Ito-En Haiku Contest Winners (English Division), 2017

It was an honor to judge the Ito-en Haiku Contest this year. My husband and I traveled to Nippon Club in New York City for the ceremony where we met some warm and wonderful people/poets.

As promised to the winners, here are my notes on the haiku I chose. Please note that the names of writers were not shared with me until afterwards.

Gold Prize

ice-fishing I catch a cold
–Susan Burch, MD

At first read, I pictured a man fishing. I like the humor and
directness and how this haiku, in only seven syllables, captures the
hard essence of winter and how we seldom get our
expectations met in the way we wish.

Silver Prize

ancient forest-
the aroma rises
from my tea
—Barbara Kaufmann, NY

It wasn’t until after I chose this haiku that I remembered the contest
was sponsored by a tea company. To smell an ancient forest rising from
tea … how powerful the moment, as if the trees were communicating with the poet. The haiku has a healing quality  reminding us that we are not separate from Nature itself. A moment of awakening brought on by the
sense of smell.

Bronze Prize

first day of school
a black mark
on  her white shoes

–Julie Warther, OH


A little girl heads off the first day of school with new notebook and the expectation of doing well. Her mother helps dress her with great care. Not a hair  out of place. She is filled with hope until the black mark appears on her shoe and seems to spoil her day. This haiku/senryu emotes tremendous compassion for the youngster. Life again interferes with our wishes, a lesson we learn early on . It wasn’t until the ceremony  I learned that the black mark was put there by a boy who stepped on her shoe.

Feel free to check out my Ito-En Facebook album where I share photos of others who won prizes including those of some of our younger poets.



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ME TOO Anthology: Call for Poems Published or Unpublished–Extended Deadline February 15, 2018

Here’s your chance to share experiences about sexual harassment and abuse. This anthology is open to everyone regardless of sex,  but all poems must be written in haiku (no five seven five please unless you’re one of the few who has mastered the 17-syllable form), senryu, tanka, tanka prose, haibun or cherita forms. No exceptions. Submit no more than five published or  unpublished poems at one time. Please do not send in attachment form. If poems are published, please send credits.

Poems must be high caliber, well crafted. Anonymous poems and pen names okay, if that is the only way you’ll  consider sharing. I’m looking for honest experiences, not cleverness. If  feelings are vague, chances are the poems will be, too. I have received numerous submissions that talk about feelings and while emotion is the  tether cord of a poem, there’s nothing like imagery and specifics to bring the experience alive. Please write in the present tense . I cannot write your story for you; if you’re  having a difficult time sharing, perhaps a writer-friend can assist. While your experience needs to be true to your remembrance, the poem also needs to take into consideration that writing is an art form.

I  receive submissions from men although it seems more difficult for males to come forward. With all  the people coming forth in the media to report sexual misconduct, it seems to be giving writers a bit more courage to tell their stories. We’re  making history–we’re part of a cleansing whose time has come. There has been male/male abuse as well as female/female abuse–it’s not just about males hurting females…females hurt men, too, even as little children.  And while certain people have written saying they’re worried  so many men will lose their jobs, that trials are necessary, I say to them: wake up. Touching someone’s breast or hurting them with sexual slurs is abuse. As long as we live, we never forget being spoken to as though we were someone’s property and that pat on the fanny that men used to get away with, e.g., George Bush, Sr., that has got to stop.





Deadline: December 30, 2017

Submit to : (In subject line, write ME TOO)


I will help to lightly edit your poems and make suggestions which you may or may not want to accept.  If you’re not quite sure about your work, have a friend you respect take a look and give feedback.  It’s a good idea to let your poems sit for a week or two or more as they marinate. If your poems are accepted, I ‘ll contact you about a short bio.  Chase Gagnon and Lori Minor have agreed to publish the book.


Just as a reminder, some of the greatest writers encourage us to tell our darkest secrets–that’s why they’re there, not to be taken to our graves where they can do no good.

















Copyright Law: It’s Real

My husband gave a talk at the Haiku North America conference in Santa Fe in September. He has offered to send his power point presentation to those who forward an email. But most people are too busy burying their heads in the sand and I hope that they will not be the ones to be one day confronted by a lawyer asking for money.

There has been quite a bit of blow back and frustration to learn that copyright law states that writers are breaking the law when they post on social media or share in any way poetry, photos or art that is not theirs. If you retweet a haiku, for example, that has been posted by someone who infringes on a copyright, you are also perpetuating the infringement.

If you want to share someone’s work, it’s only right to ask permission. Of course, things get out of hand on social media — we can get so excited about sharing a haiku or photograph we forget it’s not OURS. When I see my work published on the Web without permission, I feel violated, similar to the way I felt when someone walked into my house and stole my engagement ring.

Please note that when I share my work on Twitter or Facebook, I love when it’s retweeted or shared simply because it’s my work and my choice. And just because haiku are short doesn’t mean they are up for grabs–as Robert said in his power point talk,  as soon as words are committed to paper they are copyrighted and no one has the right to share them but us.







Late Summer — What is it Good for?

Late Summer started  about 10 days ago and when I felt it arrive, I felt like something inside me unplugged . The intense blazing heat of summer was gone and I felt so relieved to once again be done with the craziness of July.

It felt good to lounge around, to eat plums and enjoy tomatoes that are jam packed with the earth’s sweetness. It was time to pull out the vines from the garden that had turned yellow and to weed from the flower patches the artemesia that had taken over. But more than just weeding the garden, my closet with all my old poetry books from the 90’s were just sitting there doing nothing. And all those art cards that I no longer liked were grist for the recycling mill. Bags and bags of what once were considered treasures were being carted away on trash day.

Cluttered closets equals cluttered mind. I feel so much lighter and am using the goodness of late summer to help me nurture myself in letting go of stuff that no longer serves myself or the Highest Good.

In July I spent time at the Blue Deer Center way up in the Catskills attending an advanced course in Plant Spirit Medicine with Eliot Cowan, author of Plant Spirit Medicine. It was wonderful to be with like minded people again, who use the spirit of plants to heal others. The wild flowers and plants are generous with their knowledge and this medicine is more important now than ever in a world where people are so out of balance.

Santa Fe where the Haiku North America conference will be held is looming. In mid September my husband and I will attend. Robert will  give a talk on copyright law. I’ll be on a haiga panel, sharing some tips with attendees as well as giving a presentation on the Five Seasons and how they impact our lives in ways that may surprise.  But most of all, I’m looking forward to just being in New Mexico again, to enjoy its smells and earth-tones as well as to connect with new and old friends alike.

My latest book, The Color Blue, was just released by Red Moon Press. It’s a collection of short poems that includes haiku, haiga, haibun and experimental work.  Cost of the book is $20 available from or directly from me.

Little by little my out-of-print books are being uploaded to Kindle. In the near future, I will be sharing my three latest books there. I ‘m becoming fonder of  Kindle and e-books as we’re  running out of shelf space. For now, you can read my meaty collection of tanka, LIP PRINTS, as well as BLACK JACK JUDY AND THE CRISCO KIDS (Growing Up Italian in the Bronx) which is really my husband’s stories of his colorful New York childhood when much of the place was still wilderness.
















So, Summer is Here Again

And things are blooming in the on-line haiku and Japanese poetry forms world. We have Caroline Skanne tirelessly bringing us a weekly Hedgerow on-line journal. Then there’s Michael Rehling who lovingly edits his monthly senryu journal, Failed Haiku. And then the great surprise of ai li’s cherita monthly flipbook. So glad she’s back in town. I musn’t overlook Larry Kimmel who is ai li’s co-editor. We have so much to look forward to.

It’s hard enough to devote one’s energy to a quarterly, let alone a monthly or a weekly. My baseball cap off to these three musketeers.

Meanwhile, the perennials are blooming although the sun is merciless. And the thistles and other weeds are having a swell time. We have been having our pond worked on for two months. Last year’s fish all but disappeared–I have a feeling the frogs that were bigger were having a feast. My pond guy has relocated a number of frogs but when I went out to feed our dozen goldfish this morning, two fat ones jumped into the water. Where they’re coming from, I don’t know.  With each ripple, a new Basho  replicates.

In the frog’s croak

the beginning

of summer




Starting Spring off the Right Way

Recently I had digital art pieces exhibited in Florence, Italy and Porto, Portugal — although I couldn’t attend either venue, it was a delight to be included with so many other gifted artists at the NEM Equinox Exhibit at the Church of San Stefano and at the Mira Mobile Prize Exhibit.

Last month five of my digital paintings were exhibited at the Melange I exhibit at the Circle Gallery in Annapolis. My work has appeared on numerous banners in the last year, most notably iColorama and theappwhisper. Always a great honor.

I finally bit the bullet and bought an iPhone7+ which is an absolute joy. My Android was a good pal for years but it was time to upgrade. I’m also now the owner of a refurbished Apple laptop, thanks to Charles Trumbull, former editor of Modern Haiku, who helped move me in that direction.

I’ve been asked to do a solo reading April 16, Easter Sunday, at Spiral Staircase starting at 4 o’clock. If you’re in the area, stop by and bring your house guests (or leave them home if you need a break). April is international poetry month and the 16th is International Haiku Day. I will be reading haiku as well as haibun–hope to share new unpublished work.

Meanwhile, I’m working on a new poetry book and have promised myself that I will buckle down and do the exercises in the three on-line art courses I signed up for. Something always seems to get in the way.

I share my poetry and art every day on Facebook. Friend me if you wish.

May you blossom this spring…..