Haiku On Display

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Earlier this year, I entered some haiku into a local competition associated with the Arizona Matsuri Festival. Having had some success last year, (see A Haiku Victory!), I decided to give it a go, again.

This time around, I decided to write contemporary haiku that doesn’t abide in the “traditional” 5-7-5 syllable format. Even though the competition defined haiku as having strict syllable rules, there was a tiny mention of how contemporary English language haiku does not follow the same rules. Seeing as most of my haiku fall between 9 and 12 syllables, I was thrilled to get the chance to compete with my chosen format of haiku.

The gamble paid off! I ended up getting published in the Haiku Expo 2016 eBook, with a haiku that earned the rank of Outstanding in the competition. Only 41 out of 830 entries received an Outstanding rank, so I’m pretty excited to see my name listed in that group!

The eBook is free and is well worth downloading. It’s a beautiful collection of haiku from all different age ranges.

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During the festival, my haiku was on display at the Haiku Expo booth along with other Outstanding and Honorable Mention winners.

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Publication in any form is a nice way to start the writing year!:-)

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c.b.w. 2016

My Annual Book Paradise

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Every year I look forward to the second weekend in February. An exhibition building at the state fairgrounds transforms into a book lover’s paradise with row after row of books. We’re talking thousands upon thousands of used books at ridiculously cheap prices all up for grabs for those willing to get up early and pick through the stacks. For 60 years, the VNSA Book Sale has offered this annual event.

Better yet, on Sunday everything is half off the sticker price!! It’s like the bibliophile and bargain hunter in me combine forces for an ultimate day of fun. I’ve written of this magical day previously, (see Bookapalooza and Another Great Book Adventure), but it never gets old. This year’s book adventure yielded some fantastic finds!

For my reading pleasure, I stocked up on some fiction from authors I know as well as a few I don’t. As usual, I relied on my Book Vibe to select a few wild card books to shake up my reading year. Out of the known authors, I’m thrilled to get my hands on works by Banana Yoshimoto and Milan Kundera. Nothing in my fiction stack cost more than $2.

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Hmmm … What should I read first!?

The Art History book sitting at the bottom is a golden find. I’m lugging that thing to work as an added resource for the AP Art History course I teach. It includes sections on African, Oceanic, and Korean art that my other textbooks lack. The best part is it was only $4!

My favorite finds of the day came from the craft section. I loaded up on knitting magazines and books. My favorite knitting magazine, Interweave Knits, was plentiful in supply at only 50¢ a piece. I snagged several knitting books for around $2 each; all full of new patterns and techniques.

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This should keep me busy!

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So much to knit, so little time!

However, my favorite knitting book find is Knitting for Peace. I’m looking to start a knitting club at the school where I work that teaches students how to knit, while also benefiting charity. This book offers charity information, patterns, and advice for setting up a club of this nature.

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Knitting can make a difference!

Buried in the craft section was a gem of a book called Japanese Stencil Designs. For only 50¢ I got a stunning collection of prints that are reproducible. I’m thinking these prints are going to look awesome when paired with some of my haiku –  a chapbook is on the horizon!

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Japanese Stencil Print

Along with a few other odds and ends, the grand total came to $36. Between cheap books and time with family (we always go together), it was a perfect day!

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c.b.w. 2016

Book Inscriptions to Ponder

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Book inscriptions have long fascinated me and are often the deciding factor in whether I purchase an old, beat up book. Most of my “antique” books are falling apart with brittle pages and water damaged covers. Nothing about them is valuable in the monetary sense, yet they are priceless to me because of what is written on the inside.

Faded ink and fancy script piques my curiosity and adds an element of humanity to an old relic. There are names, years, notations, greetings, and sometimes objects stuffed between the pages. People I’ve never met left a piece of themselves behind and that somehow creates a connection. These old books are almost a portal between the present and a long forgotten past.

I first documented my love of inscriptions a few years back, (see Beautiful Book Inscriptions). With the focus mostly on elegant script or heartwarming stories, there wasn’t much room for the more mysterious books on my shelf. Sometimes the inscription is so confusing or difficult to read, I’m inclined to add it to my collection so I can figure it out!

The three books that follow have some of the more curious inscriptions. The inscriptions aren’t the stuff of mystery novels, but they do make me wonder about the people who wrote them.

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli, Translated by W.K. Marriott, 1916 Edition (Everyman’s Library, J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd.)

The back cover of this edition includes a list that directly quotes parts of The Prince or offers cryptic notations about the text. The entire book is marked up as if it was used by a student. Passages are underlined and countless notes are scribbled in the margins. Within the pages I found a pressed maple leaf. I can’t help but wonder who left behind such detailed and thoughtful notes. Was it the same person who saved the leaf or was that someone else down the line?

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Six Day’s Wonder, American Sunday School Union, 1847 Edition

Every blank space in the front and back covers is filled with very messy cursive writing. I can’t read half of it, but given the topic of the book and several mentions of God in the script, it’s most likely religious. The question is whether it’s contemplative, reactionary, summative or philosophical. The writing almost looks hurried and feverish as if this person could not write fast enough. Something was in this person’s head and they just had to get it out before it was gone. Also intriguing is the handwritten notation (in a different script) of an organization’s ownership of the book.

If anyone wants to take a crack at deciphering the script, leave your thoughts in the comments!

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Inside Front cover

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Inside Back Cover

English and Scottish Popular Ballads, by R. Adelaide Witham, 1909 Edition, The Riverside Press

The inside cover of this little gem is particularly perplexing in that it includes the names of two owners (which isn’t odd at all), but also a list that includes the title of the book itself, (which is curious). All I’ve been able to find out is the names listed are editors of poetry and ballad compilations for student reading. Perhaps one of the owners of this book was creating a shopping or reading list.

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Then, of course, are the stories lost to time. Banged up corners, missing pages, and ripped binding all have something to say. Someone a century ago dropped it on the floor or spilled a glass of water. Subtle little mysteries live inside every old book.

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c.b.w. 2015

The Essential Haiku Library

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Poetry books tend to occupy a small space in most bookshops unless your local bookshop is one of those awesome little nooks that carries everything. Haiku books occupy an even smaller space, if at all. This is quite the problem for an avid reader, writer, and all out fan of haiku.

Where do you find these?!

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When I first got into haiku as a daily practice a year ago, I was desperate for haiku reading material – especially contemporary haiku. Much to my dismay, my local bookshop carried only one anthology. I bought it and devoured it within a week. Now what? As a newbie, I didn’t know what to look for or what authors/editors to search.

I did the usual amazon search and found a couple things here and there, but they were ridiculously expensive as they were often self-published, single print or special editions of journals. So, I tried Half Price Books where I lucked out with two more anthologies. From there, I was able to put together some names of celebrated haiku poets and editors, which allowed me to do more advanced searches in online sources.

Needless to say, building my haiku library has been an arduous task! A trip to Powell’s in Portland, Oregon helped, but it has not been easy to find publications of an art form that has become one of my passions.

All that book stalking paid off with a nice little collection of haiku anthologies, histories, and philosophies.

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Now that I’ve done all the grunt work, I thought I’d share what I consider to be the quintessential books that should be part of any haiku library. Knowing the titles and authors/editors make finding them infinitely easier. I’ve linked them to sources to make it even easier!

The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches by Matsuo Basho

The Haiku Anthology – Ed. By Cor van den Huevel

Haiku in English: The First One Hundred Years – Ed. by Jim Kacian, Philip Rowland, and Allan Burns

The Essential Haiku – Ed. by Robert Hass

Haiku Moment – Ed. by Bruce Ross

Haiku 21 – Ed. By Lee Gurga and Scott Metz

Haiku Vol. 1-4 by R.H. Blyth – I do not own these volumes, but they are considered required reading by most haiku enthusiasts. They are difficult to track down and can be a bit pricey.

My collection includes more than this list and there are, of course, many more volumes out there. These are, however, the ones that left the most meaningful impression on my muse. I learned the most from them about the tradition and evolution of haiku, while also experiencing the powerful nature of haiku through some incredibly talented poets.

I am always looking for new anthologies, so if you know any good titles, please share them in the comments!

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c.b.w. 2015

Re-Reading Doesn’t Count??

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After watching ABC Family’s Harry Potter Weekend earlier this summer, I decided to re-read every Harry Potter book. Normally, this would be an easy goal, but because I’m wrapped up in Goodreads 2015 Reading Challenge it’s not that simple.

I challenged myself to read 35 books in 2015 and it stands to reason that any book I read should count towards that total. It shouldn’t matter if I’ve never read the book or if I’m choosing to re-read a book I read five years ago. However, Goodreads is currently unable to assign more than one date to a finished book. That means, once I read a book it only counts one time towards my “Read Shelf.” That also means a previously read book will not apply towards the reading challenge.

On the surface, the one time read date sounds reasonable. Most people read a book once and they’re done, right? Wrong! Most readers I know have favorite books they love to revisit. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read Jane Eyre, the entire Twilight series, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and so many others. Yet, every time I re-read them, I can’t log the additional read in Goodreads. Not cool! Especially since each new read brings new insight and therefore new perspectives for a review and discussion.

When it comes to the Harry Potter situation, I rated all six books as a means to build my account and foster recommendations when I first signed up on goodreads four years ago. In doing so, I made it impossible to count any Harry Potter re-reads on this year’s goals.

To solve this problem, I had to do the unthinkable – I deleted every Harry Potter book off my shelves and hoped it would wipe my reading history for each volume. It worked for all of them except HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone. While this solves the problem, I’m mad I had to do it in the first place! I’m still reading Harry Potter in tandem with other books, but at least they will now count towards my challenge total.

Despite finding a solution for the Harry Potter Situation, the fact remains that I’ve re-read more than few books this year and those efforts will remain under the radar. I love Goodreads, but the lack of a re-read feature definitely needs to be fixed!

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Where do you stand on the re-read issue?

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c.b.w. 2015