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Midwest Region
Archive 2011


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Midwest Region Archive 2011

This region includes Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

See the 2010 Midwest Archive of Events.

Regional Links

Brooks Books

Cradle of American Haiku

Haiku Habit

Haiku Michigan

Millikin University Haiku

Reeds: Contemporary Haiga

Raymond Roseliep

Virtual Haiku

White Lotus

Join the HSA


Regional News & Events

Recap of November 2011 HSA Meeting in Chicago Area

HSA members met for a haiku critique session at Skokie Public Library in Skokie, IL on Saturday, Nov. 12. They were joined by guests Cynthia Gallaher and Felicia Kaplan.

Participants each received critique of four haiku. Charlotte Digregorio, Midwest Regional Coordinator, stressed that participants should focus on the beauty of haiku for its simplicity and economy of words. For the benefit of many beginners in the group, she spoke of valuable journals, websites, and blogs by HSA members that would assist them in learning the art, along with using HSA’s website and Facebook page for timely information.

Illinois Member Tom Chockley announced that he and Missouri Member Jeanne Allison seek more haikuists to network with by email. They wish to share haiku, questions, and ideas. To join them, members may contact <Tom@sino_chockley@hotmail.com>.

Charlotte began the session by speaking about why haikuists love the art and write it. She quoted Midwest HSA members who had recently responded to that question in her blog. Among responses were:

“In this fast-fleeting world, I find the moment even more momentous. Writing a haiku that captures the wonder of time in my own words and thought is a tiny miracle of gratitude.” --Donna Bauerly, Iowa

“The reason I write haiku is what I would guess most people would say is their reason. To set down a marker for the really important things in my life. A walk in the woods is so much better to focus on than memorializing your fears about a global financial meltdown, or a terrorist attack or the coming hurricane, etc.” --Mike Rehling, Michigan

“I write haiku because of the joy I get from paying attention and noticing what’s going on around me and within me. I feel each day offers gifts of insight and moments worthy of contemplation or prayers of thanksgiving. I feel more alive when I am writing haiku!” --Dr. Randy Brooks, Illinois

Next, Charlotte reviewed her “Basic Elements of Haiku” list, including guidelines such as avoidance of making judgmental statements, and limited use of adjectives, the latter which the beginning haikuists found challenging. She also explained that in a three-line haiku, it’s important to give readers a sense of season, time, or place in the first line, so the image is clear to readers.

Among haiku presented at the meeting were:

november rains . . .
leaves spiral
into sewers

--Ilze Arajs

at the beach
in september
sunbathers milk the rays

--Jim Harper, Illinois

During the session, participants, as a group, brainstormed for winter images, and wrote this haiku:

april thaw . . .
footprints lead to
the merry-go-round

Charlotte said a February 2012 meeting in the Chicago area will take place, with members notified of particulars beforehand by email and notice appearing on the HSA website.

Members may contact Charlotte at her new email address, <c-books@hotmail.com>, with questions or concerns about activities.

--Submitted by Charlotte Digregorio

News - August 18, 2011

We welcome nine new members. From Illinois, Jacqueline Seaberg and Rise Daniels; from Michigan, Bruce Kingery and Ted Van Zutphen; from Minnesota, PMF Johnson; from Missouri, Stephen Maassen; and from Ohio, Joshua Gage, Teena Seckler, and Lance Rivers.

Our next meeting in the Chicago metro area, will be devoted to critique of participants’ haiku. It will be held Saturday, Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Skokie Public Library, 5215 Oakton St., Skokie, IL.

Located in downtown Skokie, the Library has ample free parking. We will be meeting on the first floor in the Book Discussion Room. In particular, beginning haikuists should avail themselves of critique opportunities so they can get a feel for haiku and get published. Please be sure to RSVP for the meeting so we can properly set up the room. Contact Charlotte Digregorio, Midwest Regional Coordinator, 847-881-2664, or by email at cvpress@yahoo.com

For those of you living far from Chicago, please contact Charlotte to determine if there are any local haiku groups that meet closer to you.

Further, we are looking into the possibility of holding a one-day retreat in the Chicago metro area sometime next June, as both experienced haikuists and beginners have expressed interest in them and feel they are helpful. Michael Nickels-Wisdom who attended the July retreat in Mineral Point, WI, found it to be enjoyable. He said, “I think they’ve really hit on something with the idea of haiku retreats. Very calming and potentially productive. I came away with a dozen haiku and notes for a few more.”

Anyone who is interested in helping to plan a one-day retreat should contact Charlotte Digregorio at the above listings.

Members who have writing blogs are asked to take time to publicize HSA. Publicity helps us build awareness of haiku, dispel misconceptions about its form, and build a sense of community among haikuists. Personally, my writing blog always gets a lot of hits when I do pieces on haiku news and poetry.

Submitted by Charlotte Digregorio

Recap of Chicago Metro Meeting Held Aug. 6

A small but productive group of participants met Saturday, Aug. 6, at the Deerfield Public Library, Deerfield, IL, for haiku critique. Charlotte Digregorio, Midwest Regional Coordinator, and Illinois member Heather Jagman, led the critique.

The meeting began with Charlotte quoting three famous people whose comments—though not made in reference to haiku—apply to writing of the form.

Francis Bacon wrote: “Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.”

William Wordsworth: “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”

Mark Twain: “As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.”

Since some newcomers to haiku attended, Charlotte reviewed some basic points about the form. She cautioned attendees to focus on writing in simple, not flowery language, and to concentrate, when revising haiku, on deleting extraneous words. She emphasized that haiku is a meditation through which the reader understands the poet’s underlying emotion.

One participant, Grace Carlson-Lund, brought an elegant brochure of her haiga with her haiku accompanied by color photography. This led us into a discussion about using references in haiku to specific flowers and trees, and to become familiar with their symbolism. One of Grace’s haiku that we critiqued was:

butterfly whisper . . .
does she know of beauty or
brevity of life

Thomas Chockley, an Illinois member, also brought several haiku for critique. He offered this senryu:

former wife . . .
a photo appears feet first
under the work pile

Thomas made an announcement that he is interested in starting an internet haiku circle to network with fellow members. His goal for members is to share their haiku and receive feedback. There will also be general discussion of haiku. Those who are interested may email Thomas at: <thomassem2@hotmail.com>

Another participant, Larry Pinto, brought haiku accompanied by a wood block print. Interested in pursuing haiga, he was referred to the book, “Reeds,” by Jeanne Emrich of Minnesota.

We acknowledged Lidia Rozmus, in absentia, who helped to publicize our meeting through Chicago metro media with haiku placards of several Midwest members’ work. These were featured in the online edition of Winnetka-Glencoe Patch newspaper, <http://winnetka.patch.com/articles/photo-gallery-haiku-poems-on-patch#photo>. This slide-show series of haiku ran Aug. 5, accompanied by an article about our Midwest regional meetings and activities.

We received praise from the public about our haiku that was featured. This sample is from a Michigan member:

birch bark
peeling away
all my excuses

by Michele Root-Bernstein

Participants who attended the meeting said they found the critique session very helpful, and that they would like to see more of them in the coming year. Beginning haikuists, in particular, are encouraged to attend.

Submitted by Charlotte Digregorio

Mineral Point Summer Haiku Retreat

Please save the weekend of Friday through Sunday, July 22-24, for a Haiku Retreat/Potluck in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. This will be a weekend of reflecting, writing, reading, sharing, and talking haiku.

Mineral Point has lots of nooks, crannies and cubbyholes for you to retreat into and The Foundry Books has lots of space for the sharing, readng and talking. We are still in the planning stage. All we know so far is that it will be unstructured and informal and will include a kukai and a potluck supper on Saturday. More details will follow in the next couple of weeks. We hope to see all of you then.

Gayle Bull and Francine Banwarth

Mineral Point, Wisconsin is about an hour's drive west of Madison. Last September, the retreat they planned was absolutely wonderful. We all learned so much about haiku, while enjoying this quaint, historic mining town. And, we had a lot of fun with our tour guide, HSA Member Jerry Cushman. Hope those of you who missed it can come this time!

Charlotte Digregorio
Midwest Regional Coordinator
Haiku Society of America

May 7, 2011 Midwest Haikufest

Haikufest 2011 in Evanston, IL at the Evanston Public Library, drew 50 people from five states, Saturday, May 7. We had  an informative day on haiku and haiga with the theme of inspiring poets to publish.

Some who traveled great distances to make the pilgrimage to Evanston, included: Dr. Randy Brooks, speaker from Decatur, Il; Speaker Francine Banwarth, Dubuque, IA; Mac Greene, Indianapolis, IN; Michele Root-Bernstein, East Lansing, MI; and from Wisconsin, Gayle and Kelly Bull, Mineral Point; Melissa Allen and David McKee, Madison; Jeff Winke, Milwaukee; Dan Schwerin, Greendale; and Doris Hayes, Burlington.

Charlotte Digregorio began by welcoming members and many attendees new to haiku. She spoke about HSA and its various membership benefits, stressing the comprehensive publications it offers. She then spoke on "Haiku: A Path Leading to Conservation Thought." Next,  Francine Banwarth spoke on "A Writing Life in Seventeen Syllables or Less." The third presentation was given by Dr. Randy Brooks on "The Role of Kukai in The Haiku Tradition." Poet and Artiste Extraordinaire Lidia Rozmus gave us the final presentation on "Haiga: History and Technique." For the entire month of May, the Library offered to feature Lidia’s art exhibit and individual placards of haiku by some  HSA members.

In her presentation, Charlotte gave an overview of haiku—it's style, content, and history in Japan and the U.S. She mentioned the founding of American Haiku journal in the early 60s in Platteville, WI, by Jim Bull, husband of Gayle Bull. Charlotte stressed that haiku poets are especially sensitive to the destruction of the environment. She said haiku poets don't escape to nature, but they return to it. "You return to your roots." She gave examples of how haiku poets see nature as a constant, how an understanding of nature and its cycles were particularly crucial to man’s everyday existence in past centuries, and how we have become disconnected from nature in our high-tech world.

Charlotte spoke of the humility of the haiku poet, sensitive to not only nature, but having a sense of responsibility for all creatures and other human beings. "We note our relative insignificance on this earth, considering all that surrounds us," she explained.

Charlotte gave numerous examples of haiku illustrating these thoughts, including those of the old master Japanese poets, Basho and Issa.  She also spoke of the basic elements of haiku’s brief form, and how as an imagist form appealing to our senses,  the possibility of writing haiku happens frequently in our lives as we are in touch with ordinary occurrences.

She gave a well-known example of the simplicity and beauty of haiku from the book, School’s Out.

school’s out—
a boy follows his dog
into the woods
                      -- Randy M. Brooks

She also gave examples of two-image haiku and their subtle juxtaposition.  As an overview of haiku, Charlotte also included examples of haiku that weren't about nature and the seasons. This is a published haiku by an HSA Midwest member:

checkout line . . .
faces of celebrities
no longer with us
                          --Christopher Patchel

Next, in Francine Banwarth’s presentation, we were offered insights and very practical tips on writing haiku. Francine said that haiku comes from moments of realization and that she writes it using her "inner and outer eye." She finds meaning in order and chaos around her, writes what’s in her heart, and with a "sixth or even seventh sense."

As to why and when she writes  haiku, she writes it because "it allows me to quiet my mind and open my heart." She said some of her best haiku came to her while doing an ordinary task like vacuuming. She also advised to "get in touch with yourself" in order to write it.

Francine emphasized the importance of "suggesting" rather than describing in haiku, and to keep in mind that "less is more." Further, she said that "If you put yourself in the poem, then put yourself secondary in the poem."

Through her many years of writing award-winning haiku, Francine has developed "a knowledge, appetite, and hunger for haiku." She said she writes it "however I can, whenever I can, and wherever I can."

She noted that the turning point in writing effective haiku for her arrived when she read Lee Gurga’s book, Haiku: A Poet’s Guide. She encourages everyone to regularly read critical essays about haiku and haiku journals.

Among her beautiful haiku, Francine read:

autumn fog . . .
the river knows
the way
            --Francine Banwarth

Francine concluded by saying, "Give the poem a sense of place, a sense of time, and a state of being."

Dr. Randy Brooks, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Millikin University and Professor of English, gave a very enjoyable, hands-on presentation of Kukai, a haiku contest.  We judged poems anonymously that were submitted to Randy by email the previous month.  The First and Second Place winners of the contest were  Francine Banwarth and Tomoko Hata, respectively. They each received a copy of Modern Haiku journal, courtesy of Charles Trumbull, Editor, and Lidia Rozmus, Art Director.

feeling her loss . . .
two sparrows pecking
inside one’s shadow
                               --Francine Banwarth

after the quake
haircut appointment
Mother keeps
                     --Tomoko Hata

(Tomoko’s poem was written after the disaster in Japan when she contacted her mother.)

In Randy's introduction of Kukai, before the poems were selected, he cautioned that Kukai is not an editing workshop.  He said you must appreciate the haiku in its entirety.  In a Kukai, one is not allowed to nominate one's own haiku, nor are comments allowed about why someone doesn't like a particular haiku.

Randy explained the procedure as: "The Point of Kukai is to find haiku that are loved. The Japanese say that when the haiku finds a reader that loves it, that is the moment it is born. After everyone has talked about why they like that haiku, a vote is taken to determine how many select that haiku as a favorite." Participants may be persuaded to vote for a particular haiku after hearing the discussion.

After the haiku is born, the poet’s name is revealed. Randy said that in Japan, when the newborn haiku’s author is announced, there is applause or snapping of fingers or tapping of pencils to thank the writer for their "gift." Then the process repeats itself with the group looking for another haiku waiting to be born.

Randy spoke of the Kukai experience as a social one. He said, "The significance or meaning exists not within the poem, but within those who take it to heart and imagine it and connect it to their own memories, associations and feelings of being alive."

He also explained that Kukai can be organized or focused on a writing prompt. Sometimes the selected haiku are printed on cards of  "shikishi" and posted in the room for viewing with written votes.

Randy also gave us a hands-on exercise on a "Matching Contest" that also involved the open discussion approach.  He provided us with matched pairs of haiku. When haiku were submitted to him, he grouped some according to a commonality, finding interesting matched pairs. That is, haiku that focus on the same image or intuitively connect in some way. The haiku are arranged in eight pairs, with some attention to potential connections of winning pairs, too.  Next, each pair of haiku are read out loud and considered by the audience, "so that each is given our full  imaginative attention—its own chance to move us."

As in Kukai, in the Matching Contest, edits mustn't be suggested. The goal is to appreciate both haiku, then to decide which should move on in the tournament as your favorite.  However, audience members are allowed to persuade others to appreciate the haiku they like, advocating for it to move forward.

After commentaries are completed, there is a vote and the favorite haiku is paired with the winner of another pair. This continues until there is the Grand Champion of the Matching Contest.  After the Grand Champion has been determined, the authors of the haiku are revealed in reverse order, with the champion being recognized first.

After his presentation, Randy gave attendees complimentary copies of Mayfly, the journal he and his wife, Shirley Brooks, publish.

exhibit signOur last presentation on haiga by Lidia Rozmus revealed that you don’t have to be an artist to create haiga, an ink brush painting accompanied with a haiku you’ve written. Sumi-e, "black ink pictures," is a type of brush painting that originated in 13th Century Japan. It is associated with Zen Buddhism and is similar in concept to Japanese calligraphy. Sumi-e relies on simplicity of thought, action, and form to create a mark of understated beauty.

Lidia encouraged us to try different techniques of haiga. She said you can also do photo haiga, accompanying your haiku with a photo or that one can even do needlepoint haiga. She advised to use your imagination and come up with a good combination of haiku and art.

Lidia considers her haiga of ink brush paintings to be “pretty abstract,” as do many of us who have viewed her library exhibit.  She appreciates the simplicity of haiga.

Lidia said people often wonder why, as a Polish person, she's crazy about Japanese art. She explained that it's due to Wabi-sabi. This is the quintessential Japanese aesthetic—the beauty of things impermanent, modest, humble and unconventional.

Among books on haiku that Lidia recommends are, Reeds, by Jeanne Emrich. She said it is filled with great contemporary haiga.
Personally, I also recommend Lidia’s award-winning book, Dandelion’s Flight Haiku and Sumi-e.


Consider this haiku that illustrates Lidia’s art:

        one breath
    one brush stroke
                       --Lidia Rozmus

After Lidia’s talk, a large group gathered for dinner in Evanston at the Celtic Knot Public House.

(It should be noted that we had a change in venue while Haikufest was in progress, due to a power outage at the Library. After the first presentation, we moved the event across the street to the Hotel Orrington where we sat in plush chairs. As Cris Crisafulli intuitively said, "There must be a reason for this," just after the outage. And, so it turned out that way,  with the plush chairs, at least. However, we were unable to hold a book sale and give individual help with  haiku that attendees may have been inspired to write during the day. Consequently, at our next meeting, in August, TBA, we will focus on critique of our poems.)

Further, if you would like to purchase any of Randy’s  or Lidia’s books, log onto Randy’s web site, <http://www.brooksbookshaiku.com>.

--Submitted by Charlotte Digregorio

February 12, 2011 Midwest Haiku Meeting

Learn To Appreciate and Write Haiku

You can learn to appreciate and write haiku in English from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12 at the Winnetka (IL) Public Library, 768 Oak St., Winnetka. The program is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by the Midwest Region of the Haiku Society of America. Pre-registration is required.

Three haiku poets will speak on topics for both beginning and experienced haikuists, and participants will be able to ask questions. Haiku is a short, poetic form that originated in Japan. It is often three lines, has seventeen syllables or less, and captures the moment with usually a reference to nature or the seasons.

“Learning The Fun Art of Haiku” is the first topic, and will feature a brief history of the poetic form; give participants an understanding of its style and themes to better appreciate/write it; offer analysis of well-written haiku; and include a short writing exercise for the group to complete together. Charlotte Digregorio, Midwest Regional Coordinator of HSA, will give the talk.

The second topic will be “Hey, Sparrow! The Poetry of Issa,” given by poet Heather Jagman. Kobayashi Issa, who lived from 1762-1826, was one of the great masters of haiku, and wrote accessible poetry. Jagman will discuss his poetry in translation, give samples, and offer interesting biographical details about Issa.

Haiku poet Michael Nickels-Wisdom will speak on “Beneath the Waterflower: Currents of Haiku in Lorine Niedecker’s Poetry.” The talk will overview biographical details of 20th century American poet Lorine Niedecker, explore how Imagism, Surrealism, Objectivism, Projectivism, and haiku flow as currents of influence in her work, during the discussion of her poetry.

After the presentations, participants may read some of their haiku to be critiqued by the group.

The Midwest Region of HSA holds several meetings, lectures, and conferences annually with noted speakers in Chicago’s north suburbs. HSA is a not-for-profit organization to promote the writing and appreciation of haiku.

• • •

See 2010 event reports in our Midwest Web Archives:

2010 Midwest Archive of Events

• • •

Regional Coordinator

Charlotte Digregorio

Charlotte Digregorio
PO Box 25
Winnetka, IL 60093


Charlotte Digregorio is an award-winning poet and author of four nonfiction books: You Can Be a Columnist, Your Original Personal Ad, Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes, and Beginners’ Guide to Writing and Selling Quality Features. She’s a media guest throughout the United States, and her books are sold in 31 countries. She holds graduate degrees in Italian/French literatures, and has been on university faculties teaching languages/writing. She’s a writer-in-residence at universities, a speaker at writer’s conferences, and gives poetry readings at libraries and bookstores. Digregorio hosted her own radio poetry program on public broadcasting, and has been interviewed on “Poetry Today,” a cable television program in suburban Chicago. Digregorio’s haiku are displayed in wine shops, art galleries, supermarkets, apparel shops, and on public transit in Metro Chicago.

wooded hills . . .
the evening downpour
fogs distant city lights

after confession . . .
my neighbor burns leaves
in autumn’s chill

after his funeral . . .
the dogwood he planted
blossoms again

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