Thursday, October 30, 2008

Two News Items: Haiku Songs & Carlos Colon

Fleur-de-Lisa, the immensely talented a cappella quartet comprised of Sarah Shunk, Deborah Stewart, Andie Piddington, and Sylvia Freeman, launched a new web site recently. Their debut CD, Willow Songs, contains 27 songs based on haiku by members of the North Carolina Haiku Society. Sample songs from the CD are available on the discography page. The quality and beauty of these hai-ka (haiku songs) are pleasing to the ear and have helped me through many difficult Monday mornings. :-)

The Shreveport Times recently published a great story about award-winning poet Carlos Colon. Carlos is one of the many haiku poets featured in Tazuo Yamaguchi's film documentary, Haiku: The Art of the Short Poem. I saw Carlos at a reading filmed by Yamaguchi at Haiku North American 2007. I learned a valuable lesson from Carlos that day: inject a little lightheartedness and fun into your readings. Carlos, you're "da man!" ;-)

I'll be back in a few days with the weekly Haiku - Three Questions post.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hortensia Anderson - Three Questions

Hortensia Anderson lives on the lower east side of New York City. She is the author of numerous chapbooks as well as a volume of poetry, Trust (fly-by night press, 1995). She is interested in the function of the Internet on poetry in the 21st century. Her current passion is renga and other forms of collaborative poetry.

She has been on dialysis since 1981.

1. Why do you write haiku?

For you.

I can remember Zen Master Seung Sahn answering the question "Why do you sit?" with those two words. I gave his response an unspoken one word - "jerk". It took me decades to grasp his meaning.

Originally, I wrote haiku as poetic reminders of "epiphanies" for me. As I kept studying haiku, I realised the finest haiku re-created the "epiphanies" in the reader.

So, to answer your question again:

For you.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I don't consider haiku a "form".

3. Of the many wonderful haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three? (Please provide original publication credit).

spring thaw —
the stream parts to embrace
the stone

Mainichi - Best of 2002

midnight swim —
we glide through the galaxy

5th Annual Suruga-Baika Winner

moonlit night —
the pond floats
a water-lily

I consider this my absolute favourite. I can't provide original publication credit as it has been repeatedly rejected. I don't care. I love it.

Charlie Smith will be our Haiku - Three Questions guest next week.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tea, Haiku, and Wu

Bob Moyer, Kate MacQueen, and I participated in a haiku reading and tea tasting at the Golden Flower T'ai Chi Center in Winston-Salem, NC yesterday. IMHO, there's no better combination of events than sipping fine teas while reading and listening to haiku; in fact, it can be inspiring: I walked away with a couple of haiku moments that will likely become poems.

This reading was especially enjoyable in that it was very informal. I also liked the format of the poets reading about three poems each, then pausing while tea connoisseur, Julie Reynolds, enlightened us about the teas we were sampling. This alternating between poems and tea is ideal for patrons and poets.

Julie Reynolds serving tea and smiles.

Many thanks to the Golden Flower T'ai Chi Center for allowing Bob, Kate, and me to read our poems. And a special thanks to the many fine people I met yesterday who, hopefully, will begin to chronicle their own life experiences through haiku.

Curtis, Kate, and Bob

waking. . .
the bar's green bracelet
stuck to my face

-Bob Moyer

bright Venus
two hawks settle
deep in the pine

-Kate MacQueen
The Heron's Nest, October 2001

lunar eclipse —
sipping moonshine
from a sake cup

-Curtis Dunlap
Frogpond Volume XXX:3 (October 2007)

I fondly call Bob Moyer "Mr. Winston-Salem". Every time I visit Bob, I leave Winston-Salem with a deeper appreciation for this fine town's arts, culture, and history. Brother Bob is a walking Winston-Salem encyclopedia. And true to Bob form, just when you think it couldn't get any better, well, it gets better.

Below is a photo of Ms Mona Wu standing beside one of her many beautiful works of art. The picture is a haiga entitled The Shy Orchid. Due to size limitations on this web page, the photo I took doesn't do this magnificent work of art justice. I encourage you to visit or stop by the Artworks Gallery at 564 North Trade Street. You'll be very pleased you did.

The lovely artist Mona Wu

And finally, I've put together a little slideshow of images taken yesterday. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Peggy Heinrich - Three Questions

Peggy Heinrich is our Haiku - Three Questions guest this week. She writes:

"I discovered haiku in the 1970’s when a copy of Dragonfly fell into my hands. Reading it led me to try a few haiku and they were published by Tombo (Lorraine Ellis Harr). Her useful comments and her list of Haiku Isn’ts inflamed my interest in improving my grasp of the form. Since that time, I’ve been published in most haiku journals, both in this country and internationally, and have won many awards. Also, some twenty-five years ago, I served several years as Treasurer for the Haiku Society of America."

1. Why do you write haiku?

I like the peaceful place I inhabit while writing haiku. I enjoy the luxury of playing with haiku’s few words to create a powerful image where small becomes big. I like the way three short lines can express a complex thought. I even like the negative space that surrounds each haiku.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

Tanka, because it allows me to express a personal observation. Longer poems in free verse, where I can call up many details and write until I surprise myself. Sestina, one of the forms in which the rules lead to exciting discoveries.

3. What I consider my top three.

fresh snow on the walk —
passing a child's bootprints
heading the other way

World Haiku Association Anthology 2001; Dragonfly,12/74 (Gustave Keyser Award); A Patch of Grass mini-chapbook of 24 haiku, High/Coo Press, Battle Ground, IN, 1984; Haiga-Haiku, limited edition, 8 haiku by P. Heinrich, 8 etchings by Barbara Gray, produced by the artist, 1982; Also: London Art/Poetry Exhibit Dec '77 and Glasgow Exhibit, Jan '78 (with Barbara Gray's etchings).

December sunset
putting aside her journal
to peel an orange

Harold G. Henderson Award, 3rd prize, 1994; Frogpond, Winter 1994; Timepieces 1996 day 12/28; republished : moonset, June 2007

end of summer
the shape of his feet
in his empty sneakers

Harold G.Henderson Award 2000, Hon. Men.; Reprinted: A Glimpse of Red, Red Moon Anthology, 2001 [Editor, Jim Kacian, Red Moon Press, Winchester VA]; WHA Anthology 2001 (web)

Next week, Hortensia Anderson.


Richard Straw and I composed what we like to call a rhyme-rengay (or, ren-rhyme-gay). This poem entitled Sundown Lights was published recently in Sketchbook. Writing this type of rengay was a little challenging but it was a lot of fun, too.

We hope you enjoy Sundown Lights:

Curtis Dunlap and Richard Straw

Sundown Lights

intermittent shade
in the windmill blades
desert sun

faded billboard cowboy
a hitchhiker's new friend

wind-blown sombrero—
the drifter pockets
his tattered beret

waving toward a bus
la madre y el bebé
and honey mesquite*

squeaking wheels silenced
by an air brake hush

lush saguaro
and a nectar-feeding bat
taillights disappear

*The Spanish phrase means "the mother and the baby."

Sketchbook - Vol. 3, No. 9 (September 30, 2008)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Free verse poem published at TCSM

The Christian Science Monitor publishes free verse and haiku. And while I don't write poetry for money, they pay $40 for free verse, $20 for haiku. TCSM is also friendly to non 5-7-5 haiku.

My free verse poem entitled Wheel Jammin' was published today.

TCSM retains exclusive rights for 90 days (I signed a contract); rights revert back to the poet after that time.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tributes to William J. Higginson

The Australian Haiku Society has created a Tributes to William J. Higginson website.

As stated at the bottom of the page, you may send one haiku per poet to by October 27, 2008.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bill Higginson has died

Fellow Poets,

It is with a heavy heart that I make this blog post. Bill Higginson passed away today. I received the following email from Penny Harter a short while ago:

Dear Curtis,

Bill had been in the ICU since Monday early morning, and he was weakening some each day. And sadly, just after we were making plans today for Bill to go to hospice care within the hospital (his decision), his heart went crazy, suddenly beating up in the high 190s / 200s, he glazed over, his rapid labored breathing slowed dramatically to the last few breaths, and his heart beat on, slowing down, for about ten minutes until he died peacefully at 3:45 p.m. today. His daughter Beth and I were holding his hands and singing Amazing Grace to him.

He'd awakened early this morning saying he was "composed" and ready to stop fighting, then asked the nurses to call to tell Beth and me he wanted to speak to us. We came in early and though his voice was sometimes labored, we had an animated conversation much of the morning. He made it clear he wanted a straight DNR after all (no intubation, etc.), and then we talked about how he wanted to be remembered (memorial celebrations at Tenri in NYC and here in NJ in the spring), as well as personal things. And then I guess he was ready and just let go.

He knew we agreed with his decision, and though Beth and I cried, we affirmed that decision and said that though we'd miss him terribly, it was time. He'd been through enough. He will be cremated, and the only service anytime soon will be a family graveside ceremony in about two weeks or so. I have Beth with me and family coming tomorrow. I'll be going down to my daughter Nancy's for about a week to recover a bit from the strain of recent weeks, leaving on Tuesday or so. Then I'll start dealing with things here.

Bill and I both have been most grateful for all the cards and e-mails of support we've received over the past weeks. Bless you all! I won't be checking e-mail much while at my daughter's, but may do so once in a while. I'm not ready for engaging in much personal correspondence yet.


On a personal note, I'm honored to have met Bill at Haiku North America 2007. He and Penny have inspired and nurtured me through their poems and many books. (Practically every serious haiku poet has a copy of the The Haiku Handbook, right?) We have lost a friend and pioneer in English language haiku and Japanese poetic forms. Please join me in expressing our sincere condolences to Penny, family, and friends of William J. Higginson.

William J. Higginson
Due to this very sad news, the weekly Haiku - Three Questions post will be postponed until next week.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mike Farley - Three Questions

Mike Farley writes from Red Lodge, Montana, where he lives with his wife Shirlee on a hay and cattle ranch. He is 68 and has six grown children and fifteen grandkids. Mike's poetry is rich with the images of the mountains, plains, weather and animals with which he is daily surrounded.

He was introduced to haiku in 2002 by fellow haijin and long-time friend Darrell Byrd, and although he has contributed his work to many online haiku lists, he has not yet been published in print.

Mike's favorite haiku poets are those who have inspired him over the years, including Naia, Cindy Tebo, Tom Clausen, George Swede, Timothy Russell, Earl Keener and Johannes Manjrekar.

1. Why do you write haiku?

I write haiku for the sheer pleasure of it. I absolutely love reading good haiku and I've saved quite a long list of my favorites from other poets. Writing my own haiku, however, really good ones, is not easy for me. Juxtaposition and the images that can (and should) spring unspoken from between the lines is the key to the whole thing (for me anyway). It's so hard to do and so delightful when it happens.

2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I enjoy almost all forms of poetry, but haiku is my favorite and the only form I've seriously attempted to write myself.

3. Of the many haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three?

I've gone through the several hundred I've written over the years, and tentatively ear-marked 50 or so I was really pleased with thinking that I would then pare down that group to "my three favorites". I'm delighted and surprised to report that it was impossible to do. There are many that I found to be my favorites, but here are three that are close to my heart and which I feel "do what they're supposed to do" as haiku.

a darker blue
in the hoofprints

uprooted iris
the muddy puppy
wags its body

spring snow
the warm spot where
the dental nurse leans

And here are my three favorite senyru . . .

when I used to smoke

Jack Daniels
just a splash
at the river's edge

rustling leaves
just a glimpse
of her thigh

Peggy Heinrich will be our Haiku - Three Questions guest next week.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A quick update and news

Between work, school, and an unforeseen hard drive crash, the last two weeks have been a busy time for me. For my technical poet pals out there let me say briefly that PCLinuxOS came to my rescue. I was able to run the Live CD GNOME version on my laptop (it found and configured all of my devices!). When it came time to save my work, I used Google Docs or a flash drive. Pretty cool, eh? continue using a computer with a slew of applications minus a hard drive? When the new hard drive arrived, I set aside a partition for PCLinuxOS. I'm currently dual booting PCLinxOS and XP.

Okay, that's enough of my nerdy side. :)

I received an email this week from Adelaide B. Shaw. She invites you to visit her White Petals blog. You may recall that Adelaide was our guest for a round of Haiku - Three Questions on June 29th. Please note that she's enabled a nice feature that will allow you to "follow" her post. Look for the feature on the right-side of her blog (you may have to scroll down a little).

Dave Russo over at the North Carolina Haiku Society Blog has some exciting news about Lenard D. Moore, poet and President of the Haiku Society of America. Congratulations Lenard!

It's stew season in Mayodan! Here's a slice of small town Americana for you (perhaps the pictures will inspire a poem):

I had two bowls of Brunswick stew for breakfast this morning, topped with several drops of Texas Pete.

I've been playing with my digital camera. The video quality is poor (a camcorder upgrade is in the works) but you'll get the idea for what may become my next side project.

I'll be back later today with the weekly Haiku - Three Questions post. I'm off to get another bowl of stew!