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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!


My story is a short one—like the poetic form we enjoy.

I published one book of haiku for children, Don’t Step On the Sky (Henry Holt). Since, I have become my own publisher. It happened this way: I met with a poet friend (published, but not of short form) who pulled from his shirt pocket a small chapbook—4″ x 6″, 32 pages—and said, “this is how poetry should be published, in small bites. . . .” I was tempted. I have been putting out annually a small chapbook of my haiku and tanka for distribution to family members, friends, writers, associates, etc., 2 or 3 poems per page. Perhaps a little personal drawing. People like it. They read it. One woman said, “I love it, I can take it out when I wait for the bus and read them.”

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Book of the Week: Snow Man

by Jim Kacian on December 15, 2014

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David Lloyd’s charming book (No Press, 1999) is dedicated to Raymond Roseliep but in fact was intended for his children and grandchildren. It’s a combination of haibun and haiku, all on the theme of the title.

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.

Accepting baldness; The snowman is still smiling Beneath a gaslamp . . .
An older child Whispers all her secrets To the snowman
Discovered: The snowman’s head In the freezer
Snowman Tightening his grip On the shovel
Looking back— The snowman is lost In the snow
Ah little sparrow! So good to see you drinking The snowman’s remains . . .


Bookstories 3: Stephen Addiss’s A Haiku Menagerie

by Jim Kacian on December 12, 2014

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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!


Some years ago I began to notice similarities between two different expressions of early modern Japanese culture. The first is the large number of haiku that feature living creatures, from insects to whales. The second is the many books of woodblock prints created by artists of various schools, not merely ukiyo-e masters. Although the haiku are reasonably well-known, the woodblock books have been largely ignored—yet a number of their images also depict living creatures, often with humor, or at least good humor. Why not find a way to combine haiku about mammals, birds, insects, and fish, with woodblock prints depicting the same range of subjects?

I began to collect images and translate poems, and enlisted the help of two good friends who were also professors at the University of Kansas (where I taught at the time), Fumiko and Akira Yamamoto. My initial thought was that the main body of the book would present the haiku in both Japanese and English, mixed together with the woodblock prints. Only the introduction and the ending list of illustrations, with thumbnail biographies of poets and artists, would need to be printed in English or Japanese. If we could find publishers in both the United States and Japan, they could share the primary costs of the haiku and color images, then each publisher could add the introduction and ending matter in the appropriate language.  

Preparing the book was very enjoyable, since it meant leisurely going through collections of haiku and books of prints. For the latter, I had found several such volumes in Japan, and after some explanations I was allowed to visit and take pictures in the special books section of the New York Public Library. Ultimately, we had to cut down the unexpectedly large number of delightful poems and images that we had gathered—and now we had to find publishers.  

Alas, we seemed to strike out in this regard, being refused by several American firms, and after some initial interest, by the Japanese publisher whom we had been advised to meet. Finally, Weatherhill in New York City (before they merged with Shambhala) decided to give it a try—but they also could not find a Japanese counterpart, so the front and back of the book were published only in English.  

We had divided the images and haiku into four groups: Walkers, Fliers, Crawlers, and Swimmers, and here are examples of each group:

		   Out from the darkness
		back into the darkness—
		   affairs of the cat
						   The voice of the cuckoo
						   over the water
		   Pausing for a nap
		on the temple bell—
		   a butterfly
						      The trout leaps up—
						and below him a stream of
						   clouds floats by

We only asked the book designer not to allow the poems and pictures to appear directly related, as these were not haiga but rather verbal and visual images in their own singularities. A Haiku Menagerie was published in 1992, and to everyone’s surprise, it became (at least for Weatherhill) a best-seller. Amazing!

Weatherhill encouraged us to follow it up, and so In following years we put forth A Haiku Garden (1996), Haiku People (1998), Haiku Landscapes (2002), and Haiku Humor (2007). Finally, at Shambhala’s request, in 2009 we combined the poems (some of which we re-translated) into a single volume without images or the Japanese originals. This became Haiku: An Anthology of Japanese Poems; I personally miss seeing the prints, but it serves as a handy compendium for those whose interest is primarily the haiku.

What this entire experience taught me is that following up on a seemingly fanciful idea can bear fruit, and that one should never take the first (or second or third) rejection from publishers as a signal to quit. Finding a project that you can enjoy, having confidence in your work, editing it without mercy, finding the right venue—and perhaps a bit of luck—all contribute to success. In our case, it led to a total of six volumes when originally it had seemed difficult to find a publisher for even one. Looking back, I feel especially grateful to the original poets and artists whose work it has been a pleasure to explore and present to a new public, in our own time and culture.


Second International Haiku Conference in Poland

by Jim Kacian on December 9, 2014

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Feeling the need to practice your Polish? Charles Trumbull brings this opportunity to our attention:

Dear Haiku Friend:

On May 16–18, 2015, we will be convening the Second International Haiku Conference in Kraków, Poland. We hope you will consider participating.

The Conference is organized by the Museum of Japanese Art and Technology Manggha.The Conference will be held in conjunction with the 4th biennial Czesław Miłosz Festival. In that spirit, the haiku conference will be dedicated to Miłosz and his work with haiku as well as to haiku in Poland and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe.

To facilitate planning and get a rough head count, we would appreciate your indication by December 15, as to whether you might be able to join us. We will ask for a firm confirmation by February 15.

For now, please contact me, Charles Trumbull, if you have any questions.

Yours in haiku,



2014 THF Fundraiser Release: Fundraiser a Success

by Jim Kacian on December 8, 2014

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Dear Haiku Lovers:

Thanks again for your continued support of The Haiku Foundation and our many programs. We’re pleased to announce that during this year’s fundraising period (November 27 – December 6) we have taken in $3772.00 in donations to this point, and several of you have indicated that your checks are in the mail. And thanks to our anonymous angel who has generously matched funds, we have doubled that total, for a pending figure of $7544.00 to date. This is our most successful fundraiser to date, and we can’t thank you enough. We will use these funds to continue to bring you the haiku features and programs that you have come to expect and enjoy here, as well as add to our offerings in substantial ways. We welcome your help with this, both financially and personally. Please contact us if you would like to participate further.

Jim Kacian
The Haiku Foundation

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