It’s time to round up another year of haiku. There’s so much haiku stuff from 2021 that I didn’t get around to sharing, so I have lots of ground to cover. I’m just gonna skip all that other 2021 stuff, Covid and all that, and go right into one of the things that’s helping so many of us stay grounded and sane: haiku!
For me 2021 was another successful year. As I’ve mentioned before, I set goals for myself. I purposely keep the goals to what is reasonable for me and my writing practice. So usually I set a goal to publish 22 new poems each year, and to publish in one place that I’ve never published in before. It’s true, I have had years when I was unable to meet my goals. But then in other years I have far exceeded them. So these goals that I set for myself are flexible, and are meant to keep me on task and on track. Another way to put it is that I try not to put too much pressure on myself to produce. I try to just go with the flow.
In a nutshell, this is what 2021 looked like for me. I published 34 new poems (all haiku and senryu, no tanka in 2021). Here is the breakdown by publication: Acorn (1), Akitsu Quarterly (5), Autumn Moon Haiku Journal (3), Haiku in Action (1), haikuniverse (1), The Heron’s Nest (4), Horror Senryu Journal (4), Kingfisher (3), Last Train Home (Pondhawk Press) (3), Mariposa (2), Modern Haiku (1), Otoroshi Journal (1), Prune Juice (1), tsuri-doro (3), Vancouver Cherry Blossom Haiku Contest (1).
I made my first appearance in the following journals in 2021: Autumn Moon Haiku Journal, Otoroshi Journal, and tsuri-doro.
I keep tabs on anywhere and everywhere my poems appear. 2021 saw a number of poems republished in various places, such as Last Train Home (Pondhawk Press), jar of rain: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2020 (Red Moon Press), Charlotte Digregorio’s Writer’s Blog, tsuri-doro (issue #3, as featured poet), Visiting the Wind: Haiku Society of America Members’ Anthology 2021, The Haiku Foundation Per Diem “Firsts” (October), MahMight Haiku Journal (August), Nick Virgilio Writer’s House Anthology Volume 2, Triveni Haiku Spotlight (November), and in Lee Gurga’s essay “Normative Haiku and Beyond” (Modern Haiku 52.2).
I gave two readings and one interview in 2021. The first, for the Haiku Poets of Northern California on July 18, 2021. The second, for Haiku Northwest on September 9, 2021. Both readings were performed via Zoom. The HPNC reading is available to watch on YouTube. Here is the link to the HPNC website where you can go to recordings, click on my name and you’ll find the link to YouTube. Kinda funny, when my son saw my reading on YouTube he thought I was going to become “YouTube famous”! I gave an interview for the New to Haiku feature on The Haiku Foundation website, which appeared on September 19, 2021. Lots of great interviews in that series. It’s always fun and interesting to hear about other haiku poet’s writing practices and their views on all things haiku. Go take a look!
Some of my writing received awards in 2021. In The Heron’s Nest Readers’ Choice Awards (for poems published in 2020), I received first runner-up and second runner-up for individual poems, and received the Grand Prize Poet of the Year. Not too shabby! I also had a haiku on the shortlist for The Haiku Foundation’s Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems (for a poem published in 2020). In Snapshot Press’s Haiku Calendar Competition 2021, I had two winning poems and one runner-up (published in The Haiku Calendar 2022). In the Vancouver Cherry blossom Haiku Contest 2021, I received the award for Best USA haiku. Like I said, not bad at all!
I reached, and passed, the 600 poems published milestone late in 2021 (with an actual total of 603).
It goes without saying that for every success there are some hardships or some bumps in the road along the way. No different for me as it is for others. I received a number of rejections in 2021, seems maybe a few more than usual. A couple in particular, in December actually, have been difficult to digest. One was actually the closing of a journal, Horror Senryu Journal, where the editor saw fit to close to focus on some health issues. I wish him all the best. For me that meant the editor returned four poems scheduled to appear over the course of January and February of 2022. Will those poems find a new home? That remains to be seen.
I only mention the rejections and hardships not so people will feel sorry for me but because others will know that they’re not alone in feeling bad when those things happen. And to those who are new to writing and submitting and publishing their haiku or other poems, maybe it’ll be of some comfort to them that rejection is a part of what it is we do and we all experience it. Sending our little poems out into the world, it is inevitable that many of them will come back to us. 2022 will be my 20th year writing and submitting and publishing haiku, and I still get rejections. Here’s the clincher for me: the acceptances are great and make me feel like my writing has value and that it matters. But where the real value lies isn’t in the publications, it’s how I feel when I’m writing. I am happy when I’m writing. I’m happy when it’s just me and the poem. At that point none of the other parts of the process matter, not the submitting, not the acceptance or rejection. So the next time you get a rejection and you feel bad about it, let yourself feel bad about it for about five minutes. There’s nothing else you can do about rejection but keep writing.
Here’s a few haiku and senryu that I published in 2021. I hope you enjoy them. Thanks for reading, take care and stay safe!
than the one I know
tsuri-doro #1, 2021
from the conductor’s ears
a puff of white hair
Last Train Home (Pondhawk Press, 2021)
the winter count
brought before the elders–
hush of first snow
Modern Haiku 52.2, Summer 2021
the horse given water
from a cowboy hat
Autumn Moon Haiku Journal 4:2, Spring/Summer 2021
a swish of cow tail
Acorn #47, Fall 2021
the sound of corn leaves
Kingfisher #4, 2021
letting the mask fall
below my nose . . .
Vancouver Cherry Blossom Haiku Contest 2021
the cowboy’s lasso
Mariposa #45, Fall/Winter 2021
red tag in a cow’s ear–
the glow of sunrise
through and through
The Heron’s Nest XXIII:4, December 2021
snow falling on cedars
the way I would read
to my son
Akitsu Quarterly, Winter 2021
Many thanks to the editors of the above mentioned publications, to the contest judges, anyone who voted for my work, and everyone who reads my haiku in the various places they appear in the universe, including this blog.
Poems copyright Chad Lee Robinson.