• On Haiku:

    I write haiku—learning from Kiyoshi and
    Kiyoko Tokutomi

    I write haiku—learning from Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tokutomi, founders of the Yuki Teikei Haiku Society here in San Jose CA where I live. I grew up in Kennebec SD. A childhood in Kennebec is an instruction in simplicity in which one comes to appreciate the ordinary. It was a childhood of early risings both summer and winter, oatmeal for breakfast, summer nights of hide-and-seek, winter nights of checkers and Inner Sanctum on the radio. There were stray mongrels to be brought home, being snowed in, unvarnished furniture, piano lessons, vacant lot baseball, late afternoon thunderstorms, and expeditions down the railroad tracks that led out of town. Your teacher knew your mother and father; so did the school principal. I graduated from high school in the year of Sputnik. I majored in chemistry and mathematics in college. In 1963 I married Al and we moved to California, which was about to explode with the Free-Speech Movement, Flower Children, and Vietnam.

    I have written one haiku book, Blush of Winter Moon, and am one of the translators, with Fay Aoyagi, of Kiyoko’s Sky, the Haiku of Kiyoko Tokutomi. My latest book translated from Japanese with Tei Matsushita Scott is Autumn Lonliness: The Letters of Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tobutomi, July-December, 1967.

    On Poetry:

    I’ve been writing other forms of poetry since
    the early eighties

    I’ve been writing other forms of poetry since the early eighties when I started taking an evening class at San Jose State University—a class taught in open education by Robert Hass. I didn’t know that Robert would one day become the Poet Laureate of the United States, but I knew he was superb as a teacher and a mentor to poets, both beginning and accomplished. I spent five semesters in his class.

    I also studied as a member of a small group of writers here in San Jose—June Hopper Hymas, Diane Quintrall Lewis, Pat Shelley, Linda Hess, Frances Roberts, and Phyllis Koestenbaum and later Kathleen Lynch and Suzanne Helfman. These writers and others, Carol Snow, especially, helped me develop my craft and gave me confidence that could write.

    And finally the San Jose Center for Poetry and Literature under Naomi Clark and later Alan Soldofsky and under the board leadership of Mary Lou Taylor brought to San Jose an unbelievable array of poets offering me the opportunity to absorb writing, its craft and processes from the very best: Robert Bly, Frank Bidart, Marilyn Hacker, Carolyn Forche, Sharon Olds, Derek Walcott, Galway Kinell, Fanny Howe, and Brenda Hillman to name a few. The Center also sponsored workshops on the works of Richard Wright, Ezra Pound, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, and H.D.

    It feels right to say to acknowledge these people and institutions as the source of my literary background for my college degrees in mathematics and chemistry and later in systems management have little to do with literature. Today I have a writing group that I treasure: Rebecca Aronson, Emmy Perez, Oody Petty, and Renata Treitel. I met these talented poets at Jorie Graham’s final poetry workshop at Iowa in 2000. We have met every year since we met to encourage each other’s writing.It feels right to say to acknowledge these people and institutions as the source of my literary background for her college degrees in mathematics and chemistry and later in systems management have little to do with literature. Today I have a writing group that I treasure: Rebecca Aronson, Emmy Perez, Oody Petty, and Renata Treitel. I met these talented poets at Jorie Graham’s final poetry workshop at Iowa. We have met every year since we met to encourage each other’s writing.

    On Brush Painting:

    My work in the visual arts started in 1996 when
    I began exploring watercolor

    My work in the visual arts started in 1996 when I began exploring watercolor as a means to augment my haiku writing. Over time my experimentation led me to monotype (1999), brush painting (2001), and etching (2002). At first blush these media, print-making and brush painting, might seem very far apart, but their relationship to writing is at the heart of their appeal.
    My interest in the natural world and the environment finds expression in both my writing and my art-making. I find that art allows me to explore the interconnectedness of the natural and the human world.
    I have been privileged to study with the outstanding artist, Pei-Jen Hau. At 87 he has just been honored by having a museum in China built to house his life’s work.
    I have written one haiku book, Blush of Winter Moon, and am one of the translators, with Fay Aoyagi, of Kiyoko’s Sky, the Haiku of Kiyoko Tokutomi.

    On Printmaking:

    Printmaking has allowed me to explore
    further the haiku form.

    Printmaking has allowed me to explore further the haiku form. Since haiku often uses the image as its source of power, I have in much the same way confined the image within a fixed form similar to the haiku form used by poets (three lines with five, seven, and five syllables each). This condensation of the language into the strict form gives the poem the potency that I am seeking to unleash in the visual medium as well. When complete, there will be 17 sets of three etched plates each; each set will be an édition variée of 25.
    I have studied printmaking with Adele Selzer and Alan May.
    I am a member of the Pacific Art League in Palo Alto CA, the Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose CA, WORKS in San Jose CA, and and Gallery 9 in Los Altos CA.