Survey Says . . . THF Mission Statement

Every September the Board of Directors and Associates of The Haiku Foundation are sent a survey. Their responses help to guide our growth and direction. We’d like to broaden our input, and so we’ll be asking you to respond to a series of questions, one per week, over the next half-year. Your replies will be weighed in our assessment of our performance.

Today’s question: Mission Statement

Our mission statement reads as follows:

The impetus behind The Haiku Foundation was the realization that English-language haiku had done a poor job of promoting itself in two important venues: in gathering, interpreting, honoring and making available its comprehensive history, and in reaching beyond a coterie audience to establish its importance as a literary vehicle in the present and future. As a result, THF has two primary missions:

1) to archive our first century of English-language haiku; and

2) to expand possibilities for our second.

All other haiku groups—from journals to societies to conferences—have been created to help the individual poet realize his or her creative dream, be it education, publication or social contact. The Haiku Foundation does not follow this model. THF instead is a series of projects organized not for poets per se, but for haiku itself. The realization of these projects will in due course help all haiku poets. Haiku has been very good to all the poets who have been fortunate to have found it. The Haiku Foundation is where poets go when they want to give back.

Please assess how well The Haiku Foundation is delivering on this topic. Indicate your assessment of our performance to date by choosing one of the options:






Please feel free to add additional comments. Thank you in advance for your consideration, and for helping us make The Haiku Foundation a better resource.

Book of the Week: Eyes of the Blossoms


Kristen Deming learned haiku from the source–in Japan while her husband Rust was Chargé d’Affaires there in the late 1990s. This small, beautiful booklet was one result of that first contact with the genre, brought about in part through the ministrations of Yatsuko Ishihara, who has had much further influence, in his quiet way, on the development of haiku here.

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.

first dream of the year— pulling the bow back strongly the arrow is released
for an instant eyes of the blossoms open fully close again in the wind
torches crackling the cormorant boats set off pushing darkness
fog quenching the red forest
autumn deepening— the voices of insects polish the moon
snowbound on our anniversary— stirring the embers

Per Diem: Daily Haiku from Around the World—March 2015

We’ve featured a new Per Diem on our home page every day since 2012. In 2015, we’re pleased to continue this popular feature in a new layout and a new context.

Each day a new Per Diem poem will appear in the header on every page. And Per Diem is now linked directly to World of Haiku, a new project featuring poems from a different country each month. We’ll start this January and continue until we’ve exhausted the haiku cultures of the world. We hope you’ll enjoy seeing the variety and breadth of haiku as it is practiced around the world, and coming to know poets who share the same love of haiku as you do.

Brazil is the featured country in March 2015. For more information about haiku in this part of the world, see A History of Brazilian Haiku.


Robert Mainone 1929-2015

mainone_robertHaiku lost a friend and champion recently with the passing of Robert Mainone, peacefully in his sleep at his beloved Haiku Hut in Delton, Michigan. Bob was an early convert to what he saw as the “haiku way,” publishing his first book in 1964, and continuing to write to the night of his death. Professionally he was a Ranger Naturist for the National Park Service and the first Curator of the Kalamazoo Nature Center, among other related jobs, all of which provided much inspiration for his writing. You can view a more detailed biographical sketch, and have a look at his profile in The Haiku Registry.

Bookstories 14: Polona Oblak’s “distant lightning”

libraryofbabelEvery book tells its story, but what of the other story, the story behind the book? Bookstories offers an opportunity to tell that story. If you have a story about a book or poem you would like to share, contact us and we’ll help you make it happen. Thanks for letting us know the rest of the story!


distant lightning
a blackbird tears flesh
from a ripe cherry
The Heron’s Nest XIII.3

First there was a photograph. Or, rather, a series of photographs.

Actually, first there was a cherry tree growing from an abandoned atrium in the apartment building where I live. I have a view of the cherry from my balcony.

That year (2011) there was a rich crop of cherries and the local fauna, blackbirds in particular, took advantage of the early fruit’s abundance. Just to be clear, the common blackbird (Turdus merula) is a songbird in the thrush family with a lovely melodious song. Adult males are black with yellow or orange bills and a yellow ring around the eye.

I had been watching blackbirds feeding on cherries for a few days without getting a clear view of the action. Then, one late afternoon, a newly-fledged juvenile hopped onto an exposed branch and started pecking at cherries. I grabbed a camera and took a few shots. After downloading the photos I knew there was a haiku somewhere in there. All I needed to do was find appropriate words. In one of the photos was a juvenile blackbird tearing a cherry apart with juices spattering all over which made me write:

a juvenile blackbird
tears the flesh
from a ripe cherry

It was fun to think about adding ominous undertones to the actions of a quite harmless bird. This, of course, still needed some trimming and a striking juxtaposition to make it work. In late spring / early summer thunderstorms are not uncommon and I’ve always enjoyed watching lightning from a safe distance. For the fragment I considered thunder in various variations but concluded while thunder was loud, lightning was the real deal, not least because of the parallel between a lightning flash and photographic flash (though it wasn’t used in the making of those photos), so I decided on:

distant lightning
a blackbird tears some flesh
from a ripe cherry

which became the submitted version. I was later happy to drop “some” from L2 as suggested by The Nest’s editors prior to publication.

It may also be interesting that David Caruso wrote a commentary to “distant lightning” which appeared in The Heron’s Nest XIII annual edition.

—Polona Oblak