Country of Residence: United States
Current Occupation: Project manager
Past Occupations: Technical editor, technical writer, content manager, writer, editor, graphic designer, event manager
Haiku-Related Volunteer Positions/Affiliations: Please see http://www.graceguts.com/bio
Interests/Hobbies: Books (I have about 12,000, each one catalogued, about 5,000 of which are haiku and haiku-related), writing, poetry of all kinds, travel, photography, skiing, racquetball, music (especially guitar solos), my websites, publishing, public speaking, family
Book Publications: Please see: http://www.graceguts.com/books
Anthologies & Collaborations: Please see: http://www.graceguts.com/books
Journal Publications: Please see: http://www.graceguts.com/links (scroll down to the “Selected publications” and “Selected additional publications” sections)
Awards & Honorable Mentions: I’ve not itemized these systematically, but in 2002 I collected eighteen favourite award-winning poems in a trifold, available at TaggedwithRibbons.pdf (google.com)
Editor of: (books) (anthologies) (journals) (website)
For books and anthologies, please see: http://www.graceguts.com/books
Translator of: (books) (journals) Please see: http://www.graceguts.com/books, or see a list sortable by year, category, and other data at: http://www.graceguts.com/books/sortable-book-list (about 75 books).
When & how were you introduced to haiku & Japanese-related poetry?
I first learned of haiku in a high school English class, in 1976, and I’ve been writing them regularly since then. I began to take haiku more seriously as literature around 1987 and 1988, when I first started buying haiku books and joined the Haiku Society of America. The second edition of Cor van den Heuvel’s The Haiku Anthology opened my eyes to an emphasis on content rather than form, and educated me on reasons why merely counting 5-7-5 syllables was problematic for haiku in English. I’ve loved all the connections I’ve made around the world in the decades since then.
What do you enjoy the most about haiku?
Sharing. The poem, the feeling in the poem, the validation and empathy in that sharing. I see haiku as an act of vulnerability, one that expects empathy in readers (and empathy to write in the first place). I also find an increasing joy in writing about haiku and in giving workshops and presentations, and in putting together haiku events such as the Seabeck Haiku Getaway, NaHaiWriMo, Haiku North America, and others.
What do you enjoy the most about tanka?
It gives us a little more room to express ourselves. Tanka is also closer to Western poetry in allowing a broader range of poetic devices than we typically find in haiku, including more subjective content. It’s good to have various arrows in the quiver.
What do you enjoy the most about haibun?
Even more room to express ourselves. When a haiku or tanka can’t tell enough of the story then haibun can come to the rescue. But you still want to be concise and lyrical.
Who are your top 5 favorite poets?
This is easier to answer in terms of longer poetry. I’d say E. E. Cummings, Kay Ryan, Jane Hirshfield, Mary Oliver, Anna Swir, some Billy Collins and Ko Un. Easier still to answer this in terms of favourite poems! As for haiku, I’m not sure that I have an answer, I think perhaps because there are so many fine haiku poets whose work I enjoy, and again, it comes down to poems more than poets.
What haiku/writing projects are you currently working on?
Always have multiple projects going, including many dozens of essays in various stages of repair, particular in my “Learning From” series of essays, where I explore the work of writers usually not associated with haiku in terms of haiku. A recent example is the poetry of Mary Oliver and her theme of attention, which I think is vital to haiku practice and aesthetics. I increasingly enjoy developing haiku sequences, including animated PowerPoint renditions. And I’m always writing tons of rengay, many of them featuring particular cities around the world, at least lately. A dozen more projects, some that I’m not ready to talk about, some that I’m sure I’m not even remembering! Many have been finished for years, but haven’t been pushed out the door yet. Also working on an anthology of longer poems for the 15th anniversary of the monthly poetry reading series I run, SoulFood Poetry Night. And a 30th anniversary rengay anthology.
Please share 3 of your recent haiku and/or tanka (with publication credits if they are in a book, journal or anthology):