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Thomas Michael Tico

Thomas Michael Tico

May 15, 1942 - February 4, 2016

Tom Tico was one of those early writers of English-language haiku whose name is frequently mentioned by other haiku poets as inspiration for their own work. He was born in San Francisco and worked as a mailman. In December1965, he started writing haiku and a month or two later wrote "a very youthful, impassioned letter" to Harold G. Henderson after reading Henderson's classic An Introduction to Haiku. That began an eight-year correspondence that lasted until Henderson's death in 1974. Tico remained grateful for Henderson's "generous help and encouragement." He also expressed gratitude to James W. Hackett for being "exceptionally friendly and encouraging." Tico spent 1985 through 1996 "in a state of homelessness, sleeping in a redwood forest in Golden Gate Park" and many of his haiku resonate from this experience. His "Readings" column, similar to H.F. Noyes' Favorite Haiku series, appeared frequently in Frogpond. Tom Tico is survived by three sons, a daughter, and seven grandchildren.

Awards and Other Honors: [a partial list]  Tom Tico's work appears in all three editions (1974, 1986, 1999) of Cor van den Heuvel's The Haiku Anthology and in Haiku Moment (edited by Bruce Ross); Special Mention, Haiku West 1:2 (January 1968); Honorable Mention, The Harold G. Henderson Memorial Award (Haiku Society of America, 1990); he wrote reminiscences of Harold G. Henderson for The Haiku Society of America's A Haiku Path; guest reader at the 1995 Two Autumns gathering sponsored by the Haiku Poets of Northern California; with Jerry Ball and Garry Gay, edited The San Francisco Haiku Anthology (1992); work selected for William J. Higginson's The Haiku Seasons (1996) and Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac (1996); work selected for several editions of The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku, the annual best-of-year collections; Honorable Mention, The Harold G. Henderson Memorial Award (Haiku Society of America, 1999); The Museum of Haiku Literature Award (1990 and 2014).

Books Published: Spring Morning Sun (Belltower Press, 1998)

Selected Work
 
Memorial Day:
     wave after wave
          hitting the beach
 
After gazing at stars …
     now, I adjust to the rocks
          under my sleeping bag.
 
 
 
Sitting in the sun
     in the middle of the plants
          that I just watered
 
On a friend’s sofa,
     envisioning my place in the park —
          this cold rainy night
 
 
 
fog
and foghorns
silence the city
 
The tinkle of chimes
     mingles with the steady fall
          of the autumn rain
 
 
 
homeless:
no keys
 
Christmas Eve …
     at the lot, the trees
          not chosen
 
 
 
In an autumn wind,
     looking through a box of books
          left on the corner
 
the chiaroscuro of crows and morning mist
 
 

Credits: "Memorial Day" - Tico, Spring Morning Sun (Belltower Press, 1998); snow on the water: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku1998 (Red Moon Press, 1999); "Sitting in the sun" - Woodnotes 25 (summer 1995); Cor van den Heuvel [editor], The Haiku Anthology (W.W. Norton, 1999); "fog" - Frogpond 12:4 (November 1989); "homeless" - Frogpond 12:2 (May 1989), 31; Tico, Spring Morning Sun (Belltower Press, 1998); "In an autumn wind" - Modern Haiku 18:2 (summer 1987); Cor van den Heuvel [editor], The Haiku Anthology (W.W. Norton, 1999); "After gazing at stars" - Haiku West 6:1 (July 1972) [Special Mention]; Cor van den Heuvel [editor], The Haiku Anthology (Anchor Press/ Doubleday, 1974); Haiku West 8:2 (January 1975); Cor van den Heuvel [editor], The Haiku Anthology (Simon & Schuster, 1986); Tico, Spring Morning Sun (Belltower Press, 1998); Cor van den Heuvel [editor], The Haiku Anthology (W.W. Norton, 1999); "On a friend’s sofa" - Frogpond 15:1 (spring-summer 1992); Frogpond 20:1 (May 1997); "The tinkle of chimes" - Cor van den Heuvel [editor], The Haiku Anthology (Simon & Schuster, 1986); Tico, Spring Morning Sun (Belltower Press, 1998); "Christmas Eve" - Tico, Spring Morning Sun (Belltower Press, 1998); snow on the water: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku1998 (Red Moon Press, 1999); "the chiaroscuro" - The Heron's Nest XVII:3 (September 2015).

Additional Reading: "Friend and Mentor: A Correspondence with Harold G. Henderson," Tom Tico shares reminiscences and excerpts from some of their letters: A Haiku Path: The Haiku Society of America 1968-1988 (Haiku Society of America, Inc., 1994); "Personification," essay by Tom Tico, Frogpond 21:1 (1998) [also selected for republication in snow on the water: The Red Moon anthology of English-language Haiku 1998 (Red Moon Press, 1999)].

Sources Biography: The Haiku Anthology, Appendix B [Cor van den Heuvel, editor] (Anchor Books, 1974); A Haiku Path: The Haiku Society of America 1968-1988 (Haiku Society of America, Inc., 1994); Tico, Introduction, Spring Morning Sun (Belltower Press, 1998). Appreciation is also due Charles Trumbull for assistance in gathering representative haiku and publication credits.

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