begin haiku is a place to take apart what we know about haiku, examine it closely, and put it back together again.

My name is Gary Warner. I began to study haiku in 1989. Some of my poems are published in books and magazines, but I am a beginner. To me, the beginner is someone who says each day "I wish to learn" and goes about the world with eyes open and mind hungry.

I hope you will come begin haiku with me.


September 2003 --
This month's featured article is by William J. Higginson. Like many beginners, shortly after being reminded of haiku, I sought out the local library, and there I found The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku, by William J. Higginson and Penny Harter. I stayed up most of the night devouring the book. Several years later it was a treat to have my very first publication credit as one of the 600+ poets with a poem appearing in Mr. Higginson's collection -- Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac. After meeting Bill in person at Haiku North America, and reading everything I can find posted by him, I've come to understand more of the purity and authenticity he strives for in his translations. On numerous occasions I have sought his opinion to help "settle" a debate online or in print, and I have personally benefited from his advice and critiques of my writings as well. When I teach on haiku to various school groups I am pleased to make it my practice to present the school with a copy of The Haiku Handbook for their library.

Mr. Higginson was born in New York City and raised in New Jersey. He left MIT to join the US Air Force, who sent him back to Yale University to Japanese language graduate school, which he completed with honors. It was during his time in Japan for the Air Force that he began his study of poetry and translation. His passion for poetry lead him to edit and publish Haiku Magazine from 1971 to 1976, and his "From Here Press" published works by many important poets, including Allen Ginsberg. He has won scores of awards for his poems and books, including Merit Book Awards from the Haiku Society of America for books published in 1974, 1986, and 1998. His works have been published in periodicals and on the internet hundreds of times. Perhaps one of the greatest credits to Mr. Higginson is the respect he holds in the Japanese and international haiku committees. In 2000, he was invited to address the World Haiku Festival, and in 2002, he was asked to serve on the Selection Committee for the Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Awards. As I was considering who to invite to share with us in Begin Haiku, I remembered the opening of the World Haiku Festival address, where he says:

"Remember that the richness of haiku begins within the individual, combining a love of life and a love of literature with the experience of this moment."

When I approached Bill about this column I was thrilled with his response. After judging a particular contest in 1993, he was asked to share with the contestants how he came about his decisions. Rather than measure an individual poem's merits, he chose to write this essay, explaining the process he went through when he judged haiku. The essay has appeared in a slightly different form for "Blithe Spirit", and some updates have been added for its appearance here as well. It is my hope that by observing the process Mr. Higginson uses to judge a haiku contest, we might all "pre-judge" our writing with a similar method, and improve the quality of our poems.

September Featured Article by William J. Higginson:

June Featured Article by Lee Gurga:

May Featured Article by Charles Trumbull:

April Featured Article by Michael Dylan Welch: --

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