New haiku hither and yon

A batch of haiku and haibun that I wrote last summer specifically to send out—some with darker imagery, influenced by my regular consumption of death metal—has met with mixed reactions from editors: acceptances from tinywords, The Heron’s Nest, Modern Haiku, Frogpond, and Drifting Sands Haibun (as previously noted) but no bites from Acorn, Whiptail, Rattle, or Contemporary Haibun Online. The one in tinywords appeared back in October:

monitoring the dead zone blue crabbers

The image came from a lengthy article in the Chesapeake Bay Journal, an essential source of environmental news for anyone living in the Chesapeake watershed.

My haiku in The Heron’s Nest came about in the approved manner, however: an encounter in nature prompting a nearly instantaneous response, in a haiku all about responsiveness.

night bird—we startle as one

I’m grateful to the editors of Frogpond, the journal of the Haiku Society of America, for selecting this one for their Winter 2024 issue:

being measured for a coffin first snowflake

This had been included in the batch I sent to Modern Haiku, but editor Paul Miller chose this one instead:

unrivaled in my kitchen cricket

I love and read all these journals whether I place work in them or not, so it’s fun to feel as if I’m taking part in building something bigger than ourselves. That something being, I think, no less than a complete reassessment of how we in the West relate to nature: seen no longer as something apart from humans but a spontaneously self-organizing cosmos, “of itself thus” as the two-character compound for “nature” in Japanese and Chinese may be translated. But that’s a topic for another post.

I suppose it’s worth mentioning, for those who might be curious, that I do not necessarily hold my best haiku to send out. If I get an idea for a photo haiga, that sucker is going up on my photoblog and on social media right away, because I think sometimes the immediacy of haiku is more important than anything else. And by sharing these kinds of haiku more widely, with people who aren’t already up to speed with the modern understanding of Japanese short forms in English, my hope is to enlarge the tent of modern haiku readers and creators.

Haibun in Drifting Sands + a new Failed State review

Last month, I was pleased to place a haibun in Drifting Sands: A Journal of Haibun and Tanka Prose. “Another World” is unusually personal for me, and grew out of a much briefer post on Woodrat photohaiku. It appears in Issue 13, which was guest-edited by Adelaide B. Shaw. Thanks to her for the swift acceptance — and for pulling together a great issue which I’m delighted to be a part of.

Then this evening I was thumbing through the reviews at the back of the latest issue (53.1) of Modern Haiku, and look what I found!

Failed State review in Modern Haiku 53.1

This was a surprise, because I sent them a copy of the book last summer and when a note didn’t appear in the fall issue, figured it hadn’t passed muster and forgot about it. This is, I must say, considerably kinder than I expected. Thanks to Contributing Book Review Editor Peter Newton for taking the time, and for being so generous. Modern Haiku reserves full-length reviews for books of or about haiku proper, which is completely understandable. What’s impressive to me is that a journal of its standing still considers self-published collections for review — one indication of just how down-to-earth and DIY the English-language haiku scene still is. Even the major haiku publishers are just one- or two-person operations, I think. So it’s cool that a book like Failed State can be evaluated on its own merits.

Yay, puppies!

page from Modern HaikuIt’s been nearly four months since I’ve posted here. What’s been happening? Let’s see. I had a haiku in a new journal called Trash Panda; a short linked-verse sequence in the Poets Respond feature of Rattle online; and a haiku in Modern Haiku 52.3 (Autumn 2021), my first acceptance there. Yesterday, my weekly poetry blog digest at Via Negativa got a nice shout-out on the Planet Poetry podcast. And today, my videopoem collaboration with Luisa Igloria, “Neolog 2021.0,” appeared in Atticus Review.

It feels weird to stop there, with the sort of boring, dry post that I almost never excerpt for the aforementioned blog digest. But in other respects my life has been turned completely upside-down and it’s difficult to write about. I have been toying with the idea of starting a private journal, though after nearly two decades of public blogging, the idea seems a bit bizarre, despite all my work with Pepys’ diary. Mostly what I’ve been doing is going for walks hither and yon. If you want to know about that in (slightly) more detail, you’ll have to follow my photo+haiku blog.

I can share that I have a new personal mantra. Whenever things start seeming too bleak and meaningless, I murmur “Yay, puppies!” as enthusiastically as I can, reminding myself that we still live in a world where puppies and rainbows are possible. Also, not all puppies are dogs. Some of them—the lucky ones?—get to be coyotes, and trot through life avoiding as best they can that violent trickster H. sapiens.

four coyote puppies outside a culvert pipe
photo: Zac Garrett (CC BY-NC 2.0)