Book of the Week: Another Bad Haircut

by Jim Kacian on November 17, 2014

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sheirer_anotherbadhaircutcover

John Sheirer was a shooting star through the haiku sky in the late 1990s, focusing on the humorous aspects of life, and especially family relations. This volume (Riverstone Books, 1997) gives a goodly sampling of his major preoccupations in his mature style.

You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library.

Do you have a chapbook published 2009 or earlier you would like featured as a Book of the Week? Contact us for details.

Haiku featured in the Book of the Week Archive are selected by Jim Kacian, following a concept first explored by Tom Clausen, and are used with permission.




growth spurt the third breakfast this week I knock over the milk
family reunion dad shakes his head at a racist joke
another long summer day the dog runs in circles on its short chain
first kiss until the chaperon’s throat-clearing
team physical the withered old doctor says “turn your head and cough”
first deer hunt after the gunshots noticing the wind

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The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims’ Stride 36

by John Stevenson on November 13, 2014

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renkuchainWelcome to The Renku Sessions. Renku is a participatory literary game, following a set of rules that are implemented by the leader of the session. If you would like to learn more about renku go here. And if you would like to see a sample of a complete renku go here.

I’m John Stevenson, and I have been your guide for this session, a thirty-six verse (kasen) renku. I supplied the opening verse (hokku) and each week participating poets offered additional verses prior to the Tuesday deadlines.

Thank you all for a great final week of offers! A total of twenty-seven poets, providing one hundred-forty-seven verses, created exactly that sense of onward movement and optimism that our renku called for at this stage.

From poets already included, here are a few links that would make strong finishing verses (ageku) for Pilgrims’ Stride:

the squeals of girls
blowing soap bubbles

    –Carmen Sterba

so many baby birds now
and all cheeping loud

    –Alan Summers

she picks up the largest shell
and listens to her childhood

    –Marion Clarke

how this giant soap bubble
flexes with the wind

    –Sandra Simpson

just one breath
scatters dandelion seeds

    –Lorin Ford

releasing a colt
into the pasture

    –Maureen Virchau

the lingering day unwinds
over a fresh cup of tea

    –Alice Frampton

earth smells
of tilling a field

    –joel irusta

And poets not yet included in our renku offered the following, any of which could be our ageku:

warm and serene
lingering day

    –jerry julius

our beanpole
budding

    –Phil Allen

children follow a butterfly
around the corner

    –kjmunro (slightly edited)

whirligig flamingoes
return to the front lawn

    –Todd Treloar-Rhodes

the monarch lays her egg
under a milkweed leaf

    –Thomas Miller

my baseball glove
comes out of the closet

    –Johnny Baranski

I consider that each of the above verses is the possible final verse and will continue to consider each of them to be the conclusion of a unique version of Pilgrims’ Stride.

You will probably want to use the comment box to register your preference(s) for the final verse. I encourage this but I want to make it clear that I am not taking a vote on this. Since we do not have to link for another verse, I am going to consider each of these to be the ageku.

One final request; and I can only make it a request and hope that you will comply. Please make your comments positive, saying “I favor this verse because…” rather than “I wouldn’t choose this verse because…” We have come a long way together and I deeply appreciate your collaborative spirit!

There will be one further post, on November 27, in which I will offer some final thoughts on this experiment in renku and announce future plans for this feature.

What We Have Been Looking For — Throughout the Session

There are many schematic outlines for a kasen renku. We have been using one set out by Professor Fukuda in his book Introduction to World-linking Renku.

It is a good idea for those participating in the composition of a renku to make use of the same list of season words. There are a number of these lists available and I intended no judgment of their relative value when I suggested the use of The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words for these sessions.

Pilgrims’ Stride

comparing maps
to the mountain pass–
pilgrims’ stride

    –John Stevenson

a sun-warmed stone bridge
over snowmelt

    –Billie Wilson

dampened soil
of seed trays
in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

grandmother’s silverware
polished every monday

    –Polona Oblak

a sonata
on the concert Steinway
played to the moon

    –Lorin Ford

dragonflies hover
by the swaying reeds

    –Karen Cesar

slight hum
of a drone
in fog

    –Alice Frampton

the atmosphere
thick with teenage pheromones

    –Norman Darlington

I stumble
trying to reply
“I plight thee my troth.”

    –Paul MacNeil

thinking of a red wig
during chemo

    –Asni Amin

the woodland
of silent stories
and shadow

    –Alan Summers

he makes a wish
to become real

    –Marion Clarke

each mirror reflects
only the cool moon
rising

    –kris moon

freshly-caught fish
sizzles in the pan

    –Aalix Roake

a wealthy prince
exiled in Nigeria
soliciting my help

    –Christopher Patchel

sugar plum fairy came
and hit the streets…

    –Jennifer Sutherland

a milky nimbus
at dusk
beneath the cherry tree

    –Scott Mason

pulling in spring clouds
with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

plain truth
of a skylark’s
song

    –Stella Pierides

our yoga instructor
tells us to breathe

    –Priscilla Van Valkenburgh

smoldering dung cakes
burning in the blackened pit
flavors the curry

    –Betty Shropshire

the family’s grudge
celebrates a century

    –batsword

first snowfall
covering little by little
all the dirt

    –Vasile Moldovan

scraping the ice rink
of blood, sweat and tears

    –Carole MacRury

the sting
of a paper cut
on her tongue

    –Terri French

used books signed
for someone special

    –Ellen Grace Olinger

a large voddy tonny
for the woman who may be
his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

stirring the crowd
with the slur of a slur

    –Maureen Virchau

continents join
under this moon
the bones of my head

    –Patrick Sweeney

the scarecrow reads
renku to the rabbits

    –joel irusta

pickled grapes and walnuts
swaddled in silk
in my messenger bag

    –Peg Duthie

no more wet newspapers
since the online version

    –Carmen Sterba

a gothic revival
emerges
with a single click

    –Marilyn Potter

ants open a crack between
their city and ours

    –Mark Harris

cherries in bloom
on the kitchen wallpaper
and outside too

    –Michael Dylan Welch

fourteen
ageku

    –Fourteen Poets

{ 21 comments }

Book of the Week: Starting Something

by Jim Kacian on November 10, 2014

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montgomery_startingsomethingcover

Carol Montgomery wrote some of the most memorable senryu in the language, many of which appeared in this volume (Los Hombres Press, 1992), so it is disappointing that she has been absentee from the haiku world for more than a decade.

You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library.

Do you have a chapbook published 2009 or earlier you would like featured as a Book of the Week? Contact us for details.

Haiku featured in the Book of the Week Archive are selected by Jim Kacian, following a concept first explored by Tom Clausen, and are used with permission.




every Sunday the marlin leaping from father’s necktie
spring drizzle widower receives his first get-well pie
a quick view of the topless aprons at the crafts fair . . .
passing the nature center where we all thought we wanted to work
retirement video: for the rest of my life free golf—
second husband painting the fence the same green

{ 1 comment }

The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims’ Stride 35

by John Stevenson on November 6, 2014

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renkuchainWelcome to The Renku Sessions. Renku is a participatory literary game, following a set of rules that are implemented by the leader of the session. If you would like to learn more about renku go here. And if you would like to see a sample of a complete renku go here.

I’m John Stevenson, and I will serve as your guide for this session, a thirty-six verse (kasen) renku. I have supplied the opening verse (hokku) and each week I will select an additional verse from among those submitted prior to the Tuesday deadline.

This may have been our most productive week. We have been gifted with one-hundred-twenty-three offers, from twenty-two poets, including some first time contributors. And we have also benefited from a discussion about kigo that I trust has proven educational for all of us. I must admit that I had the spring kigo “ants emerge” in mind when looking at the offers for verse thirty-four and, as a consequence, I was predisposed to read the verse that I selected as relating to this image. I do see, based upon the subsequent discussion, that a different reading is quite as likely. Live and learn!

There were so many interesting offers this time. I can’t list them all but here is a sample:

blossoms
lying on both sides
of the peace wall

    –Marion Clarke

placing her lei
of dandelions
on the garden gnome

    –Maureen Virchau

Cherry blossoms raise
a ladder of fragrances
from earth to stars

    –Vasile Moldovan

scented soaps for one
who views the blossoms
from her room

    –Ellen Grace Olinger

a single blossom
like a hand print
on the window

    –joel irusta

not yet
brushing blossoms
off the baby’s toes

    –Peg Duthie

not believing
until I stood beneath
the cherry trees

    –Sandra Simpson

at the sawmill
cherry blossoms mix
with sawdust

    –Carole MacRury

first fine day
and already
blossom rain

    –Christopher Patchel

a Burmese harp
tuned to the key
of fallen blossoms

    –Lorin Ford

the sound of oars
as rowers glide among
drifting petals

    –Carmen Sterba

how much further
this fiddlehead
can still unfurl

    –Scott Mason

And poets not yet included in our renku had much to offer:

Yuccas bloom
among broken shards
of glass

    –John Armstrong

blossoms at the gate
so many
I’m shut out

    –Todd Treloar-Rhodes

among dandelions
a wormhole away
China beckons

    –jerry julius

overcome by
the scent of orchids
filling the Town Hall

    –barbara a. taylor

The verse I have selected is one that I see as relating to the nature of kigo. Whether we are writing a blossom verse, a moon verse, or using season words in any of our links, it is important that the thing be itself. The moon should be the moon and be present – the absence of the moon or an idiom in which the word moon does not refer to the moon itself does not manifest the spirit of a kigo. Whatever blossom we have selected is to be the thing itself and not a plastic version.

Juxtaposed with the preceding verse, which features an interface between two communities, the selected verse does its own interior link and shift by presenting first the reproduced image of blossoms and then the original.

And here is the verse you must link to:

cherries in bloom
on the kitchen wallpaper
and outside too

    –Michael Dylan Welch

Our renku concludes with the next verse, the thirty-sixth. This is not an attempt to say “the end.” In fact, it is important that this verse suggest, instead, a sense of onward movement and optimism . Here are the requirements for verse thirty-six:

  • Spring image
  • Written in two lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the thirty-fifth verse, and only the thirty-fifth verse
  • Shifting widely to a new topic and setting

Add your suggested two-line link below, in the Comments box. You have until midnight EST, Tuesday, November 11, 2014. You may submit as many verses as you like, but please use a new comment box for each one. I will announce my selection for the next (and final) link on Thursday, November 13 here on the blog. There will be a final posting, on November 27, in which I will offer some reflections on our experiment in renku.

What We’ll Be Looking For — Throughout the Session

There are many schematic outlines for a kasen renku. We will be using one set out by Professor Fukuda in his book Introduction to World-linking Renku. It will not be necessary for you to have a copy of this book since instructions will be offered before each verse is solicited.

It is a good idea for those participating in the composition of a renku to make use of the same list of season words. There are a number of these lists available and I intend no judgment of their relative value. For purposes of this session I am suggesting the use of The Five Hundred Essential Japanese Season Words.

Pilgrims’ Stride to Date

comparing maps
to the mountain pass–
pilgrims’ stride

    –John Stevenson

a sun-warmed stone bridge
over snowmelt

    –Billie Wilson

dampened soil
of seed trays
in the glasshouse

    –Margaret Beverland

grandmother’s silverware
polished every monday

    –Polona Oblak

a sonata
on the concert Steinway
played to the moon

    –Lorin Ford

dragonflies hover
by the swaying reeds

    –Karen Cesar

slight hum
of a drone
in fog

    –Alice Frampton

the atmosphere
thick with teenage pheromones

    –Norman Darlington

I stumble
trying to reply
“I plight thee my troth.”

    –Paul MacNeil

thinking of a red wig
during chemo

    –Asni Amin

the woodland
of silent stories
and shadow

    –Alan Summers

he makes a wish
to become real

    –Marion Clarke

each mirror reflects
only the cool moon
rising

    –kris moon

freshly-caught fish
sizzles in the pan

    –Aalix Roake

a wealthy prince
exiled in Nigeria
soliciting my help

    –Christopher Patchel

sugar plum fairy came
and hit the streets…

    –Jennifer Sutherland

a milky nimbus
at dusk
beneath the cherry tree

    –Scott Mason

pulling in spring clouds
with a telephoto lens

    –Dru Philippou

plain truth
of a skylark’s
song

    –Stella Pierides

our yoga instructor
tells us to breathe

    –Priscilla Van Valkenburgh

smoldering dung cakes
burning in the blackened pit
flavors the curry

    –Betty Shropshire

the family’s grudge
celebrates a century

    –batsword

first snowfall
covering little by little
all the dirt

    –Vasile Moldovan

scraping the ice rink
of blood, sweat and tears

    –Carole MacRury

the sting
of a paper cut
on her tongue

    –Terri French

used books signed
for someone special

    –Ellen Grace Olinger

a large voddy tonny
for the woman who may be
his next wife

    –Sandra Simpson

stirring the crowd
with the slur of a slur

    –Maureen Virchau

continents join
under this moon
the bones of my head

    –Patrick Sweeney

the scarecrow reads
renku to the rabbits

    –joel irusta

pickled grapes and walnuts
swaddled in silk
in my messenger bag

    –Peg Duthie

no more wet newspapers
since the online version

    –Carmen Sterba

a gothic revival
emerges
with a single click

    –Marilyn Potter

ants open a crack between
their city and ours

    –Mark Harris

cherries in bloom
on the kitchen wallpaper
and outside too

    –Michael Dylan Welch

{ 159 comments }

Book of the Week: Sunlight Comes and Goes

by Jim Kacian on November 3, 2014

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porad_sunlightcomesandgoescover

Francine Porad was a painter before she was a haiku poet, and she often combined her talents in her numerous publications. This volume (Vandina Press, 2004) represents her at a mature stage in both arts.

You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library.

Do you have a chapbook published 2009 or earlier you would like featured as a Book of the Week? Contact us for details.

Haiku featured in the Book of the Week Archive are selected by Jim Kacian, following a concept first explored by Tom Clausen, and are used with permission.




hot summer night a mosquito’s whine and mine
‘last trip to Mexico’ for the fourth time
hail warning— a snake of headlights on highway curves
thoughts of him loud in my head silent stars
twilight settles on the rhododendrons . . . shadows reach my face
change in the weather talkative strangers on a park bench

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