Woodnotes — #29

Summer 1996

Perhaps the most important and influential essay Woodnotes ever published was Keiko Imaoka’s “Forms in English Haiku,” which appeared in this issue. She originally posted it to the Shiki online discussion list, and I asked her if I could publish it in Woodnotes, to which she agreed. This published version includes edits that Keiko approved, making this the definitive version, in contrast to one or more earlier versions that appear elsewhere online. The essay was significant for taking account of the rhythms of the Japanese language so Westerners might better appreciate the problem of assuming that 5-7-5 syllables in English is equivalent to the pattern of sounds counted in Japanese. She also explored the flexibility of Japanese grammar that makes it easier to fit into the fives and sevens of Japanese sound patterns and how this is not nearly as easy or natural in English. Ultimately, she concludes that “If one wishes to have the brevity and the fragmentary quality of Japanese haiku in English haiku, 17 syllables is too long,” and that “writing within the rigid structure of Japanese haiku is made possible by the remarkable malleability and redundancy of the Japanese language that allows for a multitude of options in expressing a single thought. In languages such as English . . . haiku must and will take a much different form from haiku in Japanese.” Also in this issue was the announcement of the inauguration of the American Haiku Archives at the California State Library in Sacramento on 12 July 1996, a major accomplishment of Northern California haiku poets. This issue also included the last of four “Seasonal Trails” haibun (as I called them) by Donna Claire Gallagher. The “Woodnotes” news section included a summary of haiku-relevant quotations from Japan-Think, Ameri-Think by Robert J. Collins that I’ve more recently adapted into a short essay, “Japan-Think, Ameri-Think, Haiku, and You.” Christopher Herold also wrote a note rescinding his recommendation of a book he reviewed in the previous issue. Gail Sher’s two-issue tenure as associate editor also ended with this issue. On a lighter note, Woodnotes #29 concluded with a rengay, and also included three “Beginner’s Mind” contributions and five haibun. In addition, art editor Cherie Hunter Day departed from the usual assortment of nature images in Woodnotes to showcase, in this issue, a variety of scissors and other domestic objects.


  • Editor: Michael Dylan Welch

  • Associate Editor: Gail Sher

  • Tanka Editor: Pat Shelley

  • Art Editor: Cherie Hunter Day

  • Typesetting and layout: Michael Dylan Welch

  • Cover and interior art: Cherie Hunter Day

Pages 56

Haiku/Senryu 110

Tanka 22

Haibun 5

Rengay 1

Limericks 1

Essays 4

Mini-Reviews 25

Editorials 1


  • “A Note from the Editor”

  • “Summer Trail” haibun by Donna Claire Gallagher

  • Haiku and Senryu

  • “Beginner’s Mind” contributions by John Stevenson, Marje A. Dyck, and Tom Tico

  • “Two Mothers” haibun by Sally Secor

  • “Stars and Ladders” haibun by Marje A. Dyck

  • “Shorebirds” haibun by Pat Shelley

  • “Winter Seed” haibun by Rich Youmans

  • “Forms in English Haiku” essay by Keiko Imaoka

  • Tanka

  • Woodnotes (news, including “In Memory of Roger Verran” and the Woodnotes Award, won by Matthew Louvière)

  • Of Books and Things, with notes by Michael Dylan Welch (including a rescinded recommendation by Christopher Herold of his review in the previous issue)

  • “Counterclockwise” rengay by John Thompson and Garry Gay

Woodnotes Award

Chosen by Peggy Willis Lyles from issue #28

Meteor shower

a dog on the porch

shaking off

Matthew Louvière

Selected Poems

staff lounge chess game—

a pawn on the verge

of promotion

Carlos Calón

Snowflakes fall

into the darkness

of the tuba

Garry Gay


in the dead fox’s fur

first snow

Grant Savage


I put my foot in the stream

a second time