I am extremely honored and humbled to have won First Place in the Haiku Society of America’s 2018 Haibun Awards Competition with my haibun “That Summer.”
The genre of haibun consists of the juxtaposition of prose and haiku in ways that allow the two genres to resonate uniquely with each other, creating multiple layers of meaning. Here is “A Brief History of English-Language Haibun” by Jim Kacian, founder and board chairperson of The Haiku Foundation and one of the leading exponents of English-language haiku and related genres. This essay was compiled from Kacian’s introductions, and with Kacian’s permission, by Ray Rasmussen, the present editor of the major haibun journal Haibun Today.
The son of the pioneering American haikuist George Klacsanzky, Nicholas Klacsanzky follows in his father’s footsteps with his own esteemed poetry in the Japanese short forms and through Haiku Commentary, where he uncovers the inner workings of present-day examples of what he calls “perhaps the smallest style of poetry.”
Of my ‘deployment’ haiku Klacsansky writes, “This haiku has a lot of energy to it. It has an immediacy and freshness that most haiku do not have.” His insights into the “energy” of the em dash, the “immediacy” of not naming the type of tree that so quickly drops its leaves in the poem, and the “melancholy” and “stark” effects of the vowels are fascinating to me as the poet.
But I am most struck by what Klacsanzky has to say about the last line of the poem: “The pacing of the haiku is powerful, especially with how the last line comes. Not only is the punctuation used for a significant emotional end, but also the last line (without tricks) is palpable and alarming.”
Of course, I planned none of these effects, per se. But I’m glad the poem has them, and that Klacsanzky’s extremely thoughtful commentary has laid them bare. And I’m glad the poem is, in its own way, “alarming.” The finality of the end of a single human life, much less of the legions who perish at war, should stop us cold. The tree in my poem will likely grow new leaves come spring. The souls lost in battle are gone forever.
If a poet writes a poem and no one reads it, does the poem have meaning? This question is one for the philosophers. As a poet, though, I find I reassuring that a reader with Nicholas Klacsanzky’s deep insights into poetry is so committed to sharing them respectfully and unpretentiously for everyone to experience. Klacsanzky’s Haiku Commentary helps make the world of English-language haiku one of wonder and discovery for all.