Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Summer 2007, vol 5 no 2


Photo by Carl Patrick

Featured Poet: Cor van den Heuvel

No one has done more to establish the mainstream of contemporary English language haiku than Cor van den Heuvel. His three editions of The Haiku Anthology published in 1974 (Doubleday/Anchor), 1986 (Simon & Shuster) and 1998 (W.W. Norton) rank as the most renowned collections of English language Haiku and related works.

In April of this year, van den Heuvel hit yet another literary home run as co-editor of Baseball Haiku — American and Japanese Haiku and Senryu on Baseball, Edited with translations by Cor van den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura, published by W.W. Norton, 2007.

He was president of the Haiku Society of America and honorary curator of the American Haiku Archives at the California State Library at Sacramento.

Van den Heuvel discovered haiku in San Francisco in 1958 when he overheard Gary Snyder talking about short poems at a Sunday gathering of the Robert Duncan/Jack Spicer poetry group in North Beach. He began writing haiku himself the following spring and began reading them at the Café Zen, a Beat-style coffee house in Ogunquit, Maine. In 1961, he self-published his first chapbook of haiku, sun in skull, on a small hand press (chant press) followed by a bag of marbles (1962), the window-washer's pail (1963), EO7 (1964), BANG! you're dead (1966), water in a stone depression (1969), dark (1982) and puddles (1990), among others.

In 2002, he received the prestigious Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Award in Matsuyama, Japan for his work as an editor and poet.

Here is a selection of his senryu from the Baseball anthology:


the batter checks
the placement of his feet
"Strike One!"

perfect game, end of seven
in the dugout the pitcher
sits alone

after the grand slam
the umpire busy
with his whisk broom

conference on the mound
the pitcher looks down
at the ball in his hand

the catcher cocks his arm
halfway to third, the runner
— hesitates

stolen base
the bench does its own

pitcher and catcher
head for the dugout
the batter stares at his bat

Cor van den Heuvel


All of the above senryu are from Baseball Haiku, edited by Cor van den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura (W.W. Norton), copyright © 2007 by Cor van den Heuvel; by permission of the author.