One of the poems that opened me up to the possibilities of haiku in English was this piece by Gary Hotham:
on the end of a rusty
beer can . . .
Hotham isn’t pretending to live in the time of Basho or ascribing a purity to the environment that all too frequently isn’t there. Any contemporary wanderer knows the delight and detritus one can find in contemporary America, and I believe Hotham captures all of that and the essence of great haiku in only thirteen syllables.
In the spirit of Hotham’s poem, I wanted the title of this project (haiku are rarely titled) to include something ubiquitous in our contemporary life that cuts against the grain of traditional haiku. Since these poems will also serve as markers and reminders of my day-to-day life, the “billboard” idea made sense. Anyone who has embarked on a daily writing project knows how eerily dreams and small details come back to the conscious mind even years after jotting a short sentence or two down.
After recently winning a haiku contest, I reinvested myself in the form by writing them daily and I will attempt to continue the project here while using a variety of forms: haiku, senryu, American sentences, etc.
If you are interested in the haiku and its history, I highly recommend The Haiku Handbook. The Haiku Anthology is also a great collection of modern and contemporary haiku and senryu written in English. Paul E. Nelson has also written an American sentence every day since 2001.
You can read the first “Little Billboard” here. As always, thanks for reading!