f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

May 27, 2005

yu chang: all poetics are local

Filed under: pre-06-2006,Schenectady Synecdoche — David Giacalone @ 7:26 pm

When it comes to crafting excellent haiku, all poetics are local. No one knows that better than Yu Chang, whose work demonstrates the in-person, in-the-moment, concreteness that is the essence of fine haiku.

Another kind of “localness” was especially serendipitous for me: last year, I learned that the Yu Chang whose haiku I ‘ve been admiring for years spends much of his time less than a mile from my home, as a professor of electrical engineering at Union College. He and I share Schenectady, New York, as our adopted City.

  • It was also inspiring to learn that Yu — like myself — started writing haiku in his 50’s. Unlike myself, however, he was winning international haiku contests within a year of penning his first haiku. Maybe Yu’s haiku muse will make a detour to my neighborhood once in a while, and help me learn, from his example, the art and craft of the haijin.

Everyone who knows Yu comments on his sense of humor and his modesty. Both can be seen in his haiku (where he allows the reader to take his place experiencing the haiku moment) and in his frequent expressions of gratitude for the generosity and encouragement of his friends at the online Shiki Internet Haiku Salon.

Yu’s haiku have won numerous awards, and his poetry appears in the journals and anthologies to which all English-language haiku poets aspire: Acorn, Frogpond, Hermitage, Modern Haiku, The Heron’s Nest, and Tundra. At present, he is active as a founding member of the Route 9 Haiku Group, which publishes the biannual journal, Upstate Dim Sum. The Route 9ers are Yu, Hilary Tann, and our honored guests John Stevenson and Tom Clausen.

You can learn much more about Yu Chang as a haiku poet in an AHAPoetry profile, written in 2001. I’m sure Yu will groan when he sees this sentence, but I agree with the Profile’s author, Ty Hadman, that “Yu Chang is one of the poets currently writing haiku that are not only being appreciated today but will also be added to that treasure chest of haiku classics in English to be preserved for future generations.”

Choosing introductory haiku from Yu’s entire body of work is too difficult, so I will limit the
source today to the first collection that I found of his work, which was in A New Resonance:
Emerging Voices in English-Language Haiku (Ed. by Jim Kacian and Dee Evetts, Red
Moon Press, 1999):

warm rain
the spring moon returns
to the rusty can

starry night–
biting into a melon
full of seeds

parting her pink robe

pebbled beach–
how carefully she chooses
her words

NewRes Yu Chang, from A New Resonance (1999).

“warm rain” first appeared in Frogpond XXI:1

“pebbled beach” first appeared in Acorn 2

“starry night” won a Museum of Haiku Literature Award 1998

I’m honored and pleased to have Yu Chang as an Honored Guest. You can count on his visiting f/k/a often. Click for the yu chang archive page.

Follow-up (December 2009): The first collection of Yu Chang’s poems has finally been published.  See “seeds: haiku by Yu Chang” (Redmoon Press, 2009, 72 pages)

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