1 May 2023
Lots of little steps can add up to a long journey. That’s what the month of April has felt like. A few big steps, but also lots of smaller steps, as listed here, have contributed to what I might call the Graceguts way to celebrate National Poetry Month. Here’s what I’ve been up to on Graceguts for April 2023:
A big new addition, one that took a lot of work, is that I’ve scanned the covers of the following books and added them to their individual pages or on my Books or Press Here pages: In and Out of Fog (Lee Gurga), Turning My Chair (Pat Shelley), the first edition of Abandoned Farmhouse (Ed Rielly), Berries and Cream (Jeanne Emrich), Fig Newtons: Senryu to Go, the first edition of The Haijin’s Tweed Coat, Tremors, Through the Spirea, Light and Shadow (1998 Haiku Society of America anthology), When Butterflies Come (1993 HSA anthology), and the following Haiku Poets of Northern California anthologies: Countdown, The Gulf Within, All Day Long, Playing Tag Among Buddhas, The Sound of the Bell, A White Chrysanthemum, Morning Snow, Summer River, and A Poppy Blooms, for all of which I provided layout and design (where links are not provided here, see Two Autumns Press). For some of the preceding books I also added scans of back covers and selected interior pages.
I’ve added two new blurbs to the Blurbs page, one (uncredited on the book’s cover) for All Day Long, the 1994 members’ anthology for the Haiku Poets of Northern California, and another, also uncredited, for When Butterflies Come, the very first Haiku Society of America members’ anthology, a new annual tradition that began at my instigation in 1993. I also did the layout and design for both books.
New to the Essays page is “Why I Take Photographs,” a short 1998 essay from The Light Box, the newsletter of the Peninsula Colorslide Club (now the Peninsula Camera Club). I found a copy of this essay among my mother’s belongings after she passed away (at age 88) on 7 April 2023. I had completely forgotten about this essay and was pleased to rediscover it.
The Essays page now also includes “Defining Haiku: A Place to Start,” a very short piece from the Living Haiku Anthology online. I had previously linked to this essay but decided to add it directly onto my website instead.
Also on the Essays page I’ve added a third postscript to “Arriving Geese: Learning from Shugyō Takaha,” about a Shiki poem that echoes one of Takaha’s. And speaking of postscripts, a new one just added to my “Buson or Shiki: The True Authorship of the ‘Two Autumns’ Poem” essay now shows and describes the letter Garry Gay wrote to Doubleday to get permission to use the poem he believed was written by Buson.
And still speaking of essays, I’ve added grey backgrounds behind all publication info preceding each essay. I’ll be doing this for many other pages too, but for now I’ve made this cosmetic change throughout all of my essays. On the main Essays page, at the bottom, I’ve also added “A note about versions,” pointing out that I consider the versions of my essays on Graceguts to be definitive, meaning that some essays on this website may contain additions and corrections that the original publication (usually in print) did not include.
I’ve made several additions to my Appearances page, such as my being a featured poet for September’s LitFuse poetry festival in Tieton, Washington, at which Cornelius Eady will be the keynote poet, and my being a judge again for the 2023 Morioka haiku contest this fall in Japan. Other additions too! And the Links page now lists Enchanted Garden and The Light Box.
New on the Digressions page is a page for Two Autumns Press, the Haiku Poets of Northern California press. I list all of that press’s books for which I did the layout and design (I also designated the press logo, taken from the cover of the first anthology, with a graphic I selected in a free clipart book). This page includes cover images and selected interior and back-cover images. Another Digressions change is that my First Frost page now includes a cover image of issue #5, published in the spring of 2023.
The Tinywords page now includes another recent poem of mine from its online pages:
on the radio—
my fretting fingers
Books listed on the Press Here page now include back-cover quotations for Brocade of Leaves, Close to the Wind, and Dandelion Wind. I also added sample poems for Close to the Wind and Jumble Box and added a quotation from the introduction by Jerry Kilbride to Lee Gurga’s The Measure of Emptiness.
On the Further Reading page, look for “Haiku and the Art of Fiction” by Paul O. Williams, from his book The Nick of Time, which I published with Press Here in 2001.
A significant change on my Haiga page is that I’ve created a new “Selected Haiga and Photo-Haiga” page, extracting relevant images from “Haiga with Other Artists.” I’ve also added two new photo-haiga, “call of a cardinal winter stillness” and “village church carols from the doorway.” The new page now features my haiku with graphics that I mostly also created, sometimes using free online photographs. Separating haiga that are more fully my own from haiga created with others (where they provided the artwork) results in more accurate page descriptions and a cleaner presentation of the work on both pages.
Meanwhile, over on my Rengay website, check out “Yo Ho, Yo Ho!” on the Three-Person Rengay page (written with Sidney Bending and Margaret Rutley), recently published in Presence, and “Seeing Red,” new to the Solo Rengay page, which recently appeared in Raining Rengay #1 (April 2023). And take a look at “Last Sunset,” just added to the Six-Person Rengay page.
So, deep breath, that’s part of what’s kept me busy this past month. As mentioned, my mother also passed away in April. I don’t think she ever visited Graceguts. I may have never even told her about it, but most of my writing was never of interest to her—she preferred reading inspirational true stories and memoir. But one trait I’m now convinced that I gained from her was her abiding ability to document her life, such as keeping a detailed diary of extensive house renovations, or index cards itemizing every book she read, at least after a certain date. Or her diary of taking elocution lessons in England around 1950 (she insisted that I and one of my sisters also take elocution for a few years when I was around 12 or 13, which certainly helped with my public speaking abilities). And that’s just a few of many private practical writings and detailed record-keeping I had mostly never seen until I helped to clear out my mother’s belongings after she died. She was intensely organized, and I wish I had inherited more of that ability! A bow of gratitude to my mother, who led a long and productive life and died peacefully in her sleep.