; Associate Editor's Award, Dragonfly ["Dry winds" (#422)], Dragonfly I:3 (July, 1973), 50; First Place, Arizona State Poetry Society National Haiku Contest, 1973 ["Gnarled oak" (#431)], Sandcutters VII:1 (Winter, 1973), 9; First Honorable Mention, Arizona State Poetry Society National Haiku Contest, 1973 ["Floating across the pond" (#393)], ibid., 14; First Place, Dragonfly Quarterly Award Competition ["sunlit rain" (#355)], Dragonfly II:3 (July, 1974), 30; Tao-Li Humor Award, Modern Haiku ["Again and yet again" (#262)], Modern Haiku V:1 (1974), 18; First Place, Dragonfly Quarterly Award Competition ["spring moon" (#72)], Dragonfly IV:2 (July, 1976), 22; First Place, Bonsai Quarterly Award Competition ["a creaking swing" (#32)], Bonsai I:3 (July, 1976), 6; First Place, Bardic Echoes Haiku Competition ["too worn to wear" (#85)], Bardic Echoes XVII:3 (September, 1976), 52; First Place, Bonsai Quarterly Award Competition ["sunset, so brilliant" (#295)], Bonsai I:4 (Autumn, 1976), 25; First Place, Arizona State Poetry Society National Haiku Contest, 1976 ["dark bamboo" (#42)], Sandcutters X:4B (Winter, 1976), 24; Eminent Mention (First Place), Modern Haiku Quarterly Award Competition ["old pond" (#70)], Modern Haiku VIII:2 (May, 1977), 4; Special Award, Japan Yukuharu Haiku Society (California Yukuharu Haiku Society), California Federation of Chaparral Poets, Robert Frost Chapter, 1976 ["walking with the wind" (#11--reprint)], Haiku Journal I:1 (1977), 19; Award, Western World Haiku Society Annual Competition, 1978. "winter oak" (#250), Western World Haiku Society Bulletin, January, 1979; Award: Western World Haiku Society Annual Competition, 1978 ["the frog kicks once" (#415)], ibid; Editor's Special Award, Janus & SCTH ["last summer" (#675)], Janus & SCTH X:3 (January, 1979), 31; Special Mention Award, Modern Haiku ["cornered" (#824)], Modern Haiku X:2 (Summer, 1979), 4; Editor's Award ["snow covered field" (#466)], Red Pagoda I:2 (Summer, 1983), 13; Second Prize, Harold G. Henderson Memorial Haiku Award (Haiku Society of America, 1983) ["whispered dusk"]; Third Prize, Harold G. Henderson Memorial Haiku Award (Haiku Society of America, 1987) ["frozen pond"]; Editor's Choice Award ["free of the plow" (#625)], Brussels Sprout V:2 (September, 1988), 6; Best-In-Issue Award, Modern Haiku (Winter-Spring, 1999), 22 [“scattered Roman wall” (#826)], Reprinted Modern Haiku XXX:2 (Summer, 1999), 4; Millenium Haiku Contest Monthly Winner (May, 2000) ["near the gate" (#47 - reprint) Millennium Haiku Calendar 2000 (Snapshot Press,1999) [Barlow, John, ed.]; Museum of Haiku Literature Award, British Haiku Society ["those new glasses" (#995)], Blithe Spirit X:2 (June, 2000), 14, Reprinted Blithe Spirit X:3 (September, 2000), 23; Best-In-Issue Award, Modern Haiku (Fall, 2000), 11 ["grandmother’s quilt" (#808)], Reprinted Modern Haiku Winter issue; Best in Issue, November-December, 2000 ["shuffling footsteps" (#829)], Geppo Haiku Journal XXIII:6 (January-February, 2001), 6; Finalist: Tallahassee Writers Association Annual Haiku Contest 2000 ["lone sandpiper" (#1000)], Penumbra 2000 (Tallahassee Writers Association, 2000), 47; Best Senryu in Issue ["another new grave (#1046)], Modern Haiku XXXII:3 (Fall, 2001), 18, Reprinted Modern Haiku XXXIII:1 (Winter-Spring, 2002), 13.

Books Published: Sketching the Wind [haiku] (GlennRoss Press, 2014); Beer, Man Food, Man Cooking, and Beer [recipes and beer folklore] (GlennRoss Press, 2009).

Selected Work
 
near the gate—
     a child waters
          a dead butterfly.
 
free of the plow
     the oxen move to the barn
          side by side
 
 
 
powdered dust
     the grasshopper's footprints
          end abruptly
 
creaking swing—
     winter in the mouth 
          of a white cat 
 
 
 
sagging clothesline—
     wind-ruffed sparrows
          spaced just so
 
whispered dusk—
     a fox picks its way
          across the ice
 
 
 
asparagus
     gone to seed--
          harvest song
 
night and the river
     dark and empty row boats
          full of mist
 
 
 
autumn rose--
     even as I sketch the wind
          more petals fall
 
frozen pond—
     white antlers rise
           through the ice
 
 

Credits: "near the gate" – American Haiku (Raindust Press, 1979); Frogpond 4:1 (1981), 31; When Butterflies Come (HSA Members’ Anthology 1993); A Haiku Path: The Haiku Society of America 1968-1988 (Haiku Society of America, Inc., 1994); Millennium Haiku Calendar 2000 (Snapshot Press,1999) [Barlow, John, editor]; "powdered dust" - Chiyo's Corner 3:1 (2001); "sagging clothesline" - High/Coo 2:7 (1978); "asparagus" – The Haiku Calendar 2000 (Snapshot Press,1999); ); "autumn rose" – Honorable Mention, Harold G. Henderson Memorial Haiku Award (Haiku Society of America, 2002); "free of the plow" – Editor's Choice Award [selected by GeorgeSwede] Brussels Sprout V:2 (1988); World Haiku AssociationWeb site (October 2002); "creaking swing" - Bonsai I:3 (1976); World Haiku Association Web site (October 2002);"whispered dusk" - Second Prize, Harold G. Henderson Memorial Haiku Award (Haiku Society of America, 1983); Frogpond 6:3 (1983); AHaiku Path: The Haiku Society of America 1968-1988 (Haiku Society of America, Inc., 1994); The Haiku Calendar 2000 (Snapshot Press, 1999); "night and the river" – the British Haiku Society James W. Hackett International Haiku Award (2003); "frozen pond" - Third Prize, Harold G. Henderson Memorial Haiku Award (Haiku Society of America, 1987); Frogpond 10:4 (1987); A Haiku Path: The Haiku Society of America 1968-1988 (Haiku Society of America, Inc., 1994); World Haiku Association Web site (October 2002).

Back To Top