after hexagrams season series launch
Marco Fraticelli of King’s Road Press with Emiko after the launch of the 3 newest Hexagram titles: Finding a Breeze by Grant Savage, For a Moment by Michael Dylan Welch and nothing left to say by Roberta Beary.


Grant’s romantic senryu got a smiles with

spring rain
finding myself
on her to-do list

MDW’s universal scenario brought a sympathetic hum with

home for Christmas…
my childhood desk drawer

Also poignant was this sample of Roberta Beary:

breakup —
my daugther’s voice cracks
across two continents

the winners of the cryptic puzzle
Jim, pictured here with Anita as they win the bottle of wine for solving 100% of the frogpond cryptic.

With anti-story there is self-estranging complexity. The autopilot flow of narrative is troubled. Instead of stories being for some point of plot, what fits expectations, one veers from probable to what is possible. Instead of a closed narrative box where the writer elaborates on what it, the poet opens to suggests options of what could be, a potential which is never exhausted by being tidily resolved. This is the strength of anti-story.

Citing an example from his own haiku,

calling the bear
that might not be there

How does it end? The scenario is weakened if one were to find out. It isn’t necessary to find out what next, or how does it end. You keep the quest in the question. If one gives priority to the answer, it is not as similar to life where the reality is not ultimate outcome but the process.

Anti-story is for those who can confront truth with all its jaggedness.

IMG_0818 Patricia Donegan, meditation teacher, author of Haiku Mind: 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness and Open Your Heart, Haiku (Asian Arts and Crafts For Creative Kids) and soon out Love Haiku spoke to us on Hiroshima Day (August 6) about peace, inward and outward. She is seen here (on right) with Margaret Chula (author of What Remains which was launched at HNA).

After WWII Japan adopted Article 9 to ban military and nuclear weapons. Perhaps all countries will cultivate the sense to eventually adopt this as well. On a global scale it can seem insurmountable but we start with what is workable. We must foster peace within ourselves to create peace in the world. “Peace is not easy but it is choiceless.”

To meditate one does not flee but observes where one is. Meditation does not have as its goal niceness but being aware and at ease despite what may arise. Aggression and compassion are equal parts of us. One opens oneself to what will rise. That may be sadness, jealousy, fear, love or beauty. You don’t know what will spill out so it takes courage to look.

Thoughts and feelings are like clouds that continually rise, dwell and disappear, but past them there is a constancy of sky. We can watch ourselves and see the little furies and flurries from a different perspective. Teijo Nakamura (1900-1988), a woman haiku master from the line of Shiki, when asked about first principles of writing said the highest principle in haiku is to be honest with yourself. In meditation, one isn’t obliged to suppress oneself, correct nor to act out an emotion.

Inner struggle is a constant nature of humans. In the 1800s, Hosai OZaki wrote (relayed on p. 57 of Haiku Mind),

letting go
of a slanderous heart —
shelling the beans

Haiku is a chance to choose a peace path. Sometimes we are startled into awareness of perspective by life by accidental transcendent moments. We can choose to enter awareness as well at any time. For example, whenever we are stopped by a red light, we can choose to take a meditative pause from that opportunity and become aware of breathing and of being alive.

1) We can slow for several breaths to center ourselves.
2) We can recognize our interdependency and capacity for compassion
3) We can see clearly, forgetting self and appreciate the external.

Doing this practice is not suppressing self, not running from nor running after feelings, but slowing into this moment that is transitory. It is not a grabbing so much as a releasing of clinging. Being aware in this way decompresses us, allows one to be more spacious to others.

Whenever we see the sky it can act as a reminder of the largeness and constancy of sky. It reminds of the openness within us.

Claudia's painting close upthank you Crosscurrents was the theme of the conference with the Montreal cabaret sharing their poems on day 1. On day 2 we saw the ekphrastic results of the The Painting Project on the selected haiku submitted to theme. From the 200 sent in, 6 haiku on 6 themes were chosen. These poems were used by Claudia Coutu Radmore (pictured taking a bow) to inspire 6 paintings.
Claudia's painting close up
The resulting collection of paintings by Claudia Coutu Randmore and the haiku were made into a chapbook. The paintings were presented to artists who interpreted them in music, in theatre or in sound poetry.

dramatic monologue
Patricia Benedict did a dramatic monologue in the persona of the tippling sister of an art critic who gets increasingly inebriated over the course of her critique.

musical interpretation
Ian Tambyln sent in a track of music in absentia as a response to one painting of factory sounds mixing with piano and geese. Claudio Valentino (pictured) played guitar compositions live and did segue improvizations. Dorothy Howard sent in a sound poetry piece that ran two tracks from different directions of the auditorium simultaneously.

painting IMG_9318
All the poems were read as each painting was presented by Angela Leuck and DeVar Dahl.

As well as this art, there was a haiga display of images by Peter Vernon Quenter by the silent auction room.

Nick Virgilio
The panel discussion spent a little time watching a clip of the youtube tribute to Nick Virgilio. Panel was Kathleen O’Toole, Raffael de Gruttola and Michael Dylan Welch. Nick Vigilio died 20 years ago now but the effect he had is still viisble in Camden where his haiku is painted on brick walls and people still know him by name.

Haiku was his life passion. He was an evangelist for it, in the habit of saying to anyone he happened to be near, “hey listen to this. tell me if this is good”. He was a copious writer and letter-writer. He wrote haiku full time for 25 years, in diners and walking around his town. He was a city poet who wanted to capture the life he had around him, such as

between tricks
knitting booties

He was an American original as de Gruttola pointed out. He was in the same class as Emily Dickinson and WC Williams. He wrote against he myth of haiku as 5-7-5 in the 60s and helped push the English form to new shapes.

He brought to haiku his emotional intensity and among the sensory information, a musicality and rhythm from other forms. When his brother Larry was killed in Vietnam he brought to haiku the war and a grimness that could not be prettified, as Welch put it. (Samples of those haiku of grief are in the youtube video.) Vigilio engaged the world and tried to bring it all into haiku. Paul McNeil recited one of Virgilio’s poems from the linany of the dead,

on the petition
banning agent Orange
the names of the dead

Welch pointed out that many of Virglio’s poems are lacking the turn, or cut, but added Virgilio’s explanation, “I don’t care what you call what I do, haiku, schmaiku or whatever. What I do is poetry.” As Nick Avis pointed out regarding the adhering to haiku’s poetic device, “it only becomes a problem when the technique overtakes the poem.”

Once Virgilio latched onto the form, he tried to consume all that he could find and went into an intensive corresponsance with a number of people including Harold Henderson. Diving in with both feet, he became published in the first issue of American Haiku and won first prize in the second issue.

He thought haiku worthy of study and essays and encouraged others to write essays on his haiku. O’Toole said this was in part because of his nature as a promoter and partly from his desire to push himself, to burnish his poems to get to the purist state possible and wanted all the mentoring he could to learn.

At a reading he gave 12 days before his death he said “I want you people to write haiku because you might have a great poem in you – you never know.”

Nick Virgilio Pictured is his most well-known poem, which yielded a parody from Pizzarelli,

Out of the water
Out of her suit

On day 2, Emiko Miyashita was discussing haiku from a haiku-translater’s point of view. She gave poems in Japanese and two versions of English.
discussion around translations
She led discussions around strengths and weaknesses of what is conveyed and left out.

Emikop looking at her slide
Emiko looking at her slide.

Part of the effect of doing haiku is to instill a seasonal awareness in self.

Emiko We all took a quick quiz on Japanese plant kigo using Santoka’s haiku she had translated with Paul Watsky (PIE Books, 2006). We were to guess the month and season of each plant that is indigenous to places outside north America. Many groaned about getting only 1 or 3 out of 10 right./ This pointed out how based in a particular time and place the season indicators are. Particular species have the power to reconstruct and present a time and place. The resonant weight of kigo is social, lived association with the the bamboo or radish tops. She gave this example,
If one is familiar with white radishes, the autumn season of harvest, and the habit of preserving them for winter, and how women gather by the riverbank to wash them, we can feel the suggestion of hands getting cold in the stream’s water. The sadness of closure can be invoked by the repetition. It isn’t as rich and nuances without that context. We are missing part of the cultural picture.

Now that haiku are written worldwide in Japanese and English, there is a diversity in season’s meaning. For example, spring begins on Feb 4th in Japan and March 21st in the west. Words are drawing on a variety of culture, language, climate and religion which make the meaning transference not as sure.

By tracing her development in learning haiku in Japan, and sharing ideas of Basho and Kyoshi Takahama, she presented how central kigo (season words) are in Japanese haiku, and ephasized that haiku is a seasonal poetry.

Still, she asked, what is the appeal of writing about seasons?
quote on impermance

train haiku
Many people write haiku about trains and were on hand to read their pieces. Rich is doing a collection.

Roberta and Rich
Roberta Beary and Rich Schnell after the train haiku presentation.

Amazingly enough the conference is all through already.

Many ideas and connections were shared. It was a warm atmosphere throughout with events and community coming together beautifully.

If you want to add your links or photos or comments, just leave a comment. More summaries of happenings and interviews are coming over the course of the week…


You can browse this photo album of HNA events.

Deborah Kolodji has made a post on Day 3 of the haiku conference. I believe her album is viewable as well.

the conference's second time back to Canada
Garry Gay talked about how when the conferences started, the world was different. A renga couldn’t be done by email, but by letter mail. You would see people’s names appear in journals but people didn’t meet face to face. The conference aimed to connect the disparate tribes of haiku. He, Paul Miller and Michael Dylan Welch in 2005 incorporated the organization so it is non-profit. Although there are organizers it belongs to the community. “A conference is a fragile thing and without support it will disappear”. It’s organized at grass roots level each time by a different group.

Michael Dylan Welch surveyed those present on which conferences each had attended. Only William Higginson had been to every one of the previous 9. There was a tribute reading of 9 of Higginson’s poems.

He also offered tips on how to make the most of your time. (I paraphrase.)
1) Get lots of sleep. It’s like drinking from a fire house. Water is sweet but you’re at risk of drowning. Pace yourself.
2) Be methodical. Look at the anthology and make a list of who you definitely want to speak with so you don’t come to the end and miss some people.
3) Pick a few things and do them well rather than rushing to and fro trying to catch half each of a couple sessions that run concurrently.
4) Support the book sellers. Publishing is often a loss or close to it. Look thru the book tables and bring some home.
5) Don’t be shy. Pick a few faces you don’t know. Take the initiative if you are new, or an old hand. Ask people to sign your anthology or invite people for lunch, introduce yourself. Get to know the community.

Anthology reading
Michael Dylan Welch and Grant Savage led the anthology reading of “Into Our Words” where people if present, read their own. People travelled to this conference from across Canada and the U.S. and from overseas (India and Japan).

Next up was a wine and cheese…
cheese wine and cheese and cake

With time to mingle or cuddle…
wine and cheese cute couple

The Montreal Poets The Montreal Poets: Le Terasse Haiku Cabaret
Angela Leuck and the Montreal poets gave a reading at Le Terasse Haiku Cabaret. It was moderated by Pam (seen here with her twin sister reading twin haiku they each did of the same moment).

The Montreal Poets: Le Terasse Haiku Cabaret
The piano player, Martin Franklin, set the terrace feeling and here is listening in on more readings from Montreal including this one by Luce

L_____* Station, same man
in the same spot
but new wheelchair

*[I missed the name of the station]

Another was by Tremblay,

thrift store
no bag big enough
for the tutu

The last event on the evening’s bill was the talk of the walk…
Sibley gave his talk on walking the traditional Buddhist pilgrimage, 20-30 km/day, with a 14 kg pack, for 2 months, doing 88 temples over 870 miles as well as forging relationships with the quiet inner and rhythms of foot-speed and of those immediate 3 he walked with. He found that in responding to the outer world for an extended time he learned how to extract from experiences the essences. The uneventful stretches not the exciting highlights were the times that impacted most. Walking that much per day allows us to shift our relationships and hear another quieter self.