A Hundred Gourds 5:2 March 2016

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Haiku North America 2015 — Schenectady, New York

by Jennifer Sutherland

| Introduction | page 2 | page 3 |page 4

HNA 2015 – The Conference Begins

On Wednesday, October 14th 2015 haiku enthusiasts gathered in Albany, Upstate New York for Haiku North America 2015. There was a definite buzz in the air as poets started arriving, greeting one another in the reception area, renewing their acquaintances or being introduced for the first time. After some of us had shared the pleasure of a leaf viewing tour during the day, the Town Hall Opening Session was held at the conference centre in the evening, where John Stevenson gave the delegates a warm welcome on behalf of the hosting New York haiku group, The Upstate Dim Sum – John, Hilary Tann, Yu Chang and Tom Clausen. Special thanks were given to Hilary Tann for her outstanding contribution to the organisation of the conference and to David Giacconne for his work as webmaster. Visiting presenters, haiga artist Ion Codrescu from Romania and Bill Porter (Red Pine), respected translator of poems and other texts from the Chinese, were acknowledged and thanked for their attendance. Michael Dylan Welch and Garry Gay were acknowledged as co-founders of Haiku North America and John, quoting Bill Higginson, emphasized that haiku is all about sharing and reciprocity.

John then welcomed poets who were attending for the first time. Tips were given on how to keep up with the pace of the conference such as taking notes, getting sufficient rest, being open and vulnerable to participation and sharing the joy. John finished by covering the logistics of the homestay and conference venues and wishing all a very happy conference. There was a short break before poets reconvened to introduce themselves and present one of their own haiku.

The second half of the evening featured Red Moon Press editor and haiku luminary, Jim Kacian, who presented his paper, “Realism is Dead”. Jim looked at ways haiku capture our intention and imply meaning. He asked the audience to consider what category of object haiku is and defined it as “. . . sounds and pauses with an intent to communicate by employing one or more strategies”. Some of his other definitions included haiku being a literary artifact, a report of how things are that seeks an overlap in experience between the writer and reader and a short poem that uses two images in juxtaposition. “Images”, Jim informed us, “are mind-space-dependent on the writer’s perception from the sensory.” He then referred to Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” as an example and explained that metaphor is the antithesis of “things as they are.” Jim shared his opinion that the link with nature would continue in haiku. However, subject areas expected to open up in future would include the relationship between man and machine, algorithms and urban living.


“The most important thing we can take away from the conference
is to enjoy being haiku poets together” – John Stevenson

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