The One That Started It All

I have been writing haiku, senryu and tanka exclusively for nearly thirteen years now (since the fall of 2002). I look back often on the evening I first read the haiku that started it all for me. I was in a creative writing class, sitting in what had become my usual seat. The professor wrote this small, three-line poem on the board. I remember thinking, What the heck is that? I had never seen anything like it. It knocked the wind out of me. I don’t remember exactly what happened after that. What I do remember is leaving class that night I headed straight for the campus library to wipe the shelves clean of any haiku books. While I only had a basic understanding of what a haiku is, I knew that I had found a kind of poetry that fit me better than any other. The way that haiku made me see differently, I knew everything had changed.

a crow
settled on a bare branch
autumn evening

—Basho

(translator unknown)

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