"the worst publication in English"
"as near perfect as it gets!"
This is how readers characterize two of the dozens of haiku periodicals available to the English-speaking haiku community.
Any idea which publications they are? (No, the two comments are not about the same journal -- that would be too cute!). Read on.
ABOUT THE SURVEY
It began with a simple question, and this is what it turned into!
I just wanted to see which was the most highly regarded haiku journal, thinking it was a neck-and-neck contest between Modern Haiku and Frogpond. The truth, I find, is much more nuanced.
I jotted down a list of 30 haiku journals that I had seen or knew about and devised a double-tier rating scheme that asked the respondents first to rate each journal A, B, C, or X, where
A = a top-flight journal
B = an OK, middling-rank journal
C = a relatively low-quality journal
X = a journal you don't know or can't rank
Respondents were then asked to add a numerical ranking, 1-2-3-4-5, for each of the "A" category journals, with "1" being the top. Respondents were encouraged to comment on the journals.
The form was posted on a number of Internet haiku discussion and study groups, including Raku Teapot, Haikutalk, Cricket, Shiki-temp, Shiki Workshop, and Haiku-kai, and I asked anyone who would do so to post the survey form to other groups that I don't have access to. In addition, I sent the form to about 200 individuals selected because I knew they were not members of these Internet groups or because they publish widely in the journals -- and especially targeting present and past editors of haiku journals. The survey was conducted exclusively by e-mail, leaving out, regrettably, all those who are not yet wired.
An astonishing 93 people replied (Some people were more astonishing than others, of course.). Two respondents declined to rate the publications at all and asked not to be named. Responses of the others varied considerably. Almost no one felt comfortable rating more than about 10 journals, and many ranked only 4 or 5, suggesting that most people's reading habits are rather limited. There was a significant "grade creep" in that folks gave many more A's than C's. Many were unwilling to take the plunge and rank the A-rated journals 1-2-3-4-5 -- they either gave a large group of selections all A's or ranked them all A1. As a result the 91 respondents awarded 130 A1 grades. There was also a reluctance to award C's, and I got the impression that doing so was sometimes a sort of punitive action, "punishing" an editor for bad treatment.
Respondents were classified by place of residence as well as longevity in the haiku community -- persons who have been publishing for more than 10 years vs. more recent arrivals on the haiku scene (the range is from the late 1960's to 2001!). These criteria seem to have some significance in the results occasionally.
The results, of course, are only pseudo-scientific, but they do seem to reveal some trends, which I have sought to pinpoint in the analysis of results for each journal. Equally revealing or even more so are the comments about the various publications which the respondents generously shared. Christopher Herold's general remarks were especially detailed and thoughtful, so, with his permission, I have reproduced them here in toto by way of an introduction.
So, enormous thanks to the respondents:
Odd G. Aksnes, Stephen L. Amor, Dimitar Anakiev, Kay Anderson, an'ya, Fay Aoyagi, Winona Baker, John Barlow, Ernest Berry, Mark Brooks, Randy Brooks, Naomi Y. Brown, Becky Bunsic, Cyril Childs, Tom Clausen, Carlos Colón, Ellen Compton, Raffael de Gruttola, Angelee Deodhar, Jasminka Djordjevic, Zoran Doderovic, Steve Dolphy, Andre Duhaime, Gerald England, Ross Figgins, Stanford Forrester, Denis Garrison, Ferris Gilli, Caroline Gourlay, Lee Gurga, Carolyn Hall, Peggy Heinrich, Christopher Herold, Marshall Hryciuk, Jennifer Jensen, Jim Kacian, Bruce Kennedy, Michael Ketchek, Joseph Kirschner, Kris Kondo, Lori Laliberte-Carey, David Lanoue, Bill Lerz, Leatrice Lifshitz, Dhugal J. Lindsay, Carmel C. Liveley, Martin Lucas, Peggy Lyles, Tom Lynch, Paul MacNeil, Michael McClintock, Mary Lee McClure, Dorothy McLaughlin, Don McLeod, David McMurray, Sue Mill, Paul Miller, A.C. Missias, Jim Mullins, Naia, John S. O'Connor, Mark Alan Osterhaus, W.F. Owen, Christopher Patchel, Stacy Pendergrast, David J. Platt, Francine Porad, Frederick A. Raborg, Lyn Reeves, Caroline Rohrig, Ronan, Ce Rosenow, Gabriel Rosenstock, Dave Russo, Carmen Sterba, John Stevenson, Celia J. Stuart-Powles, Alan J Summer, Cindy Tebo, Marc Thompson, Charles Trumbull, Mirko Varga, Zinovy Vayman, Michael D. Welch, Alison Williams, Billie Wilson, Sheila Windsor, Jeff Winke, Ruth Yarrow, Gloria B. Yates, and Ikuyo Yoshimura (plus two others who asked not to be named) for participating and sharing their views.
May 28, 2001
by Christopher Herold
I'd like to preface my rankings with what it is that I value in a publication.
1) careful selectivity apparent
2) simplicity: focus on one genre instead of a little (or lots) of everything
3) careful attention to detail in the layout, allowing for plenty of space
4) small and focused rather than big and all-inclusive
5) more frequent issues
6) promptness of responses to submissions
7) dependability for appearing as advertised and on schedule
I find that poets' voices get lost when there's too much happening in a journal (book reviews, tanka, haiku, sequences, rengay, renku, haiku, haiga, essays, news, etc.) The more comprehensive journals have become a blur for me. Not only do poets' voices get lost in the herd, so too does the personality of the journal become dilute. The big journals are, however, wonderful places to go for new poets who want to find out what directions are possible, what's currently in vogue, how to enter contests, etc.
I'd like to see more journals that feature one particular genre -- even one particular approach to that genre. For instance, in the realm of haiku there could be a journal dedicated to concrete haiku. One that focuses on 5-7-5 with a single kigo (Yuki Teikei). Another could feature minimalist varieties. And many more. There may be a journal for kasen renku only, another for the nijûin form, another for the jûnicho form.
When the parameters of a journal are well defined, it will attract poets who have a proclivity for that school of writing, and the individual styles of the poets who submit their work to that journal will be more likely to stand out from one another. If the playing field is well defined each player's uniqueness will shine. Poets will find themselves in the company of other poets who enjoy a similar practice and will thereby learn from one another with less confusion and in more depth. That amounts to fun.
When an editor is very clear about what he or she is seeking, that journal will have a distinct flavor, a character which will provide readers a more readily accessible understanding of a particular approach or school of thought.
I also feel that people enjoy a more tangible sense of community when they receive the publications of their chosen fields more often. A journal is a touchstone. If you love senryu and you want to hang out with others who love that form, wouldn't it be nice to receive a monthly journal that features a digestible number of really good senryu? If you love contemporary styles of haiga, how nice it would be to receive a journal of that sort every month or two.
Another important consideration is the size of a journal -- the amount of work it holds. For me, the very nature of haiku is brevity. It is a short, concise form that honors what is commonly held as ordinary. We are terribly prone to excess when writing haiku. It's even easier to be excessive when presenting a journal of haiku. The most rewarding journals, in my opinion, are laid out simply, with a good amount of space for the poems to "breathe." And they are small enough in content to comfortably read in less than an hour. If the editors are highly selective in their selection process then the quality of the poems included will be very good indeed. With such a journal an entire evening could be spent (if one wished) peeling away the layers of fifty excellent haiku.
Add to this that a small journal is generally less expensive
to publish since it costs less to print and to mail out. This makes a small
journal more affordable to readers. There may seem to be a drawback in that
poets are faced with stiffer competition when attempting to get their work
published. However, if there are to be places one can find the very best
in a particular venue of haiku, haiga, renku, essays, etc., then clear parameters
and high standards in selectivity are paramount.
A = a top-flight journal
B = an OK, middling-rank journal
C = a relatively low-quality journal
X = a journal you don't know or can't rank
A numerical ranking, 1-2-3-4-5, was to be added for each of the "A" category journals, with "1" being the top.
The total umber of respondents was 91
Number of respondents rating each journal
|Asahi Haikuists Network||1||2||1||6||4||10||4||71|
|The Famous Reporter||1||3||1||1||6||6||3||1||81|
|Geppo Haiku Journal||1||1||3||2||10||6||72|
|Haiku Canada Newsletter||1||2||2||2||11||7||18||7||55|
|The Heron's Nest||13||9||9||5||6||52||42||13||26|
|Mainichi Daily News||3||1||2||2||17||8||16||5||53|
|South by Southeast||2||1||1||11||4||22||4||54|
Acorn is an amazing success story, catapulting into the top 3 or 4 haiku journals after a short three years of publication. Like John Barlow, creator of the British journal Snapshots, Acorn Editor A.C. Missias clearly recognized a need for a straightforward, honest, and classily produced journal and proceeded to fill that need very well. Acorn is widely recognized in North America (though not very well overseas) and considered one of the best haiku journals by 56% of the respondents and one of the top five by about 46%. An impressive 14 respondents considered Acorn as the second-best (or one of the second-best) journals in the field. Acorn scored quite a bit better among those who came to haiku in the past 10 years as opposed to the "old hands" -- 92% and 81%, respectively, ranked it "one of the best."
AntAntAntAntAnt (or Ant5) seems to be an invisible publication, with 80 of 91 respondents not evaluating it -- the highest of any publication reviewed. Editor Chris Gordon was apparently aiming at the avante-garde, presumably the niche that is occupied by Raw NerVZ and still. Those that do know Ant5 are divided evenly as to its merit. Even when the journal was flourishing, the editor apparently had serious problems with his correspondence and bookkeeping.
Asahi Haikuists Network
For an established column in a respected weekly in the Mother County of haiku, it seems strange that a very large number -- 78% -- of respondents did not know David McMurray's Asahi Haikuists Network well enough to rank it. We are told that following the merger of the Japanese newspaper with the International Herald Tribune, the weekly column will appear in the IHT as well, which should increase exposure exponentially, and that is very good news indeed. Those who did rank the Asahi Haikuists Network did not show overwhelming enthusiasm (the mode being B), placing it clearly behind the Mainichi Daily News, which performs a similar service. Even the five respondents residing in Japan (all but one of whom are non-Japanese) gave AHN one A, three B's, and one X, placing it behind the Mainichi and tied for second place with Kô. One gets the feeling that the Asahi column, while good for beginners (a laudable accomplishment), could be more selective in the haiku it features. And there apparently have been some bookkeeping problems as well.
A number of respondents advise us that Editor Chuck Easter has ceased publication of black bough -- a shame, for it seemed to show promise. Perhaps prophetically, the journal had a rather high invisibility quotient: 58 of 91 (64%) did not rate it and most people (21) gave it only a B. The journal lacked energy somehow and never lived up to its potential; perhaps Acorn filled the niche better.
Blithe Spirit seems to be resting on somewhat shaky ground: while it is clearly a major haiku journal internationally, it is not well known (well over half the respondents did not rate it), perhaps because it is a membership journal and generally does not publish nonmembers' work. In most indicators it ranks second to Snapshots internationally, and comes in third of the four British journals (edging out still) in popularity among respondents in the British Isles. One senses there is room for growth here, and a stronger, more consistent editorial voice seems to be called for.
One of the newer publications in the survey with only four issues in print, Bottle Rockets is still not well known, with 72% of the respondents not rating it. The most common rating was B (15), but there was an encouraging number of A's (6), and criticisms were targeted at production issues, not content or response to subscribers/submitters, leading us to forecast a good future for the journal.
Survey ratings of Cicada may be somewhat tainted by the existence of at least two other journals with this name: the very highly regarded Canadian journal edited by Eric Amann until 1987, and New Cicada, a journal published in Japan. Assuming that the respondents knew which Cicada they were voting for, however, this is another case of poor recognition: two-thirds of those surveyed did not respond on this one, and the comments underline the puzzlement of some subscribers and the problems they have had with the journal's record-keeping. Those who did rate the journal split evenly -- with 10 A's, 11 B's, and 10 C's -- a result that compares negatively with those for other journals.
The Famous Reporter
Here we have the sad case of an apparently fine poetry journal that publishes haiku as well that simply doesn't circulate much to the outside world. Four of the six Australian/New Zealand respondents gave the journal an A (one X and one C), but they were virtually the only people who knew the journal well enough to render a judgment (only 10 people rated it).
Not surprisingly, the haiku periodicals survey came down basically to a contest between Frogpond and Modern Haiku -- these two venerable haiku journals are really in a league of their own, not only in the United States but wherever English-language haiku are read. Frogpond drew the most number of significant responses -- that is, only 6 persons did not rate it at all, making it arguably the best known publication reviewed. Of these six, four reside outside the U.S., but three are HSA members, so their reluctance to judge the journal is puzzling. Frogpond also drew the highest number of votes as "one of the best" journals -- 77 to MH's 72 -- and the highest number of "top 5" votes -- 64 to MH's 60 -- although at this level the differences are probably not statistically significant. Amazingly, no one voted against Frogpond, i.e., awarded it a "C" rating. Among the 24 non-U.S.-residents polled, there were 23 A's and one B, indicating a very high approval rate overseas. Frogpond scored marginally better among those who came to haiku in the past 10 years as opposed to the "old hands" -- 92% and 88%, respectively, ranked it "one of the best."
In terms of content and style, Frogpond readers have lived through two changes of editors in the past decade, and each change has brought a radical shift in esthetics and priorities. Not surprisingly, each editor's style has its advocates, and on balance the current editor, Jim Kacian, seems to be doing as well as his predecessors, Kenneth Leibman and Elizabeth Searle Lamb. On the positive side, readers like the broad scope of the journal, its innovative style, its openness to a range of forms and styles, and the modern design. Many say that the haiku selected here is better than in Modern Haiku, though not many seem to cherish the scholarship as highly. HSA members do not seem to be of a single mind over whether the journal is chiefly advancing the Society's interests. Responsiveness to subscriptions and submissions -- or fairness of treatment -- were not mentioned as problems at all. Criticism of the journal mostly focuses on the design and the quality of the haiku and other materials selected for publication and quirkiness of the editorial decisions.
Geppo Haiku Journal
Some slack needs to be cut Geppo because it is a "bimonthly study-work journal" for the membership of the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society in California and as such it is designed to be an instructional aid. For this reason almost 80% of the respondents did not know the journal, and of those that did, the mode of responses (10 people) was "B." Even among the 12 Californians who responded, Geppo racked up no A's, five B's, three C's, and four X's. Geppo is clearly a very useful journal for learning, but not a place many authors would choose to have their best haiku showcased.
Ginyu's threshold or recognizability is very low: 82% of respondents did not know it, and even three of five respondents resident in Japan had nothing to say about it. Those few who do know it generally ranked it very highly, and one person commented that it is the best international haiku magazine. Too bad for Ginyu and for us if that is so!
Haiku Canada Newsletter
"Ecclectic" might be a word to apply to the two Canadian magazines in the survey (see Raw NerVZ). HCN, a publication of Haiku Canada, is fairly widely recognized and is ranked so-so to good by those that know it. The Canadians themselves (four of them in our survey) are supportive, ranking it A, A2, A4, and B. Seven respondents overall rank it in the top five, and 11 say it is one of the best, though only one person gave it an A1 rating.
Haiku Headlines has been on the scene for more than a decade now, and it is published monthly (most print journals have difficulty maintaining a quarterly schedule and a couple of the big ones now publish only three or two times a year). There is a lot to be said about such dedication and perseverance. Haiku Headlines has a high recognition factor -- well over half those surveyed know the publication. The fact is, however, an alarmingly high number of people simply don't like the publication very much. Of the 48 persons who rated Haiku Headlines, 17% gave it an A rating, 29% a B, and a whopping 54% -- higher by far than any other publication -- a C. The comments suggest that the problem is simply that David Priebe has taken on too big a task, and that editing and publishing 100 quality haiku a month is too much. (The Heron's Nest and Mainichi are also monthlies -- and Asahi is a weekly -- but they publish many fewer haiku.). Still, subscribers admit to finding kernels of excellence among the chaff.
HI is known by only about 30% of the respondents (comparable to other Japanese journals), and those who do know it are of mixed mind as to its virtues. No one gave it a "A1" rating, while 37% of those rating it thought it was one of the best, 37%, thought it was so-so, and 26% gave it poor marks. The main complaints seem to be the expense of the journal, an assumption that Haiku International Association members' work will automatically be published, and the poor quality of the English (a complaint not unknown in other Japanese publications).
The Heron's Nest
Perhaps the most remarkable success story in haiku publication, Christopher Herold's The Heron's Nest, after fewer than 20 monthly issues of the hermaphroditic (Web/print) journal, has achieved a very high level of visibility (only 29% failed to rate it, so only Frogpond and Modern Haiku are better known). Moreover, to know it is to love it apparently. Fully 13 people gave The Heron's Nest an A1 rating , 52 rated it one of the best haiku journals, and 42 ranked it among the top 5 (numbers that are again surpassed only by Modern Haiku and Frogpond, though Acorn was also ranked in the top 5 by 42 people). While Herold's take on haiku may not be to everyone's taste, he is generally lauded by his readers for his editorial focus, respect for deadlines, careful selection and editing of material, and responsiveness to submitters and subscribers -- just those things he says he values in a publication (see his "Introductory Thoughts"). Not surprisingly, The Heron's Nest scored quite a bit better among those who came to haiku in the past 10 years (and who could be expected to be more Internet-savvy) as opposed to the "old hands" -- 83% and 69%, respectively, ranked it "one of the best." In all, The Heron's Nest seems to be the ideal model for a Web journal, and its utility to the community is enhanced by appearing as a print monthly as well.
Respondents say that Hobo is either ceasing publication or is no longer accepting haiku. In any event, the Australia-based journal was virtually unknown in our hemisphere and not all that well known down under: It was ranked A1 and B with four abstentions among the six respondents from Australia and New Zealand.
Like still and Tundra, Phyllis Walsh's Hummingbird seeks to relate haiku to [other] short poems, which is the handsome little journal's strength or downfall, depending on what you feel about haiku vs. mainstream poetry. Despite having been published since XXX, Hummingbird has not managed to flutter into most poets' perception -- 66% of respondents did not rate it at all (although some may have disqualified the journal from the survey -- see the Comments). Eight people ranked it among the top five journals, while 11 felt it was one the best and 13 rated it so-so.
Recognition of Kô in North America is a concern (about 63% of the survey respondents did not rank it) although this journal is no worse off than other publications from Japan in this regard. Those who do know Kô are split between the half who think it is one of the best and the 32% who think it is doing only a fair job. This is true of the Japan residents too: they gave Kô one A, three B's and one X. Criticism seems to focus on the whimsical editorial style, a certain clannishness about who gets published, and the typo-ridden English.
Mainichi Daily News
The monthly haiku column in the Mainichi Daily News, one of Tokyo's leading newspapers, has the highest rating for an English-language haiku publication in Japan, with 42% of the respondents rating it. It also received the most votes of confidence, with 17 respondents indicating it is one of the best and another 16 rating it OK, and 5 disliking it. The five respondents living in Japan rated it similarly: two A's, one B, one C, and one X. Among Americans, publication in the MDN seems to hold a special meaning, and certainly winning the annual selection/contests is an important accolade. The MDN column is also on the Web now, which should increase its appeal and raise its visibility.
Mariposa, the membership journal of the Haiku Poets of Northern California, has been publishing for only a few issues, and those facts undoubtedly lead to the journal's very low level of visibility: only 17 of 91 respondents evaluated it. Of those 17, 11 gave it a B rating, suggesting that readers may not be finding the haiku of the highest quality. Haiku poets in California were similarly unimpressed: Mariposa received one A vote, seven B's and five X's. Still, three people ranked it among the top five haiku journals, so there is promise. The small journal is beautifully produced by the folks at Two Autumns Press and the initial decision to withhold haiku authors' names until the back pages of the journal, which many readers found annoying, has now apparently been reversed.
Mayfly has been around awhile and is relatively well known: 50 of 91 respondents felt competent to rate it. The tiny journal has always focused on a few very high quality haiku and nothing else: the value is in the selection. Editors Randy and Shirley Brooks commissioned a makeover in 2000, which changed the look of the journal dramatically. Subscribers seem to be of two minds over the changes. Most respondents are enthusiastic in their support of Mayfly, however, and it received nine A1 votes, trailing only Modern Haiku, Frogpond, and The Heron's Nest.
Mirrors seems to be teetering on the brink of extinction if it is not already defunct. Fully 68 of the 91 respondents did not rate it. The unique feature of this publication was that each author was given the liberty to design his/her own page on a standard 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper -- perhaps the first publication to give prominence to haiga. Those respondents who did rate Mirrors generally gave it a B (12) or a C (8) with only three persons considering it one of the best haiku journals.
Modern Haiku is the longest-publishing haiku journal in English, beginning its existence with the winter 1969 issue. Equally remarkable is the fact that MH has had only two chief editors in all that time: Kay Titus Mormino until the fall 1977 issue and Robert Spiess since then. Understandably, then, Modern Haiku is one of the best-known journals, with only 9 people (10%) not ranking it in our survey. Of those 9, 6 were non-Americans and at least one of the others knows the journal but had a difference of policy with the journal. In addition to Editor and Publisher Spiess and Art Editor John Reynolds, Lee Gurga joined the staff three years ago, and some haiku poets have detected a change in editorial direction. More recently, Randy Brooks has been added as Web Editor and has turned his attention to questions of design and layout.
Modern Haiku was awarded the most A1 votes of any journal by a large margin: 35 (or 43% of those who rated it), compared to 21 for Frogpond. The two journals were comparable in terms of ratings as "one of the best," however, with Frogpond actually nosing out MH in this category, 77 to 72. Unlike Frogpond, a few gave Modern Haiku a C rating, suggesting that some people have been turned off by one or another aspects of the journal.
Among the 24 non-U.S.-residents polled, there were 18 A's, 3 B's, and one C -- suggesting Modern Haiku has a somewhat lower cachet than Frogpond outside the country. Consistent with its status as the longest-publishing haiku journal in English and its perceived conservative stance, Modern Haiku scored noticeably better among the "old-timers" among haiku poets (those who have been publishing for more than 10 years) than those who came to haiku in the past 10 years -- 94% and 84%, respectively, ranked it "one of the best."
Having secured the top place for Modern Haiku with their numerical votes, the readers felt free to be critical of many aspects of the journal. The editors are characterized as autocratic and haughty by some people or receptive and helpful by others, and many folks seem to have been put off by rejections. No one complains about the editors' responsiveness, which is remarkable considering the volume of mail they must receive. Readers are divided about the quality of the haiku selected and published, and the designations of haiku/senryu seems to be particularly annoying to some. The same is true about the scholarly articles: there seems to be little question that the best prose about haiku is picked up by Modern Haiku, but there are occasional clunkers there as well. MH does not publish linked forms or haiga, but you will find haibun. It reviews haiku books more fully and more consistently than any other publication.
Venerable, with a number of problems, some of which are being addressed, but all in all, Modern Haiku is still the journal that sets the standards!
Like most publications from Asia and the Pacific, Paper Wasp suffers from lack of exposure in North America -- perhaps the Web site will help in this regard. Three-quarters of the survey respondents did not rate Paper Wasp. Of those who do know the journal, there seems to be a core group of enthusiasts (two persons gave it an A1 ranking and 9 persons called it one of the best) but overall a relatively high number of B and C grades (9 and 4, respectively). Australians and New Zealanders were responsible for two A1 grades, one A2, two B's, and one C. Comments were sparse, so it's hard to get a grip on which direction Paper Wasp is moving.
Respondents' reactions to Presence make the journal seem like something of a diamond in the rough hidden under a bushel basket -- to horribly mix a metaphor (to negligently split an infinitive or two). It is not widely known among haiku poets -- only 31 of 91 rated it, Still, 18 people consider it one of the best and 12 rate it among the top five journals. In Great Britain and Ireland, where they ought to know, six of nine respondents gave it an A and two others a B. From the comments there seems to be an expectation that Editor Martin Lucas is aggressively setting out to make his Presence known and a leading journal in the community.
Raw NerVZ Haiku
The journal Raw NerVZ, published in Quebec by Dorothy Howard, is the self-appointed enfant terrible of the haiku publishing world. Through a no-holds-barred editorial policy regarding form and content, absence of censorship (some would say editorial discretion), and junkyard layouts and graphics, Raw NerVZ sometimes seems to try to have a little something in each issue to offend everyone as well as please everyone. This is reflected in the polarized survey results: the journal is relatively well known (only 40 people did not rate it). Among those who voted, about 45% gave it an A, 37% a B, and 18% a C. The nine C votes Raw NerVZ received put it in the same rank as Cicada and still in unpopularity (those three ranking behind Haiku Headlines). Canadians like it: they gave it three A's and one X. The journal is more highly esteemed by the seasoned haiku poets: 54% ranked it "one of the best," as against 37% among those who came to haiku in the past 10 years. Readers' praise centers on the editor's willingness to publish things that would not be accepted elsewhere; criticism tends to focus on the same aspect -- that editorial standards sometimes dip too low.
Snapshots is the British haiku success story. Editor John Barlow is much admired for his well-produced small-format journal with the glossy four-color covers as well as his careful attention to content. About the same size as Acorn, Snapshots differs in that it will publish a number of haiku by an author and it has features material other than just verses, such as a reader's poll of best haiku and biosketches of authors. The journal still has recognition problems, and more than 50% of respondents did not rate Snapshots. Of those 42 who did rate it, however, 32 considered it among the top publications (highest by far of any British journal) and 21 rated it in the top five. Eight people gave it an A1 rating (only four journals scored higher in this tally.) Among Brits (and one Irishman), six gave Snapshots an A and two gave it a B -- again the best showing of any British journal. No one didn't like it -- there were no C's.
South by Southeast
Consistency is what many readers are missing in SxSE -- it is a magazine that looks like it is being run by a committee, as indeed it has been. Begun as the organ of the Southeastern Region of the Haiku Society of America under the editorship of Kenneth Leibman, it passed in 199x to Jim Kacian, who gave it a physical and editorial makeover and turned it into a small journal with a large, national voice. Since Jim moved on to edit Frogpond, SxSE has seemed to be uncertain of what it is and where it is heading. The readers' biggest complaint, however, is the bad treatment the editorial staff gives to submissions and the agonizingly long time they take to reply. The journal has an average "visibility," with 54 respondents not rating it. Nonrecognition was especially high outside the United States and in the West. Most respondents (22) -- including all residents but one of the Southern states -- gave SxSE a B rating; 11 gave it an A. Only two people gave it an A1.
No other journal comes close to still in beauty and extravagance of production, with its four-color glossy covers, sometimes tinted papers, perfect binding, and full page of space given to each poem. Publishing since 1996, poet and graphic artist ai li has gained a respectable amount of recognition for still, aided and abetted, no doubt, by the stunning Web site and twice-yearly "The Haiku Award" contests with the largest purse of any haiku contest (£500, later raised to £1,000). More than half of our respondents chose to rate still, and 43% of those called it one of the top journals. Quite a large number of respondents (16) gave it a B rating, however, indicating dissatisfaction, probably with the journal's cost, the editor's quirky selections, and the depressing content (only Raw NerVZ among the other publications received negative comments about its general editorial tone). Probably owing to its in-your-face iconoclasm (ironically belying the title!), still tracks closely with Raw NerVZ: 201610 to 23199 in ABC ratings.
Unfortunately Tundra, a journal with immense possibilities and an auspicious beginning as the first heavyweight journal to confront the question of the haiku's relationship to short poetry, has proved a major disappointment, even an object of some derision. Despite having published only once, in 1999, it is well known in the community -- only 39 respondents did not rank it (making it the fifth most-recognized journal) -- and several nonrespondents indicated that they know the journal but chose not to rate it based on a single issue. Those who rated Tundra thought highly of it, however: it received the seventh highest tally of votes as "one of the best" journals (30) as well as 14 votes in the top five journals category, five A1's and 5 A2's. Fully 18 people marked it B, however, reflecting the high level of dissatisfaction or frustration. In terms of production values and editorial content, Tundra's closest kin is probably still (although Tundra contains vastly more material), and the American journal edges out still in the polling, with Hummingbird, a small journal that is also dedicated to exploring a range of short poems, quite a ways behind.
A few publications were not omitted from this survey, some by design, some by error. A number of respondents pointed out these gaps.
First, it seemed pointless to survey journals that have gone out of business; these included Patrick Frank's Point Judith Light, Ion Codrescu's Albatross in Romania, and Haiku Spirit (Eire). (One fan wrote, "I have just lost track of one of my very favorites, Haiku Spirit from Ireland -- my last subscription and submission was returned unopened.") During the course of the survey it became clear that one title on the list, black bough, is closing down as well, although subscribers have not been notified and subscription fees have not been returned. No one seems to know the fate of Ant5 except that it has not published in several years and the editor is not answering mail. I can't get a clear bead on Hobo either: some say it has stopped accepting haiku, some say it will accept haiku again. Despite showing all the morbid signs of impending doom, after a long hiatus South by Southeast delivered a long delayed issue during the course of the survey, while in the most perplexing case of all, the second issue of Tundra, almost two years after the appearance of the first, is "at the printers" according to editor Michael Welch.
There didn't seem to be much to say yet about brand-new journals, even auspicious startups like Haijinx (http://www.haijinx.com/) or Susumu Takiguchi's World Haiku Review (http://www.netpro.ne.jp/~aminet/pages/whreview1.html) which debuted on May 20, 2001.
A number of major oversights became apparent as soon as we started the survey, and some journals were added to the list later in the survey. Opinions are, accordingly, incomplete about these following journals, but we are including what comments we received:
We excluded periodicals that were not primarily devoted to English-language haiku and the bilingual journals that abound in the Balkans. Magazines that sometime publish haiku include
In the Netherlands there are
Balkan haiku journals include
The HASEE Website (http://users.win.be/W0056898/hasee/hasee.html) has information on many of these.
We completely missed some Internet journals that are refereed or carefully edited and probably should have been treated like regular print journals:
Some mentions or comments were also received about the following:
Magazines Publishing Haiku, Senryu, Tanka, Renga, Haibun, Sijo, Sedoka compiled by Pamelyn Casto and Mandy Smith an excellent source of addresses and information. Includes short characterizations of each journal.
Paper Lanterns Website has a listing of journals as well as book publishers for haiku and other Oriental forms and topics.
The Open Directory Project, Haiku and Related Forms, a listing of Web resources about haiku, etc., with the advantage of great squibs about each entry by William J. Higginson.
Mark Alan Osterhaus's Links to Haiku Sites. Excellent, thorough.
HaikuOz Competition & Publishing Opportunities: a service to help writers get exposure for their work, edited by Publications Officer Sue Mill. Includes journals in a comprehensive survey of haiku-related activities.