Monday, February 28, 2011

Announcing NaPoWriMo & SPAMku Reminder

Novelists have NaNoWriMo in November, and poets have NaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month, in April.  Just think about it-- what's easier to write one of every day than a haiku?

Also, you've got about two weeks left to get in your SPAM-ku, as the deadline is March 15.  Remember, this is for the big prize: your very own can of delicious (?) SPAM mailed to your door.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Awesomeness at Four and Twenty

We'd like to take a moment to point out some awesomeness over at Four and Twenty journal: a special edition featuring poems and artwork by the students in Laura Truitt’s fifth grade class at York Elementary in Vancouver, Washington.

It's neat to see a poetry journal-- something usually stereotyped as stuffy, effete, and distant-- actually doing good in the community, and for me as an editor it's an inspiring piece of work.  All those people who go on about how "this young generation" is going nowhere obviously haven't read Dillon Lumen's "Wasteland of Fear," Megan Sarygen's "Butterfly," or Kaelan Skimhorn's "From Dawn to Evening."  It's not just that they're good poems for kids-- they're flat-out good poems, period.

So massive props to the kids in Ms. Truitt's class at York Elementary and massive props to Four and Twenty.  Go check out their work.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Five Questions for an Editor: Liam Wilkinson

Our February interview comes to you from jolly Yorkshire, England, with Prune Juice's editor, Liam Wilkinson. Let's see what he has to say...

1. Senryu and kyoka: the evil twins of haiku and tanka?

I like the idea! Senryu and kyoka let us explore ourselves within our environment and, unlike haiku, aren't usually concerned with the natural world. A senryu, depending on its author, might 'happen' in a shopping mall or in an office. The best ones are like magnifying glasses hovering over some strange but universally recognisable aspect of living in this mad, mad world. As a result, many senryu and kyoka are funny and, occasionally, wickedly witty. Jack Kerouac called senryu 'pops' and modernised the idea of writing these very short poems.

2. Does British English differ from American English when writing syllabic poetry? Like, does "colour" have more syllables than "color"? Or... like... if you wanted to write a poem about Nottinghamcestershirestershire-upon-Tyne, would the spoken-length of the word change?

Sorry to disappoint, but modern English senryu and kyoka, and haiku and tanka for that matter, aren't concerned with syllable counting. Some of finest writers of senryu never use the 5-7-5 pattern. This ain't a word game.

3. So are we correct in understanding that the senryu form essentially came from a Mr. Senryu at some point?

Senryu is named after Edo poet Senryƫ Karai (1718-1790). Senryu was a pen name and translates, literally, as 'river willow.'

4. And the form is well represented by the noble prune because...

A prune, like a senryu, gives one the chance to, erm, get it all out... so to speak!

5. You mention in your journal that both the senryu and the kyoka can be "a vent, a portal, an opening through which we can feed our minds and end up cleansed." So we're doing something more important with these poems than just spouting nonsense and running off at the mouth?

Absolutely. A good senryu/kyoka writer knows how to tap into both the soul of the writer and the reader. A senryu a day keeps the monsters away.

LIAM WILKINSON is a poet and musician from Yorkshire, England. He edits Prune Juice: Journal of Senryu and Kyoka. His blog can be found at

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Miller's New England Haiku Dictionary

Hey, I'm the editor of this journal-- I get to shamelessly self-promote sometimes.  Drafty Attic Press has agreed to publish my first chapbook, Miller's New England Haiku Dictionary.  Or perhaps a more appropriate phrasing of this is that I got myself a long-armed stapler and am making chapbooks by myself in my grandma's attic.

Shhhhhh.  Quiet, you.

Anyway, they're now for sale for $5.00 a pop.  Buy one for yourself.  Buy one fo' yo' kids.

I'd say supplies are limited, but that's only because I haven't made any more copies yet than the one that's sitting in my hands.  But you can change that!  Order yours today!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Review: Morning Haiku

Sanchez, Sonia.  Morning Haiku.  Boston: Beacon Hill, 2010. 104pp.

We try not to be too "establishment" here at High Coup Journal, and the fact that this book comes recommended by Chiuna Achebe, Joy Harjo, and Maya Angelou made me a bit wary at first.

That was stupid and bullshit.  This book is awesome.

Whereas "artistic" haiku can often feel bloodless and detached, Sanchez injects some white-hot passion into her writing, as seen in this poem from the "duende" series:

my thighs
sing the flesh
off the guitar

All of these haiku come grouped together in strings, most of which are dedicated to either historical or living African-Americans.  And yes, there's a series dedicated to St. Augustine of Hippo-- remember, Augustine was an African.  Plenty of the Roman Empire was African.  

Playboy of North
Africa, burning the streets before
you learned to genuflect

The significance of Sanchez's poetry resonates even closer to home with her poems dedicated to Oprah Winfrey, Toni Morrison, and Ms. Angelou.  A favorite series of mine is dedicated to Emmett Till, which ends up with the following:

your death
a blues i could not
drink away.

Sanchez describes her collection well in her "haikugraphy," when she says that "this haiku, this tough form disguised in beauty in insight, is like the blues, for they both offer no solutions, only a pronouncement, a formal declaration-- an acceptance of pain, humor, beauty, and non-beauty, death and rebirth, surprise and life.  Always life.  Both always help to maintain memory and dignity."

Essentially, Sanchez takes this form and takes it to school.  I learned a lot from reading her, and I hope you do as well.  



Monday, February 7, 2011

Five Questions for a Naughty Haikuist

Happy almost Valentine's Day!  In honor of that holiday that a few of us are looking forward to and a lot of us are going to spend drinking vodka straight out of the bottle and watching Bridget Jones's Diary, here's an interview with the author of the Twitter feed Naughty Haiku, the content of which is in no way safe for work but guaranteed to get you twitterpated.  Let's see what she has to say...

naughty haiku tweets
nuggets of poetic form
soiled by dirty words

1. Define "sexy."

'Sexy' is that which ignites the libido, fires the sexual imagination and forges new fantasies in the mind. It's what arouses that playful part of you that yearns to tease and to be teased.  It's subjective and yet contagious; it makes you, and vicariously those around you, feel sexy.

Sunlight in her hair
Summer dress around her feet
Hot under his gaze

2. What makes haiku a sexy form of poetry?

Much of human sexuality, and kink, revolves around the idea of limitation or restriction in some way, be it movement, control, or one or more of the senses.  Picture that special someone (or yourself) blindfolded, or with hands tied.


What?  Oh yes, sorry... by removing a sense like sight you remove the distraction it normally offers, encouraging him or her to focus on the way they feel inside.  By restricting movement, or control, you also remove the burden of responsibility some people subject themselves to, and which blocks them from really feeling.

The haiku is similarly liberating in its restrictive form.  The strict format focuses the author's thoughts onto the image, or sensation, they really want to convey.  Haiku is so brief it offers just a taste, a little juicy, bite-size morsel, of something bigger.  In a few syllables you try to conjure up as sexy, graphic or exciting an image as you can, but then you have no choice but to hand it to the reader to do the rest of the work; to imagine, flesh out and toy with in their mind.  It's the perfect tease.

Sexual power
He pulls forward to kiss me
Restrained by his bonds

3. You were stuck on 666 followers for about two weeks just a little while back... any worries that your Twitter feed had become just a little bit *too* naughty?

I was beginning to take that as a sign, yes.  It seemed that every time I got a new follower, someone else unfollowed as though to keep me at that number.  I was starting to check my follower list for beasts from the book of Revelation.

I know that the subject matter will put some off, since many people are not anonymous on Twitter, and I suspect that adds to the number of people who read the blog I use as an archive, rather than following me directly.  I'm not too worried though.  I know that followers enjoy what I write because they say so, and because it's so easy to unfollow me if they don't.  In truth, Twitter is such a transitory, quick-flowing format, my individually crafted little poems are quickly swept away in the torrent.  To get more followers I'd need to post more frequently but of course, despite the brevity of the form, haiku can be time-consuming to craft.  And the subject matter is really very distracting.  I've managed about one a day for the last year or so, helped by submissions from loved-ones, friends and talented followers, and I've got a head full of ideas for many Naughty Haiku of the future.

And then the book, and then the sit-com.  Or maybe not... Naughty Haiku really *is* a little too naughty for that.

Grabs her from behind
Mistaken identity
Risk of court action

4. How do you demarcate the line between naughty/passionate/sexy and crude/disgusting/creepy?  Any advice for writers?

There's no universal line, and there will always be those who are sensitive or easily offended, especially if you are in sexual territory.  Everyone defines those things differently.  If anything, 'naughty' or 'kinky' is actually what is just on the other side of your reader's line.  I aim to experiment with that line, and surprise people from time to time.  Shocking can be sexy, but so can subtle word-play or an unexpected twist.  I try to keep it playful.

That which is 'crude' can evoke quite different reactions around the dinner table than in the bedroom; something that might be disgusting in one scenario can be very sexy in another.  Context is all, and it's important to set people's expectations.  In the case of Naughty Haiku, 'Naughty' is probably an understatement so I hope my warnings are enough to avoid anyone being truly offended.  And I fret continually about the time I publish them since the time considered 'after the watershed' (eg when television channels permit swearing) depends on the timezones.  But the joy of Twitter, and Haiku, is that posts are so brief that if you don't like one it's quickly forgotten.  I try to write from many different perspectives, and with many fantasies in mind, so there will hopefully be something to whet almost every appetite, amongst other things.

Having said all that, one of the most important skills a writer can learn is to trust themselves and just write; writing about what turns them on. Write for your target audience, and never forget that your target audience is you.

In the restaurant
she leans over, whispers filth
he asks for the check

5. What's the most important thing for people to remember this Valentine's Day?

Valentine's Day isn't about the package offered by the local restaurant or corporate attraction, but about reminding someone special what they mean to you.  Sometimes it's about reminding yourself how special you are.  That means identifying what makes you and your partner smile, and revelling in it.  For most people a truly personal gift, or a thoughtful poem (no matter how brief), is much more romantic than the pre-printed message in a Hallmark card or a pre-packaged box of chocolates (not that they don't have a place - yum).  Do something you enjoy and be inventive... create something that's uniquely romantic and sexy to you.  Make someone's heart flutter!

the perfect present
in the bedroom she waited
gift-wrapped and spread-legged

CLAIRE has been writing tiny, poetic nuggets of filth for over a year now and, helped by friends, loved-ones and talented Twitter followers, has written enough to keep readers, and herself, in a state of perpetual arousal.  You can read them for yourself on Twitter and Blogger, but be warned: the format may be playful, but the content is definitely not safe for work.

She's "working" from home
writing some Naughty Haiku
in her underwear

CLAIRE has a surname, and a respectable day-job, and hides the former to preserve the latter.   She dreams of one day being a successful published author, and knows that she's going about it very much the wrong way.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

High Coup Journal - February 2011 Issue

(Photo by Ann Wright, Plymouth, IN)



Sara Bickley (West Carrollton, OH)

Salvatore Buttaci (Princeton, WV)

Rosemary Foster (Bloomington, IN)

Antoine Hayes (Baltimore, MD)

Amanda Hillenburg (Sherbrooke, QC, Canada)

Megan Milligan (Las Vegas, NV)

Matt Tuckey (Manchester, England)


Editor's Note:

Love is in the air.
That's right, airborne-- shit got real.
Call the CDC.


Matt Tuckey

Silent Treatment

What is she thinking?
Her silence speaking volumes
How have I fucked up?


Hyenas scrounging,
Like ruthless, gathering flies
On rotting gazelle

All I Am

I am just a man
With a disability
I’m not a genius


Salvatore Buttaci

married but at war,
once a year they declare a
valentine's day truce
 you promised me love
would mend my heart, but I was
treated and released


Rosemary Foster

Dearest professor--
I hope that's chalk on your crotch.
You're super creepy.


Sara Bickley

Psalm thirty-nine, verse
eleven (or thirty-eight,
twelve) — two translations:

God is a clothes moth,
ravenous for wool; our lambs
are resacrificed.

God is a spider,
sucking back our gossamer,
spinning in reverse.


Amanda Hillenburg

Single white preacher
Loves long walks by the fountain
Sluts need not apply

Show me your glory
And by that I mean titties
Care for my number?


Antoine Hayes


I lack nothing, but
The ability to know
What I am lacking.

*from Hayes's 100+1 Haiku

Megan Milligan

Freddie Mercury Haiku

Freddie Mercury
Overbite larger than life
Like his vocal chords.

Roadkill Haiku

Little dots of fur 
The side of the road littered 
With bunny pancakes

A Cold Haiku

Cold November wind 
Caresses my body like 
A rough lover 
Whispering tender 
Terms of endearment in 
My frostbitten ears.


February 2011 AWESOME SAUCE: Matt Tuckey

The Gale

Hard wind bends the tree
Old man stoops, grips walking stick, 
Standing, defiant.


Though we love you all,
we would love you even more
if you would put out.

highcoupjournal {at}