Frogpond 33.2 • 2010

Museum of Haiku
Literature Award

Haiku & Senryu

Revelations Unedited

Essay 1 - Hackett, part 2

Essay 2 - Miller




Book Review

From the Editors


About Revelations: Unedited — For each issue, we will invite a different poet to reveal trade secrets or pet peeves or whatever else he or she wants to say. By “Unedited,” we mean eactly that—there will be no run-through in the test kitchen. The poet will have total freedom, but, of course, with that will also come total responsibility.

Laughing At Myself

by Garry Gay, California

Humor in haiku can be a very effective tool. Sometimes we need to make light of a serious situation to actually bring attention to it. Like many poets who write haiku, I am very concerned about the environment. Can such a small poem as a haiku truly be effective in bringing attention to such an intricate and multidimensional issue as the depletion of the ozone layer? I think so. In a way, poking fun at myself softens the environmental message, yet also frames it in a context that most people can relate to. Personal experience brings the issue from the abstract to a real moment anyone could understand.

Hole in the ozone
my bald spot . . .

Another comment that can relate to the environment is how we recycle our used products such as plastic bottles, cans and newspapers and even our old car tires. To make our world a better place to live we need to be creative in the way we dispose of these everyday items. The following haiku was one of my solutions.

Bald tire
still getting good mileage . . .
as a tree swing

Speaking of the environment, it’s interesting to compare how the world has changed over time. For example how attitudes change toward the very creatures we live with. It makes me think of the Japanese master poet Issa, who would not hurt a fly, and in fact seemed to be a protector of all tiny creatures. Perhaps he understood only too well of the suffering that can be inflicted on us all.

Oh Issa . . . .
   what would you think
      of flea collars?

Sometimes the world is a very innocent place we live in. When my daughter hurt her knee, it made her feel better to also help someone else, who must surely be in as much pain as she was.

After falling down,
she asks for a band-aid
for her doll too

It is the little things in life, the small almost unnoticed mo- ments that sharpen our awareness of how important it is to live in the moment. An inconvenience while cooking can make you think “why me?” Yet you have to laugh at yourself, when you think that this is of your own doing, and in a funny way the natural order of things.

No matter
where I stand
barbecue smoke

We grow older, but maybe not always wiser. We like to think that we all change. And hopefully for the better. Often however we find that we are really the same person that we always were. Or perhaps the world still presents challenges we can’t help but be intrigued by.

30-year reunion
he still
hits on her

We are a part of our environment. It affects us every day. At best, all we can do is adjust to whatever it is Mother Nature throws at us.

Midday heat;
the ice cream melting
faster than I can lick

What is it about some people that makes you notice them? They stand out more in certain environments than in others. Some people are just out of place, no matter how hard they try to fit in.

Weight lifter
slowly lifting
the tea cup

There is humor in the very way we deal with nature. So often we want to control nature for our own use. Sunny days so we can go out and play, rainy days to grow our crops and even days we hope for snow for that weekend snow trip. Sometimes however we need to work around the natural elements just to keep our little secrets.

To cheat
the echo . . .
we whisper

We are part of nature, it is all around us, yet as we also try to understand this universe, we sometimes isolate ourselves from the very nature we are trying to understand.

Planetarium ceiling
gazing at stars
without crickets

Mother said “don’t play with your food” but nature also tastes good and sometimes we find we are affected by our environment in very real ways.

we show each other
our tongues

Another chance encounter with food is when I go to have a late night snack. We forget that the very essence of nature, is not only the changing seasons, but change is a part of all of nature. The food we eat comes from the things we grow and raise and make from natural products. As part of the natural cycle of life, things change and other sources of life evolve.

As if it were spring
the green mold
on the cheese

The human animal likes to play, and we invent all sorts of games to amuse ourselves. To spend time outdoors we have come up with all kinds of sports. This gives us more time with nature and a way to again interact with her, even if it's by accident.

Dodge ball
even the cherry blossoms

Another sport we love is baseball; like many sports it is a seasonal game. Some of us just can’t wait for the next season. Just like season words are to haiku poets, we sometimes want to use them out of place, out of season. Humor can also throw us a curve ball.

Caught in his mitt
over home plate . . .
a fast snowball

For the most part we value nature. We live through its seasons, we grow our food, play in the outdoors and enjoy its beauty.

The weeds
I meant to pull
in full bloom

With each holiday we find a reason to celebrate nature and also find the humor in our daily lives. Or perhaps its our innocence and subjectivity of beauty and values.

She has gathered
in her Easter-egg basket . .
garden snails

Finally I find myself laughing to myself about how many times I have to explain to people what kind of poetry I am interested in. Over and over again I find myself repeating the same thing. I see no end in sight, just grin and bear it.

Family reunion—
again explaining
what a haiku is


Credits for the haiku used in this article:

“Hole in the ozone,” 3rd place, HSA Brady Awards, 1989

“Bald tire,” Woodnotes, Summer 1989, No. 2.

“Oh Issa,” High/Coo, No. 23 Feb.1982

“After falling down” and “No matter,” Fig Newtons, 1993, Press Here

“30-year reunion,” Honorable Mention, HSA Brady Awards, 2001

“Mid- day heat,” Mainichi Daily News, 1987

“Weight lifter,” 3rd place Hawaii Education Association International Haiku Contest

“To cheat,” Runner up, Still, 1998

“Blueberries,” 3rd place, HSA Brady Awards 1993

“As if it were spring,” 3rd Honorable Mention, HSA Brady Awards, 2006

“Dodge ball,” Winner, 2009 Sakura Award, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival

“The weeds,” Haiku North America Anthology, 1999

“She has gathered, “Fig Newtons, 1993, Press Here

“Family reunion,” Honorable Mention, People’s Poetry Contest, Toronto, ON.


Garry Gay was born in Glendale, California, 1951. He received his B.P.A. degree in photography in 1974. He has been a photographer by profession for the past 28 years. He started writing haiku in 1975. Greatly influenced by Basho’s Narrow Road To The Deep North he has written haiku steadily over the past 26 years. He is one of the co-founders of the Haiku Poets of Northern California. He became their first president from 1989-90 and served in that position again from 2001-2009. In 1991, he was elected as president of the Haiku Society of America and, in the same year, co-founded Haiku North America. In 1996, he co-founded the American Haiku Archives in Sacramento, California. Despite these accomplishments, he is perhaps best known as the creator of the popular poetic form called Rengay (see the next section). His collections of haiku and rengay include The Billboard Cowboy, The Silent Garden, Wings of Moonlight, River Stones, Along The Way and The Unlocked Gate (with John Thompson). He lives in the northern California wine country, in a small town called Windsor, with his wife Melinda and daughter Alissa.