Postcard from Port Townsend

Port Townsend is a beautiful and historic small town on the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State – and is the home of one of my haiku heroes, Christopher Herold.

We were lucky enough to have coffee with Chris and his wife Carol and I felt privileged to be able to meet face-to-face as Christopher was one of the first overseas editors to publish my work. He was the founding editor of The Heron’s Nest, running it as a monthly paper publication for many years. Eventually, he realised, it was taking over his life (Carol had possibly realised this a little earlier!). The first of the associate editors came on board and the highly respected journal finally morphed into the online quarterly journal that it is today, now under the guiding hand of John Stevenson and his team.

Chris had his interest in haiku fostered by one of America’s great haiku figures, James Hackett (1929-2015) – Chris, who already had a long-time interest in Buddhism, worked as his gardener. He’s turned to other forms of writing more recently but produced a small book of haiku, The Moon Unfazed (Kanshiketsu Press) in 2014.

almost dawn
cupped in the curve of the moon
the rest of the moon

– Christopher Herold

Chris has also had a long-time interest in renku and in 2009 he and Carol won the Haiku Society of America’s Einbond Renku Contest, having previously tied with themselves for first place in an earlier iteration.


Christopher Herold. Photo: Sandra Simpson

The following haiku was one of the first of Chris’ that I remember reading, and it is still one of my favourites.

we lower a kayak
into the sound

– Christopher Herold
second place, Harold G Henderson contest, 1999

Sadly, Chris lost his computer files of haiku written between 2004 and 2014, but has taken a philosophical attitude towards it, an equanimity I get the impression is par for the course.

I hope our paths cross again some time … maybe a Haiku North America in Honolulu, yeah!

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