Wedge of Light

Wedge of Light

Michael Dylan Welch, Cor van den Heuvel, and Tom Lynch, editors

Celebrates sixteen haibun by twelve poets, including winners of the 1996 Woodnotes International Haibun Contest, judged by Cor van den Heuvel and Tom Lynch. Introduced by Michael Dylan Welch. Includes essays on haibun by Cor van den Heuvel and Rich Youmans. The haibun are by Stephen Addiss, Sydney Bougy, Tom Clausen, David Cobb, Marje A. Dyck, Larry Kimmel, Antoinette Libro, Tom Lynch, Brynne McAdoo, Sally Secor, John Stevenson, Anita Virgil, and Rich Youmans, with generous biographical statements and comments on the art of haibun (presented below, together the table of contents). Winner of a 2000 Merit Book Award (for books published in 1999) from the Haiku Society of America.

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1999, saddle-stapled, 48 pages, 5½ x 8½ inches, ISBN 978-1-878798-15-4


Stephen Addiss was a musician for many years, composing and performing traditional American music in many countries of the world. Currently serving as Tucker-Boatwright Professor of Humanities at the University of Richmond, he is the author, translator, and/or illustrator of many books including the Art of Zen (Harry N. Abrams, 1989), A Haiku Garden, A Haiku Menagerie, Haiku People Big and Small (all by Weatherhill, 1992, 1996,1998), Haiga: Takebe Sōchō and the Haiku-Painting Tradition (Marsh Art Gallery, University of Richmond, in association with University of Hawai‘i Press, 1995), Japanese Ghosts and Demons (George Braziller, 1985), and Tao Te Ching (Hackett Publications, 1993). A poet for fifty years, in recent years he has focused his attention upon haiku, haiga, and haibun.

“Haibun offers the opportunity to balance the intensity of haiku with the more relaxed pace of prose, the two interacting and intertwining to create a new form of art that breathes like the human body.”


Sydney Bougy worked for twelve years in news, radio, advertising, and public relations, and now writes poems, short stories, and essays. Her interest in Oriental thought and forms of poetry has resulted in a number of awards for haiku and tanka. An avid gardener whose specialty is native ferns, she is married to Murray Spindel. They have two children and two grandchildren.

“Haibun prolongs the essence of the haiku moment. The prose, less restricted than the haiku, provides the context. The feeling, running like an electrical current through the haiku as images are linked, does not end with the flash of recognition that so satisfies the reader. Grounded in time and place, the effect lingers as connections continue. Haiku are the poetic moments; haibun is haiku within the total experience.”


Tom Clausen was born in Ithaca, New York, in 1951 and continues to be a resident of this isolated finger lakes college town. Today, Tom shares the same house he grew up in with Berta and their two children, Casey and Emma. Tom has worked for more than twenty years at Cornell University in the Mann Library where he coordinates the staff and student assistants in the document services–circulation department. Tom graduated from Cornell in 1973 and after several years of bicycle trip adventures, he settled back where he started. His books include Autumn Wind in the Cracks, Unraked Leaves, and Standing Here (1994, 1995, 1998; all self-published) and A Work of Love (Tiny Poems Press, 1997).

“Whether we think of our life as special or not, in the flow of experience come special moments that punctuate our sensibility and memory. Haibun are records and renderings of our passage through life, and an attempt to distill the highlights of our very diverse experiences. The poem that typically concludes the haibun ought to reflect the heart of our inner understanding of outward experience.”


David Cobb started trying to write haiku the day he first set foot in Japan in 1977. Most of his early three-liners were quite unlike true haiku, but luckily someone took pity on him and bought him an introductory book, Joan Giroux’s The Haiku Form (Tuttle, 1974). Gradually, a better haiku poet developed until, in 1990, he had the confidence to found the British Haiku Society (with Dee Evetts), of which he is now president. Cobb’s haiku books include A Leap in the Light (Equinox, 1991), Mounting Shadows (Equinox, 1992), and Jumping from Kiyomizu (Iron, 1996). He has also published longer poems in such books as The Shield-Raven of Wittenham (Equinox, 1995) and The Cuckoo Pen (Hub, 1997), and English versions of Chinese poems in Chips Off the Old Great Wall (Hub, 1993). He has also written The Spring Journey to the Saxon Shore (Equinox, 1997), which presents a revised and extended version of the haibun excerpted in Wedge of Light. In addition to his writing, Cobb has spent his working life in the field of teaching English as a second/foreign language, including writing many course books for countries in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

“I am impressed by Nobuyuki Yuasa’s description of haibun: ‘the one and only essential quality of haibun is a perfect match between the poetry and the prose’—not just mixed together but ‘perfectly amalgamated’ so that they ‘illuminate each other like two mirrors held up facing each other.’ I observe that most of the haibun being written in the West are of the one-act type—typically a single experience or situation, rounded off with one or two haiku. Worthwhile as haibun of this type are, they do not have the scope of the extended haibun, where various incidents and situations have an effect like images juxtaposed unexpectedly in haiku, and where the embedded haiku may have a transitional quality similar to that of links in a renku. I believe English haibun has the potential to satisfy a present need, in a unique way, and it will not develop this potential unless it is submitted openly to criticism.”


Marje A. Dyck is a Saskatchewan writer. Her work has appeared in American and Canadian journals including Prairie Fire, Grain, Freelance, Woodnotes, Frogpond, Northwest Literary Forum, Tanka Splendor 1994, Hummingbird, and Raw Nervz. Her book of haiku, Rectangle of Light, was published by Proof Press in 1996. Marje spends time at Dore Lake, where nature gives her most of her poems.

“An exceptional haibun is the perfect marriage of prose and poetry.”


Larry Kimmel works at home in Colrain, Massachusetts, doing mostly desktop publishing and other literary and library-related services. Though fairly new to haiku and related forms, he has published poetry for the past twenty-five years and has two collections of poetry, Lights Across the River and Pedal Point, two chapbooks of haiku and tanka, Blue Smoke Rising and Alone Tonight, and one published novel, A Small Silent Ordeal (all with Winfred Press).

“I see haibun as a welcome outlet for those autobiographical events, or anecdotes, that we all share with one another daily. They have the added attraction of being heightened to a work of art when the writer strikes the right resonance between the prose and the haiku.”


Antoinette Libro’s latest chapbook is The House at the Shore and Other Poems (Lincoln Springs Press, 1997). One of the 201 poets in the haiku anthology resulting from the 1988 Japan Air Lines English Haiku Contest, her work has appeared in American Writing, The Paterson Literary Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Journal of New Jersey Poets, Modern Haiku, Frogpond, and Haiku Highlights. A featured regional poet at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival at Waterloo in 1994 and produced playwright, she teaches at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey.

“What attracts me to haibun is primarily the way the expansion and contraction of the language contribute to the overall form. The prose sections, though highly imagistic, are still more loosely constructed, more conversational, perhaps, while the haiku, like a laser light, provides a more concentrated focus upon the moment.”


Brynne McAdoo (a pseudonym) was introduced to haiku in 1992 in an adult education course taught by Alexis Rotella. After several months of study and writing attempts (long after the course ended), Brynne finally crafted one haiku, an “aha” experience in itself. Her work has been published in Frogpond, Brussels Sprout, and Amelia. She believes that erotica and haiku make a perfect marriage. She is currently working on a collection of erotic haiku.

“Haibun is to haiku as a thunderstorm is to a bolt of lightning. Haibun offers the reader the rain of thoughts and emotions that build up to or trail from the climactic haiku moment.”


Sally Secor’s interest in haiku began with a Valentine’s Day gift of Haiku from her father. As a member of the Haiku Poets of Northern California, she chaired its 1996 international contest and the 1997 Two Autumns reading. She has published her poems in Woodnotes and was a contributor in Scratch & Sniff, a chapbook of canine haiku and senryu published by HPNC. Sally lives on the edge of a cutting garden with her husband and a dog and cat in Ross, California.

“Writing haibun is an opportunity to have an in-the-moment experience. Very Zen, very enjoyable!”


John Stevenson: After thirty years of writing lyric poetry, John Stevenson had his first experience of haiku at a theater workshop. His initial attempts appeared in Brussels Sprout and Modern Haiku in 1993. He served as coordinator for the Haiku Society of America northeast metropolitan region in 1995 and 1996, and he edited the 1997 HSA members’ anthology, From a Kind Neighbor. His first collection of haiku and senryu is Something Unerasable (1996), and in 1999 Red Moon Press will publish Some of the Silence. Single parent of a sixteen-year-old son, John is from Ithaca, New York, and now lives in Nassau.

“My strongest aesthetic model is probably Playback Theater. I try to write the kind of haibun I personally enjoy reading: one that tells a true story simply. I’m still trying.”


Anita Virgil was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and is now a resident of Forest, Virginia. She became involved with haiku in 1968 and was a member of the three-person committee that prepared the Haiku Society of America definitions of haiku, senryu, hokku, and haikai for dictionaries and encyclopedias. She served as HSA president in 1973, and her poetry, reviews, and essays have been published in the United States, Canada, Japan, England, Australia, Romania, and Poland. Her books include A 2nd Flake (privately published, 1974), On My Mind (Press Here, 1989), One Potato Two Potato Etc (Peaks Press, 1991), and Pilot (Peaks Press, 1996).


Rich Youmans is an editor and writer whose haibun, haiku, and related essays have been published in various magazines and anthologies. Much of his work during the past several years has focused on the haibun, and during the 1997 Haiku North America conference in Portland, Oregon, he presented a workshop on renku-like linked haibun (a form that he worked on with poet Margaret Chula). He and his wife, Ann, live on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. [See “Why I Write Haibun.”]




Michael Dylan Welch is editor and publisher of Press Here haiku books and of Tundra, a journal of short poetry. Editor of Woodnotes from 1989 to 1997, and a former officer of the Haiku Society of America and the Haiku Poets of Northern California, he has been writing haiku for more than twenty years. He is a cofounder of the American Haiku Archives at the California State Library in Sacramento, and cofounder of the biennial Haiku North America conference. He has also served as assistant editor of Spring, the journal of the E. E. Cummings Society, has an M.A. in English, and is an editor for IDG Books Worldwide, publisher of the “For Dummies” books He is originally from Watford, England, grew up in England, Ghana, Australia, and Canada, and now lives by a lagoon in Foster City, California.


Cor van den Heuvel is a poet and editor best known for his book, The Haiku Anthology (first edition, Anchor/Doubleday, 1974; second edition, Fireside, 1986, reprinted by Touchstone, 1991; third edition, Norton, 1999), which many haiku poets credit as an inspiration for their own haiku and for connecting them to the haiku community in North America. With Chant Press, Cor has published numerous small books of his own haiku and related poetry for more than thirty-five years. He is a past president of the Haiku Society of America, and has judged numerous haiku and related contests, and headed the panel of judges for the 1988 Japan Air Lines English Haiku Contest that received 40,000 entries. More recently, Cor has published a series of extended haibun entitled “A Boy’s Seasons” and “A Boy’s Holidays” in Modern Haiku. Now retired from his job in the editorial department at Newsweek magazine, he lives with his wife in New York City.


Tom Lynch is a poet, professor, and freelance writer who wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on Emersonian poetics and contemporary American haiku at the University of Oregon in 1989. Tom has published haiku and haibun in haiku journals and other publications for many years, and in 1992 published Rain Drips from the Trees, a book of haibun about a trip across Canada and other excursions in North America. He lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he teaches Southwestern literature at New Mexico State University. He is currently contemplating ways haiku and haibun can (and maybe can’t) capture the vast scale of landscape in the desert Southwest. In addition, he’s compiling an anthology of readings on the Chihuahuan desert and working on a cultural, natural, and poetical history of the Organ Mountains.

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

Michael Dylan Welch Introduction

Cor van den Heuvel A Concise History of Haibun in English

Tom Lynch On the Fishing Fly

Stephen Addiss A Walk in Kyoto

Sydney Bougy Blackberry Sunday: A Haibun for Spring

Tom Clausen Gone to Weeds

In the Woods


David Cobb Arrival at the Saxon Shore

Marje A. Dyck Fox Haibun

Larry Kimmel Poised to Knock, I Hear

Antoinette Libro Soggy Days at the Shore

Brynne McAdoo Halloween Haibun

Sally Secor A Garden Bouquet

John Stevenson Night Trains

Port of Rensselaer

A Wedge of Light

Anita Virgil Outer Banks

Rich Youmans Nature Walk

Rich Youmans Why I Write Haibun

Contributors [see bios and comments on haibun above]

Editors [see bios above]