Photos from the September 1978
Haiku Society of America Meeting

The following are five photos, four of them scanned from Polaroid prints, sent to me in January of 2009 by Cor van den Heuvel, who was president of the Haiku Society of America in 1978, when Leigh Larrecq (later Cor’s wife) took four of these pictures. They show Sumio Mori, Kenkichi Yamamoto and Yasko Karaki, three key participants at the society’s meeting on 17 September 1978, at Japan House in New York City. The two additional photos show Alfred Marks, Cor, and Leigh. At this event, the Museum of Haiku Literature in Tokyo gave twenty-four shikishi (haiku poem cards) to the Haiku Society of America to celebrate the society’s tenth anniversary that year. You can see some of the shikishi on the wall of the first two photos. At the end is a more recent photo, more than four decades later, showing how these shikishi are being preserved at the California State Library in Sacramento, California, where the Haiku Society of America’s official archive is part of the American Haiku Archives. The library exhibited these shikishi from December 2017 to April 2018 in celebration of the Haiku Society of America’s fiftieth anniversary.

The Gift of Shikishi

Sumio Mori (right), 1978 shikishi exhibit (other people unknown; note the shikishi on the wall to the side)

Kenkichi Yamamoto (center), 1978 shikishi exhibit (note the shikishi visible on the back wall)

Yasko Karaki (center), 1978 shikishi exhibit

Unknown person, Alfred Marks, and Cor van den Heuvel, 1978 shikishi exhibit

Cor van den Heuvel, Leigh Larrecq, and Kazuo Sato, 1978 shikishi exhibit (photographer unknown)

Here are two email messages from Cor van den Heuvel about these five photographs:

From: Cor van den Heuvel

To: Michael Dylan Welch

Sent: Thu, Jan 22, 2009 10:57 am

Subject: Shikishi Exhibit in 1978 at Japan Society

Dear Michael,

In case you can use them, here are three pics from the 1978 Shikishi Exhibit at Japan Society. I’ll send some more by another email, so you don’t have such a long download with one letter. The photo of the poet guest Sumio Mori (I think one of his works is included in the Shikishi collection) and the Alfred Marks photo are from polaroids taken by Leigh Larrecq, later to be Leigh van den Heuvel. The photo of Leigh and I with Kazuo is by an unknown photographer.

Best, Cor

From: Cor van den Heuvel

To: Michael Dylan Welch

Sent: Thu, Jan 22, 2009 1:02 pm

Subject: Two more Shikishi Show photos

Dear Michael,

Here are photos of Yasko Karaki, who was [Haiku Society of America] vice president and treasurer in 1978 and along with Kazuo Sato did the most to make the event possible, such as arranging for the hotel stays of the two guests and their entertainment while here, etc etc, acting as liaison with the Japanese officials involved and so on. These two photos are also from Polaroids taken by Leigh Larrecq at the Shikishi exhibit. What I have sent you are the only photos I have of Mori, Yamamoto, Marks, and Karaki. I do have ones of Sydell Rosenberg, Geraldine Little, and Tony Suraci, who were among the haiku poets present, but that’s about it. You know of course that Alfred Marks has done several important books about haiku including The Essence of Modern Haiku by Seishi Yamaguchi. He is also a charter member of HSA.

I hope these are of some use to you. I’m afraid I’m not up to writing any kind of reminiscence about that time right now.

All Best,


Shikishi Legacy

This is a photograph of Jerry Ball, former president of the Haiku Society of America, examining one of the twenty-four shikishi in archival folders at the American Haiku Archives collection at the California State Library in Sacramento, California, taken in July of 2019. A nod of thanks to Gene Larson who helped to instigate the display of these shikishi treasures in 2018 and bring attention to the library staff of their great value and historical significance. The Haiku Society of America’s official archives are located at the state library, where the invaluable gifts of twenty-four shikishi from Japan are being preserved in their rare book collection for future generations.