Lifting the Towhee’s Song


Lifting the Towhee’s Song
Cover art by John Barlow.

Beverly Acuff Momoi’s collection of haibun, Lifting the Towhee’s Song, was a winner in the 2011 Snapshot Press eChapbook Awards, and has recently been published by Snapshot Press (UK). Haibun is a poetic form combining prose with haiku.

These haibun were written in the weeks and months after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The Momoi family has lived in Tohoku for generations, and the chapbook begins in two weeks after the initial disaster, moving between California and Fukushima, what we heard on the news and what we learned from our family. I hope in reading them you feel a connection to the land and the people they celebrate. — Beverly Acuff Momoi

Each haiku, following a passage of narrative about the earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima reactor disaster, provide a melancholy counterpoint to the events, zen-like meditations on nature and the passing seasons, juxtaposed with disaster and its after-effects.

Every night now I fall asleep with the television on.
Sometimes it seems that my husband does not sleep at all

When the Great East Japan Earthquake struck three weeks
ago, we missed it. We slept through the first six hours as
quake and tsunami devastated Tohoku. Then the phone
rang. It was my sister calling from Florida, her voice
breaking up as she asked if everyone was okay. We didn't
know what she was talking about.

     shadow of spring---
     how hungry the waves are
     reclaiming the land

                                 ---Beverly Acuff Momoi

Fortunately for us, the book is available in eBook form, free. You can access it HERE.

A number of local (central coast) authors write using Japanese poetic forms, such as the haibun, haiku, and tanka—not surprising, considering the history of the Japanese in this area since the late-19th century. The Yuki Teikei Haiku Society will be holding its 2012 Retreat and Fifth Haiku Pacific Rim Conference, next week, from September 5 to 9. Its Second Tanka Workshop, led by Joan Zimmerman and Patricia J. Machmiller, will also be held in the Monterey Bay area on November 3rd. Zimmerman’s website, “The Haiku Verse Form,” provides a lot of useful information about the haiku and other Japanese poetic forms.


Wild Violets
Cover art by Ann Bendixon

Whether you are new to Japanese poetic forms, or experienced, Wild Violets, the Society’s recently published anthology of haiku, haibun, and essays provides wonderful reading, and examples of these and other forms. Two by Joan Zimmerman:

Empty nest---
a chipped blue cup
of bitter tea

               Whiz of a snowball
               suddenly every child
               looks angelic

Note: the Snapshot Press contest for their eChapbook awards is still open — until Sept. 15. For guidelines, look HERE.

See also:

* Haiku Poets of Northern California
* Haiku Pacific Rim Conference