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

August 30, 2005

lee gurga: this dentist makes you say “aha”

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 8:18 pm

last bale of hay–
we sit down on it
and watch the moon

. . . by lee gurga


It may be the last week of August, but we’re here working hard to bring the very best in haiku poets to f/k/a‘s readers. Frankly, they don’t get any better than our newest Honored Guest poet, Lee Gurga.


GurgaMug Born in Chicago, Lee lives and works as a general dentist in the farming community of Lincoln, Illinois. A past president of the Haiku Society of America, he is currently editor of Modern Haiku, the longest-running journal of haiku and haiku studies in English.

His haiku collections have twice been chosen as best of the year by HSA, and his Haiku: A Poet’s Guide was recognized by HSA as the “Best Book of Criticism” for 2004.

Of course, as with our other Honored Guests, we care far more about the poet’s haiku and senryu than about his credentials. In the haiku of Lee Gurga, I believe you will see not only a mastery of the genre, but also the personal warmth and empathy that is mentioned by all who know him and his work. This is one dentist that everyone likes to visit — and to bring home. With clear words and direct images, and a zen-like egolessness, he allows the reader to feel the subtle “aha”

moment that was experienced by the poet.


GurgaScent  Reviewing Fresh Scent: Selected Haiku of Lee Gurga (1998), Cor van den Heuvel, Editor of The Haiku Anthology, declared that “Lee Gurga seems destined to forge a fresh poetic heritage for the midwest.” He continued:

“Not only does Gurga give us the beauty of the land, he presents us with the activities of its people in such a way that their loves and strengths, their sense of God and family, and their good humor and friendliness all reach out of the poems like a warm handshake. In giving us the heart of the heartland, his haiku give us the heart of America.”

At times, this weblog very much needs Lee Gurga’s warmth and humanity. Like his Fresh Scent editor, Randy Brooks, I’m “grateful to Lee for his gifts to us, these haiku from rural America.” Thank you, Lee Gurga, for the honor of sharing your poetry — beginning right now:


summer sunset—
baby finds his shadow
on the kitchen wall

street magician—
tourists appear

a bike in the grass
one wheel slowly turning—
summer afternoon

girl's bike

fluttering madly—
butterfly in the slipstream
of a passing freight

against the rumbling
of the thunderhead:
his toy gun

GurgaScentS Lee Gurga from Fresh Scent: Selected Haiku of Lee Gurga

(edited by Randy Brooks, Brooks Books, 1998)

“summer sunset” – 1st place, 1990 Manichi Dail News Haiku Contest

“street magician” – hon. mention 1989 World Haiku Contest

  • Click here for a few dozen Lee Gurga haiku,
    collected at Terebess Asia Online (TAO)

1 Comment

  1. Lee is a very interesting talented man ! I have read books on Lee Gurga and really enjoyed them. I have been researching his haiku studies and they were very good to learn about. Lee is very refreshing in his approach to life and study and is a good role model to others who would like to study Haiku.

    Comment by Mike — March 10, 2007 @ 12:49 pm

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