One of the greatest gifts I was given in 2011 was given to me by Michael Dylan Welch. He didn’t just invite me to Haiku North America, he sent email after email pitching it to me; he worked out logistical details to make getting across the country easier for me — how could I say no?
What I found when I got to Seattle was life changing. I filled one notebook after another taking notes at the presentations.
Three line haiku works, but does it suit the demands of modern life? “Are you getting a better experience?” Jim Kacian asked while Bruce Ross talked about space having a pre-existence before feeling.
I’ve been a poet for I don’t know…25 years…? I’ve been a lit mag editor for seven or so, and I’ve never been happier than I’ve been in the last two years, since I’ve been diving deeper and deeper into haiku.
The more I’ve studied, the more I’ve found to study. Somehow this art manages to reach far back into history while simultaneously offering so much fertile territory.
But the most pleasant surprise — outside of the art itself — has been the people. Haiku poets, for some reason, are nicer, more welcoming and more likely to share and discuss the art openly than the poetry world at large.
Does this have to do with money and institutions? As magazines like Poets and Writers have explored, the po business, with its highly sought after teaching positions creates and supports careers.
The haiku world, at least in this country, is not as established. We’re all doing this whenever we can scrounge up the time or energy, stolen moments that find us hungry and reaching out.
Maybe it’s just what I’ve seen. But I also wonder if the ku world has less of the lit world neuroses because its practitioners are older. From talking to people I also think more artists come to haiku for spiritual reasons.
Does its practice require an erasing of self that’s at odds with the younger hipster mentality found in the creative writing programs at universities?
More than reveling in one’s idiosyncrasies, haiku tends to temper its flintknappers, grounds them in the lessons of their forebears.
Or am I crazy?