The Living Haiku and Senryu Anthologies are invaluable resources for all haikuists to appear In.
Please read this important interview with Don Baird about the Living Haiku Anthology and The Living Senryu Anthology that you should participate in, so that your poetry will be well known throughout your life and after you die. All poets who write haiku in English are welcome to participate.
1) When did you begin writing haiku, how did you discover it, and why do you have a passion for it?
I am a professional martial artist. The arts introduced me to eastern philosophy, poetry, their arts in general. It was from there that I discovered haiku and its mighty power in such a concise package. While I dabbled in it over the years I honestly had no idea how to write it. The form proved awkward for me and I lost interest. Someone mentioned to me that there is a group called Haiku Hut. Mike Rehling was running things. It turned my haiku world upside down. After 2004 and onward, haiku grew on me quickly; I found myself writing almost everywhere I found myself! Soon, I won Kusamakura, 3rd place, two years in a row when Dr. Richard Gilbert was the editor. Eventually, Tanka Press published my first haiku book and now, as they say, the rest is history!
2) How and when did you get the idea for the Living Haiku Anthology and The Living Senryu Anthology?
Stephen Bailey, my partner, and I were chatting one day. I had some life-threatening medical problems which left me with nothing but time on my hands. The idea came up during a Facebook chat about creating an online anthology of haiku for everyone to enjoy, read, and use as a research source. I ran it by him and he said he had some of the same ideas. We struck a deal that evening, I believe around 2013. Today, we house hundreds of poets and thousands of poems. The Living Senryu Anthology is much more recent, having been around for only a couple of years. Then, of course, we own and operate Under the Basho which is going very well. We have an amazing team of editors — just stunning!
3) What are the Living Anthologies’ purposes?
The concept is truly based on serving. We wanted to create a source for reading haiku poets’ poems from around the world; we wanted their work to be readily available for anyone that wanted to sit and read a bit. We have poets from many countries and languages. While we focus on English language haiku, we do represent authors that we have published in two languages — their native language as well as English.
4) How and when did you make them happen? Who were the poets who helped organize the project?
Stephen and I developed it all right from the beginning. He said, “Give me your ideas and I will make it happen on the website.” It was so exciting. We dreamed together, or so it seemed.
As I spoke he was already there; as he contacted me for something, I was already in tune. Within an extremely short time, we had a website. Our beginning was at hand and we were ready for poets! We put some invites out there. The flow of submissions was awesome. LHA was growing rapidly and hundreds of poets have come to join in. We continue to represent new poems of current poets as well as approve excellent submissions from new applicants.
5) How is the project financed? What have the main costs been?
Whatever the costs have been, I have financed them myself. As time went by, we placed a PayPal invite so that folks could donate. I recover a bit of my investment from that. Our costs are all website related. Stephen (known as Hansha Teki, poet) and I remain unpaid volunteers and continue to focus on serving the haiku community. I’m very fortunate because he is one of the best webmasters out there. He is lightning fast. I don’t understand that side of things. But I know for sure, he is truly amazing at what he does for LHA.
6) How many poets have been featured? And, from how many countries?
Literally thousands of haiku and hundreds of poets. I don’t have the exact numbers on hand but they are high. Visits to the websites are high as well.
7) What challenges have you encountered along the way?
At first, there were several things we had to hurdle over. One is, we had to come up with a fair and reasonable approach as to what we would accept. There are a lot of opinions out there as to what haiku is or isn’t. That became one of our first stumps. We decided early on that in order for a poet to be qualified to have a place in the LHA, they would have to be published by a haiku journal, with credit, and by a haiku editor. Second, we decided it was important to not accept less than five published haiku as an initial submission; what would be the point? I recall that our first requirement was 10 or more. We reduced it later. Of course, we remain somewhat accepting as to what haiku is (as long as they were published by a haiku journal, somewhere). I think readers can fend for themselves and discover what they like and don’t like on their own. Still, though, there is a lot of short poetry descriptive writing going on out there that the authors believe are haiku. I’m the bad-guy that has to inform them that we are not accepting the haiku for publication. It’s a sticky area. I’ve come up against it a few times where the poet truly believes he/she is writing haiku. I attempt to remain very broad-minded, accept what I feel I can, and let go of the others. It’s tough. Not everything that poets write are haiku; it’s on me to figure the boundaries if any.
8) What educational institutions have been involved in helping?
Dr. Richard Gilbert assisted LHA significantly a few years back. He came just at the right time to stimulate us to perk up some areas of the Anthology. His efforts and advice have been crucial. We made important changes that caused the LHA to be more significant on a worldwide presence. We tuned the site to be more research-friendly in order for them to easily find what they were looking for in their research. Dr. Gilbert has many LHA represented haiku in his more recent books.
9) How will you ensure that the project will continue?
That’s a great question. I am turning 73 and Stephen is getting up there as well. We have talked a few times about this issue. It’s a current topic and one that we need to resolve. We both agree that the LHA must not ever die — that it goes on for generations to come. That would be awesome. My wife is aboard and knows that if anything happens to me that she will continue paying the costs of owning and operating the website. It isn’t a lot, frankly. Stephen and I are currently looking for people to assist us. Possibly, that will lead to the solution. For now, we’re both in and going strong.
10) Is there anything like it in other languages?
There is nothing that is published that is anything like it as far as I know. When you glance through LHA you will find so many fantastic sections filled to the brim with numerous very fine haiku poets. Articles, essays, discussions, readings . . . on and on. The LHA has become more than what we originally anticipated. An amazing journey.
11) Can any haikuist who writes English and who’s been published be featured?
Yes, mainly. I do watch over the LHA with a caring hand. I attempt to assist the poets along their path to being published by LHA. It can get sticky, though; poets believe in their work. Unfortunately, I do have to decline submissions from time to time. Neither of us wants to be the haiku police. At the same time, we don’t believe that everything we receive is a haiku. As a side note, we do not automatically publish poets who are self-published. We might or might not accept their submission; I will have a look and make a decision.
12) How can poets contact you for inclusion?
They can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or from the LHA submission form.