The Nick of Time

The Nick of Time: Essays on Haiku Aesthetics

Paul O. Williams

Edited and introduced by Lee Gurga and Michael Dylan Welch

Showcases 16 essays vital to an understanding of issues facing the English-language haiku poet, plus selections of 40 haiku and senryu by the author. Winner of a Merit Book Award for best criticism in the 2002 awards from the Haiku Society of America (for books published in 2001).


gone from the woods

the bird I knew

by song alone


Explore the book

  • Read the introduction, The Middle Way,” by Michael Dylan Welch and Lee Gurga

  • See additional links in the contents list below


To order for $15.00 plus shipping, please contact Press Here.

2001, perfectbound, 112 pages, 6 x 9 inches, ISBN 978-1-878798-23-5


  • “Paul O. Williams’ essays in The Nick of Time provide the most comprehensive look at the issues and possibilities of haiku in English to appear thus far. While one may not always agree with his engagingly presented ideas, one cannot ignore them and be said to have thought deeply about our haiku. His poems included in this book, both haiku and senryu, assert in themselves a careful crafting of language about the world and our connection with it. I have very much enjoyed Paul’s poems and his essays scattered through our ephemeral magazines over the past three-plus decades. I salute The Nick of Time as the finest work of this poet and essayist who tries ‘to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost’—in the very appropriate words he quotes from novelist Henry James. Everyone who cares about, or wishes to learn about, the continuing evolution of haiku in English should read, and reread, this book.” —William Higginson, author of The Haiku Handbook (from the back cover)

  • This wonderfully provocative collection of 16 essays addresses many key topics in haiku and its writing. Williams puts his arguments out on the table and holds his own. Also included in the book is a strong and even collection of 40 haiku and senryu by the author. A very important book for English-language haiku theory and practice.—Stanford M. Forrester and Bruce Kennedy, in selecting this book for the Best Criticism award for the 2002 Merit Book Awards from the Haiku Society of America

  • Read the Japan Times review by Leza Lowitz.

  • Read the Modern Haiku review by John Stevenson.

  • Read Haiku World review by Gary Warner.

  • See Paul’s preface to The Edge of the Woods, from 1968.

  • See a memorial to the author, and another memorial.

  • Read more about Paul at his Wikipedia, Fantastic Fiction, and Internet Speculative Fiction Database pages.

The following is the table of contents for The Nick of Time. Links lead to essays available on this website.


The Middle Way: Paul O. Williams’ Essays on Haiku

(introduction by Lee Gurga and Michael Dylan Welch)


Tontoism in American Haiku (1975)

Loafing Alertly: Observation and Haiku (1981)

An Apology for Bird Track Haiku (1981)

The Aura of Haiku (1982)


Selections from Tracks on the River (1982)


The Lasting and Ephemeral in Haiku (1989)

Haiku Memory (1989)

A Dialog about Haiku Reviewing (1990)

A Dialog on Baloney Haiku (1992)


A Selection of Senryu (1975–1996)


Haiku and the Art of Fiction (1991)

Engagement and Detachment in Haiku and Senryu (1993)

The Limits of Haiku Form (1991, 1993)


Selections from Outside Robins Sing (1999)


The Question of Articles in Haiku (1989)

The Question of Words in Haiku (1993)

The Question of Subjectivity in Haiku (1995)

The Question of Metaphor in Haiku (1993)


Selections from Outside Robins Sing and Other Poems (19832000)


A Pre-Electronic View of the World (1996)