Teaching and Learning Haiku in Community and Classroom: Stories, Challenges, Adventures
Do you teach haiku? In a classroom? An arts foundation? Community education? We want to hear about it. Want some new ideas? A place to vet an old idea before you try it “live”? Community support? How We Haiku — Teaching Stories is a monthly feature wherein we will share the many diverse and interesting ways your bring our favorite genre to your audience. Each month Brad Bennett and Jeannie Martin, co-chairs of The Haiku Foundation Education Committee, will host your stories of how you make haiku come alive for your students, and create an environment where educators can discuss the many challenges faced in bringing a fuller sense of haiku to a culture that knows little more than the stereotypes. Contact us to share your teaching stories, to ask your questions, and to find fellowship with your peers and the rest of the haiku community.
“We cannot teach a person directly, we can only facilitate his or her learning.”
— Carl Rogers
We welcome your comments (scroll down to the bottom of the page). And don’t forget about all the other fine education resources the Foundation has to offer.
This month Carlos Colón shares the boomerang effect he has with his first teacher of haiku.
“Back around 1999, I was working as a performance poet at a downtown arts festival and encountered my former teacher, Mrs. Jamette Lance, who said she introduced me to haiku back in the seventh grade. I was surprised to be reminded of this, but I knew back in 1974, when I was in college and wrote what I thought were my first haiku, that I had some previous awareness of the genre. Mrs. Lance had been at the festival with a mutual friend, Phyllis Graham, who had been my career advisor after I graduated from LSU-Shreveport.
“Some fourteen years later, when I was working on the acknowledgments section for my Haiku Elvis book, I decided to mention Mrs. Lance, but I thought the name Jamette on my report card might have been wrong. Maybe her first name was Janette. I couldn’t find her phone number, and Phyllis passed away, so I walked into my old elementary school and was able to get her first name verified.
“What I didn’t know was Mrs. Lance had remarried in 2002 and was now Jamie McDonald. I also did not know that we had another mutual friend, Dennise Aiello. Dennise invited Jamie to a barbecue at her home in 2014, and Jamie asked Dennise about her background. Dennise told Jamie that she was interested in poetry, that her favorite form of poetry was haiku, and that she belonged to a local haiku group, which was organized by Carlos Colón. Jamie was surprised by this, and the two decided it was now their turn to surprise me at the next meeting of the Northwest Louisiana Haiku Society.
“There was a big surprise, but it occurred a bit earlier because Dennise informed me by e-mail who the surprise guest would be. Of course, I was delighted to be able to give an autographed copy of Haiku Elvis to the teacher who got me started on this narrow road. Jamie even joined our group!
“Back in 1996 in a “Beginner’s Mind” column in Woodnotes 30, I wrote of my earliest memories of haiku. Now I am able to tell the fuller story.”
— Carlos Colón