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Smith to Host Haiku Conference September 19

On Saturday, Sept. 19, the Smith College campus will come alive with the sounds of three-lined, unrhymed, season-referencing verse when the Haiku Society of America presents a daylong conference titled "Haiku: A Closer Look."

The day conference, for which pre-registration is required, is free (except for meals) and open to the public, and will take place in Wright Hall Common Room from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The conference will culminate in a free reading at 7:30 p.m. by New England- and New York-area members of the Haiku Society at Gallery 2, Thorne's Market, 150 Main St. The evening reading, which does not require pre-registration, will be hosted by John Sheirer, founding editor of Tiny Poems Press and publisher of the Western Massachusetts Haiku Anthology. Sheirer teaches writing and public speaking at Asnuntuck Community-Technical College in Enfield, Conn.

The day's events will kick off at 10 a.m. when the Haiku Poets' Society of Western Mass., a six-year-old organization of writers of haiku, senryu, tanka, and related forms of poetry, is introduced by founding member Alice Ward of Springfield. Patrick Frank, publisher and editor of Point Judith Light, a poetry journal, who teaches haiku at the Springfield Museum of Art, will speak on "Haiku Sequencing, Creativity & Personal Growth." Frank has been a featured guest in the Amherst elementary schools, where he helped third graders write their own haiku after local nature walks.

Next on the program at 11 a.m. is Tom Clausen, of the Cornell University libraries, with an address titled "Why I Continue to Read and Write Haiku." Clausen, a seasoned haikuist, has instituted a many-year tradition of posting a daily sheet of haiku in the Cornell library elevator, to the delight of students and staff.

The morning ends with all participants having the chance to read aloud one of their own haiku. A book sale and signing table will feature haiku periodicals, chapbooks by local authors, and haiku bumper stickers. A light lunch will be available for purchase.

The afternoon program of the conference begins at 1:30 p.m. and will include announcements from the national officers of the Haiku Society, followed by a nature walk in the Smith College Gardens. Upon return from the gardens, Wanda Cook, professor of education at Westfield State College, will guide a discussion of haiku written by participants during the walk.

The afternoon will conclude with a "Renga-Writing Workshop," led by Judson Evans, longtime HSA member and chairman of liberal arts at the Boston Conservatory. Evans is well-known for lively sessions with his students in the art of renga, a form of Japanese linked poetry written spontaneously in a group setting.

All persons interested in learning more about contemporary haiku in English and in meeting other writers of haiku are welcome. To pre-register or for more information, call Hayat Abuza at 413-584-4433 or Alice Ward at 413-783-8035 (e-mail: by Sept. 12 to ensure a place and reserve a lunch.


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