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Betty Kaplan

Betty Kaplan

April 1, 1919 - July 26, 2011

Betty started writing haiku in the early 1990's after retiring from the fashion industry. Her haiku and rengay were published in many of the leading journals. Her many haiku friends will miss her always warm and friendly presence. The following tribute was written by her haiku friend, Max Verhart:

Some time after she had become a widow, her daughter offered her a trip on a cruise ship. That was highly appreciated, yet she declined the offer: wouldn’t she be just as alone after the trip as she was before? She’d rather have a computer, so she could email and surf the internet. And thus Betty Kaplan entered the haiku community. Quite another world than running a fashion shop with her husband, as she had done earlier. But she willingly lost herself in that new world. She became an active member of haiku groups on the internet, learned a lot from others and recognized Francine Porad (1929-2006) in particular as an important mentor. Next to love for haiku she developed a strong passion for linked poetry, especially because linked poems were the product of intense cooperation between two or more poets: renga with 36 or 12 stanzas and the much shorter rengay of six stanzas. Besides, you could span the world that way: in some of the renga she co-wrote, poets from three continents participated! In addition to haiku and linked poetry she also wrote tanka and haibun. Her style, especially in her haibun, was short and straightforward. The subject matter was found quite near, in her own life and history, being both very personal and at the same time generally recognizable in its human nature. Because of that and in combination with that concise, almost businesslike style, Betty’s haibun were – and remain – strongly evocative of the underlying emotions. She published in all those genres, both in printed media and – how could it not be so after she had learned to work with her computer – on the internet. Betty had a charming personality and since one reaps what one sows she had many friends in the international haiku community. The news that she passed away therefore struck many with sadness. But she will live on in her poems and haibun and will remain in our memories as a friend who left us much too early. For she was in reality considerably younger than her age.

Awards and Other Honors: First Honorable Mention, Haiku Poets of Northern California Rengay Contest (2004); work included in the 59th Basho Festival Haiku anthology.

Books Published: Annie and the Only One Problem Bear[in collaboration with Jayne Kaplan and Karina Klesko] (BookSurge Publishing (2009); smoke signals - nine rengay [with Max Verhart; Foreword by Garry Gay] ('t Hoge Woord, Bakhuizen; Netherlands 2003).

Selected Work
on the rocking chair
unfinished sweater
at his wake
long kept
lingering day . . .
a garbage can lid
becomes first base
all city school chorus
I hear
my daughter's voice
in the headlines
fresh catch of the day
footprints in the snow . . .
eight candles flickering
on grandma's menorah
taking front stage–
a moth circles
the spotlight
now in a small box
the ring that hugged my finger—
autumn deepens
poetry meeting
I try to read my haiku...
a frog in my throat
mountain path–
growing out of a stone wall
one white flower

Credits: "dusk" - Too Busy for Spring (Haiku North America anthology, 1999); "lingering day" - The Heron's Nest 2:10 (October 2000); "wrapped" - First Place, Shiki Internet Kukai 8/3/98 (free format); Tinywords [Internet] (June 7, 2005); "taking front stage" - "taking front stage" - Tinywords (July 5, 2005); "poetry meeting" - Temps Libres/Free Times/Favorites (2000); "at his wake" - First Place, Shiki Internet Kukai 2/14/99 (free format: "secret"); Crinkled Sunshine (Haiku Society of America Members' Anthology, 2000); "all city school chorus" - Third Place, Shiki Internet Kukai 5/2/99 (free format); "footprints in the snow" – The Heron’s Nest 3:1 (January 2001); "now in a small box" - Sketchbook December 2006); "mountain path" - The Heron's Nest 2:12 (2000).

Sources Biography: Appreciation to Max Verhart for his tribute to Betty. Appreciation is also due Charles Trumbull for assistance in gathering representative haiku and publication credits.

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