Farewell to Robert Spiess

The first complete life in English-language haiku ended on March 13, 2002. Robert (Bob) Spiess's interest in haiku dated back to the 1930's. He wrote and published his own English-language haiku for over fifty years, starting in 1949, exhibiting evolution and growth as a poet throughout that period. As an editor he occupied a preeminent position, with very few peers. As a theorist and educator, he was second only to the likes of Blyth, Henderson, Higginson and Harter.

The English-language haiku community is fortunate in having many people who effectively fill the role of mentor. Most of us can list one or more people who have provided crucial encouragement and helpful advice, with affection and understanding resulting from their having been there and done that. Bob Spiess's name would be prominent on many such lists. For some, his would be the name. In the final weeks of his life, Bob was the recipient of what he described as "overwhelming" expressions of the affection felt for him by many, both within and outside of the haiku community. One does not receive such a gift without having first given it.

—John Stevenson
Treasurer, Haiku Society of America


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