School’s Out

School’s Out

Randy M. Brooks

George Swede, preface

Garry Gay, photographs

This definitive collection offers 175 selected poems by Randy M. Brooks, one of the icons of English-language haiku. The book includes a preface by George Swede, an introduction by the author, and photographs by Garry Gay. Third Place winner of a 2000 Merit Book Award (for books published in 1999) from the Haiku Society of America.







Randy M. Brooks

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1999, perfectbound, 104 pages, 6 x 9 inches, ISBN 978-1-878798-20-0

  • “Longtime haiku publisher Randy Brooks, who has started many haiku poets on the road to prominence, now presents the best of his own work. His poems crystallize the special moments of rural and family life into haiku that move beyond the personal moments they record to create heartfelt poems of universal significance.” —Lee Gurga, associate editor of Modern Haiku

  • “This long-overdue collection captures the haiku moments of people’s lives with a fresh, gentle humor. It expands the range of North American haiku in a new and important direction.”

—William J. Higginson, author of The Haiku Handbook, Haiku World, and Haiku Seasons

  • “Do you know that moment, traveling past an ordinary Midwest cornfield, when you notice a thunderhead swelling overhead, and suddenly the flat landscape becomes deep and rich? This is what Randy Brooks has achieved in School’s Out. Written in ordinary language and pulling the reader into a pervasive quiet, his poems demand rereading. For example, the silence in the following haiku, long one of my favorites, is taut with emotion:

farmer’s wife

at the screen door—

no tractor sound

School’s Out traces Brooks’ life, starting with his Kansas childhood. It moves through adolescence to parenthood. Near the end it looks toward endings. While focused largely on family, Brooks includes moments of solitude, when he almost hears the flicker of light through needles:


the fishing line in . . .

sunrise through the pines

Randy Brooks offers us a chance to travel past life’s cornfields with him. It is a rich offer.”

—Ruth Yarrow, haiku poet

  • “Brooks has written some of the most authentic farm-life haiku in the North American canon:

snowblind on the range:

homesteader feels

the barbwire home

But rural haiku do not dominate this collection . . . for Brooks, a professor at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, has become a city person, more comfortable with computers than with combines. Yet, growing up on farms has left him with nature-image–laden neurons from which he can draw connections that are as fresh as water from a spring. . . . School’s Out is precisely what a selected works should be: a showcase of a substantial number of haiku from decades of work. It is a landmark collection and confirms that Randy Brooks is one of the foremost haiku poets in the English language.” —from the preface by George Swede

  • “The title of this collection is School’s Out for several reasons. First, when I reviewed the haiku I have written and that have been published since 1976, I noticed that a large majority of the poems are summer haiku. Perhaps this is simply the result of having time, as a teacher, to get outdoors and enjoy nature more in the summer. Or perhaps it is the result of a shift in brain activity. When school is out, I get to step down from my analytical frame of mind as a professor, and spend more time in a reflective or meditative state of mind that is more conducive to writing haiku. A second reason for the title is that I believe in lifelong learning, which extends beyond lessons in a classroom. Although I have never disliked school and have learned a great deal in school, I know that I have learned much when I have been out of school as well. I will always advocate summer vacations and sabbaticals because these are times when students and teachers can reconnect to the world, to life beyond the classroom, to nature.” —from the author’s introduction

  • The photographs throughout the book feature Garry Gay’s daughter, Alissa.