In Memoriam


1941 – 2009

D. Claire Gallagher, a woman of boundless energy and enormous talent, extraordinary haiku poet and friend to many in the community, passed away at home, surrounded by family, on Friday, July 17, 2009, after a long bout with cancer. She left this world as gracefully as she lived in it. Surviving her are her husband Patrick Gallagher, also a haiku poet, and loving children and grandchildren.

Claire became interested in haiku in 1991 after reading Wes Nisker’s commentary on haiku in his book Crazy Wisdom. Two years later she attended a meeting of the Haiku Poets of Northern California (HPNC) and quickly became active in that group, the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society, and the Haiku Society of America, and remained so till the end of her life. She served as HSA Regional Coordinator for Northern California. She was co-editor of Mariposa, the membership journal of HPNC, from 1999 to 2007 and played a major role in shaping this fine periodical. She served also on the editorial staff of the Red Moon Anthology. Her haiku have been published in numerous journals and anthologies and have won or placed in many contests in the USA and abroad. Among her many honors were a First Place in the 2007 HSA Harold Henderson haiku contest and Second Place in the 1998 HSA Gerald Brady senryu contest, as well as top honors in the HPNC San Francisco International contests, the Snapshot Press Calendar Awards, the NLAPW Poetry Contest, the British Haiku Society’s Hackett Award Contest, and the Yuki Teikei Society’s Tokutomi Contest. As winner of the Virgil Hutton manuscript contest, her chapbook, How Fast the Ground Moves, was published in 2001 by Saki Press. A newer collection of her haiku, The Nether World, is forthcoming from Red Moon Press.

Claire described herself as having been “born a Californian in Wisconsin.” She was raised in Western Pennsylvania and it was 43 years before she arrived physically on the “Left Coast” in Sunnyvale, California. Her career included incarnations as a potter, educator, radio journalist, technical writer, and naturalist hike leader for a land preserve agency. In addition to reading and writing haiku, which contributed to her living “more mindfully and more heartfully,” among the joys and talents that enriched her life were hiking and traveling with her husband, gardening, ikebana, collage, Chinese brush painting, and spending time with her family and friends. She was always keenly aware of the world of natural wonders around her, and she delighted in sharing her excitement and knowledge with friends and family, most especially with her grandchildren.

She will be greatly missed.


A few of Claire’s outstanding haiku:

family reunion—
some of the beached kelp
in knots

1st Place, HSA Harold Henderson Haiku Awards (2007)


weathered bench—
I open my palms
to the winter sky

2nd Place, San Francisco International Haiku Contest (2007)


the tube of cadmium yellow
squeezed flat

2nd Place, San Francisco International Haiku Contest (2004)


the closer we get . . .
losing my friend’s heart-to-heart
to the waterfall

1st Place (tie), British Haiku Society Hackett Award Contest (1999)


budding maples—
how fast the ground moves
under his tricycle

How Fast the Ground Moves, Saki Press, 2001


blowing out
one birthday candle
the whole family

2nd place, HSA Brady Contest (1998)

his arthritis
guiding the hoe—
late tomatoes

The Heron’s Nest IV:2 (2002)


Advent altar—
a candle wick straightens
within the flame

3rd Place, NLAPW Poetry Contest (1999)


winter solstice—
the sunset incantations
of red-winged blackbirds

Frogpond XXIV:3 (2001)


the dark folds
of a greening mountain —
my sister’s locked diary

The Heron’s Nest VIII:2 (2006)


sultry day—
melancholy squeezed
from his accordion

Acorn #20 (2008)


slicing apples
into the dented pan—
howl of the wind

The Heron’s Nest X:2 (2008), Heron’s Nest Award

L. A. Davidson (1917-2007)

It is with great sadness that we must tell you Laura Agnes Davidson died just two weeks short of her 90th birthday. She was stricken by a massive stroke and heart attack at her home in New York City on July 12, 2007 and remained unconscious in hospital until the evening of July 17th when, by the terms of her living will, her request not to be maintained on life support equipment was honored and she passed away the morning of July 18th.

Born July 31st, 1917 in Roy, Montana, her parents were the last of the original homesteaders in Eastern Montana, in sight of the Judith Mountains where she was raised in the wide open spaces near Grass Range with her sister Ruth, attending a one-room schoolhouse and riding range, helping to herd cattle when not writing stories about the wild west. She learned by heart and loved to recite poetry, especially ballads so popular at the time. Marked forever by the loss of the family homestead through drought and the Depression, Agnes was frugal her entire life.

I would engrave
this bare mountain on my mind
and take it home

—bird song more and more

A dedicated student, she gained scholarships towards higher education and worked her way through college, graduating with a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Minnesota. She interviewed Clark Gable and Carole Lombard when they came to shoot grouse or pheasants after she had her first job as a reporter back West and always regretted losing her only copy of that article when she submitted it along with other articles in her portfolio applying for a government job in Washington D.C. She remembers vividly the moment the interviewer stiffened when she answered his question about party affiliation, saying she was a Republican. Evidently that didn’t sit well with a New Deal administration, though the only Republican she ever voted for was Gen. Eisenhower.

Instead she met and in 1941 married the love of her life, Ralph Kirby Davidson, a printer. Together they helped put out The Reporter and Farmer newspaper and had one child, Karen Ruth, born in 1943. Called up to serve in the Pacific during the war, Kirby returned and with Agnes’ encouragement, attended the University of Montana in Missoula where their second daughter, Laura Gay, was born in 1947, a year before Kirby became one of the first from Montana to receive a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England.

Journalism, then considered a job to which one apprenticed. was not offered so Kirby graduated with a degree in PPE, Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Gone was their goal of working together on their own newspaper. But these were happy years despite food rationing still in effect after the war. Kirby rowed on the Keble Crew and Agnes grew to love gardening. Together, toddlers in tow, they camped throughout Ireland, England, France and Italy before settling in Baltimore, Maryland for three years where Kirby continued his studies in Economics at the Johns Hopkins University, working nights as a printer, while Agnes typed dissertations to make ends meet. These were hard years but their effort succeeded. Kirby gained his PhD and they moved to West Lafayette, Indiana in 1954 where he joined the Economics Department at Purdue University and became Coach of the Rowing Crew. Agnes shunned committee life, opting instead to continue writing short stories and poetry, while creating a seasonal garden in the new home they had built.

Their move to Kampala, Uganda in 1962 where Kirby became Visiting Professor of Economics at Makerere University was a great adventure as it was the year of Uhuru, independence. Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation to consult on universities in need of assistance, together with Laura and Karen who lived with them in Kampala, they drove 48,000 miles throughout Uganda, Kenya, Tanganyika, and Northern and Southern Rhodesia as the countries were then known, and to the Cape and Durban in South Africa before flying back visiting universities in the Congo, Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and visiting an Egyptian friend, a fellow Rhodes Scholar in Cairo.

Agnes’ world altered irrevocably when the Foundation offered Kirby a job in Manhattan in late 1963 where he became a Director in the Social Sciences and Chairman of the University Development Committee, which entailed his travel throughout Africa, Asia and South America.

in winter storm
his own deep footprints
closing behind him

—The Shape of the Tree

It broke Agnes’ heart to leave her garden, and shunning suburban life in Scarsdale, she chose to live in Greenwich Village, refusing ever again to buy a house. Karen returned to Purdue University and Laura left for the University of California-Berkeley two years later. Kirby continued his love of water sports, buying a boat which he and Agnes kept in Connecticut, sailing in Long Island Sound on weekends.

The move to Greenwich Village brought Elizabeth Searle Lamb into Agnes’ world and with it, her introduction to the Japanese form of poetry known as haiku. Here at last Laddie found her form of expression, combining her keen reporter’s eye for detail, her childhood communion with nature and her love of writing. Though she never wrote the great American novel, L.A. Davidson became an early member of that group which became the Haiku Society of America, writing Haiku in English. For over forty years she not only wrote haiku, she actively promoted it.

She had always been a great correspondent but now her letter writing encompassed poets far and wide who wished to learn more about this ancient form of poetry, now accessible to English readers and writers. Haiku and the companions she made through this poetry sustained her when Kirby retired and moved to Brazil.

buying a bowl
of white chrysanthemums
the morning he leaves

—The Shape of the Tree

Their divorce after forty-seven years in 1988 hurt bitterly but her pioneer spirit of independence gave her the strength to carry on for another nineteen years. She took pride in both her daughters obtaining Ph.Ds, and she loved their husbands Arthur and Dhiru as her own but refused to leave her Greenwich Village apartment. She remained devoted to haiku and to those who loved reading and writing, living alone until the end.

Her publications included hundreds of haiku in magazines, journals and anthologies and three collections: The Shape of the Tree New York New York, Jamaica Moments and Bird Song More and More, the latter published by Swamp Press in which Vincent Tripi wrote in the winter of 2003: “L.A. Davidson is one of the most honored and respected American haiku poets. She exemplifies, at its highest level, the poetic ideal of servitude to beauty and the truth.”

By her wishes the cremation was private. Her ashes will find her home again. Memorial donations may be made to the Haiku Society of America, c/o Paul Miller, HSA Treasurer, 31 Seal Island Rd, Bristol, R.I. 02809-5186

Correspondence may be sent to her daughters:
Karen Davidson, 5619 Dumbarton Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92404-3044
Laura Tanna, 3245 Village Green Drive, Miami, Fl. 33175

L.A. Davidson is now her best known haiku:

stars beyond

—The Shape of the Tree

Yours sincerely
Laura Tanna

Wim Lofvers (1930-2007)

On 24 April 2007 the Dutch haiku poet and publisher Wim Lofvers died of cancer. Wim, born August 9th 1930 in Sneek, province of Frisia in the Netherlands as son of a general practitioner, in his professional life followed in his father’s footsteps. For a year or so he was naval doctor in Dutch New Guinea (now West-Papua) and in 1962/1963 a general practitioner in Norway, until he settled in his native town and even native home, to take over his father’s practice.

Wim got interested in haiku in 1956 through the German  book Vollmond und Zikadenklange (Full moon and sounds of cicadas). This was in perfect keeping with his interest in anthroposophy, Buddhism and zen Buddhism. In 1981 he started ‘t Hoge Woord, his own ‘marginal press’ with the goal to publish haiku. Because of impaired hearing he retired as a doctor in 1993, after which he was able to give more time to his other interests, like sailing, gardening and haiku.

As editor and publisher he produced the biannual haiku journal Woodpecker from 1995 till 2002, presenting haiku from all over the world in the original language with an English translation. In 1997 he produced his first Radish book, introducing the formula thus: “This is an exercise to produce a volume of poetry from one sheet of A4 size paper.” (A4 is the standard size printing paper in Europe). The first result, a 32 page volume, measuring 5 x 7.5 cm, was followed by 35 more titles in the same series. The small but delightful books each present about 25 haiku by one author. In this too Wim looked beyond the Dutch horizon, for the series included volumes by authors from several parts of the world.  In the Netherland his Starling Diary, published from 1996 till 2002, was another highly appreciated item. All productions were handiwork, manufactured with simple means in his workshop. In addition to this Wim was president of the Haiku Circle Netherlands from 1996 till 2000. And of course he was a highly appreciated haijin himself. He was able to produce a definite collection of his own haiku in what he knew was his last year: SOMS weet ik het even (SOMETIMES I know for a moment).

Wim Lofvers has contributed much to the international haiku society, both as a poet and a publisher. His funeral on April 28th 2007 in Workum Frisia was attended by hundreds of friends.

in the depth
of the dog’s eyes
the wilderness

with the mouths
of a crate of beer bottles
the wind sings

on the inner side
of fallen down beech bark
a coded message

(Haiku by Wim Lofvers, SOMS. Translated by Max Verhart)

Kay F. Anderson  (1934-2007)

Kay F. Anderson, beloved member of the Northern California haiku community, passed away in the presence of her family on February 8, 2007. In the last seven years Kay was weakened by melanoma and the effects of treatments, but she continued to participate in activities of the haiku world, and to produce haiku, tanka, haibun, haiga, and sumi-e.  Kay began writing at an early age, and after post-graduate study published magazine articles and books on psychology and philosophy. Her attention shifted to haiku in 1990 and by the time of her passing many hundreds of her works had been published in Frogpond, Woodnotes, Modern Haiku, Mariposa, Heron’s Nest, red lights, Reeds: Contemporary Haiga, and other journals.        

Kay was twice selected as a reader and contributor to the Haiku Poets of Northern California’s (HPNC’s) Two Autumns reading and anthology series: in 1993 in Morning Snow, and in 2002 in Still Singing. She edited the 1997 Two Autumns anthology, Beneath Cherry Blossoms. Many of her poems were honored in national contests. She served as a judge for the 1994 Gerald M. Brady award, and for the 1996 Palomar Branch of the National League of American Pen Women. Kay was President of HPNC in 1996, and was always active in its activities. She was a regular participant in the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society’s annual retreat at Asilomar State Beach and in the Society’s seasonal celebrations.

In addition to her artistic creations, Kay F. Anderson brought enormous gifts of love and appreciation for others to the haiku community. Her positive outlook on life, her often-expressed affection for her poet-colleagues, her honesty and straightforward approach to relationships, and her ready smile and laughter brought a warm and positive feeling to any group or correspondence she was participating in.
Kay was also a student and practitioner of Asian brush painting, exercise, meditation, and healing practices. To these endeavors she brought the same great-heartedness she showed in the rest of her life, and she had many friends in these communities. In recent times when all her personal resources were called on to deal with her cancer, Kay began signing her correspondence Katie Faith to indicate her outlook on life.
Heron’s Nest has announced that they will publish appreciations of Kay and poems in her honor in their June issue. An effort is underway by her friends to collect and publish a large selection of Kay’s poetry and art in book form.

—Patrick Gallagher & D. Claire Gallagher

A few of Kay’s poems:

            what else
            do I need to know . . .
            pine trees growing from stone

five years in
the wrong window:
a violet’s first bloom

            evening lull . . .
            the dead cypress
            still speaking of wind

first sumi-e lesson—
what I need
is the teacher’s brush

            the red bell pepper . . .
            cathedral chambers

further and further away
the ice-cream truck’s music
                   my children

a buzzing fly
in a web

Jerry Kilbride (1930-2005)

On November 3, 2005 at 1:00am West Coast time, the haiku community lost one of its most valued members and God welcomed another great poet to heaven, Jerry Kilbride. I've been very fortunate in my own life not to have had much experience writing memorial articles, so I hope what I lack stylistically will be balanced out by my intentions. To put it simply, I loved Jerry Kilbride. I've meet very few people like him in my life. His friendship and poetry were of the highest levels. On a weekly basis for the past few years Jerry would read to me over the phone a newly written or revised haibun and his energy would be beaming through the phone line. There was something about his writing, but also about how he read his poems. I often tried to nail down Jerry's haibun style and would ask him about it. My last conversation with Jerry was only a couple of days before his passing. We spent a good fifteen minutes talking and he seemed to me to be in exceptional spirits. I had just finished reading a batch of pulp fiction novels and asked him if he was ever influenced by Raymond Chandler and he said, "Yes, absolutely. I've been told my style is similar to his many times." I continued by commenting that he had a mix of Chandler, Hemmingway, and Kerouac and he said, "Hemmingway's favorite writer was Chandler." So I felt right on target. We talked for a few more minutes, told each other we loved each other, and that we would speak within the next day or so. Soon after Jerry was given morphine for his pain and passed away peacefully in his sleep.

There's not enough room here to talk about all that Jerry did in his life, but he left us so many gifts. Because of his determination we have the American Haiku Archives. He was one of the instrumental people in establishing it and one can't say how important a permanent archive is for our haiku community. He was also a founding member of the Haiku Poets of Northern California as well as a very active member of the Haiku Society of America for decades. Another example of Jerry's determination is when he traveled to Japan in 2000 and climbed Mt. Fuji with a group of cancer survivors. The climb was very important to him and he wrote many haibun about Fuji and his experience. In his haibun entitled "another view of Fuji" Jerry closes with:

hokusai woodblock
stepping into the moment
of his intent

I believe Fuji became the symbol of Jerry's determination. This senryu was very important to Jerry because of this. In 2003 when I was HSA president, I had the honor of presenting the society's highest award to Jerry in New York City during the HNA conference. This very senryu, if I remember correctly, was printed on the certificate. Another recent great loss to the haiku community, Elizabeth Searle Lamb, also was honored with a Sora Award that day and it was only fitting because Jerry and Elizabeth were the best of friends. Jerry used to love calling Elizabeth the "first lady of American Haiku". (ESL was not present at the conference, but received the award a month afterward.) There was a special kindness that I found in Jerry Kilbride. A couple of times he would return his contributor's check from bottle rockets (the haiku magazine of which I'm editor) with a note saying; "Stanford, please use this money to buy your daughters some ice cream."

I remember last Christmas he sent my daughters a card and told them they should be good so Santa would take care of them on that special day. In 2004 Swamp Press published Tracings, Jerry's last book. The book includes thirteen haibun and he takes the reader along on his travels from Norway to Japan. Swamp Press still has copies left and I highly recommend this beautifully letter-press printed book. In the earliest days of 2005 I published a motley sangha. This mini-anthology included seven poets, Jerry being one of them. He was very keen on the idea. His last poem in it was: end of a long day the old bartender's feet take the floorboards home He considered this his death poem and told me this on numerous occasions. Jerry was writing and revising haibun and haiku to the very end, but still he reminded me that this was his death poem. Jerry took tremendous pride in having been a senior bartender at the prestigious Olympic Club in San Francisco and was only one of a handful of employees to ever be made a member in the clubÕs history. I really believe it won't take very long to realize what an amazing poet we had in our midst. Jerry will be remembered as one of the best, if not the best, haibun writers of our time, but also as a poet who has contributed countless ways to haiku and the haiku community. So, in closing, I leave you with this humble and inadequate tribute to Jerry Kilbride. It is a daunting task to write about his life and accomplishments. You might say as daunting as climbing Mt. Fuji.

—Stanford M. Forrester

William A. Lerz, III ("Bill") 1922-2004

It is with great sadness that I share with you the news of Bill's passing:

William A. Lerz, III ("Bill") was born March 22, 1922 to Ethel and William Lerz and died August 22, 2004 following a courageous battle with cancer. Bill spent his childhood in Hot Springs and graduated from Hot Springs High School. He served in WWII as a pharmacist's mate on the U.S.S. Tranquility. After the war, Bill moved to California and married his first wife, Beverly Jamesson; they brought into the world a wonderful family: three sons (William, James and John), one daughter (Jennie Lee), three grandsons (Christopher, Ryan and Jeremy) and a great grandson (Miles) who all reside in Fayetteville, AR. Bill graduated from Cal State University, Los Angeles with a degree in Accounting, and was one of the founding fathers of what would become California State University, Northridge. After 32 years with the University, he and his long-time partner, Dorothy Hilliard, returned to Hot Springs and pursued an active retirement there. He spent his final decades pursuing several interests: tireless volunteer work for the Garland County Historical Society, creative participation in the Bonsai Club of Hot Springs and Internet-based participation in national and international Haiku Societies. A gentle, generous and good-hearted man, Bill was loved and will be missed by his extended family (including Dorothy's daughters Charleen, Marsha and Marvel) and a warm circle of friends and colleagues. A memorial service will be held during the Haiku Society of America's South Region Conference, October 29th, at The Poet's Loft, 514-B Central Ave, Hot Springs.

A special thanks to Dottie's daughter, Marvel, for permission to use the obituary she crafted so beautifully.

—Howard Lee Kilby

Robert Gibson, 1923-2003

Bob Gibson-poet, photographer, anthropologist, psychologist-died on August 30, 2003 at the age of 80. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, a son, nine grand-children, and five great-grandchildren. Bob had an enormous intellectual curiosity and fascinating stores of knowledge drawn from wide reading and life experience. His ability to discourse cogently on a multiplicity of topics was matched by his strong opinions. A fine photographer, his eye was caught by artifacts both made by humans, as in the sculpture of the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, and by the forces of nature, as in his photographs of weathered rocks. 

Through our involvement in haiku and haiga, Bob and I became snailmail and then email friends. Sensitive to his surroundings, his letters always contained a weather report of several sorts: 

drinking tea
the morning fog
drifts away

His longest collection of poems, Children of the Sparrow, was published in 1999. Arranged according to four seasons, the poems demonstrate his pleasure-sometimes playful--in language and his eye for the telling detail:

April rain
      here and there
              now and then

         salmon run
the eagle's arc     from
         fir to fish

  the chickadees
search every twig

Westport Haiku(2002) celebrates the small town at the ocean which Bob visited frequently in his travels from his home in Centralia, WA. His last book, published when he was 80, Except perhaps in spring is subtitled "…in love poems." It is filled with memories, with feelings long since experienced but still compelling, and suffused with a profound sense of loss:

waiting alone
one by one
the flowers close

—Karen Klein

Robin Lovell, 1931-2003

quiet sandy beach
grandchildren make footsteps in
mine then skip away

Earl S. Johnson, 1930-2003

Earl Johnson—minister, peace activist, and haiku poet—has passed on. Born in Batavia, Illinois, he was ordained as a Lutheran minister in 1956 and served at churches in Arizona and Hawaii before being assigned to San Lorenzo, California, in 1969. After meeting Martin Luther King, Jr. in the early 1960s, he became active in the civil rights and antiwar movements. Over the years he traveled to Haiti, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Cuba, Bosnia, and Palestine in the cause of peace.

pacifists praying
forgive us our trespasses
before trespassing

Earl retired from the ministry in 1981 because of a heart condition. He began writing haiku in 1983 as part of his “saunterings” in the East Bay hills. Though largely self-taught from Blythe’s translations of the great masters, Earl had his own distinctive voice. He had a flair for capturing the depth of uncommon moments.

palm to palm
on the prison glass
brothers in touch

Earl rarely read his work in public. In fact, the only two readings I know about were at Haiku North America in Portland in 1997 and at Two Autumns in San Francisco in 2002.

turning blue
in her eyes

In the summer of 1998 Earl and his wife, Beverly, traveled around the world on a freighter. During that time he categorized and selected his favorite haiku. Several months after the trip Earl suffered his fourth heart attack. He barely survived but lost much of his short-term memory. He could no longer write.

reading The Tempest
on a freighter’s deck—
the wind turns to Act V

Earl died in his sleep at San Leandro Memorial Hospital on Monday morning, June 30, after a fifth heart attack. He did not select a death poem, per se, but here is one I rather like.

dead batteries—
no haiku tonight . . .
and then, the moon

A memorial service celebrating Earl’s life was held on Wednesday, August 6 at 7 P.M. at Christ Lutheran Church, 100 Hacienda Street in San Lorenzo, California. The family asks that any donations in Earl’s memory be made to the Livermore Conversion Project, P.O. Box 31835, Oakland, CA 94604. The Livermore Conversion Project works through education, political involvement, and nonviolent direct action to bring about the abolition of nuclear weapons.

—Rich Krivcher

Matthew Louviere

Matthew Louviere died on May 2, 2003 in his studio in New Orleans. One of his favorite haiku, for which he won an award in Japan, is:

Spring wind—
sweeping the clouds
from puddle to puddle

anne mckay, 1932-2003

Dear All,

I'm sad to report that Canadian haiku poet anne mckay has passed away. She was born in April of 1932 in Ottawa, Ontario, and died March 4, 2003 (aged 70), apparently peacefully, in her studio apartment in Vancouver, British Columbia.

She published twenty books (I believe all or most of them of haiku), and was well known for her extenstive work in writing linked poetry, using one-liner verses nearly exclusively. Her poetry had a strong and inimitable voice, and she was marvelously inventive with her words and images. Her brief poetry often flirted at the edges of haiku, yet somehow retained it connection to this genre, demonstrating part of the range that is possible with haiku. anne had three children, and requested that she have no funeral.

For those who knew anne through correspondence or from meeting this fiesty short-statured woman in person, or knew her from her books or from poems in journals, she will definitely be missed. For those of you who did not know her or her work, I encourage you to seek it out. Most of her books were published by Hal Roth's Wind Chimes Press, and a "best of" selection was published by Cacanadadada Press in British Columbia. You
can read a selection of her poetry (with French translations) at

—Michael Welch

Suzuki Masajo, 1906-2003

Suzuki Masajo, author of Love Haiku: Masajo Suzuki's Lifetime of Love, has died. Here is part of an announcement from Susumu Takiguchi of the World Haiku Club:

"One of the most distinguished and best loved haiku poets, Suzuki Masajo (1906-2003), has passed away. She was 96. She died a natural death peacefully at an old people's home in Tokyo on Friday 14 March 2003. Her life was one of love and haiku, which is chronicled in her own unforgettable poems and essays."

Emiko Miyashita, a well-known haiku poet and a translator of Suzuki Masajo, wrote:

"I went to Masajo's wake this evening.. The wake was held in Gokokuji Temple in Tokyo from 6:00 p.m.This is her alter. All the attendants offered a white chrysanthemumn to this extraordinary lady who had lived her life so fully...."

Leatrice Lifshitz, March 10, 2003

Dear Friend of Leatrice Lifshitz,

We wanted to let you know that our mother, Leatrice Lifshitz, died yesterday (3/10) after a two year struggle with cancer. The connections she made with you through writing added much joy to her world.

slowly the old woman
opens the door
to join the wind

We will be collecting memories of our mother and about her life for us and her grandchildren. If you have anything you would like to write, it would be be welcome. Please send such email to my mother's account ( and cc Larry, at

—Rhona, Larry, Ed


And I will not lament
that the winter comes early

And darkness.

I am not a worm, I hold no grievance
against the sky

And stars.

I will not shut my door
to possibility

And constellations.

I will repose
and consort with the winter

However we are.

Leatrice Lifshitz


A friend reminded us that in 1997, the following haiku of Lea's won first place in the Harold G. Henderson Awards:

the river—
coming to it with nothing
in my hands

Robert Spiess, 1921-2002

Robert Spiess, who adeptly nurtured and shaped English-language haiku for over a half century, passed away quietly on 13 March 2002.

Bob's passion for haiku was sparked in the late 1930's by the discovery of Harold Henderson's The Bamboo Room. Drawn to the economy of words and style found in haiku, he was further influenced in those early years by Asataro Miyamori's An Anthology Of Haiku Ancient And Modern.

American Poetry Magazine first published Bob's haiku in 1949. By 1965 Bob had become the Poetry Editor of American Haiku, the first magazine devoted solely to English-language haiku. Following the demise of American Haiku in 1968, Bob assumed the role of Associate Editor of Modern Haiku in 1971. Bob became the Editor-Publisher of Modern Haiku in 1979, a position he held until early 2002.

Under the auspices of Robert Spiess, Modern Haiku became the foremost English-language haiku magazine. Modern Haiku received multiple awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was recognized as the best haiku magazine in North America, by the Museum of Haiku Literature in Tokyo. As the Editor-Publisher of Modern Haiku for over 20 years, many aspiring haiku poets knew Bob as their teacher, mentor and friend. Over time, Bob earned the respect of thousands by thoughtfully responding to every submission and note he received with hand-written or typed words of wisdom and encouragement.

Drawing inspiration from the writing of Henry David Thoreau, love of the natural world became a cornerstone of Bob's haiku and short poetry. He immersed himself in the solitude of nature, by canoeing and kayaking thousands of miles of midwestern streams and rivers. Numerous trips to the Caribbean and South Pacific filled notebooks for his poetic endeavors.

Although Bob's work is based predominately in haiku, he was also well known for his humorous senryu, and for his short, often rhythmic poetry. Over the years, his work has appeared regularly in every reputable English-language haiku magazine. In addition, Bob's haiku, short poetry and essays can be found in virtually every haiku anthology or scholarly haiku work published since the 1950's.

Bob's career is marked by the publication of the following books: The Heron's Legs (1966); The Turtle's Ears (1971); Five Caribbean Haibun (1972); A Haiku Poet's Thoreau (1974); The Shape of Water (1982); The Bold Silverfish and Tall River Junction (1986); New and Selected Speculations on Haiku (1988); The Cottage of Wild Plum (1991); A Year's Speculations on Haiku (1995); Noddy (1997); Noddy and the Halfwit (1999) and Sticks and Pebbles (2001).

On 10 September 2000 in Matsuyama, Japan, Robert Spiess was awarded the prestigious Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Prize to honor his outstanding contributions to the development of haiku. This honor, and his trip to Japan, proved to be the pinnacle of Bob's half-century involvement with haiku.

Bob's kindness, patience, knowledge, insight, wisdom, humor and most of all his friendship, will be deeply missed by those he touched.

Mark Alan Osterhaus, 31 March 2002

Pine shade
  a child bends
    and touches the moss

Morning's foot of snow
  and nowhere a flake
    that fell astray

Canoeing the bend
  a man throwing stones at coots
    quickly turns away

Becoming dusk, —
  the catfish on the stringer
    swims up and down

Field of thawing snow
  a boy in muddy knee-highs
    flies a crimson kite

wind-swept pine—
the simpleton laughs
at the summer moon

    gently odd
    a noddy
in tumbly digs
    trying words
mumble mumble

the morning bus
  thirty faces
minus or plus
  a few places

but then when i
  no longer ride
    will any say
where is that guy
  i sat beside
   the other day

—Robert Spiess

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