2012: A Summary of My Poetic Year

Not previously published.

If I’m most proud of any single poetic accomplishment in 2012, it would be the release of a cherry blossom stamp on 24 March 2012 by the United States Postal Service, featuring a waka (tanka) poem I cotranslated with Emiko Miyashita, from our book 100 Poets: Passions of the Imperial Court (Tokyo: PIE Books, 2008). The postal service printed 150,000,000 copies! Our translation appeared on the back of the peel-off sheet. Here’s the poem:

      ひさかたのひかりのどけき春の日にしづ心なく花の散るらん
      hisakata no hikari nodokeki harunohi ni shizugokoro naku hana no chiruran

      紀友則
      Ki no Tomonori (c.850–c.904)

      the light filling the air
      is so mild this spring day
      only the cherry blossoms
      keep falling in haste—
      why is that so?

Beyond this, my poetic year revolved around a usual assortment of poetry workshops, readings, website activity, and publications, plus the highlight of directing the Seabeck Haiku Getaway once again—more details below. I also ran National Haiku Writing Month for the second year, with about 800 participants on the Facebook page. I attended the monthly meetings of the Haiku Northwest group, sharing and critiquing poems, and also spoke on NaHaiWriMo at a national quarterly meeting of the Haiku Society of America on 12 February 2018, in Seattle. As usual, I also curated and MC’d monthly readings for SoulFood Poetry Night, and curated the Redmond Association of Spokenword monthly readings, also MCing for three of them, featuring poet Elizabeth Austen, professional ski patroller Kim Kircher, and a set of Jack Straw Writers. The following are more details on other selected activities that brightened my poetic year.

Websites and Facebook

In addition to running NaHaiWriMo in February once again, providing daily writing prompts on the Facebook page (resulting in a book, discussed below), on 23 March, I was the featured poet on Washington State Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken’s blog,“The Far Field,” celebrating my U.S. postage stamp translation. On 10 April, I was a featured poet for the Spring 2012 HaigaOnline Gallery, with ten of my neon buddha blurred-light photo-haiga. For the entire month of May, I was guest editor for the Haiku Foundation’s Per Diem daily haiku feature, focusing on Pacific Northwest themes and voices. On 20 June, two of my tomato haiku (yes, tomatoes) appeared on Seattle Weekly’s “Voracious” blog. On 9 September, I was a guest poet on Matt Briggs’ “Writing from the Pacific Northwest” blog. And on 18 December, ten of my poems were featured on the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society website.

Poetry Workshops

Here are some standout poetry workshops I gave this year—perhaps a more active year than some others:
  • 21 January and 19 May: “Becoming a Haiku Poet” workshop at Seattle Chōeizan Enkyōji Nichiren Buddhist Temple in Seattle.
  • 21 February: Workshop facilitator for the Poetry & Prose Circle at the Redmond Library in Redmond.
  • 4 March: “Introduction to Haiku” workshop at the Seattle Japanese Garden.
  • 7 March and 18 April: “Is that a real haiku or did you write it yourself?” workshop for teens at the Sammamish Teen Center in Sammamish.
  • 26 March and 13 April: Teaching haiku to multiple classes of fourth, fifth, and sixth graders at Robert Frost Elementary School in Kirkland, Washington.
  • 7–8 April: Two “Learn About Haiku” workshops at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival’s “Sakura Days Japan Fair,” at VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • 14 April: “Haiku in the Woods” presentation and guided haiku walk, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Beaver Lake Lodge at Beaver Lake Park, Sammamish, Washington (this was perhaps one of my favourite workshops from the year).
  • 23 June: “The Nature of Haiku” workshop at Padilla Bay nature center (also a favourite workshop from the year).
  • 20–22 July: Presentation on haiku syllabics and a reading and renku workshop for the Gabriola Haiku Weekend, Gabriola Island, British Columbia (always a treat to visit Gabriola).
  • 8, 9 September: Teaching introductory haiku classes and staffing a haiku table at Aki Matsuri (fall festival) at Bellevue College in Bellevue, Washington.
  • 4 November: “Introduction to Haiku” workshop amid vibrant autumn colours at the Seattle Japanese Garden.
  • 17 November: “Holiday Haiku” poetry workshop and holiday card craft workshop at Historic Joy Kogawa House in Vancouver, British Columbia (also a favourite workshop from this year).
  • 18 November: “Punctuation and Haiku” presentation at a meeting of the Vancouver Haiku Group.
  • 1 December: Introductory haiku workshop at Enso Center in Redmond, Washington.

Poetry Readings

When I look back at 2012, it feels like I didn’t give many readings, but then I feel that way every year. Here are some highlights from 2012:
  • 28 April: Featured reader for the Ballard Poetry Fest in Seattle.
  • 16 June: Read for the Jack Straw 50th Anniversary Performance Celebration at the Jack Straw New Media Gallery in Seattle.
  • 15 August: An “Unexpected Art” featured reader with Denise Calvetti Michaels at the Poetry Garden near the Seattle Center’s International Fountain in Seattle, for “The Next 50” celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair (one of the more unusual readings I’ve given).
  • 29 August: Reading for the Columbia City Farmers Market in Seattle. There are short videos of the reading on YouTube.
  • 1 September: Gave a haiku reading and presentation (and judged a haiku contest) at the Seattle Japanese Garden Moonviewing Festival (this is always a favourite event each year).
  • 28 September: Featured reader for the Redmond Association of Spokenword in Redmond, Washington (my first time being featured at RASP).
  • 19 October: Featured reader at the Bookworm Exchange in Seattle.
  • 2 November: Performed haiku with musical accompaniment for the annual Arts Show at Enso Center in Redmond, Washington.

Book Publications

I didn’t publish a book of my poetry this year, but I did edit With Cherries on Top: 31 Flavors from NaHaiWriMo, a collection of 190 haiku and senryu, complete with nearly a hundred of my blurred-light photographs of fireworks. These poems were selected from the month of August 2012 when my NaHaiWriMo page on Facebook had 31 different daily writing prompters. The resulting book was offered as a freedownloadable PDF book. I also had fourteen of my haiku featured in Things with Wings, an online PDF book edited by Aubrie Cox, published in June by Yay Words. I contributed an essay, “Fresh Seeing on the International Appalachian Trail,” as a foreword for Ian Marshall’s Border Crossings: Walking the Haiku Path on the International Appalachian Trail, published in February by Hiraeth Press in Massachusetts. I also contributed an afterword, “Presence in Absence,” to Stella Pierides’s book, In the Garden of Absence, published in Germany by Fruit Dove Press in October. They’re not exactly books, but I did produce two trifold flyers this year: “Traces of Snow” collected haiku and senryu I wrote for NaHaiWriMo in 2012, and “A Dolphin or Two” collected poems I’ve written in the American Sentences form. And, as a pleasing surprise to me, the 2012 Seabeck Haiku Getaway anthology, Windfall, edited by Connie Hutchison and Ruth Yarrow, was dedicated to me.

Seabeck Haiku Getaway

Speaking of the Seabeck retreat, this year’s retreat, our fifth annual getaway, took place 11–14 October. As usual, I directed and MC’d the entire weekend. This is always a highlight of each year, and this year was no exception. Our featured guest was Paul Miller, editor of Modern Haiku magazine, and we enjoyed many workshops and presentations by various participants. Standout activities were digital haiga presentations, readings by various poets, and various presentations by Paul. And perhaps best of all, was a new feature, a talent show by everyone present—great fun!

Of course, my writing is more than just poetry, with many essays, reviews, and translations among my usual output. I documented many of these publications on my website. I got a lot done in 2012, but there’s so much more still to do.