My First Published Piece


Tibby and the moon

During my senior year in high school, I took a creative writing class, during which I fell in love with haiku. The teacher taught us the Anglicized rules for the Japanese poetry form–three lines of five, seven, and five syllables. They must be about nature and have a reference to a season. Perhaps in those days no one knew, or cared, that in Japanese syllabification is not the same as in English.

I adored the poems of Basho, Buson, and especially gentle Issa.

Now, if you look up haiku on the internet, you’re likely to see the poems in English and also in Japanese both in Latin script and in Japanese script. Modern haiku, written in English does not necessarily follow the strict rules I was taught. It seems to be pretty much free-form. Nor is the subject matter as restricted.

Anyway, I wrote my little poem as I was taught and submitted it to our local newspaper, which used to run a poetry column in the Sunday edition. What a surprise when they accepted it! My first attempt at getting published. They also sent me a check for three dollars. Much better pay than many periodicals offer these days. I should have framed that check, but I didn’t.

I recently found the newspaper clipping in a box of old photos, a bit brittle, yellowed, but still legible. I still have a little volume of haiku from my school days. I love this subtle poetry form as much as ever.

How very cold the night
frost bitten, the moon sends earth
spears of crystal light.