Postcard from San Francisco

Well, here it is folks, the final postcard from my North America trip.

Carolyn Hall (see Postcard from Santa Rosa, below) drove with us to San Francisco and was a great guide, pulling us off the highway for lunch at Book Passages (a glorious book store too) near San Rafael.

We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge – is there any better way to enter a city? – and I, for one, was as excited as a little kid (I may have been the only one in the car skipping about on the inside. Carolyn’s done it many times and the driver was, well, driving).

Then she tested our driver’s skill, and nerve, by sending him up one of those terraced streets that San Francisco is renowned for. Every block was either an uncontrolled intersection or lights – you want to be the leading car when you reach the intersection as that’s the only flat place to stop, and not 3 cars back on the steep slope! But we wouldn’t have swapped the experience for the world, and next day, when riding one of the famous cable cars, saw a street – or didn’t see a street – that seemed to disappear off the edge! Filbert Street has a 31.5% grade … Stephen von Worley has written about driving such streets and compiled a list of what he considers to be the 10 steepest.

summer solstice
the measuring tape reels back
into its case

– Carolyn Hall

Carolyn had more haiku fun in store for us with a group gathering at her apartment and then strolling round the corner to a great Thai restaurant.

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Dinner party, from left back: Keith Frentz, Carolyn Hall, Buck Hall, Sandra Simpson and Betty Arnold. From left front, Richard Goldberg, Sharon Pretti, Patricia Machmiller and Richard Bruns. Photo: The waiter

Patricia Machmiller is a well-known name in haiku and I was pleased to sit in on her session at Haiku North America in 2013. She began writing in 1975 with Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tokutomi, founders of the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society, and was the society’s president from 1978 to 1981, and is currently treasurer. Patricia is also a talented brush painter and has held exhibitions of her work. Her delightful sense of humour came to the fore during our meal and I was amazed to hear that she’s not long recovered from a broken neck, a dreadful injury that occurred when she was hit by a vehicle while out walking.

squash blossoms
the ribbon on her dress
unravelling 

– Patricia Machmiller,  winner of a 2016 THF Touchstone Award
published in Frogpond 38.2

Betty Arnold is editor of the Yuki Tekei’s magazine Geppo, as well as being a member of Haiku Poets of Northern California. She was introduced to haiku by Christopher Herold when he was still living in California and well remembers the serene atmosphere he created for his guests. A retired paediatrician, Betty also enjoys writing tanka but isn’t too bothered about getting her work published. She writes for her own pleasure.

welcome home surprise –
all along the driveway
forget-me-nots

– Betty Arnold

Sharon Pretti, who is a social worker in a care facility for adults, is relatively new to haiku but has already had poems appear in such august publications as Modern Haiku and Frogpond. Her partner, Richard Goldberg, is a visual artist. See his website here.

in remission
acacia dust brushed
from the windshield

– Sharon Pretti, Second place in the 2015 Porad Haiku Award

Richard Bruns had told me the day before that although he didn’t write much haiku, he was nonetheless interested in it and liked hanging out with haiku folk! His write-up of our visit revealed a little more … he has in fact been interested in haiku since the 1960s and been writing poetry of all sorts off an on ever since! Joining HPNC after he retired in 2012 “forced a complete reassessment of my own work in the face of 21st century haiku standards”. Richard is attempting to meet that challenge and has had some success and is also enjoying writing science fiction poetry.

Thank you to everyone in these postcards who helped make my visit to the US so rewarding. It was a pleasure to spend time with you all!

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Postcard from Santa Rosa

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.

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Carolyn Hall and her equally sociable husband, Buck. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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.

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Patrick Gallagher. Photo: Sandra Simpson

garry

Garry Gay (left) and occasional haiku writer Keith Frentz. Photo: Sandra Simpson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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
a dandelion

— 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.

summer’s end
next year’s blossom
in the daylily root

— Michael Sheffield

santarosa

From left, Garry Gay, Carolyn Hall, Richard Bruns, Michael Sheffield and Patrick Gallagher. Photo: Sandra Simpson

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.