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MH Essay—American Haiku Movement part 1

The appearance in 1963 of was an important landmark. This journal and those that followed have been the backbone of the American haiku movement, providing a sense of community for nonprofessional poets scattered across the county, a forum for critiquing and discussion one another’s work, and a road map for the development of the genre. Besides publishing original haiku, promoted the discussion of both techniques and the directions that haiku in the West might take. Although some haiku had been published here and there in small magazines, was the first publication devoted solely to haiku (and the related senryu) written in the English language. Twice a year for six years this charming magazine went out to an increasing number of poets and others interested in English-language haiku, setting a high standard for the periodicals that would follow. printed seminal articles about haiku craft and esthetics and featured book reviews, some written with a startling frankness that has rarely been repeated in the years since. Issue number one was published in Platteville, Wis., under the joint editorship of James Bull and Don Eulert. Over the years various editors had a hand in producing , including Clement Hoyt, Robert Spiess, Walter H. Kerr, Gustave Keyser, Joyce W. Webb, and Gary Brower. Especially under Hoyt’s editorship became a bastion of traditional 5–7–5 haiku.

The American Haiku Movement Part I: Haiku in English

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An indication that American haiku had come of age and was beginning to develop its own canon came with the publication of the first comprehensive haiku anthology in 1974. , published in a paperback edition by Doubleday Anchor, brought together under Cor van den Heuvel’s careful editing about 230 haiku by 38 well-known American and Canadian poets. The introduction by van den Heuvel limning something of the early history of Western haiku, the biographical sketches, and materials from the Haiku Society of America toward a definition of haiku added immeasurably to the worth of the book. Publication of the anthology was also the first recognition of original, Western haiku by a major commercial publisher. In 1986 a revised and much enlarged edition of , again edited by van den Heuvel but published in a trade edition by Simon & Schuster, continued to set a standard for Western haiku and furthered an awareness of haiku beyond the boundaries of the relatively small haiku community. The second edition contained nearly 700 haiku and senryu by 66 poets and included valuable examples of linked forms and haibun as well as biographical and bibliographical notes. This edition of was indexed by authors’ names and first lines in . The third edition of appeared in 1999, published this time by W.W. Norton, initially in a clothbound edition. The contents had grown to include about 850 haiku and senryu by 89 poets. The introductory essays to the first two editions were included, as was a new foreword. In its three editions spanning twenty-five years, cemented its position as the Blue Book of American haiku.

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In the first section we saw how the early haiku journals— and the others — contributed to the sense of community and accelerated the growth of the American haiku movement. This has been no less true in recent years. Even in the Internet age, the haiku journals are where the “action” is and remain the mode of record and, hence, the most important bellwether of the movement.

Resource: The Western Tradition