Books Acquired Recently: Haiku Edition

As I continue to indulge my newfound passion for haiku (incidentally, February is National Haiku Writing Month, which you can read more about here), I have continued to purchase books in and about the genre.

Gurga, Lee. Haiku: A Poet’s Guide. Rev. Ed. Lincoln: Modern Haiku, 2013.

As I have begun writing haiku I have been feeling the need for more formal instruction aside from what I can glean from simply reading a lot of them. From what I’ve read of Gurga’s work in journals and anthologies his innovative aesthetic is similar to mine, thus I think reading his guide will be helpful. I bought the book directly from Modern Haiku Press, and I am impressed with their customer service because it took less than a week for the book to get to me.

Janeczko, Paul B., ed. Stone Bench in an Empty Park. New York: Orchard, 2000.

This is an anthology of city haiku. While I have been enjoying the way that getting into haiku has helped me to think more about nature and my relationship with it, I consider myself a city person at heart, and thus I look forward to learning more about how urban space can be portrayed in the genre. I was able to find a copy of the book in good condition for a penny from one of’s network of independent booksellers.

Ketchek, Michael. Who I Am. Ed. Tom Clausen. Rochester: Free Food, 2015.

I read a review of this book, Ketchek’s greatest hits, in Modern Haiku and really liked the sample haiku reproduced there, so decided to buy it. I read through the collection last week and enjoyed it immensely. I especially appreciate the wide-ranging subject matter of Ketchek’s work. There are very traditional haiku about nature as well as more innovative poems about subjects such as baseball, chess, sex, and social activism. I bought the book directly from Free Food Press.

Ketchek, Michael, and David Tilley. Buzzard Haiku. Rochester: Free Food, 2013.

This small chapbook of haiku about vultures was sent to me free along with my order of Ketchek’s collection. I appreciate the slight, ephemeral nature of the volume–I almost threw it out with the large envelope that Who I Am came in, thinking it was a packing slip. The book’s form asserts that no poem is too insignificant to be immortalized in print.



Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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