Haiku, Maui

Did you know there’s a town on the north shore of Maui called Haiku? In the Hawaiian language, Haʻikū means to “talk abruptly” or “sharp break.” So thats very different from haiku poetry, but it’s interesting to know the town shares the same word, and wouldnt it be fun, if you’re a haiku poet, to say you live in Haiku? I don't know if its true, but I’ve also read that landline phone numbers there start with 575. Or wouldnt it be fun if they did? For decades Haiku was home to former United States poet laureate W. S. Merwin, and his Merwin Conservancy is still located there. The conservancy maintains a palm forest with hundreds of rare species of trees. As Merwin once wrote, “On the last day of the world I would want to plant a tree.” Surely haiku poets share this attitude. He also wrote that reading a lot of haiku was like being pecked to death by doves! Haiku was also home to the haiku poet James W. Hackett in his last years. I have not visited Haiku myself, but hope to do so whenever I’m able to make it to Maui. It would be fun to check out the Haiku Library and even do a ride-along with the Haiku Police, but I don’t think it’s that big a town. But maybe there’s a Haiku Hotel—and you can drive down Haiku Road, visit the Haiku Reservoir, the Haiku Mill, get stamps at the Haiku Post Office, shop for food at the Haiku Grocery Store, clean up at the Haiku Laundromat, fix what ails you at the Haiku Medical Clinic, fill your prescriptions at the Haiku Pharmacy, get your hair done at the Haiku Salon, visit the Haiku Marketplace shopping center, and get everything your poetry requires at Haiku True Value Hardware. And maybe write some haiku about your Haiku experiences.       +       +

Also see these links:

The question is, do they sell haiku books at any of these stores?!?

These last three photos are by Jacquie Pearce, from 2018.


What if the Maui town of Haiku formed a Japanese poetry club? It would have to be called the Haiku Haiku Club.

I published the following note in Woodnotes #13, Summer 1992, page 21:

David Elliott wrote recently about the town of Haiku on Maui ([referred to previously in] Woodnotes #12, page 25). He explains that “the word is Hawaiian, not the Japanese word. It is pronounced something like high-ee-ku, and it means sudden, abrupt, or steep, either in speech or in topography, according to W. S. Merwin, the poet, who lives there.” Even though the town’s name isn’t the “haiku” we may have hoped, it seems fitting that a poet such as Merwin should live there. Two of Merwin’s books, Finding the Islands and Asian Figures, each contain hundreds of haiku-like poems, and are clearly influenced by haiku. Look for his books at your local bookstore.

Helen K. Davie submitted the following note published in Woodnotes #24, Spring 1995, page 38:

In January, Helen K. Davie and her husband Frank Cowley took a short anniversary trip to Maui. Their first stop was the small town of Haiku (or written correctly, “Haʻiku”), which means “Kahili flower” in Hawaiian. The town is about 12 miles southeast of the airport, off the Hana Highway. There, Helen discovered and photographed the Haiku Mart, Haiku Lumber, Haiku Tire Company, Haiku Natural Foods, Rainbow Flowers of Haiku, and the Haiku Chapel, and even sent a postcard (with several haiku on it) from the Haiku post office (96708). Just above the slot for “out-of-town” was one marked “HAIKU ONLY.” Back home, Helen put her photos into an album and wrote a few more haiku to accompany them, including these:

high tide line—

the perfume of a stranded lei

blows through Haiku

sending a few short lines

waiting in a long one—

Haiku post office