2010: A Summary of My Poetic Year

First published on my Facebook page on 28 December 2010, if you count that as publication.

2010 was a standout year for me poetically, starting with being accepted into the Jack Straw Writers Program, which culminated in a reading at the Seattle Central Library, and included numerous other opportunities, including readings, recordings, a podcast, publication in an anthology, and more. Throughout the year, I gave numerous haiku workshops at Seattle Center, Auburn’s Good Ol’ Days festival, and elsewhere, such as in Bellingham and on Vashon Island. I gave numerous poetry readings in Washington, Oregon, California, and British Columbia, ran the monthly SoulFood Poetry Night, now into its fifth year, and also continued curating the Redmond Association of Spokenword readings.

        Event highlights for 2010 included a presentation and reading for the Haiku Society of America national meeting in Pasadena, California, a workshop and reading for the Oregon Poets Concord in Newport, Oregon, delivering a paper on haiku for the American Literature Association conference in San Francisco, and being a featured presenter for the Gabriola Haiku Weekend in British Columbia. I staffed haiku tables at Aki Matsuri (the Japanese fall festival) at Bellevue College, Sakura-Con at the Seattle Convention Center, and Seattle’s Arts in Nature festival for the Nature Consortium, the latter also featuring a “Haiku on Sticks” installation done with Tanya McDonald, who I’ve also helped in running the Haiku Northwest group. I also served as vice president for the Haiku Society of America, for which I developed new regional pages for each of the society’s regions, and wrote guidebooks on hosting HSA meetings and running the society’s annual Merit Book Awards, among numerous other duties.

        I didn’t publish a book of my own poetry in 2010, which really would have topped off the year, but it was a pleasure to be included in the 2010 Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and in the 2010 Skagit River Poetry Festival anthology, Into the Open. I also edited Lighting a Candle, the 2010 Two Autumns anthology for the Haiku Poets of Northern California, and Fifty-Seven Damn Good Haiku by a Bunch of Our Friends, which my own press published, and was included in a new anthology featuring Washington State poets, called Many Trails to the Summit, from Rose Alley Press. I also cotranslated a book of Noh play summaries and associated poems, titled simply Noh, an art book with photographs published at the start of the year by PIE Books in Tokyo.

        I was featured poet in 3Lights, Daily Haiku, and Poetry Nippon, was featured reader at several different poetry series, and also gave poetry performances for large crowds at a private arts event for Microsoft and for the Seattle Art Museum’s ReMix event, the latter event also resulting in an extensive poetry/photography installation on my website.

        Not to be forgotten is that I greatly expanded and refined my website at Graceguts.com, although I still have so much more to add—probably more to be added than is already on the site, even though it already has more than a thousand individual pages, rich with essays, reviews, reports, and many poems.

        The year’s biggest highlight was participating in the 2010 Skagit River Poetry Festival, where I gave several poetry workshops and readings, and sat between Alberto Ríos and Alicia Ostriker while we waited to read with Ted Kooser, Sherman Alexie, Lorna Crozier, Patrick Lane, Valzhyna Mort, Tony Curtis, Matthew and Michael Dickman, Samuel Green, Terrance Hayes, and many others. Other top highlights of the year were organizing and hosting a national weekend-long meeting of the Haiku Society of America at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, judging the fifth annual Haiku Invitational contest for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, running the third annual Seabeck Haiku Getaway weekend, and finishing my first novel (for NaNoWriMo).

        In addition to writing that first novel, titled The Neon Buddha’s Ordinary Adventures, I would estimate that I’ve been more productive in writing poetry in the past year than any year previously, especially in writing my neon buddha poems and American Sentences, but also in producing haiku, senryu, and longer poems. I sent poems out for publication or for contests much less than in years past, but that’s one thing I definitely hope to change in 2011. I’ll continue as vice president for the Haiku Society of America in the year ahead, and greatly look forward to the 2011 Haiku North America conference, a nonprofit corporation of which I’m director, but other than that and a few local opportunities, I hope to scale back significantly, not only to focus a bit more attention on publishing my own writing, but to spend much more time with my family.