Our final haiku connection in our journey was made through Carolyn Hall who was the most fantastic hostess, putting us up in both Santa Rosa (in the Sonoma Valley) and in San Francisco.
Carolyn is an accomplished haiku poet and the winner of many awards. Among her many achievements are editor of Acorn (2008-2012), winning the HPNC Haiku Contest in 2011, winning a Snapshot Press Book Award (resulting in Water Lines published in 2006, which won a Haiku Society of America Book Award), winning The Heron’s Nest Readers’ Choice Poem of the Year in 2015 (and being first runner-up to the Poet of the Year), THN Poet of the Year in 2011, THN Poem of the Year in 2007, while her second book, How to Paint the Finch’s Song, won a Touchstone Distinguished Book Award in 2011. Read a review of that book here.
her death date
I pause the river
in my cupped hands
— Carolyn Hall, The Heron’s Nest Poem of the Year 2015
Carolyn was introduced to haiku about 17 years ago by a friend who was at the time writing haiku himself. “I bought everything I could find with ‘haiku’ in the title. I showed [her friend] my first haiku … I don’t know why he saw any hope in me.”
Carolyn then met Laura Bell and almost immediately started getting her work published “which got me really excited”. Other early support came from Jim Kacian and Christopher Herold.
Haiku is “an addiction I have no desire to break”, she says, and although fears she’s writing fewer haiku as time passes, Carolyn is contemplating a fourth collection.
In Santa Rosa Carolyn invited members of Haiku Poets of Northern California and Yuki Tekei haiku groups to join us poolside for the afternoon and dinner, and we had a delightful time meeting Richard Bruns, Garry Gay, Patrick Gallagher and his friend Kathleen Wall, and Michael Sheffield. Some lived nearby while Patrick and Kathleen had made a 3-and-a-half-hour drive to be with us! Yuki Tekei, by the way, prefers haiku written in 5-7-5 with a kigo.
Many haiku poets in the area belong to both haiku groups as the meetings rarely clash – Yuki Tekei meets monthly and HPNC only four times a year. Patrick is president of Yuki Tekei, while Garry, who was an HPNC founder and its first president, is again leading the organisation with Carolyn as membership secretary. Garry is also a founding (and still active) director of Haiku North America.
Garry, a professional photographer, began writing haiku in the 1970s after meeting Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North! “I had been writing longer poetry,” he says, “but the poems kept getting shorter and shorter until they were only 4 lines. I didn’t know what haiku was but I gobbled up everything I could find. HPNC was founded because I was looking for people like me.”
Garry is also the inventor of the rengay form of linked verse, saying that he found the ‘rules’ of renku too restrictive so came up with his own form!
end of the world
I blow apart
— Garry Gay, winner of the 2013 Peggy Willis Lyles Haiku Award
Patrick, on the other hand, was driving his wife Claire (1941-2009) to meetings in San Francisco when he was invited in … and the rest, as they say, is history. Now, his new friend Kathleen is showing a lively interest in haiku (and has already written some) so watch this space!
first meeting you
a flight of balloons
above the summer river
— Patrick Gallagher
Michael, who is apparently something of a hula dancer among many other interests, is a featured guest at this year’s HPNC Two Autumns reading on August 28. “I want to get haiku out to the masses,” he says.
next year’s blossom
in the daylily root
— Michael Sheffield
Richard, who has also been a professional photographer, wrote up our visit as a photo journal for those who attended the dinners, a kindness that was much appreciated.