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Frogpond 40.2 • 2017

Museum of Haiku
Literature Award

Haiku & Senryu

Essay 1 - "Foxfire"

Museum of Haiku Literature Awards Retrospective




Book Reviews

From the Editor


"Foxfire: Things That Glow in the Night"

by Charles Trumbull

"Foxfire: Things That Glow in the Night"
from A Field Guide to North American Haiku

(complete PDF version)

Here is a sample excerpt from the opening page of this essay:

Mysterious, magical, and terrifying things happen in the woods at night. Toadstools spring up, unfamiliar hoots and rustles issue from nocturnal creatures; fairies are abroad. Here and there, things are unaccountably glowing . . .

crescent moon—
foxfire glows in the hollow
of a decaying stump

Evelyn Lang, Woodnotes 13, 1992

“Foxfire” is the popular word used to describe several phenomena of things that glow eerily in the night. Properly “foxfire,” according to Encyclopædia Britannica, is a kind of bioluminescence shown by certain fungi that live on decaying wood—particularly, in the United States, the jack-o’-lantern (Clitocybe illudens) and the honey mushroom (genus Armillaria). Reportedly, the bluish or greenish glow of the healthy growing mushroom can be bright enough to read by. The bioluminescence is durable, too; the effect remains for hours or even days after picking. Sometimes the fungi have been used to mark paths through the forest or attached to people’s clothing to identify them in a dark forest. With no apparent relationship between glowing mushrooms and foxes, some specialists believe that the origin of the word may be the French faux feu, “false fire.” Foxfire is also sometimes called “fairy fire.”

Here are examples of how some top English-language haiku poets are using “foxfire”:

warm tints of fall—
foxfire flecks of the withered copse
in the dying light

H.F. Noyes, Modern Haiku 26:3, 1995

foxfires show along
an old mountain road
only revealed by them

Brent Partridge, Frogpond 21:3, 1998

lanternless walk
through dark winter night
foxfire glows

L.Teresa Church, Simply Haiku 6:4, 2008

[essay continues for several more pages] . . .

. . .

Trumbull, Charles. "'Foxfire: Things That Glow in the Night' from A Field Guide to North American Haiku." Frogpond 40.2, Spring-Summer, 2017, 95-102.

This excerpt inclues the first page of the essay: page 95. The complete essay includes pages 95-102. To read the complete essay, click on the link to the PDF version:

"Foxfire: Things That Glow in the Night"
from A Field Guide to North American Haiku

(complete PDF version)