Tag Archives: literature

Chicago Haiku Fest


Today I had the wonderful opportunity to hear some great haiku read. The Haiku Society of America held a festival in celebration of National Poetry Month. The organizer Charlotte Digregorio did a fantastic job on organizing the event and the Skokie Library graciously allowed use of one of their conference rooms.
The event kicked off with Charlotte giving a short lecture on haiku and a discussion on 10 haiku that members of the Haiku Society had written. Next we had members of the Midwest chapter do a live reading of some of their work that had been published in the past year. The names of those who read is as follows: Amelia Cotter, Lidia Rozmus, Mac Greene, John Han, Tom Chockley, Alicia Hilton, Joanne Crofton, Tomoko Hata, Heather Jagman, and Dan Schwerin.
Finally we ended with a haiku contest where nonmembers got to compete for prizes.

I truly enjoyed myself and look forward to more events in the future. The gallery below is from the event.

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Wistful thinking

Wistful thinking

incense smoke
brings back the dead-

Inspired by a Hangon-kon story which is as follows: (My interpretation)

Many years ago during the Han dynasty the Chinese Emperor Wu lost his wife, Lady Li. The Emperor loved her so much that her death consumed him. No matter what he did he could not distract himself. So one day he told his servants to obtain some of the Spirit-Recalling-Incense so that he might call her back from the dead. His advisors tried to dissuade him as they felt doing so would only feed his obsession. But being the Emperor he refused to listen to their advice and proceeded with the ritual burning.

When the time was auspicious the Emperor lite the incense and kept his mind focused on the memory of his beloved Lady Li. After some time passed the Emperor saw the form of his wife forming within the blue smoke of the incense. At first it was quite faint but slowly the apparition started to assume human form and become a living person. The Emperor watched his wife grow more beautiful and alive with each passing moment. At first the Emperor whispered to the image afraid that it would fade, but quickly grew more bold and soon was calling, pleading with the image to speak to him. Finally unable to control himself he reached out to touch the image but as soon as he touched the smoke the Lady Li vanished forever.

Ghostly Japan by Lafcadio Hearn
I lost the link to image but is was Japan wiki

Haiku tip #6

Haiku tip #6

Recently I was contacted and asked “How can I call what I write haiku as I do not use 5-7-5” I hope that this posting helps explain why 5-7-5 is not a requirement of haiku.

If one wonders why 5-7-5 does not a haiku make. I turn to Lee Gurga who in his book “Haiku: A poet’s guide” explains it thusly.

“‘Japanese Syllables’ are not syllables at all in our sense of the word. Japanese syllables are uniformly short, differing considerably in length from syllables in English, so it might be better to think of them as ‘sounds’ rather than syllables… These Japanese sounds consist of a either s single vowel sound, a combination of a consonant followed by a vowel, or a single consonant.
These syllables are ALL (emphasis mine) about the same length as the syllable ‘be’ in English.”

As we know in English there are short words with one syllable such as “be” but then there are longer words too.

Gurga goes on to say “the average Japanese haiku contains only 5-6 words, while the average 17 syllable haiku in English has 12 or more.”

Gurga and other haiku editors suggest that if you want to count syllables then you must do it as the Japanese do. For example the word haiku is counted as ha-i-ku or 3 syllables not hai-ku as it is counted in English. A 17 syllable haiku in English usually comes across as wordy.

That said I like the “one breath” rule. Take a breath, say your haiku, if you can say it slowly in one breath then you have properly used brevity.

Furthermore the majority of literary haiku published in English today are not 5-7-5 (even in Geppo). In the second edition of Cor van den Heuvel’s The Haiku Anthology (Touchstone, 1986), 88.2 percent of the poems are not 5-7-5. And in Bruce Ross’s Haiku Moment (Tuttle, 1993), an even greater 96.5 percent of the poems are not 5-7-5. A similar dominance of non-5-7-5 poems prevails in most of the leading English-language haiku journals.

Which is all to say that, among published literary haiku today (and in recent decades), 5-7-5 haiku are vastly in the minority. But if the counting of syllables is important to conscientious “traditional” haiku poets, those poets should have a clear understanding of basic phonetics, and know how to identify syllables and count them correctly and that my dear reader will have to wait for another day.

Blyth, R.H: History of Haiku 1964
Gurga, Lee: Haiku: A Poets Guide Modern Haiku Press, 2003
Higginson, William: The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku McGraw-Hill, 1985
image from: https://www.facebook.com/pages/NaHaiWriMo/108107262587697

The Earth is my witness


quietly sitting
I touch the ground-
space dust

When Mara challenged Siddhartha as saying the he the title of Buddha “enlightened one” belonged to him his minions shouted that they testified for Mara.

Mara asked Siddhartha who would witness for him he reached out his right hand touched the earth, then the earth itself spoke: “I bear you witness!”
At this Mara disappeared.
Siddhartha Gautama reached enlightenment and became a Buddha.

I think that Earth Day is an excellent time to think about how we all came from the Earth and will return to it one day. A step further is to remember the Earth formed from stardust and to it we all will return.
Therefore the universe can testify on our Buddha nature.

Earth day


in space floats
the big blue ball
home sweet home

This was composed by my eight year old daughter.

Halfway Mark on my year journey

Halfway Mark on my year journey

I wanted to take a moment to reflect upon my haiku journey so far. Today is the halfway mark of my journey. Like the lotus flower in the picture I have not bloomed yet. 🙂 When I look back at my early haiku I can see that I was ignorant of the history of haiku and had no subtlety in my work. Over the past few months I have devoured as many books on haiku as I could, joined various organizations and submitted my work for publication (which resulted in a few publications). This weekend I will be attending “Haiku Fest” here in Chicago to continue my journey.

Thank you to all who read my work, thank you to my children for letting me have time to work and to my darling wife for her support.

10 ways to celebrate Poetry Month


Since this is National Poetry month I thought I would gather up a few ideas to spark interest. Have fun!

  1. Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day
    The idea is simple: select a poem you love, carry it with you, then share it with co-workers, family, and friends.
  2. Put a poem on the pavement
    “Go one step beyond hopscotch squares and write a poem in chalk on your sidewalk.”
  3. Recite a poem to family and friends
    “You can use holidays or birthdays as an opportunity to celebrate with a poem that is dear to you, or one that reminds you of the season.”
  4. Memorize a poem
    “Getting a poem or prose passage truly ‘by heart’ implies getting it by mind and memory and understanding and delight.”
  5. Promote public support for poetry
    “Every year, Congress decides how much money will be given to the National Endowment for the Arts to be distributed all across America.”
  6. Buy a book of poems for your library
    “Many libraries have undergone or are facing severe cuts in funding. These cuts are often made manifest on library shelves.”
  7. Play Exquisite Corpse
    “Each participant is unaware of what the others have written, thus producing a surprising—sometimes absurd—yet often beautiful poem.”
  8. Watch a poetry movie
    “What better time than National Poetry Month to gather some friends, watch a poetry-related movie, and perhaps discuss some of the poet’s work after the film?”
  9. Visit a poetry landmark
    “Visiting physical spaces associated with a favorite writer is a memorable way to pay homage to their life and work.”
  10. Start a commonplace book
    “Since the Renaissance, devoted readers have been copying their favorite poems and quotations into notebooks to form their own personal anthologies called commonplace books.”

source: http://www.poets.org

Children’s Earthday Haiku


Here is a haiga (haiku + image) my daughter (age 7) did for Kids-Count-For-Earthday-Haiku competition. If you are on Facebook please visit and click like. The more votes the better her chances.

Empowering women and girls


As the father of two wonderful girls I am always excited to find another way to help empower them and others as well. Today I stumbled across an ebook called “I Am More Than “Just A Girl” written by blogger Impower You. Please take a moment, visit the blog and support the effort. The more we can empower the more society will benefit