Frogpond 31.2 • 2008

Museum of Haiku
Literature Award


Revelations Unedited




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.


Deep in the Woods: The Haiku Journey

by Lenard D. Moore (North Carolina), President of HSA

For many years, people have been asking me how I write haiku. At first, I did not reveal my technique. I knew that I wanted to further my craft of haiku writing. Although my aim was to push beyond the guidelines that I had read, I also knew that there would be failures and hopefully successes, too. To that end, I strove to report the richness of the natural world, except that I had to rely on patience, in the art of haiku writing.

Like my younger brothers, I, too, was a curious boy. I stamped deep into the thick woods, observing ferns, silver maples, mulberry trees, chinaberry trees, willow oaks, white oaks, longleaf pines, sweet gum, elms, poplars, sassafras, dogwood, and hickory, though I wonder about the seeming rapidity of the hickory’s disappearance in those childhood woods. I also examined the numerous wildflowers, which beckoned me. Do I need to mention the robins, blue jays, cardinal birds, wrens, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, mockingbirds, swallows, finches, blackbirds and owls that ascended and descended, called and peeked? Do I need to mention the crayfish that crawled on the creek’s bottom? Do I need to mention the snails that crawled up the siding of our house? I also wonder about the seeming rapidity of the snail’s disappearance. In recent years, I have witnessed slugs after steady rain.

Without knowing it decades ago, I believe boyhood nurtured my haiku mind. At that time, I waited for phenomena of the natural world to reveal itself or maybe even flicker. As if pausing for a photographer, I still wait for the magnificent show of the natural world. While participating on a ginko, I usually stop and wait for the haiku moment. Others have asked, “What are you doing?” I glanced up, and said, I’m waiting for the haiku moment.” Thus, I usually write haiku rather than simply jot notes for later haiku. This process works for me. Of course, some haiku tumble off the page. And still, I do not give up on those fell haiku.

Think of a haiku as a poet’s record of his or her existence. What would the haiku reveal about the poet’s temperament? If the poet was startled by the haiku moment, I think the haiku should prompt the same reaction for the reader. The first person point of view, sharp juxtaposition, specificity, and present tense greatly enhance a haiku’s resonance. I hope I am able to employ those techniques most effectively. And it is the craft of haiku writing that I am always pushing.

Often, I reorder the diction in my haiku. I also tend to the music in my haiku: alliteration, assonance, consonance, euphony, onomatopoeia and meter. I no longer focus on counting syllables in my haiku writing. Of course, there are other literary elements that help to make good haiku. For example, vivid imagery and allusions help to develop good haiku. More importantly, because I feel a kinship with the earth, I think such kinship enables me to write my haiku. My several years of doing farmwork and gardening, perhaps, have laid additional groundwork for my haiku writing.

                                                            autumn sunset
                                                            hospital helicopter rises
                                                            from the heliport

                              after all-day trip
                              I sit for a haiku moment
                              to spring

husband and wife
walk the corgi on the towpath
autumn wind

          for Roberta Beary and Frank Stella

                              noon heat—
                              in the log cabin’s crevice

                              Veterans Day
                              we only want
                              to make love

Spring meeting—
the gray-haired speaker’s

*NOTE: This haiku “Spring meeting—” won 2nd place in the haiku contest at The Haiku Society of America Spring Quarterly Meeting, on March 15, 2008 in Ft. Worth, Texas.

                              almost spring
                              the tatoo winged
                              onto her arm

                                                            Easter Sunday
                                                            on the Obituary page
                                                            no names I know

                              all day rain
                              washes the pollen away . . .
                              stubble on my face

up the train steps
I hoist her heavy suitcase—
a yellow leaf falls

                              a train whistles
                              from the other side of town
                              autumn wind

                                                            of a military jet . . .
                                                            autumn sunset