Allow me to introduce haikuist Garry Gay. He is one of the people you might meet when you check out this Haiku conference which runs August 5th to 9th in Ottawa. There will be readings, publishers, a haibun writing workshop, talks on epiphanies and a ginko walk as well as an Ottawa River cruise among many other things.

Garry is going to give us a little background on HNA, the haiku community in general and what you won’t want to miss in August.

I’ll let him take it away…

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas about haiku. I am very passionate about haiku. It’s a big part of my life and a big part of who I am.

We are very proud that HNA is taking place in Canada. We have wanted it to take place here again for some time now.

I am currently the president of the Haiku Poets of Northern California. We are a American West coast haiku organization. Founded in 1989, we are now celebrating our 20th anniversary, and are a very active society. We are holding this August our 20th Two Autumn haiku reading. This is a big event for us, our crown jewel. This reading is also accompanied by an anthology. It may be longest ongoing haiku reading in North America.

Part of the reason I bring this up is that it is here in the San Francisco Bay Area that the Haiku North America conference got its start 18 years ago. Michael Dylan Welch and myself along with Jerry Ball, David Wright, Paul O Williams and Christopher Herold were the first HNA committee. We held the first conference in Livermore, California.

This is the tenth conference and only the second time we have come to Canada. So it is a major event having this very important event held in Ontario, Canada. We are very proud that it is taking place in Canada. We have wanted it to take place here again for some time now.

You asked: “What haiku would stand out to you today as fitting in your day?” I would say it is this haiku I wrote about a family reunion.

Family reunion
again explaining
what a haiku is

For me this is what the HNA conference is all about. Not having to explain what it is I am writing, but sharing the work I have written with others who equally enjoy the beauty of haiku. We can all share our poetry, exchange ideas of how we write, why we write and explore the various aspects and challenges of being haiku poets.

You also asked: “What do you think of desk haiku as opposed to ginko?”

This is a question that comes up now and then in haiku discussion groups. Mostly I don’t give it to much thought. While I realize there are many haiku writers who are purist in the art by trying to write only what they are experiencing at that moment and in that place, I think really most are always writing poems that are more a reflection of who they are as poets and how they experience the world. So in place of calling some poems desk haiku, I would just point out that most poets edit their work. Even those who feel they are staying true to the moment are going to often make changes to their poems later as they try to make the poem a better reflection of what they experienced at the original moment. At any point of revision does this become a “desk haiku?” I don’t think so.

Personally I write a lot from memory, from childhood experencies. So would these then be “desk haiku?” I think the important point is how you share your poetic moments of enlightenment, discovery.

You asked: What are your favorite elements of the haiku community?

This is easy, I love the companionship and friendships that I have made. I had no idea once I got interested in writing haiku that I would make so many real and lasting friendships. I feel blessed for all the many talented and gifted friends I have made. It has been both an adventure and a great life experience being in the haiku community.

You’ve been in haiku and photography for over 3 decades as people can explore at Long Way Home. Do you find images and words come from the same inner space or complementary spaces?

As you may know, I am a professional photographer by trade. I found early on that both my favorite art forms, photography and haiku had a lot in common. They are both visual, brief and in the moment. They were well suited to be put together. So I have sometimes paired the photo with the poem. A modern haiga if you will. Its been very interesting exploring how this works out.

As you pointed out I have an online book The Long Way Home, that Randy Brooks put online for me. I’ve had a lot of great responses to it. Really the words and the images are just two different ways of looking that the world. Both can stand alone and for me, neither should lean on the other.

One more thing I would like to offer to this conversation, and that is that this conference is a real opportunity to meet some of the very best of the world’s haiku writers. These are the poets who are at the top of their game.

It’s not often, just every two years that many of these fine poets come together to share their new work and exchange ideas on this beautiful form of poetry.

The conference itself produces many new works. Many of the attending poets will bring poems to share in the form of new books. So if you’re a lover of books as much as I am, you want to bring an empty bag to bring home all the new volumes of poetry. And for those who are unaware of it most if not all of these books will have copies placed in the American Haiku Archives located in Sacramento, California. It is the largest English language haiku archive outside of Japan.

Thank you for asking me to share my thoughts with you.

My pleasure Garry.

There will be a talk August 9th on the American Haiku Archives. Check out the schedule.

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