A Sad Update for Our Everest Poem

by Jim Kacian on April 18, 2014

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You’ll recall that Alan Bridges reported that his haiku was one of many artifacts accompanying an ascent of Mt. Everest. He sends this update which speaks of a horrific turn of events:

Terrible disaster on Everest. From base camp, we heard the roar of the avalanche just before 6am. It swept accross the top of the icefall, just below camp 1. In one of the worst mountaineering disasters ever, 13 Sherpas are confirmed dead, including 3 from our team. Another 2 are critical, now being evacuated from base camp hospital. One of the injured Sherpas was long lined down to the hospital. Our climbing team stretchered the other injured Sherpa from the heli pad to the hospital. A horrible thing; we are devastated. One available photo shows our guide Dean Staples managing the heli pad operations.

Sorry to have to report this terrible news.


The Renku Sessions: Pilgrims’ Stride 7

by John Stevenson on April 17, 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.

Twenty-four poets offered us fifty-seven verses this time. It was fun to see a number of poets working with the image of a helicopter. Other verses that seemed tempting included offers by Marion Clarke (castle gates), Stella Pierides (chestnut on the stove), and Christopher Herold (patio heater). The final choice came down to a decision between the verse I have chosen and Scott Mason’s the straw cowlick. Either would serve effectively in this position, though I feel that the one I’ve chosen has the edge.

Our seventh verse comes from Alice Frampton. The only thing that gave me some second thoughts about it was its brevity. I personally enjoy brevity but not all renku practitioners agree on this point. One thing that is sometimes criticized is a tendency to make a natural two line verse into three unnatural lines (or a three line verse into two) in order to “fit” a slot. My feeling is that each of these three short lines is fully justified.

The autumn season reference is “fog.” While there can be many readings of such a verse, I am reading a sense of menace into it based upon the current use of drones in warfare. Such a tone has only now become permissible in the renku and its appearance here confirms that “we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Here is the verse you must link to:

slight hum
of a drone
in fog

    –Alice Frampton

The next verse, the eighth, is our first love verse of the renku. There are two points I would like to make about love verses. Firstly, these are verses about love between adult human beings. They are not concerned with love of country, ice cream, or a favorite pet. They can be, though they don’t have to be, erotic in nature. Secondly, as is the case with groups of seasonal verses, it is important to maintain a sense of forward movement in time. So a first love verse that deals with the death of a lover is going to be hard on the person writing the second love verse (though nothing is impossible). Here are the formal requirements for verse eight:

  • Non-seasonal (avoids any topics assigned to a specific season in our list of season words)
  • Written in two lines, without a cut
  • Linking with the seventh verse, and only the seventh verse
  • Shifting widely to a new topic and setting relating to love between adult people

Add your suggested two-line link below, in the Comments box. You have until midnight EST, Tuesday, April 22, 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 link on Thursday, April 24 here on the blog, and provide information and instructions for submitting the next link.

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 shrines–
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

a dragonfly hovers
over the swaying reeds

    –Karen Cesar

slight hum
of a drone
in fog

    –Alice Frampton


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In July 2013 Cor van den Heuvel donated, as part of a larger gift, his haiku library to The Haiku Foundation. This library consists of 212 personally annotated volumes and journals. Most of the books in this collection are still in print or protected by copyright, and cannot be reproduced at this time. This gallery is designed to inform poets and scholars of the contents of the collection. Think of it as a card catalogue for future scholarship. One of the goals of the Foundation is to encourage research and scholarly writing on English-language haiku, and we see this collection as one that interested students of the genre will wish to consult for a long time to come. On the occasion of National Haiku Poetry Day 2014, we provide access today to the Cor van den Heuvel Haiku Library in our Omeka collections. Enjoy!

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Happy National Haiku Poetry Day 2014!

by Jim Kacian on April 17, 2014

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Hi All:

It’s our special day, and I hope you all have an opportunity to celebrate the fact in some way: by writing and sharing haiku, or supporting your local NHPD event, or by enjoying the 2014 HaikuNow! Contest Results, or savoring the 2013 Touchstone Individual Poems and the 2013 Touchstone Distinguished Books Awards shortlists, or, preferably, all of the above. We’d love to hear how you honored the day and your practice. Please feel free to send a comment to this post and share your experiences with your colleagues. And perhaps you’d like to continue a tradition by adding your haiku of the day in the comment box below. Happy NHPD!


Survey says . . . THF Digital Library

by Jim Kacian on April 16, 2014

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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: Digital Library

We currently have a Digital Librarian, Garry Eaton, and a Curator of Digital Acquisitions, Ron Moss. We have added Omeka software for cataloging and user interface. We currently add Book of the Week entries to the Digital Library when available. We hope to substantially increase the number of books we offer in the next few years, including rare, historical, and hard to find books. The Digital Library can be found on the website.

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.