A Hundred Gourds 5:2 March 2016

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Haiku North America 2015 — Schenectady, New York

by Jennifer Sutherland

| Introduction | page 2 | page 3 |page 4

HNA 2015 – Day 3

The final full day of the conference had arrived so quickly!

Haiga Panel

The morning started with a panel discussion on haiga. Ion Codrescu, Jessica Tremblay, Aubrie Cox and Garry Gay formed the panel and Jim Kacian moderated. The importance of balancing haiku and image within haiga was emphasized: neither element should override the other.

Understatement in Haiku

The next presentation was Susan Antolin’s “The Aesthetic Value of Understatement in Haiku”. Exploring the importance of restraint in haiku, Susan discussed how understatement captures the subtlety that is indispensable to both traditional and contemporary work. Susan’s advice to haiku writers: “Step back and don’t overwork your haiku”

Renku Workshop

It was then time for John Stevenson’s renku workshop. I was keen to attend this as I knew it would be lively and engaging and there would be fun to be had. Some renku rules were bent a little but everyone who participated enjoyed themselves.

Haibun and Haiku Sequences

Roberta Beary’s “Pay it Forward” was inspiring from start to finish with Roberta reading from her recent book, Deflections. This consisted of haibun and haiku sequences that were clearly personal in subject and full of grief yet crafted into work that allowed the audience to sit within the moment and be left with a sense of peace afterwards.


In the afternoon, there was the choice of two sessions on haibun, Penny Harter’s “From Verse to Haibun” and Claudia Coutu Radmore’s “Haiku in Education, Literary Haibun”. I chose the former, which included Penny’s reading of her haibun “Requiem for the Bye-Lo Doll”.

Translating Shiki

Charles Trumbull’s paper, “Translating Shiki”, explored the work and life of haiku poet Masaoka Shiki with a variety of translations and a handout with extensive research notes. Shiki wrote over 25,000 haiku of which 6% of his work has been translated.

In the late afternoon, poets convened for the group photo on the outside steps of Nott Memorial. It was cold and windy as we huddled together to keep warm.


2015 haiku poets – “You know you make me want to SHOUT!"

Japanese Drumming

We filed back into the Nott Memorial to attend “Colours of Japan”, a concert featuring the Japanese Drumming Ensemble of Union College, directed by Prof. Matsue. The ensemble was brilliant in technique and put on a great show!

Farewell Address and Celebrations

Hilary Tann then delivered a farewell to Union College. The church bells rang in unison playing the spiritual, “Rock of Ages”, across the green and russet lawns as we left the campus for the last time. Celebrations and festivity began in the evening with drinks in the courtyard. A banquet was held in The Ballroom at the Desmond Conference Centre. There were speeches from John Stevenson, Red Pine and the highlight of the evening: an appearance by the legendary Elvis – Haiku Elvis that is!


Elvis in the House – with haiku fans Barbara Hay & yours truly

Then the all-important announcement was made. Michael Dylan Welch announced the news that we were all waiting for, the secret location of the next conference. My mouth fell open wider than that of the giant koi in the ornamental pond in The Desmond courtyard when he announced . . . “Australia!” As Australia is not part of the United States (yet!) I quickly realized it was a joke. Michael then announced that HNA 2017 would be in Santé Fe, New Mexico.


Michael Dylan Welch – co-founder of Haiku North America

On Sunday morning, those poets who had not already departed met in the Town Hall conference room within The Desmond Conference centre. Michael Dylan Welch delivered his paper “Haiku Lessons from Wassily Kandinsky” whilst Kathabela Wilson held her “Dream Haiku Workshop” in another conference room. Debbie Kolodji’s presentation “Organising Effective Haiku Events and Workshops” was the final presentation. There was a reading of haiku written during the conference before John Stevenson officially closed the conference. Poets milled around the room, exchanging farewells, hugs and thanks before gathering their cases to leave for home.

As I rode the bus from Albany to New York City, I reflected what a wonderful experience Haiku North America 2015 was and knew that the many memories of conversations, friendship, presentations and inspirational moments would stay with me forever.

Haiku North America was founded in 1991 by Garry Gay for the purpose of congregating poets together to share all perspectives of haiku as a genre of poetry. Conferences are held every two years in the USA, and attract the attendance of poets worldwide.

book cover

Jennifer Sutherland is an avid reader and writer of haiku. She lives in Victoria, Australia. She supports animal welfare and volunteers regularly at a local RSPCA animal shelter. Jennifer is a founding member of the Red Kelpie Haiku Group. Her haiku have been published in a variety of journals including A Hundred Gourds, Bottle Rockets, The Heron’s Nest and the Australian annual haiku journal, Windfall. She can be found on Twitter @jenniferannsu


1. Page 2 – Photo image by David Giacalone from The Condrescu Haiga Exhibit, Haiku North America Blogspot.

2. Page 4 – HNA 2015 group photo image by Garry Gay, from the Haiku North America Blogspot.

3. Page 4 – Haiku Elvis and fans photo image by Deb Koen.

4. All other photo images by Jennifer Sutherland, 2015.

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