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What Was Your Favorite Haiku of 2009?

The Haiku Foundation is indeed a year old, and troutswirl is about 8 months old (does that mean it’s still in the womb)?

In any case, during the last 8 months, a tremendous amount of haiku have been shared through troutswirl‘s main sections (Virals, Envoys, Periplum, Sails, Headsets, Fluences, with more to come), Allan Burns’ Montage series, various other blogposts, and also, most importantly, through the comments you, as readers, have left to further and deepen the conversation (1,250 and counting).

The diversity of the haiku shared during 2009 was quite staggering, the range high and wide. All of which can now be viewed at THF Haiku Archives.

As a way to both reflect and celebrate this achievement, I thought it would be exciting to invite troutswirl readers to revisit this large collection of work and share a favorite from it.

What particular poem from the 2009 archive resonated with you most?

In addition, I thought it would be fun to ask you this: what was your very favorite haiku published in 2009?

Pull out those print-journal issues, reclick those e-zines, and share something that really stuck out for you.

This Post Has 47 Comments

  1. My favorite published haiku during 2009 was by Bruce Ross in Modern Haiku (Vol 40.3):

    Memorial Day
    the shadows of tourists
    on the wet sand

    The above haiku inspired another haiku written in a workshop:

    V-J Day
    eating frog legs
    by the old pond

    Bill C

  2. Since the beginning of time the human being has pondered it’s situation in a world of “the other”… Each new encounter gave rise to thoughts and feelings not only about the world but about him/herself in stories, myths and poetry. When I enter a haiku that enters nature in that way I feel I have entered a way of being, of knowing, that is boundless and I am grateful.
    This week I received “Wing Beats” through the kindness of paul m. and John Barlow. I have read John’s poetry from afar for decades and have always felt a privileged knowledge and so you can imagine my pleasure at receiving this book!

    burst river
    the grebe’s reappearnace
    somewhere out of sight
    -Matthew Paul

    This wonderful haiku encompases not only knowledge of the natural world but of the mythical as well. In this country the grebe is sometimes known as the “Hell Diver” or the “Water Witch” as it has stirred the imaginations of generations in it’s ability to submerge itself and resurface “somewhere out of sight”. In these times, how we all sometimes wish we could
    surface “somewhere” else…as our river bursts destroying much of our lives.

    The piercing blue
    of a young jackdaw’s eyes …
    morning chill
    -John Barlow

    How often have we looked into the eyes of “the other” – to cold blue eyes and received that very chill. How can that be that someone’s or something’s eyes can have that affect on us? You don’t even have to know the species to understand this haiku, and yet knowing the species adds that much more to its depth as the connection is made between all things.

    And knowledge of the world can be passed along…

    through the half-light
    hoby snatches a bat
    -Keith J. Coleman
    I had no idea that hawks ate bats! Now I have something to invistigate. Very interesting.

    And here’s one of my all time favorites by John Crook…(Oh, how we all miss his haiku!)

    high tide
    oystercatchers follow
    the curve of the bay
    -John Crook

    A haiku written as his will was bent by the illness that finally took his life.

    There’s Martin Lucas here too and Matt Morden. There’s Caroiline Gourlay,Matthew Paul, and Steven Moss.

    And there’s this wonderful haiku:

    through the colony
    of mute swans – voice
    of the barnacle goose
    -Mark Rutter.

    I know I am a late comer to this volume of haiku. But I certainly recommend anyone who has not read it to find a copy and follow some of the “Wing Beats” that can lead to some amazing places. I am deeply in the debt of those who made this possible for me. In Gratitude, Merrill

  3. This started out as a response to the latest ‘Sails’ discussion (haiku I admire that are quite different from my own) but it ended up being more about 2009 favorites. Except for the first one, these are Heron’s Nest poems because they happen to be fresh in my mind after doing a top ten list.

    sun on the horizon
    who first
    picked up a stone

    Whether or not this is considered gendai (having won a Roadrunner Scorpion Prize), it more than holds its own compared with other work in an experimental vein, and somehow does so while remaining true to the same aesthetic and easy reach that characterizes all of Paul M’s work.

    where you first hear
    the river
    Burnell Lippy

    The subtleties of this one took awhile to add up and work their magic, which I find to be true of many poems that have a long shelf life.

    telling a child
    about death
    Collin Barber

    It’s still perceiving the extraordinary in the ordinary and the eternal in the ephemeral that account for most of the haiku I admire. The picture here is so commonplace I nearly missed the layered allusions altogether. The choice to omit pronouns is nicely effective in this instance, creating an objective distance.

    roaring wind—
    my little thoughts
    for tomorrow
               Tom Clausen

    I often identify with Tom Clausen’s just off-center observations, and marvel that his voice remains so distinguishable in a poetic form of so few words.

    I note that all of these poems strike a head/heart balance, which characterizes art that I’m most drawn to, but which is difficult to achieve. I can easily get wrapped up in abstract ideas, or conversely, slip into sentimentality.

  4. William,

    crescent moon
    struck by a boomerang
    from outer space

    That’s one hell of a good haiku! It put a smile on my face and made me chuckle as its wit slowly dawned on me.

    The very best haiku provide the best commentary on other haiku as awell as the haiku scene in general.


    Bill C

  5. Well, Lorin, I was feelin’ kind of down after reading some of the commentsts here. I’ve put a lot of time into perfecting my writing skill in this form, knowing full well there was a long way to go.
    “How daunting”, I thought to myself, “Have I been just wasting my time?”
    I almost wanted to hang it up right then and there…but then it hit me,

    crescent moon
    struck by a boomerang
    from outer space

  6. Thanks, Allan, for posting Hiroaki Sato’s reasonable and realistic view.

    Gabi, if haiku in languages other than Japanese were suddenly given an entirely different name, where would the acknowledgment of Japanese origin, derivation and influence be?

    Some Japanese poets write varieties of ‘free verse’ (of which it might be argued that there are as many schools of thought as there are of haiku), but I have not noticed the French (who originated ‘free verse’) demanding that Japanese poets should call their ‘free verse’ by a strictly Japanese name or by ‘Japanese free verse, classes 1 -5’, or somesuch, to distinguish it from vers libre/ free verse.

    Art has always crossed borders, and language, the names for things as well. ‘Haiku’ is now a recognised loan word in the English language quite as much as ‘boomerang’ is. We can quibble forever about whether that boomerang a Chinese astronaut threw out into space a few years ago bears any resemblance to a traditional Australian boomerang, or whether the funny-looking plastic things Americans can buy in Walmart really should be called boomerangs or not, but it is too late.

    The bus has already left!

  7. A root from a maple tree is still called maple, and the branch of the maple is still called maple. The stone is still called stone, buddha or not. I consider it a mark of respect to dignify the root by the same name as the tree… it is all one of a piece.

  8. here on Troutswirl, in 2009, i was particularly struck by the conversation surrounding:

    stone before stone buddha

    — Karma Tenzing Wangchuk

    for Montage #40:

    i thought it spurred some wonderful reactions and commentary. i thought it was great how different readers had picked up on the many different ways this ku could be read and interpreted.

    the sum was great than its parts.

  9. “More generally, a negative reaction to English haiku is something you must expect from the Japanese, my compatriots, whose attitudes toward cultural matters are in some ways lopsided, even perverse. On the one hand, they absorb all sorts of cultural manifestations of foreign countries indiscriminately, almost with abandon, in the apparent belief that there’s nothing incomprehensible or indigestible about them. At the same time, they harbor the deep suspicion, developed some time ago, that much of Japanese culture can’t be understood by non-Japanese…. At this late date–toward the end of the 1980s, that is–it may be largely irrelevant to speak of haiku in English, or any other non-Japanese language as if it were an extension or epigone of Japanese haiku or as it if were somehow still under its influence. Reed Shadows, a collection of haiku by John Wills…carries a simple statement: that haiku is ‘no longer synonymous with Japan,’ as it ‘has been adopted around the world as a poetic form of unique expressive power.’ In this assessment we must all concur. I have made my observations because there remain a good deal of confusions, assumptions, and plain refusal to see what’s happening.”

    –Hiroaki Sato, from “Haiku in English: Beyond Assumptions,” a speech given at the Japan Society, 18 February 1988

    It would be nice to see this conversation get back on topic–i.e., English haiku in 2009.

  10. The urge to produce something “new” is no doubt part of every artist. But “new” relative to what is, well, relative. If a poet finds something that he admires (to put it politely) in a poem by, say, Horace, or, say, Basho, he may wish to “make it new” (Ezra Pound). That’s not quite the nuance I hear in the above comments–the either/or construction doesn’t quite admit of that, does it? Anyway, the idea of the “modern” as it took on momentum in antiquity and then again in the early 20th century Anglo-phone poetry is perhaps cyclical, governed by cultural dynamics haiku poets experience as part of their historical beings. I know this sounds heavy and academic, but the study of literary history leads to insights into these debates. Haiku, ku, or as I like to say, sometimes, delimiting the reference to modern American haiku, Ameriku: that is very much a historical phenomenon tied to American sensibilities we now call “modern” as opposed to post-modern (I’d call Jim Kacian’s recent work “post-modern”). To test that, I read, say, contemporary Scots haiku– e.g., Alan Spence’s “Seasons of the Heart”– and don’t feel this pressure toward an epiphany of the object which is pretty common in “traditional American haiku); rather I am engaged by a narrative.

  11. In Japan, translations are often referred to as

    eigo ha.i.ku

    haiku is not written with the normal kanji 俳句
    to show this is something different.

    my English would read

    eigo ha.i.ku
    English ha.i.ku

    It is good to create something new,
    I encourage it!!
    just give it a new name too.


  12. Thanks, John Scarlett, for you insights. Hass is not alone in his opinions on translation. I think translations to and from any language will restate, interpret, and reimagine the original creation.

    Is the haiku inseparable from Japanese language and culture?

    Scott Metz has eloquently maintained that we can create something new in our own idiom and language. He calls his new thing ku. Shiki called his new thing haiku. I could be wrong, but I believe most people writing in to the Haiku Foundation blog would agree that we are all are in some way continuing the lineage of renga. Anyone?

  13. these last few comments seem to point to the idea that perhaps we need to make english-language haiku poems actual experiences as opposed to simply, or merely, being ab
    out experiences. that we need to do more with our language (english or otherwise) through poetic methods, culture, allusions, references, etc. to use everything we have available to us.

    what *isn’t* poetic license?

    do we read translations of Japanese haiku to copy, imitate, and mimic, or to create something new?— something entirely new in english that would be equally as difficult to translate, say, into Japanese?

  14. “The Essential Haiku edited by Robert Haas. His “Note on Translation” at the back of the book finally persuaded me that, indeed, English is too different a language to allow us to have the same experience as readers or writers of Japanese.
    We certainly can learn from studying hokku, but we will have to live with what English is capable of. We can call our work haiku, but I think that is poetic license. I prefer HIP’s.

    I sympathize with you, Tom.
    HIP … or
    non-Japanese language haiku (since I also read them in German, French, Italian and many other languages … )

    The “feeling” of a Japanese haiku can indeed be expressed in so many ways, with the use of hiragana, katakana or various Chinese characters, all giving a slight nuance to the meaning that a translation can hardly caputure.

    In another thread I just read a translation of one of Chio-Ni’s haiku
    which was a perfect traditional Japanese haiku, with 5 7 5, a kigo and a cut marker …
    but the English version read rather “gendai” and did not reflect the Japanese feel of the poem very well, in my language understanding.

    Greetings from a rather cold morning in Japan.

  15. Wonder what Haas means by the phrase “the same experience.” I should reread the passage. Anyway, the relationship between language and experience is complicated, obviously; the poem, however, is in language, and the experience of the poem must be what he’s referring to. . . . So, translation is treason! . . . I agree that the term “haiku” is in trouble, but partly because Japanese “haiku” has “something to say” and lots of non-Japanese speakers are drawn to it, often in translation. What we need is a careful map of the DIFFERENT kinds of haiku (or whatever we call the “form”), and just what the differentials are, and when a “haiku” is not a haiku. And of course the explanatory power of any such decisions always depends on hermeneutics: are these classifications helpful? Do they help us UNDERSTAND the given texts? Haiku as a form is not the only one that has suffered this kind of confusion; artists love to adapt forms to new purposes, sometimes directly confronting traditions of meaning and significance as they do so.

  16. Mark Harris, years ago I remember rebelling against the contention of an American who could write the Japanese phonetic signs and ideograms that haiku cannot be imitated in English. He gave me detailed examples of the compression of meaning that kanji make possible both as symbols and pictoral images. Eventually I read one of my favorite books, The Essential Haiku edited by Robert Haas. His “Note on Translation” at the back of the book finally persuaded me that, indeed, English is too different a language to allow us to have the same experience as readers or writers of Japanese. We certainly can learn from studying hokku, but we will have to live with what English is capable of. We can call our work haiku, but I think that is poetic license. I prefer HIP’s.

  17. I just went to check to see if I could find the haiku of paul m. (Paul Miller) in the archives – (That’s a great pleasure to use!) but didn’t find his:

    a tide pool
    warmed by the sun
    wintering harlequins
    -paul m.
    from “chasing my breath” 2009

    which had engendered some discussion about the way we read haiku, the use of words and the directions they take us. So I thought I’d enter the complete poem here in order that our comments may be connected to what brought about the discusssion.

  18. losing its name
    a river
    enters the sea
    —John Sandbach (USA)

    I just listed my top ten for Heron’s Nest. That was a remarkable feat in itself. Now you ask for ONE, just ONE? Madness!
    OK. This may not be strickly kosher, (not being a 2009 poem), but when I read John Sandbach’s river haiku again in Troutswirl, it nailed me to my seat once more. (to be found in: HaikuNow! Contemporary Haiku Contest rules for 2010.) For me this piece has everything going for it. If I had to pick just one haiku to live with right now, this would be it.
    Meanwhile, I’m savoring all the poems posted as favorites here. Astounding. Thanks.

  19. Last year, in Robin Gill’s book ‘Rise Ya, Sea Slug!’ I read this haiku:

    the Milky Way:
    only the door-knob remains
    in my hand

    namu (2003)
    the curate of a Pure-Land temple

    (translated from Japanese by R.Gill)

    This is the highest possible achievement in the art of haiku, an exemplary haiku, in my opinion. Simple yet profound, beautifully visual and imaginative, symbolic yet actual, stunningly fresh with a striking juxtaposition, traditional and at the same time innovative in terms of aesthetic ranks, with a rich realm for reader’s cooperation & food for thoughts …

    In our lives, we constantly experience this conflict between material and spiritual, between “heaven and earth” realities, and strive to achieve the harmony, to embrace the immense so to say, and how often we experience that feeling of sadness and discouragement for man’s little ability to grasp the essence of life, and of universe… to dare, to venture, to take the risk!

    Do you go out at night, to see the stars, and to meditate?.. Do you go far from the door — or, the ancient instinctive fear of darkness and immensity of Cosmos stops you? Do you “let the door-knob go” so to speak — because the outer world is beckoning and exciting, both in physically real and metaphysical meanings… all these questions — in both meanings… All these, and much-much more — in this short and deep picture. Wow.

    The haiku entered my mind, and has been growing in me since then.

  20. Having been taken in by a poem, sometime after if the spell allows, I might be able to understand what is happening, and this then folds back into the spell. (At first I have become a tree; then I discover I have fallen under its spell; then I stand: I under/stand it).

    The senses I come to are varied, and might include a sonic arc which carries me into my inner ear; might include an image whose umbilicus to words is the slightest filament of light; might include a sense of metaphor, someone knocking on a door painted on a wall…

    And sometimes what we call a haiku, or a poem which has haiku qualities, gets me thinking about the nature of poetry itself, or (since I am for the moment standing on a Foundation of Haiku) about the nature of haiku, why I am drawn to it at all, what, beyond me, does it include?

    Ruth Yarrow’s poem:

    after the garden party the garden

    was a favorite in that sense, as it got me thinking about the interplay of aphorism and poetry, the way some aphorisms (and proverbs, etc.) embody poetry, and the way some haiku, as RY’s, embody aphorism.

    I hope to have more to say about this later, and as suggested earlier, perhaps a Sailing about influence will formulate itself.

  21. thanks to all who have responded so far and shared their ’09 favorites.

    here are two that stood out for me:

    as far as the eye Kansas

    —Jim Kacian

    (Prune Juice #1)


    a man in a crowd in a man

    —John Stevenson

    (Roadrunner IX:4)

  22. Thanks Sandra,

    That’s twice you’ve offered mention of the Haiku Bandit Society.
    (Sorry to bring it up again, but not to be confused with that other online bandido of similar namesake)

    I do find the spontaneity and newness of the bloggers to be refreshing while one awaits the major E-magazines and websites to publish. They combine a daily respite from sometimes too familiar material with a sense of community
    among different writers and styles from around the globe.

    Often of varying degrees of skill and experience, its fun to watch as many poets advance in the genre, day by day,
    and a way to compare one’s own effort with other authors almost at will. The blogs also provide the opportunity to
    comment on individual poems and a means of communication with other haijin.

    Some favorites I try to look in on everyday are Fay Aoyagi’s Blue Willow and the Hailstone Haiku Circle’s Icebox, though there are many others. Often a blog will list their own favorite sites, which is a great way to discover new writers.

  23. I just received one by Roberta Beary that resonates with me…

    old plum tree
    father’s watch heavy
    on my wrist

    I don’t know when it was written, but I understand the “weight” a great deal. Some of Roberta’s haiku are too painful for me to dwell in sometimes. Her ability to hold such moments in a few words is remarkable.

  24. Thanks for sharing those Willie.

    I guess there are many like me who don’t keep up with so many blogs (I don’t even feel I keep up with so many journals, e-zines or otherwise) – I look in on Haiku Bandit once in a while and can recommend Willie’s blog to readers, and of course Tobacco Road is an excellent blog that incorporates all sorts of haiku-related information, as well as poetry.

    I’m going to follow up some of the titles in Willie’s post. Maybe other readers could recommend some quality blogs and we could all widen our horizons this year!

  25. Of the online blogs of 2009, these quickly came to mind:

    field mice
    under the owl
    under the moon

    View From A Robin’s Nest

    small children crowding round
    suddenly I become
    the moth expert

    Dave Serjeant
    Distant Lightning

    full moon
    the cat swallows
    a mouse whole

    Matt Morden
    Morden Haiku

    the shortest straw
    in his hand
    winter solstice

    El Coyote
    Wild Geese in the Cow Field

    On the ceiling
    spider spins
    a dream catcher

    Mark Holloway
    Beachcombing For The Landlocked

    an hour ’til autumn
    porch primer
    tack dry

    Full Moon of November

    full moon naked
    above the naked tree
    O for a naked mind!

    Anthony Weir
    Beyond the Pale

    pouring rain;
    the dog looks away
    from the open door

    Kurt Brobeck
    A Haiku Study

    These are just a few that internet bloggers are offering everyday.

  26. Well, John Scarlett, if you want to call elh short poems, that’s okay with me. However, for several reasons, I don’t agree it’s impossible to write haiku in English (or other languages other than Japanese). The earliest haiku, then called hokku, were the opening verses of linked poems that were often imitations of Chinese poetry. Many contemporary Japanese writers of haiku eschew season words and 5-7-5 syllable counts, and don’t imitate traditional haiku any more than we do. I could go on, but this is a topic for a different thread. We can agree on liberating perspectives and Yu Chang’s “parting her pink robe”.

    A few of my favorite haiku published this year:

    ghosted summer the bee hedge is the sound of sunlight

    (John Barlow, Roadrunner IX:2 supposed to be one line, but no room here)

    the small mouth
    a flower opens
    (Michael McClintock, Sketches From the San Joaquin, Turtle Light Press, also supposed to be formatted differently)

    becoming a clear vein of thought fallen leaf
    (Scott Metz, Frogpond 32:3)

    demolition site
    the colors
    of closet walls
    (John Stevenson, Live Again, Red Moon Press)

  27. Haiku are not possible in English. What we have are haiku influenced poems (HIP’s). I find this a very liberating perspective, for it allows writers in languages and cultures other than the Japanese to not be distracted by trying to analyze and imitate the Japanese, which we cannot do very well in the first place because all we have are translations, another creature entirely. But we can read those versions and appreciate them as we would any poem. We are thus free to simply write short poems that enrich our lives, blazing away with whatever forms and techniques serve that end, as poets have always done. I love this one by Yu Chang. It is perhaps the shortest, sexiest poem I know:

    parting her pink robe

  28. I have to confess that the poem I cited by James Hackett and also vincent tripi’s book of poems were of other years, but I read old and new alike depending on what I pick up…and time to me is an old drunk (drunk on the ways of the world) who comes bursting into my life giving all sorts of orders…and I try to disregard him as best I can. So I’m sorry if that caused any confusion. Thanks Allan for bringing it to my attention.

    Thanks a million to Paul MacNeil for that list …The Onawa Poems is a wonderful book…definately in my favorites…

    And I have to tell you, there is tons of good writing in Modern Haiku every issue.

    It’s impossible to pick … actually, it’s impossible to read all that is written in any year. I’ll have to go back to my wandering. I know I’ll miss a lot…but the one’s I find may mean more if I’m not rushing through them. I just love to linger in a haiku…walk around it for awhile. Thanks to THF there will be listings of what I have missed and hopefully I’ll be able to find poems like that Ron Moss haiku: “crescent moon”….Thanks for that one!

  29. from New Res 6 (2009) some favorites by poets whom I know through their haiku:

    my father’s broken worry stone

    Allan Burns

    changing tide
    her doctor phones
    with the news

    Susan Constable

    a fleeting feeling
    of madness

    Andrea Grillo

    first warm day
    the derelict’s
    yellow tie

    H. Gene Murtha

    open window
    places i’d like to go
    in the voile curtain

    Michele Root-Bernstein

    waiting room
    the obituary page
    folded in half

    Tony A.Thompson

  30. A _very_ brief review . . .

    === ===

    telling a child
    about death

    Collin Barber
    The Heron’s Nest, Volume XI, Number 3: September, 2009.

    an old tree split
    right through the heart
    first loon song

    Ferris Gilli
    “The Onawa Poems 1999 – 2008,” Ship Pond Press, 2009. “Shaped by the Wind,” Snapshot Press, 2006.

    zinnias . . .
    why yes my favorite
    was Harpo

    Scott Mason
    The Heron’s Nest, Volume XI, Number 3: September, 2009.

    mallard pair
    he rocks
    on her wake

    Alice Frampton
    “A gate left open,” Red Moon Press, 2009.

    his ashes
    turning into the current
    the turtle’s ears

    Mark Alan Osterhaus
    The Heron’s Nest, Editors’ Choice, Volume XI, Number 1: March, 2009.

    [note: Mark was friend and an executor for the late Bob Spiess. “The Turtle’s Ears” was title to one of Bob’s earliest books.]

    tomato seedlings —
    my young daughter
    shows me her muscles

    Susan Antolin
    “Artichoke Season,” Spare Poems Press, 2009.

    bearing down
    on a borrowed pen
    do not resuscitate

    Yu Chang
    The Heron’s Nest, Editors’ Choice, Volume XI, Number 2: June, 2009. “seeds,” Red Moon Press, 2009.

    almost spring
    she tells the whole story
    in a single breath

    John Stevenson
    “Live Again,” Red Moon Press, 2009.

    And, because I know John:

    soft earth
    I might risk
    a cartwheel

    [same citation]
    My very first reaction was that I’d pay to see that! Then I remembered his caution followed by obvious joy when he first tried my daughter’s 11-foot kayak. Pointing across the lake, he asked how far it was to ‘that’ island — I replied about 1/2 mile. He further asked if it was safe to paddle behind it. It was, but bore watching out for rocks just under the surface. He set off and returned with a certain smile.

    gathering rose hips —
    a flowered apron tied high
    over her belly

    D. Claire Gallagher
    and lots of others from: “the nether world,” Red Moon Press, posthumous, 2009

    === ===

  31. Thank you Peter for sharing the “box of apples” haiku, very enjoyable – when I was a child my great-uncle would send boxes of grapefruit on the train down to our family, so yes it probably is “true”.

    Merrill is right in that it is an impossible task, but I would like to respond with one that also features apples and that has intrigued me for a while:

    a red apple
    a green apple
    on top of the table

    – Masaoka Shiki

    Another, loved for its sound image:

    thunder-filled clouds –
    over the bridge comes
    jingling-jangling horses

    – Cyril Childs

    This one was actually published last year (but only just), appearing on Tiny Words on December 31:

    in the air
    rain in the rain

    – David Stark

    (a reader suggested it might work well as a single line).

    And this was placed second in the Harold Henderson award:

    crescent moon
    a bone carver sings
    to his ancestor

    – Ron Moss

    From the Haiku Bandit blog:

    bare trees
    an agreement to grow
    all the same height

    – William Sorlien

  32. Here are three that come to mind quickly (first haiku favorite haiku?):

    林檎箱とどきて三日海も平ら 友岡子郷

    ringobako todokite mikka umi mo taira

    a box of apples
    arrived three days ago
    the sea, too, is peaceful

    Shikyo Tomooka

    I found this on Fay Aoyagi’s website: Blue Willow Haiku World. Why do I like it? I don’t know. It feels true.

    Also, published by Roadrunner, Peggy Lyles’:

    uprooted —
    thorn buds stud
    the devil’s walking stick

    Short vowels that penetrate the gut.

    And third, from his new book Live Again,
    John Stevenson’s:

    rain washes the street
    I’ve already said

    I find that poetry is often that which gets the better of us, which means, gets the better of our intention. I believe this poem was successful in conquering Mr. Stevenson.

  33. Allan, Thanks for that haiku by Bruce Ross:

    Point Reyes light house
    how the deep note travels
    on the water

  34. Typo correction:

    The lizard’s bones
    a crack away from
    where it always sunned

  35. Typo correctioh: That should be “The lizard’s bones” in vencent tripi’s haiku.

  36. This is an impossible task! Absolutely impossible for anyone who loves/lives haiku…before I could name one twenty more would come up that would influence my life profoundly. I have before me vincent tripi’s book “somewhere among the clouds/
    poems from a year of solitude” and you could pick any haiku in the book (like so many other find poets out there! So many books I treasure.)

    Old monk
    for the days
    has a marvelous lamp
    -for Robert Lax

    Spring wind –
    the monk & his robes
    out walking together
    – for Tom Merton

    Around the candle flame…
    which is the male
    which the female moth?

    The lizard’s ones
    a crack-awy from
    where it always sunned

    Autumn ginkgo
    translating my death poem
    into Japanese

    There are many other books of vincent’s that I could never select a favorite from or one that influence more than any other.

    I read many other haiku that I think of from time to time – and don’t ask me why? They just pop into my mind and bring a certain recognition…of what? Who can say? This brings to mind paul m.’s “harlequin ducks”… We had quite a converstation about that one with many insights. But just one line of a haiku can leave me pondering and playing with the thought in my mind.

    I am thankful for James W. Hackett’s:

    A winter sadness –
    but my old dog comes to nuzzle
    with his kindly eyes

    This haiku was graciously brought to my attention by Origa and having made a haiga of it for Mr. Hackett’s 80th birthday celebration it has gone on to lighten the sadness of many people in one of my snowbird notes. I never cease to receive some note of thanks for that haiga and I know it’s his haiku that touches people. That healing is something I consider and value a great deal in poetry.

    This haiku by Allan Burns held such strength and power in it…almost on the edge of violence…and yet the denouement of the haiku presented such a reversal that it brings me great hope for peace in this world:

    a red-tail’s echo…
    the reservoir the color
    of surrounding pines

    When you consider what the red-tail’s echo means… Well the two images together to me were profound.

    But you know, when I thought about what was my favorite haiku I have to confess that it made me realize that what I am often drawn to in other people’s haiku (for my own personal preferences) were often quite different from what I write myself.
    In John Stevenson’s “Live Again” there’s a little haiku with an inconsequential appearance:

    we’re here
    we might as well build
    a sand castle

    In the midst of all the profundity…sand castles!!! How wonderful!
    When I come across poets with such a “profound” understanding of the isness of things…I just stand in awe!

    I could go on and on all night. There is no end to my favorite haiku!

  37. it is difficult capturing the colors of a breeding male wood duck, along with the cartoon
    like white eye rings of a female, but I would
    say that line three within Findlay’s example
    isn’t bad.

    “colors and all”

  38. Making no pretense to objectivity, whatever that would mean in this context, I’d like to mention a haiku by my colleague Madeleine Findlay. It is posted on our website, This haiku remains one of my favorites because of careful balancing of vectors any one of which if given undue emphasis would throw the poem into the solipsistic area. I think lots of poets are afraid to write about nature because they haven’t worked out their own place in nature. Haiku certainly promises that this project– knowing one’s place in nature — may be at least momentarily successful. There is just naturally a sense that what one sees in such a moment goes beyond the givens yet without eclipsing them or emptying them of their own particular significance. Such tact requires a long apprenticeship “in the field” — an act of attention not only to the details of the moment but to one’s own interior weather as a symbolic manifestation of human consciousness. That latter phrase only means that “nature” reaches from the individual to the universal consciousness. As the old saying goes, nature loves to hide itself, “nature” being not simply what a dualistic modernist conception supports in the way of fact but also and perplexingly just how we see ourselves in light of such facts.
    So, in autumn, the temperature drops, the landscape reveals more of its shadows, its holes, and thus, potentially, becomes porous for otherness, bright flashes of equivocal but beautiful significance. I could say more (I hear you groaning), so here’s the haiku:

    dark cove
    a pair of wood ducks takes flight
    colors and all

  39. I do not have the luxury or time to post my 10
    favorites, but here is one that has stayed with me the entire years:

    my breasts

    Nora Wood, The Heron’s Nest vol. 11:1, 2009

  40. Okay, I’ll risk some reckless opinions. Here are 10 haiku published in 2009, all I believe for the first time (although I could be wrong about some from this year’s book collections). They all really haunted or stuck with me. Just my tastes and idiosyncrasies, of course–so a very personal list. How could it not be? So much in haiku depends on the web of associations a reader brings to the poem. All I can say is that in each of these cases I felt a kind of electric current had passed from the author to me. Each one hit me immediately and yet also invited in-depth contemplation–words lived with. All of them also enriched in some way my sense of haiku. They represent a range of styles and approaches, demonstrating, I think, the healthy diversity of the current scene. Some are more toward “the center”, some more toward “the edge”. I haven’t tried to review everything I’ve read–rather, I simply depended upon what popped into my mind through the course of a day working at the computer. I do follow “the scene” reasonably closely (and jot down haiku I particularly like and might use for some purpose later), and I also figure if something really stands out in the memory, after a year of reading so many thousands of haiku, that means something, if only in a purely subjective sense. It wouldn’t be hard to write a short essay about each of these haiku, but I don’t have the time, nor, probably, do you, dear reader–and it’s best just to let them speak for themselves anyway. Needless to say, there were scores of others from 2009 I admired as well. I’m only allowing one per poet, even though half a dozen more just by John Barlow were at least contenders here. Note that I cannot always reproduce original layouts in this environment and that on occasion context within a book collection matters. Also, I do not, of course, pretend to have read everything. Perhaps some of these will resonate with you also or already have. In alphabetical order (disregarding articles):

    light leaking
    from a cracked urn
    (Stanford M. Forrester, the toddler’s chant, bottle rockets press)

    the barnacled flukes
    of migrating whales…
    mountains lost in haze
    (John Barlow, The Heron’s Nest 11.4)

    the city’s moan
    first snow
    (Scott Metz, Modern Haiku 40.2)

    (John Stevenson, Live Again, Red Moon Press)

    Point Reyes lighthouse
    how the deep note travels
    on the water
    (Bruce Ross, The Heron’s Nest 11.2)

    snake country the length of the shortcut
    (Lorin Ford, Shamrock 9)

    snow light
    not telling you
    the whole dream
    (Jack Barry, All Nite Rain, Down-to-Earth Books)

    part of the
    milky way
    (John Martone, Roadrunner 9.1)

    spring wind
    water in the shape
    of fire
    (Jim Kacian, Acorn 23)

    stone before stone buddha
    (Karma Tenzing Wangchuk, stone buddha, tel-let)

    No doubt more will come to mind later, but there is nothing here I would remove without a great deal of reluctance. From here it might be “and” rather than “or”. If forced to pick just one, it would probably have to be Tenzing’s “stone”. It was probably present to my consciousness more often than any other haiku (or ku, if you prefer) I read this year. But, really, for me the “genius” of haiku manifests itself more in the grand tapestry than in any one instance of what haiku can be.

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