Favourite Haiku

by Gary Hotham

The initial request by Sandra Simpson a couple years ago to pick 10 favourite haiku was too overwhelming for me. So after thinking about it every so often since then I decided to pick favourites from the first edition of The Haiku Anthology edited by Cor van den Heuvel and published in 1974.

I think the anthology had a very good effect on English-language haiku. It provided in one collection a generous variety of subject matter and form. Anyone writing haiku at the time or those just starting had some great examples of what the genre offered.

The copy I have was first in my hand in August 1974 and is now falling apart. The glue holding the paperback edition for over 40 years has lost that ability. I wish there had been a hard cover edition. Even so in its decrepitude many of the haiku it contained still bring pleasure. I have picked some of those favourites. There are others but I went over 10 and have tried to keep the number well below 20.

The circus tent
all folded up:
October mist . . .

Eric Amann

 

empty room:
one swinging coat hanger
measures the silence

Jack Cain

 

beyond
stars beyond
star

l. a. davidson

 

Holding the water,
held by it—
the dark mud.

William J Higginson

 

Hair, in my comb’s teeth
the color of autumn wind —
this whole day is gray.

Clement Hoyt

 

a grasshopper
jumped into it:
summer dusk

Michael McClintock

 

Muttering thunder . . .
the bottom of the river
scattered with clams

Robert Spiess

 

Lonely night: – 
the elephant
tugs at his chain.

Jan S. Streif

 

the old barber
sweeping hair
into the giant bag

James Tipton

 

in the hotel lobby
the bare bulb of a floor lamp
shines down on its distant base

Cor van den Heuvel

 

trickling
over the dam —
summer’s end

Anita Vigil

 

Lone red-winged blackbird
riding a reed in high tide—
billowing clouds.

Nicholas Virgilio

 

crickets . . .
then
thunder

Larry Wiggin

 

Breathing . . .
the teacup
filled with shadow

Rod Wilmott

 

beyond the porch
the summer night . . . leaning out
a moment

John Wills

 

fallen birch leaf
vein-side
to the sky

Virginia Brady Young

Either I like the colon as a punctuation mark or it was more popular with haiku writers back then.

**

Editor’s note: American Gary Hotham has been working the art and craft of English-language haiku for more than 40 years. His work has appeared in various magazines, journals, chapbooks and anthologies, and his latest book is Stone’s Throw (Pinyon Publishing, 2016). He spent his youth in northern Maine but has since made his home in Maryland with some breaks living with wife and daughter for various lengths of time in Japan, Germany and England.

Read an article about Gary which includes some his haiku.

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