Haiku North America Conference!

March 30, 2017

Greetings for spring 2017!

With the coming of spring, if you’re like me, you’re starting to dream about which haiku or poetry meetings in 2017 you will take in.

May I humbly suggest that Haiku North America 2017 in Santa Fe, September 13–17, 2017, should be the top of your list?! HNA is an international gathering of poets and specialists. It has been taking place every other year since 1991, but his is the first time HNA has come to the Southwest. We’re are keen to make this the biggest and best conference yet and want to make sure poets from New Mexico and neighboring states show up in force.

HNA planning proceeds apace. For our gathering we have booked a whole venue, the Santa Fe Hotel, Hacienda & Spa, in downtown Santa Fe, just a few blocks from the historic Plaza, galleries, museums, and world-class shopping. This is a first-rate hotel featuring Southwest architecture and décor and is owned by Picurís Pueblo. You can take a virtual tour online by clicking here and find out details of the hotel’s amenities, special conference rates, etc., at the link on the HNA 2017 website here.

A full four-day program of formal presentations, panel discussions, workshops, demonstrations, readings, and performances is being assembled. There will be plenty of activities targeted for beginners and much to engage seasoned haijin. Themes for HNA 2017 have a New Mexican tilt: “earthtones,” intended to reflect the sounds and colors of the great Southwest; and the haiku traditions of diverse North American cultures: Native American, Mexican, French Canadian, and African American. The program is filling up fast (see the presentations lined up so far on the HNA website here), but there’s still a few open slots, so let us know if you have a presentation idea for us to consider.

Lots more information about other conference activities, post-conference tours, and Tanka Sunday, as well as conference and hotel registration forms, is accessible on the HNA 2017 website.

So, isn’t it time to engage in some winter dreaming and start making your plans to join us in Santa Fe in September! Let us know if you have any questions. And spread the word!

Sondra J. Byrnes, Cynthia Henderson, Miriam Sagan,
Charles Trumbull, & Scott Wiggerman —
the HNA 2017 Organizing Committee

Food Review from Nepal! By Eloisa Ramos

I was told not to expect much from Nepali food. And wandering north of the tourist hub of Pokhara, I had already had plenty of subsufficient dishes to believe the unfortunate rumors. The first thing I noticed about Banyan Tree Cafe was the music. Soothing electronic beats murmured in the background while chilled out hippies sat on pillows reading from actual books. The waiter was affable, hip and more approachable than the standoffish ones I had experienced thus far. He alternated between attending to tables with a smile and playing chess with a Nepali buddy in the corner. I ordered “Dhal Bhat”, the traditional Nepalese dish found in every household and eaten for both lunch and dinner. The dish is an array of the same combination of foods: a soupy bowl of mung beans or lentils, white rice, a vegetable curry, and a sour or spicy side dish called “pickle” (even when not fermented enough to warrant the name). My previous experiences with this dish had varied widely. From tasty curries with the just-right amount of spice, to bland versions with dry rice, I had consistently ordered it both to dive into the authentic Nepali experience and also in the attempt to be kinder to my pocketbook, as it is usually the cheapest thing on the menu. Sitting at Banyan Tree, I enjoyed reading a bit and ordered quickly. I waited a considerable amount of time, maybe forty-five minutes for my food to arrive. Thirty minutes is standard in Nepal, but I was hungry and the wait was uncomfortable. When the dish finally arrived, I was not disappointed. The plate was beautifully presented. A larger than normal plate held the just-right combination of colors… bright green chard, yellow curry, and white yogurt. Digging into the food, I was astounded. The pickle was an explosion of tangy excellence; carrots, cucumber and shallots were thinly sliced and drenched in lemon and salt. The Dhal was rich with cumin, almost giving and “umami” quality with low notes of onion and other spices I couldn’t place. But the winning side dish was the chard. It knocked me over in it’s simplicity and quality. Seared and blackened around the edges, it was an oily dish without being heavy. The greens were obviously local, they could not have tasted more fresh and the leaves held a hint of salt and nothing else. The blackened pieces mixed in the palate perfectly. Lastly to note was the curry. The cauliflower and potato dish was a bit turmeric-heavy…I prefer my curries to have a more complex variety of spices, but this is part of Nepali cuisine and all of the curries I’ve had with Dhal Bhat have this singularity in it’s turmeric curry, unlike Indian food. What I appreciated about it was that the dish had a levity to it, it was blended well without being oily (I consider this an accomplishment when dealing with curry spices). Overall, I would give Banyan Tree Cafe high marks for it’s freshness, presentation and execution. While the wait was long, I was told (and it was easy to believe) that each dish was made to order from scratch- a special experience for any restaurant goer. The service was friendly with an authentic vibe that combined the right amounts of tourist lounging with
Nepalese locals welcome to come and go, play chess and socialize- a unique balance in a town that feels sterile in it’s tourist-centered capitalist leanings.

Hate Graffiti at The Pyramid

I was horrified to hear of this hate graffiti at The Pyramid restaurant–a place I often eat at. Here are the details–which raise their own questions about responsibility and hate crimes–


In looking at how to respond, I realized I had written a piece at The Pyramid over a year ago. By strange synergy, it is about tolerance (including my own lack of). It is part of a book I’m working on, 100 Cups of Coffee, and is actually Cup #2!


December 9, 2015
Cup #2
4th Day of Hannukah
The Pyramid, Santa Fe
Turkish coffee

One thing leads into another—irritation at how long it takes to simply file a prescription, the cashier having no idea if the store has Hannukah candles (It does. Although the clerk describes them as “tiny” they are the usual style and not that of imagined birthday cake ones).
A woman in the parking lot comes up behind me—oh, I thought you were my friend. And all I can think is: I don’t want to be your friend. And after a too long pause, I say, with English teacher precision, “I hope you find him or her.”
When I was alone this morning I did not mind the human race, and thought sympathetically about my friend who was hoping to go to Lesbos to work with refugees, and how I might support this.
Now I am at the Pyramid, the north African/Mediterranean place by the pharmacy. And look! How fantastic, everything has appeared at once—falafel, soup, dolmas and…

one small white cup
of strong
Turkish coffee

I was in Israel in the winter of 1974, and although that cannot be described as an idyllic period, people tell me that the Jerusalem I visited has vanished—where a rabbi from Milton, Massachusetts would naturally visit with old acquaintances in east Jerusalem and sit for an hour over tea before buying brass or an antiquity or a rug. Where American college girls could go sleeveless in Mea Sharim and received no more than a glare. They might have called us “whore” in Hebrew (and my fluent friend would have retorted: It’s forbidden to you to look!) but no one would have thrown a stone. Where I could just take off my shoes and enter the Dome of the Rock, or any mosque for that matter, even though I was a non-Muslim woman.
It was a heaven of falafel, the darkness of solstice illuminated by strings of lights hanging over falafel stands and tiny outdoor cafes kept going with space heaters.
Yes, there were soldiers everywhere. And women were corralled at the Wall, but my friend and I could shop in the souk and buy embroidered blouses and earrings dangling with the hand of Fatima. We watched a Bedouin woman choose a dress to buy just by using the expression of her eyes above her veil to communicate with her husband.
I’m down to the grounds of the coffee, and back out to my errands.

Matty, You Matter

Santa Fe poet Stella Reed is doing some worthwhile community poetry. She says—for the past few years I’ve been working with WingSpan Poetry Project bringing poetry groups to women in domestic violence and homeless shelters along with Elizabeth Jacobson and Barbara Rockman and with the huge hearted support of NMLA including Joan Logghe, Edie Tsong, and Michelle Holland. Lately I’ve had a constant group of enthusiastic, strong writers eager for knowledge of the poetic processes and to have their voices heard. They have access to a shared computer at the shelter and have been able to see their poems posted on our blog.


Also, read this interview with Stella about activism and poetry—
part of Kenneth Gurney’s excellent e-zine project.

WingSpan Poetry Project

Tatter – thru the tatter

of what mess lay on the table –

For I am going to put together

the pieces of the old– with newer

pieces of today.

Your first pair of jeans–

with my now small pair . . .

I’ll create a quilt of memories

in blue jean denim –

a classic, never out of date, ok style.

Much like Ralph Lauren with a Tiffany

twist or Coach handbag.

Always treasured and carried

with pride.

You Matty, matter.

Thru tattered circumstance

A quilt of “Hope” is sewn.

by Jen J.

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Mammaw’s Marshmallow Cake by Judith McIntosh White

Mammaw’s Marshmallow Cake

          I won’t claim that I never ate a single meal in Mammaw’s immaculate dining room, but I bet the number of times over 20 years of visits that the family sat around her polished oak formal table could be counted on one hand.  No, when we stayed with Mammaw, if the temperature was higher than 40 degrees, at first light we piled out of the house and into the yard.
          Laggard peepers created us, and coos of mourning doves.  Grass wet with dew marked our path to the picnic table.  There we sat, desultory with sleep-caked eyes, contemplating the Kentucky mountain sunrise with grumbling stomachs.  Finally, Mammaw would emerge from the house, where she had been working since 4 a.m., mopping the already spotless floors, humming along with gospel songs.  She’d bring us boxes of cold cereal and a jug of milk, and after we ate, she’d shoo us out onto the 18 wild acres, to gather eggs or wade in the creek or roam briar-choked hillsides until the noon hour, when it was time to once again gather at the table for a nuncheon.
          To say Mammaw was a bit touched in the head might be an understatement.  A hard girlhood, four children, and old-time religion had culminated in obsessions with cleanliness and order that seemed like cold lovelessness to us grandchildren.  But one thing Mammaw could do, she could bake – and her piece de resistance was her chocolate marshmallow cake.  Never again have I tasted such bliss as the gooey, endless layers of moist chocolate sandwiched between layers of melted marshmallows, topped with creamy chocolate icing. 
          To come back from a mountain ramble to that cake – which made its appearance unannounced on the picnic table at erratic intervals, too unscheduled to provoke rational anticipation – now that was heaven.  The cake was hard to cut, messy to eat, and pure joy to any child under 12 (after 12, one had to appear cool and unfazed by such a prize).  I lived for that cake.  Every visit, I knew, sooner or later, the cake would magically appear, for no child – really no grownup, either – ever participated in the creation of the cake.  Mammaw was the sorceress, the high priestess of delight, who brought forth her creation from the fairy realms, the secret lair, of her kitchen.
          When at its most perfect, the cake was made from scratch – at least, that’s the legend – I can’t testify to this under oath, as I never saw it made.  To make a scratch chocolate cake involved melting squares of Hersey’s baking chocolate – there is no other kind – in a sauce pan, then combining quantities of white (unbleached) flour with sugar, baking soda and butter – or maybe Crisco – to produce the cake batter.  Then the cake batter is layered with the marshmallows to form strata of goodness that are first baked, then iced.
The cake melted in our mouths, like county fair cotton candy. Mammaw’s hours of work were savored, devoured, by grandchildren grimy from their morning’s adventures (for the cake always appeared at noon, to be eaten while still slightly warm with over heat and unspoken love).  No cake was ever left behind by the six of us, for it appeared only when we were all present, three girls, three boys. Now that I am full-grown, I realize that Mammaw’s marshmallow cake reified her love for her family.  The cake spoke words she could not.  The cake was her love letter to us all, remembered long after the cake was gone.

In Memory of Joanne Kyger

‘The best thing about the past
is that it’s over’
when you die.
you wake up
from the dream
that’s your life.

Then you grow up
and get to be post human
in a past that keeps happening
ahead of you

Joanne Kyger

Always loved her work. Associate her with San Francisco, her wonderful Japan and India journals, Bolinas, and of course Phil Whalen. I was always thrilled to have a blurb on the back of her STRANGE BIG MOON,”Her journals chronicle what it meant to be a woman trying to write in those pre-feminist beat days, when men were the ones designated as spiritual and creative. Kyger has a sharp wit and a sharper eye.”
—Miriam Sagan

Pantoum by Lisa Powers


Bring me wonder
with inimitable glow
of essence found
in a relentlessly shaking universe

With inimitable glow
wonder extent, full of facts
in a relentlessly shaking universe
to explain the beach and sunset colors

Wonder extent, full of facts
reckon theologies before and after
to explain the beach and sunset colors
lessening climatic inference to a splendorous zenith

Reckon theologies before and after
resolute wonder, full of birds
lessening climatic inference to a splendorous zenith
with camouflage that changes colors in the jungle

Resolute wonder, full of birds
of perfection found
with camouflage that changes colors in the jungle
in remorseless recombining alchemy

Perfection found
in aging skin that changes my form
in remorseless recombining alchemy
belittling redundant transitions for human immortality

Aging skin that changes my form
dogmatic wonder reveals
belittling redundant transitions for human immortality
seeking respite

Dogmatic wonder reveals
continual pulsing neurons
seeking respite
to deny infinite possibility’s continual stagnating angst

Continual pulsing neurons
fortifying wonder
to deny infinite possibility’s continual stagnating angst
for decisive sparks

Fortifying wonder
desquamate intents created from singular ideation
for decisive sparks
not arriving too early or too late

Desquamate intents created from singular ideation
for pneumatic wonder
not arriving too early or too late
with no precise mate not to hate

For pneumatic wonder
explain to the ancestors time’s reposing colorless breath
with no precise mate not to hate
that nags which, when, why, how

Explain to the ancestors time’s reposing colorless breath
show me wonder
that nags which, when, why, how
disparities won and lost

Show me wonder
reducing exclusion from glorious completion
disparities won and lost
in relentlessly dilating chaos

Reducing exclusion from glorious completion
bringing exuberant wonder
in relentlessly dilating chaos
dancing, full of tricks

Bringing exuberant wonder
of essence found
dancing, full of tricks
bring me wonder

Are You An Introvert or An Extrovert–In Your Poetry?

I’ve read José Angel Araguz for what is now many years–and his essay below asks a fascinating question. Emily Dickinson would be the classic introvert, particularly compared to Walt Whitman. But what about you and me? I’m a sociable introvert. But I think my poetry is usually extroverted. Fun to think about.

What’s Poetry Got to Do With It?: Introversion/Extraversion

musings by José Angel Araguz

Episode 7: Introversion/Extraversion

In this episode I explore ways that the terms introversion and extraversion can be used as a lens with which to read poems.
The Introvert/Extravert Lens
The terms introversion and extraversion were first significantly put into use by Carl Jung and later popularized by personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type indicator. From there, popular culture has redefined the terms over time. In general, an introvert is someone who is more reserved and leans toward solitary behavior, while an extravert is seen as someone who is outgoing, talkative, and energetic. As with any set of categories, the terms are not strict; rather, it is best to consider them as making up two sides of a spectrum on which everyone exists leaning one way or another to varying degrees.
One of the things that helped clear this up for me was seeing how the terms played out in regards to recharging one’s energy. If at the end of the week, you look forward to going out and socializing, and actually come back from said outing recharged, you might be an extravert. Conversely, if you go out on the same outing and come back exhausted, no more recharged than when you started, you might be an introvert. Seeing my introverted tendencies as me meeting my needs (and not necessarily my being antisocial) did worlds for my understanding of myself as an introvert. It also helped me empathize with my more extraverted friends and see them as meeting their own needs as well.
For further clarification (and fun!), Buzzfeed has several quizzes and lists that can help you find out if you are more introverted or extroverted.
Inner & Outer Worlds
To return to Jung, his original concept of the terms had him regarding people as either focused on their inner worlds and thoughts (introverts) at the expense of losing touch with their surroundings, or focused on the external world and being active in it (extraverts) at the expense of losing touch with themselves.
One poet whose work reflects the complexity of the introvert-extravert/inner-outer world spectrum is Emily Dickinson. Due to having lived a life of isolation, Dickinson is often written off as an introvert. Lines like the following would in fact help make the case:
The Brain—is wider than the Sky—
For—put them side by side—
The one the other will contain
With ease—and You—beside—
The draw of these lines is how they take concrete things (brain, sky) and push them for the abstract meanings they imply. While on the surface the poem appears to be making a case for mind over matter, so to speak, a deeper reading shows something more akin to mind within matter. In one stanza, Dickinson does the poetic equivalent of pulling apart two strong magnets to show what lives between them.
In another poem, Dickinson does a reversal of these moves:
A sepal, petal, and a thorn
Upon a common summer’s morn—
A flask of Dew—A Bee or two—
A Breeze—a caper in the trees—
And I’m a Rose!
Here, the poem travels from the abstract act of naming physical things to the speaker announcing/becoming a rose. A sign of the transformation begins early in the second line in the form of sound, specifically the “z” sound (summer’s, breeze, trees, rose). As the poem develops, this sound travels parallel to the transformation implied in the words, and becomes its own physical presence, especially if read aloud.
In these two poems, one can see how the inner and outer world engage and impel one another, never cancelling each other out. In a similar way, one’s introversion never cancels out extraverted tendencies and needs.
Final Thoughts
Usually my introverted tendencies would have me continue with examples, ruminating over other poems and unpacking what I find there. I am going to push myself to look outward, however, and invite readers to share their thoughts in the comments regarding introversion and extraversion. I also encourage you to, in your writing, push past whatever type you see yourself leaning towards. If you write mainly about inner impressions, take a walk or describe the physical world around you. If you write mainly about the physical world, start with rhetoric or abstract thought. In either case, you might find yourself reflecting your true nature in a new and surprising way.