f/k/a . . . the archives

January 12, 2007

Baseball Haiku (the book): on deck

Filed under: Book Reviews,Haiku or Senryu,viewpoint — David Giacalone @ 1:49 pm

infielderG Much-honored poet and editor Cor van den Heuvel (see this profile) loves haiku and he loves baseball. He is perhaps best known by haiku enthusiasts for his milestone tome The Haiku Anthology, which is in its 3rd edition. Many others, however, cherish his 1999 compilation Play Ball: Baseball Haiku (Red Moon Press), and have been sitting on the edge of their stadium seats for years waiting for a new collection.

With almost-springlike weather in much of the USA most of this winter, it’s not surprising that many people (e.g., webloggers here, here, and always there) have continued to talk about the baseball. The first spurt of “real” winter weather here in Schenectady the past few days certainly has me hankering for the scent of cherry blossoms and lilacs and the sounds of infield chatter from our neighborhood playground. It was, therefore, a very pleasant surprise yesterday to discover a page at Amazon.com for

BaseballHaikuCover Baseball Haiku (Cor van den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura, eds., W.W. Norton Press, April 2007)

That’s right, sportsfans, in April, a new volume with over 200 of “the best haiku ever written about the game” will arrive with the buds and birds of spring. Here’s how the publisher describes Baseball Haiku:

One of the most unusual baseball books of the 2007 season, this remarkable new collection, which includes poems from both America and Japan, captures perfectly the thrill of baseball—a double play, a game of catch, or the hushed pause as a pitcher looks in before hurling his pitch. Like haiku, the game is concerned with the nature of the seasons: joyous in the spring, thrilling in summer’s heat, ripening with the descent of fall, and remembered fondly in winter. . . . Baseball Haiku, a literary and baseball treasure, will make a marvelous gift for the baseball fan in your family.

W.W. Norton says the book features the work of Jack Kerouac, Alan Pizzarelli, and Masaoka Shiki (“one of the four great pillars of Japanese haiku”), but I am thrilled to say that it also includes a dugout-full of haiku from f/k/a‘s mascot Ed Markowski, along with selections from 8 other of our Honored Guest Poets: randy brooks, tom clausen, lee gurga, jim kacian, tom painting, john stevenson, george swede, michael dylan welch. Even dagosan (who, frankly, enjoys baseball haiku more than baseball these days) snuck two of his poems into Baseball Haiku — a special honor, given the other haijin on the roster.

baseballG I’m not sure why the publisher hasn’t included examples of poems from Baseball Haiku in its online description and publicity. The broader sports audience may need some reassurance before seeking out a poetry book, or might incorrectly identify the term haiku with the 17-syllable doggerel and pseudo-haiku that is all over the internet. I don’t know which poems have been selected from other poets, but here’s one from dagosan’s collection that is included:

squinting to see him –
another generation
sent to right field

Roadrunner Haiku Journal (V:4, Nov. 2005; tie Scorpion Prize)

I hope Baseball Haiku contains these classics by Cor van den Heuvel himself (which appear in The Haiku Anthology):

the batter checks
the placement of his feet
“Strike One!”

summer afternoon
the long fly ball to center field
takes its time

. . . by Cor van den Heuvel BaseballHaikuCoverN

If you can’t wait until April, or you’d like to see what our Honored Guests can do with the topic, head over to the f/k/a baseball haiku page, which has a few dozen poems. Here are a gloveful from that page:

update (May 28, 2008): See our posting “Baseball Haiku recap and update” which has links to f/k/a posts reporting on this book (including reviews). You can find poems by our Honored Guest poets that appear in Baseball Haiku throughout this website, including, e.g., here, there, and here. And see our post “npr spotlights Baseball Haiku” (March 31, 207)

April rain
my grandson practices
his infield chatter

late innings infielderG
the shortstop backpedals
into fireflies

. . . by Ed Markowski

the toddler
runs to third base
first

bases loaded
a full moon clears
the right field fence

. . . by Tom Painting from his chapbook Piano Practice

empty baseball field atBatN
a dandelion seed floats through
the strike zone

score tied
both team jerseys look the same
in the August twilight

. . .
. . . by George Swede from Almost Unseen (2000)

sting
of the old man’s
fastball

my so-called friends
send in my sister
to pinch-hit for me

… by John Stevenson baseballDiamond
“sting” from Upstate Dim Sum (2005/II)

5 Comments

  1. Congrats, David, on your inclusion! I’m happy to see it was first published in Roadrunner, too. Thanks for the plug.

    Jason

    Comment by Jason — January 13, 2007 @ 3:27 pm

  2. You are very welcome, Jason. Thanks for visting f/k/a regularly and for keeping Roadrunner running.

    Comment by David Giacalone — January 13, 2007 @ 6:31 pm

  3. This is very interesting. I’m one of the countless baseball fans, and this book really caught my attention. Can’t wait to get a copy of this. Thanks for sharing this info.

    – stephen

    Comment by baseball — February 28, 2008 @ 12:12 am

  4. Excellent! Available on Amazon or Boarders???

    Comment by Matty — March 3, 2008 @ 5:05 pm

  5. This is very interesting. I’m one of the countless baseball fans too! Let me know when be available on Amazon, please.

    [Editor's Note: The book has been out since April 2007, and a link to it appears in the above posting. Because this Comment looks like Comment Spam, I have deleted the URL back to the commentor's site.]

    Comment by Goods — July 10, 2008 @ 10:00 am

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