hosts: Firdaus Parvez & Kala Ramesh
poet of the month: Lew Watts
4th May 2023
Happy to present Lew Watts, and there's a lot waiting for you this month!
Who is this haibuneer, who won the Touchstone Award for his haibun, Spacial Concept: Waiting
Lew Watts is the author of Tick-Tock, a haibun collection that received an Honorable Mention in the Haiku Society of America’s 2020 Merit Book Awards, and Eira (in press), a collection of haiku and haibun (both from Snapshot Press). Lew is also the co-author, with Roberta Beary and Rich Youmans, of Haibun: A Writer's Guide (Ad Hoc Fiction, forthcoming). He is the haibun co-editor of Frogpond and was awarded an honorary doctorate from Bristol University in 2016. Born and raised in Wales, he now lives in Chicago with his wife, Roxanne Decyk. His other passions are fly fishing and gin martinis.
We asked Lew some questions and he has been kind in answering them. The first is a revelation! Read on! THG:
1. Do you come from a literary background? What writers did you enjoy reading as a child?
To say I do not come from a literary background would be a huge understatement. There were no books in my childhood house nor, from what I could tell, in any other house in Splott, a slum district of Cardiff. In fact, apart from two novels I was forced to read for my O-levels at 16 years, I had read very little. Two things saved me from a literary death. The first was my junior school. Between the ages of 6 and 11 years, each school day began with the recital of a poem during Assembly. I can remember vividly the first time I heard Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas at 7 years of age. I was mesmerized, and still am—I adore the sound of words. The second was in my early days at university. My new friends were astonished that I hadn’t read any Herman Hesse, and so I read all of his work, saving The Glass Bead Game until last. Things had to improve after that.
In case you want to check out the painting! Here's a link:
At first Lew had reservations about sending this haibun for this feature. This is what he said: On "Spatial Concept: Waiting," the problem I was alluding to is that the format is incredibly sensitive. If the font is changed, for example, the whole thing goes haywire.
So . . . I've attached various versions, but the JPEG captures how it should look—perhaps you could use that. If not, I hope some of the others work.
Which is what I did! Posted it as a JPEG. _kala
We say all arts rub off on one another. This haibun Spatial Concept: Waiting (1960), is one of a set of paintings by Lucio Fontana (1899–1968) in which the canvas is sliced. Lew has been creative, bold and intuitive enough to try this idea on a written page. I know this prompt isn't going to be easy - but can you look around and see some art form from which you can take an idea and make it your own in your writing? I never said this prompt was going to be easy ... just try!!
And, of course, haibun outside this prompt can also be posted!
1. Only two haibun per poet per prompt. Please put your name and country of residence under your poem, it makes the editors' work easier. Thanks.
2. Share your best-polished pieces.
3. Please do not post something in a hurry or something you have just written.
Let it simmer for a while.
4. When poets give suggestions and if you agree to them - post your final edited version on top of your original version.
5. Don't forget to give feedback on others' poems.
We are delighted to open the comment thread for you to share your unpublished haibun (within 300 words) to be considered for inclusion in the haikuKATHA monthly journal.