Haiku Compass

First published in Woodnotes #24, Spring 1995, pages 41–42.

Haiku Compass: Directions in the Poetical Map of the United States of America by William J. Higginson. Haiku International Association, 1994, 36 pages, in English and Japanese, 5¾ by 8¼ inches. Available from HIA, 9-1-7-914 Akasuka, Manato-ku, Tokyo 107, Japan [address no longer correct]. Also available for $2.00 postpaid from From Here Press, P.O. Box 2740, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504-2740 [address no longer correct]. This small, Association in Japan to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Basho’s death historical booklet offers the text of a paper delivered to the Haiku International geography and events of haiku in the United States. While Higginson seems in October of 1994. With bold strokes, William J. Higginson covers the current geography and events of haiku in the United States. While Higginson seems right to separate Northern California haiku activities from those in Southern California (for historical and geographical reasons), many HPNC members will likely be surprised to find themselves lumped in with the geography of the Pacific Northwest instead! The San Francisco area more appropriately deserves its own section. No one from the west coast would ever consider Northern California as part of the “Northwest,” not even by geographical flora and fauna, let alone culture and temperament. What’s more, HPNC’s origin is not accurately told. Contrary to Higginson’s report, HPNC was actually started in 1988 (not 1989) primarily by Garry Gay and Jerry Kilbride. Garry is not mentioned as a founder—although he was—and I myself was not one of the founders. I mention this simply to set the record straight. Yet these are minor quibbles in comparison with the vastly greater service Higginson does in recognizing many of the active haiku poets, publications, events, and regions in the United States. The directions in haiku shown by this valuable book are indeed positive ones, and, as Sonō Uchida proposes in his brief introduction, Higginson is “the most appropriate person to give us a reliable compass for the rather complicated topography of American Haiku.” Indeed, this valuable book may be considered as a snapshot of American haiku as of 1994, like a birthday mark on a doorpost showing the progress of our maturity in haiku.