Haiku City Reading Series

From 1995 to at least 2000, I ran the “Haiku City” reading series on irregular dates at Borders Books located at 400 Post Street at Union Square in San Francisco. The following is a listing of readings for which I have a record. There may have been other readings in 2000 or in 2001, and I’ll add details of any additional readings when I can confirm them. Almost all readings took place at 7:00 p.m., usually at the third-floor amphitheater, were free and open to the public, and included an open-mic reading, usually celebrating haiku poetry. Many of us socialized in the bookstore’s coffeeshop after each reading.

Friday, 23 June 1995 (and a bonus reading on 25 June 1995)

This inaugural reading featured poets in The San Francisco Haiku Anthology and an open-mic reading. A report in Woodnotes #26, Autumn 1995, page 40, explained that this first reading was one of two that took place in conjunction with a national meeting of the Haiku Society of America that weekend, and that “This reading, moderated by Garry Gay, featured poets published in his The San Francisco Haiku Anthology (Smythe-Waithe Press, 1992), followed by an open reading, all celebrating the founding of the United Nations in San Francisco on June 26, 1945. In keeping with this theme, each reader first read a haiku by a poet from another country before reading his or her own poems,” and noted that about 45 people attended. A second reading, though not officially part of the Haiku City reading series, took place on June 25 again at Borders Books, again with about 45 people in attendance. This reading featured the 1994 Haiku Society of America book, A Haiku Path, and poets from Bruce Rosss 1993 Haiku Moment anthology. Tom Tico read his essay from A Haiku Path and then Bruce Ross moderated the Haiku Moment reading, featuring many local poets, plus out-of-town guests Maggie Chula, Doris Heitmeyer, and others.


Saturday, 16 September 1995

About 30 people heard Michael Dylan Welch read an essay/haibun entitled “How Do You Write Haiku?” followed by James W. Hackett reading selections of his Zen haiku, plus 21 new haiku (written after a break from haiku for at least ten years). An open haiku reading followed, with about 10 poets participating.


Saturday, 2 December 1995

Our featured readers were James Chessing and Alexis Rotella. The open-mic reading included high school students who attended to fulfill a class assignment about poetry.


Saturday, 9 March 1996

Jerry Kilbride and Laura Bell were our features. For this reading, Jerry read haiku, senryu, and several haibun, plus “The Gift of Ho-o-den,” a short paper he had delivered at the 1995 Haiku Chicago conference. For her part, Laura used various props and wore different hats and glasses, depending on the lightness or seriousness of the poems she read. At least 40 people attended.


Saturday, 4 May 1996

I seem to have no record of who the two featured readers were for this reading.


Saturday, 13 July 1996

Elizabeth Searle Lamb was our featured reader, followed by a large open mic. This reading coincided with the national meeting of the Haiku Society of America earlier in the day, and the inauguration of the America Haiku Archives at the California State Library in Sacramento the day before. Elizabeth attended the archive event as its first honorary curator.


Sunday, 11 August 1996

Ion Codrescu was our featured reader, with other readings by Fay Aoyagi, Alex Benedict, Alice Benedict, James W. Hackett, Marianna Monaco, Ebba Story, Michael Dylan Welch, and others. Ion, visiting from Romania, also displayed twenty of his sumi paintings, which were offered for sale.


Saturday, 28 September 1996

The theme for this reading was tanka instead of haiku, featuring tanka poets David Rice, Kay F. Anderson, and Pat Shelley (this turned out to be Pat’s last reading before she died on 28 December 1996, at the age of 86). David read from his new tanka book, In Each Other’s Footsteps, which Kay also illustrated.


Saturday, 9 November 1996

Featured readers were Garry Gay and John Thompson, who also read numerous rengay they had written together. John arranged his poems by the traditional elements of earth, air, water, and fire.


Saturday 22 February 1997

Tom Tico and Laurie W. Stoelting were the featured readers, though Laurie had to postpone, reading in June instead.


Saturday, 7 June 1997

Laurie W. Stoelting and Paul O. Williams were the featured readers, guest-hosted by Jocelyn Conway (I was unexpectedly out of town). Readers in the open reading were introduced by Jocelyn’s niece, Tiffany Rafighi. About 25 people attended.


Haiku City readings took a break for nine months.


Saturday, 28 March 1998

Featured readers were Jocelyn Conway, Eugenie Waldteufel, and Emile Waldteufel, followed by the usual open reading of haiku and related poetry.


Saturday, 23 May 1998

This reading invited members of the Haiku Poets of Northern California to read anything but haiku and related poetry. The reading included longer poetry and short fiction.


I have kept no record of any readings from May 1998 to September 1999, or from then until October of 2000. I recall one reading featuring musical accompaniment on electric cello by the niece (?) of Boston haiku poet Raffael de Gruttola, which might have been during this time, or might have been the September 1999 event. Carolyn Hall has also told me she gave her very first haiku reading, sometime around 1999 or 2000, for this series.


Saturday, 18 September 1999

This reading featured local poets whose work appeared in the third edition of Cor van den Heuvel’s The Haiku Anthology (published by W. W. Norton in 1999). Readers included Garry Gay, Jerry Kilbride, Ebba Story, Tom Tico, and Michael Dylan Welch. The program also featured invigorating jazz vocal improvisations and other music by Kerry Owyeung, followed by an open reading of haiku and related Japanese poetry.


Sunday, 8 October 2000

This reading celebrated the publication of A New Resonance, an anthology of haiku by emerging voices edited by Jim Kacian and Dee Evetts, published in 2000 by Red Moon Press. Scheduled readers were Fumio Ogoshi (visiting from Southern California), Carolyne Rohrig, and Paul Watsky (and may have also included other contributors, such as chris gordon, Jennifer Jensen, and Brent Partridge, but I’m uncertain who actually participated).


Monday, 23 October 2000

Featuring Emiko Miyashita visiting from Japan and Gerald Vizenor from Berkeley, followed by an open reading of haiku and related poetry.


I don’t remember if I scheduled any Haiku City readings after this.