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VOL. 35 | NO. 23 | Friday, June 10, 2011

Big Easy. Haiku Society. Seriously.

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NEW ORLEANS – How can I not write about the Haiku Society of America’s South Region annual meeting in New Orleans?

How can I not?!

This event, largely planned by the New Orleans Haiku Society and its leader, Xavier University English Professor David Lanoue, was the focus of a recent road trip.

David is the author of “Haiku Guy” (2000), “Laughing Buddha” (2004) and “Haiku Wars” (2009). These books, by the way, are novels!

“Haiku Guy” takes the reader “on a literary journey to Old Japan and contemporary New Orleans that transcends the limits of time and space” (Randy Brooks). In it “time and lastingness are without meaning and one breath is the duration of human wisdom” (Michael McClintock).

David also is the author of an apt description of haiku:

“Haiku is a short, concrete poem of Japanese origin. Haiku in English usually appears as an unrhymed three-line verse. Its use of intense, fragmentary imagery and its stress on rhythm and sound place it in the poetry side of the language spectrum. Though it can be presented on the page in three lines, a haiku structurally consists of two parts with a pause in between. Its power as poetry derives from juxtaposition of the two images and the sense of surprise or revelation that the second image produces.”

I try to recite that quote when people ask, “Haiku? What’s that?” Several did on my trip.

Because, you see, I made a few stops along the way.

In Lake Village, Ark., I stopped to have dinner with Sloan and Amelia, my great nieces, who recently celebrated their second birthday.

At their house on Lake Chicot, these two pick strawberries, carrots and radishes in their backyard and eat them for snacks. Now, there’s a haiku:

• home on the lake

• nourishment pulled from the earth

• the toddlers’ nosh

In Vicksburg Miss., I visited my twin cousin Shellie. Our mothers, the two oldest of six Cranford siblings, shared a hospital room in Jackson, Miss., in December 1951. Now, there’s a haiku:

• intimate sharing

• space, time, labor, childbirth

• sisterhood

Shellie and I drove to our city of birth. Her mother, now the older of two surviving siblings, had a diagnosis to receive at the doctor’s office.

In her busyness, she’d forgotten the appointment. We had to get her out of exercise class at “the home.” Now, there’s a haiku:

• in year ninety-one

• the cancer came forth

• what a bother

In Jackson, I had lunch with three friends from college, lawyers all of them. Now, there’s a haiku:

• reminiscence

• days of old show the future

• ain’t what it once was

I’d not been to New Orleans in many a year. All in all, I did not find it much changed.

The conference was held at a quaint and lovely branch library on St. Charles Ave. and in nearby Audubon Park.

• notwithstanding

• the Rapture was on tap

• we pressed forward.

Now, there’s – well, you know.

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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