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HSA Regions

California Region

The California region of the Haiku Society of America has one of the richest histories for haiku poetry in all of the United States. Many Japanese American poets wrote haiku in California early in the 1900s, and continued to write them while incarcerated in relocation camps during World War II, as documented in Violet de Cristoforo’s book May Sky: There Is Always Tomorrow. Haiku also played an important part in the San Francisco poetry renaissance in the 1950s, influenced by and influencing many Beat poets, especially Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg. In the 1960s, Helen Stiles Chenoweth led the Los Altos Writers Roundtable, a haiku group in the San Francisco area that in 1966 published a bestselling anthology titled Borrowed Water—one of the earliest anthologies of English-language haiku, if not the first. Later, Los Angeles was the original home of Modern Haiku, the oldest haiku journal still being published in North America today, founded in 1969 by Kay Titus Mormino. Early English-language haiku activity also included the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society, founded in 1975 by Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tokutomi, which continues to thrive with its journal Geppo, monthly meetings, an annual contest and anthology, and its much-loved haiku retreat at the Asilomar Conference Center near Monterey. The Leanfrog group was also active in the San Francisco area in the late 70s and early 80s, led by Louis Cuneo, who also published Leanfrog from 1979 to 1982, as well as a number of haiku-related books from his press.

In 1987, San Francisco was host to the East-West Haiku Conference at Hotel Nikko in San Francisco, sponsored by Japan Air Lines, an event that attracted Kazuo Sato, the international director of Tokyo’s Museum of Haiku Literature, and Makoto Ueda, the widely respected haiku translator from Stanford University (later chair of the Asian Studies department), among others. This event galvanized many haiku poets in the area to again meet informally.

Later, in 1989, came the formation of the Haiku Poets of Northern California by Garry Gay and Jerry Kilbride, another landmark event for California haiku up to that point. HPNC has been one of the most prominent local groups in the country, making a national mark with its journal Woodnotes, and later Mariposa, and its annual Two Autumns readings, which started in 1990 (the longest continuous haiku reading series in the country). HPNC is also known for its annual contests, Garry Gay’s creation of the rengay form, many group anthologies, and more.

In 1997, Jerry Ball started the Southern California Haiku Study Group, and in 2002 its members created and hosted the first Haiku Pacific Rim Conference in Long Beach. In 1999, Jerry Kilbride started the Central Valley Haiku Club, with its strong support of haibun (through an annual contest). Both groups have regular meetings and publications, and have hosted national quarterly meetings of the Haiku Society of America. And in 2010, a new group, Haiku San Diego, started in the southernmost part of the state, cofounded by Billie Dee, Naia, Eric Houck Jr., Megan Webster, and Seretta Martin.

Northern California is also home to Jane Reichhold’s AHA Books, and the AHA Poetry online site. Jane published the journal Mirrors for many years, and currently publishes Lynx with her husband Werner Reichhold. In 1989, Michael Dylan Welch started his press, Press Here, which for many years, along with AHA Books, was one of the country’s most prominent small publishers for haiku poetry, winning many Merit Book Awards from the HSA. He later started Tundra: The Journal of the Short Poem in California. Since 2000, D. F. Tweney has also been publishing haiku, mostly every day, in his online journal Tinywords. More recently, too, Carolyn Hall has taken over the journal Acorn from A. C. Missias and moved it from Pennsylvania to California.

In 1991, the Haiku North America conference had its start at Las Positas College in the Bay Area. The conference is held every two years at various locations around the continent, operated as a nonprofit California corporation directed by Michael Dylan Welch, Garry Gay, and Paul Miller. It is the largest and oldest ongoing haiku conference outside Japan. And in 1996, the American Haiku Archives was founded at the California State Library in Sacramento. This archive, which includes the official Haiku Society of America archives, is believed to be the world’s largest public collection of haiku materials outside Japan.

While each of California’s active haiku groups is independent of the Haiku Society of America, their membership rosters overlap extensively, and together they contribute to the vibrancy of haiku in California. The HSA’s California region as a whole does not usually have its own meetings, but you are encouraged to contact the California regional coordinator or any of the independent organizations for more information about their activities.

—Michael Dylan Welch

Regional Links

California Region Facebook Page


AHA Poetry

American Haiku Archives

Central Valley Haiku Club

Haiku Poets of Northern California

Haiku San Diego

Southern California Haiku Study Group

http:// tinywords.com

Violet Kazue de Cristoforo

Yuki Teikei Haiku Society

Join the HSA



2016 California Haiku News

Southern California Haiku Study Group Workshop

June 18, 2016

The June 18 meeting of the Southern California Haiku Study Group in the Blue Room of the USC Pacific Asia Museum will be its last for about a year, as the museum will be closed for seismic retrofitting.

The workshop was attended by Lynn Allgood, Marcia Behar, D'Ellen, Kim Esser, George, Bill Hart, Debbie Kolodji, Elva Lauter, Greg Longenecker, Victor Ortiz, Wakako Rollinger, Toni Steele, Mary Torregrossa, Patricia Wakimoto, Kathabela Wilson, James Won, and Sharon Yee.

After a read-around of haiku, we discussed the most recent re:Virals post from The Haiku Foundation where Jo McInerney commented on the following poem by Basho (re:Virals 40).    

Harusame ya hachi no su tsutou yane no mori
spring rain—
dripping down the wasp's nest
from the leaking roof
Basho (tr. David Landis Barnhill), Basho Haiku - Selected haiku of Matsuo Basho (2004)

Before reading McInerney's commentary as a group, Debbie Kolodji put the haiku up on the white board and led a group discussion. Observfd and the sense of potential abandonment - is it an abandoned nest, is it an abandoned house? We talked about how the haiku changed a bit when the translation was "bee" versus "wasp." Then, we also discussed the sense of detachment and objectivity as in McInerney's discussion.  

Finally, we looked at 10 haiku in the June 15, 2016 issue of The Heron's Nest, including the editor's choices, <http://www.theheronsnest.com/June2016/editors-choices.html>, and discussed how different levels of objectivity and detachment worked in each poem. A couple of the poems were objective, others were more subjective, and we discussed how we could fine-tune our own haiku by using these different levels of objectivity.

Starting on July 15, 2016, for at least a year, the SCSHG will meet at the Lamanda Park Library, 140 S. Altadena Dr., Pasadena, CA 91107. This includes the August 20, 2016 workshop with David Lanoue, previously announced to be at the Whispering Pines Tea House.


Yuki Teikei Haiku Society     

YTHS Haiku in the Tea House - May 14, 2016
As our YTHS group headed out from the Tea House at 11:00 AM for a docent-led tour of the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Jose CA, we were grateful for the gorgeous spring weather. While our docent, Kathy Tanaka, stopped along the walkway, we listened intently to her informative talk. Some enjoyed the sun while others scampered for shade under a canopy of burgundy-leafed plums and other shade-offering trees.

As Kathy pointed out the water fountain flowing over Stone Turtle Island, we were told there are no live turtles allowed in the ponds due to problems with disease. At a stop alongside one of the ponds midway through the garden, Kathy generously gave us each a handful of koi food pellets. We tossed them out and about for the large, eager, multicolored koi, and as she requested, tried to avoid the many ducks and geese. But they had their adept, webbed feet ready for action as they made a quick dash through the water to get their fair share!

The shadows of some small manicured pines at the edge of one pond were a painter's delight; they looked like a simplified ink painting. The shadows were an effective contrast to the real pines with their shapely trunks and thickly needled green boughs.

The tour was lovely, leisurely, and well informed, an enjoyable precursor to the gathering at the Tea House for a delicious lunch, refreshments, and an afternoon of fabulous haiku readings!

The four-featured readers of the day were: Mimi Ahern, Cherie Hunter Day, Marcia Behar, and Elaine Whitman. Sadly, Cherie was unable to attend due to a death in her family.

The other three shared their haiku, each in their own unique way.
the grace of this leaf                
that falls from a ginkgo tree                
joining the other

Mimi Ahern                          
my memory of
the lotus blossoms
--a much deeper pink 

Marcia Behar
raw umber the hill's shorthand for want

Cherie Hunter Day
a tiny cup
of heated sake
evening star
Elaine Whiteman
After a break it was open mic time. Here are some of the poems written on the morning garden walk:

Quinceañera day . . .
cream magnolias leak
a sweet fragrance

Judith Morrison Schallberger
spring day
squatting in her wedding dress
feeding mallards 

Dyana Basist

before the moon bridge
pause to meditate
at the guardian stone

Marcia Behar

moon bridge
over still waters-
an enso 

Ed Grossmith
Before we departed the beautiful tea house, poets contributed poems which were gathered up by Patricia Machmiller to create a "haiku sympathy bouquet" for Cherie Hunter Day.
submitted by 
Mimi Ahern, Carolyn Fitz, and Patricia Machmiller


Haiku San Diego (Southern California)

June 12, 2016, Haiku San Diego (HSD) Regular Monthly Meeting. On another gorgeous San Diego day we met at Java Joe's. Attendees: Donna Buck, Sue Campion, Anita Guenin, Carol Judkins, Robert Lundy, Seretta Martin, Naia, Claudia Poquoc, Karen Stromberg, Elizabeth Yahn Williams.

Carol Judkins lead an informative and inspiring interactive workshop titled "Exploring Haibun". She handed out packets of information and reference materials she'd prepared to facilitate our exploration and understanding of the form, and lead discussions about haibun guidelines and aesthetics. Members discussed such topics as haibun form and styles, point of view, voice, tense, and focus, as well as the role of haiku in the haibun form.

Carol shared haibun exemplars, which we discussed in depth. Then members participated in a writing exercised. Carol handed out several published haibun with the author and the haiku removed. Members spent about 10 minutes writing haiku to one or more of the haibun prose sections, and we shared and discussed each and the shifting juxtapositions they created. Finally Carol revealed the author and haiku for each. It was a great way to explore nuances in the juxtaposition of haiku to haibun.

During the last 15 minutes of our meeting, HSD members participated in an anonymous haiku workshop.

submitted by Naia 
Temecula, CA

Regional Coordinator

Debora P. Kolodji
10529 Olive St
Temple City, CA 91780


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