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Frogpond 39.1 • 2016

Museum of Haiku
Literature Award

Haiku & Senryu

Essay 1 - Teaching Haiku
in American Higher Education, Part 1

Essay 2 - Raising Haiku Literacy


Haiku Sequence


Book Reviews

From the Editor



From the Editor

First off, I must extend my gratitude to Francine Banwarth and Michele Root-Bernstein for their Frogpond tenure and the dedication to the English-language haiku community. I remember how excited I was when it was first announced that they would be editing Frogpond—it was what the journal and community needed. I knew they would take the journal to a new place (as George Swede and Anita Krumins did before them, and so on), and they did. When asked if I was interested in editing Frogpond, I was elated to have the opportunity to continue what they had set into motion, but also fully aware of the task ahead of me. I had, and still have, big shoes to fill.

With each new editor, the journal continues to promote haiku in English, but also reinvents itself. So I had to ask myself: What can I bring to Frogpond?

I'm reminded of John Stevenson's opening remarks as co-organizer of Haiku North America 2015. The main focus of the conference was haiku education, and he offered four questions for consideration over the weekend: 1) What circumstances make it possible for haiku to be taught successfully? 2) What lessons does haiku offer students beyond syllable counting? 3) What kind of partnerships would we need to establish in order to make haiku education more effective? 4) How can I help?

As an educator and a product of haiku in higher education, these questions and their potential answers matter deeply to me. As a flagship journal for haiku in English, I believe Frogpond can be a teaching tool. Most agree that in order to write and appreciate haiku, one must read good haiku. In order to read good haiku, one needs exposure and access to good haiku. And, to be honest, beginners need more than good haiku—they need excellent haiku that are diverse in content and style.

Essays that have been and will continue to be published in Frogpond and other resources online, such as The Haiku Foundation, are addressing the first two questions. It’s the second two that I find need the most focus at the moment.

It’s easy to complain about those that do not understand that haiku is not seventeen syllables, or to huff when someone posts or publishes zappai. But we are at a moment in time where there's more curiosity in (than stigma of) the genre. How we, individually and collectively, respond to the curiosity, to the 5-7-5 lesson plans, and to cliché Twitter poems will determine how others respond to the concept that haiku can be something more. If we complain about or make fun of others for their ignorance, the larger literary community will respond accordingly. After all, when poetry faculty and publications rejected haiku or said it didn’t have as much value as other poetry over the last couple decades, didn't we, as a community, push away from them in kind? We can discuss preserving the sanctity of haiku all we want, but haiku is nothing without people. If no one will read it, if there’s no one to share it with, what’s the point?

The good news is that more and more, universities are intrigued by what haiku in English has to offer, and agree that scholarship on the genre and community should be coming out of the English departments. Additionally, as Deborah Kolodji’s article points out, there are mainstream journals open to haiku and haibun.
I personally can help, not just by continuing to teach haiku in my classes, by editing this journal, and taking Frogpond to writing conferences, book festivals, and the universities where I will be teaching and taking classes as a grad student. I can put copies of Frogpond into the hands of indie editors and writers, who are particularly interested in (and welcoming of) new genres as long as they know the work is out there.

Meanwhile you can do your part by going to open mics, participating in multi-genre workshops, and submitting to journals and magazines outside the haiku community. Consider reaching out to your local library or community outreach programs—who are always in need of afterschool and summer programming. Perhaps the most important thing you can do is talk about the haikai arts critically, using language others are already familiar with and placing our work in context with other poetry and literature.

Thank you, everyone, for giving me the opportunity to be a mouthpiece for the community and Haiku Society of America. The support I have received since I began writing haiku in 2008 has been critical to my development as a writer, educator, and editor; I want to use this role as an opportunity to give back and extend that support to the next generation.

Special thanks to Christopher Patchel for his continued service in creating the cover art and redesigning the inside pages, to all the former Frogpond editors who have extended their best wishes, and, last but not least, thanks to my partner in all things, Jim Warner, for agreeing to be my assistant editor.

Aubrie Cox, Editor
Knoxville, TN