April 20th, 2012

Egrets Reading

Open Haiku Mic at Bean Town

Mary Torregrossa reads the winning haiku in the HaikuNow! Contemporary Category

On April 17, 2012, the Haiku Foundation sponsored readings across the country in honor of National Haiku Poetry Day. The 17th was chosen because it is in the middle of National Poetry Month and there are 17 sound symbols in a Japanese language haiku.

There were readings in Atlanta, Baltimore, Bangor, Boston, Dubuque & Mineral Point, Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Princeton, San Francisco, Seattle, Shreveport, State College, Washington, DC, Winston-Salem.

I volunteered to coordinate the Los Angeles event, which took place in Sierra Madre at Bean Town Coffee Bar, 45 N. Baldwin Ave, starting at 7:30 p.m. The Haiku Open Mic was also an event of the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival.

The reading was well attended, with about 24 people in the audience. Some additional Bean Town customers also stayed and listened for awhile. Musicians, Chris Wesley on guitar and Rick Wilson on xiao and shakuhachi, played during the entire reading, enhancing the audience's enjoyment of the haiku being read.

I was the emcee.

Since the event was sponsored by the Haiku Foundation, we were privileged to be able to announce the winners of the HaikuNow! haiku contest and the Touchstone Awards at the reading.

Sharon Hawley announced the HaikuNow! winners and read the winning haiku in the Traditional Category, which was judged by Jane Hirshfield. Mary Torregrossa announced the HaikuNow! winners and read the winning haiku in the Contemporary Category, which was judged by Jim Kacian. Chris Wesley read and announced the winners in the Innovative Category, also judged by Jim Kacian. Samantha Henderson announced the Touchstone Awards and read the winning haiku. The contest announcements and readings of winning haiku were interwoven between open mic readers.

Open mic readers included Deborah P Kolodji, Greg Longenecker, Peggy Castro, Kathabela Wilson, William Hart, Kimberly Esser, Amir Sapir, Kimberly Cobián, Lisa Verlo, Eric Lawson, Marie Lecrivain, James Won, Steve Hardy, and Mark. Mary Torregrossa and Jie Tian read haiku by Basho, Buson, and Issa, as translated by Robert Hass in The Essential Haiku. Christine also read a haiku from The Essential Haiku, in both Japanese and English. Kimberly Cobián read a haiku she had written in Romani, as well as its English translation.

I finished up the evening by reading some haiku by Haiku Foundation president, Jim Kacian, as well as a haiku by Jack Kerouac. (I ended up reading Jack Kerouac accidentally, because I was reading poems by Jim from my hardback copy of the 3rd edition of Cor's Haiku Anthology, and I turned the page to Kerouac's famous dead fly in the medicine cabinet haiku, reading it before it dawned on me that I had shifted to Kerouac! But, it's a cool poem, so I'm happy I read it.)