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Japanese haiku is coming to downtown Bend so sharpen your pens 

In early June The Haiku Society of America will host the society's national meeting in Bend.

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I have never understood the unbridled fervor and devotion some people feel for haiku. Those tiny, strange little poems that haunted me through school, the three-line, 5-7-5 syllabic count, the attempt to express an intangible idea about nature. I have never embraced nature, and failed that portion of creative writing by penning haikus about Lizzie Borden and John Wayne Gacy. But I want to understand. I want to quit mocking people who actually enjoy writing poems about water and trees. I want to explore a kinder, gentler side of myself. I want to be more open-minded and maybe even write a haiku about that.

"I think writers and readers of this form are all attracted to haiku due to its nature association, especially in our eco-rich state of Oregon," says an'ya, one of the organizers of the Bend Haiku Weekend, which kicks off during the June 3 First Friday art walk. Her real name is Andja Petrovic, but she goes by her haiku name, an'ya, which translates loosely to "dark moon," and was given to her another haiku enthusiast.

So, maybe this verse form is more intriguing than I thought.

Plus an'ya tells me, "Haiku has changed since we were originally taught [it] in our school systems. Nowadays, haiku poets are following just a short, long, short rhythm."

This love of form by Oregon poets compelled the National Haiku Society of America to allow Haiku Oregon, a regional chapter of haiku enthusiasts, to host a quarterly event.

Haiku Oregon member and an'ya's husband Peter B. says, "The Haiku Society of America National Meetings have mostly been held in major cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. However, Jeff Eager, the mayor of Bend, Chuck Arnold from the Bend Downtown Business Association and Kevney Dugan from VisitBend, has worked to welcome this event. In addition, the event has the support of many local haiku poets as well as local artists from around the country and a special guest flying in from Greece."

Bend Haiku Weekend events, all free and open to the public, include the unveiling of the Haiku Society of America "Haiku Wall" inside the Liberty Theatre building downtown. When finished, the wall will comprise more than 500 haiku submissions to be displayed in the theater on standing easels. Several pieces of visual art will accompany them.

"Our main focus for the Art Walk is to present haiku with different modes of visual arts," says an'ya.

Those forms include, Oshibana [the Japanese art of pressed flowers], Shodo [calligraphy brushwork], haiku inspired by Ikebana [the Japanese art of flower arrangement), haiku inspired by Suiseki [the Japanese art of stone appreciation], Zenga [Zen-inspired painting], and haiga [haiku painting]. There will also be Sumi-e [Japanese ink painting], photo-haiku, etchings, woodblock prints and haiku scrolls,"

At 9 a.m. Saturday, the Haiku Society of America will hold its quarterly meeting in the Liberty Theatre. The society welcomes anyone interested to attend the readings by Christopher Herold, Johnny Baranski and Ernesto Santiago, followed by a "ginko," which is a nature walk through Drake Park. This stroll is an opportunity for poets to write haiku and journey to a workshop with instructor and Haiku Society of America First Vice President Michael Dylan Welch on Sunday morning at the Liberty Theatre. This workshop is expected to run three hours, and, you know what, I might even be there... walking through Drake Park, carrying a pad and a pen. Wearing, for the first time in my life, comfortable shoes. But not writing about these shoes, but about the ducks, and geese and one or two inspiring willow trees along the way.

Bend Haiku Weekend
Friday-Sunday, June 3-5.
Liberty Theater, 849 NW Wall St.
All ages. Free.
Information, http://www.downtownbend.org/bend-haiku-weekend/


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