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Millikin University students’ haiku poetry is slated for publication in upcoming Japanese-related poetry anthologies and literary magazines. Notification of publication in journals around the world came for several students within a month after completing Dr. Randy Brooks’ Global Haiku Traditions class at Millikin.

Millikin students, Elise Scannell of Jerseyville, Conner Kerrigan of Frankfort and Emma Prendergast of New Lenox had haiku accepted for publication in the July 2012 issue of Prune Juice Journal of Senryu & Kyoka. Prune Juice is co-edited by Liam Wilkinson of Yorkshire, England and Bruce Boynton of Fairfax, Virginia. Courtney Gerk of Tinley Park had a haiku accepted for publication in the September 2012 issue of A Hundred Gourds: A Quarterly Journal Featuring Haiku, Tanka, Haiga, Haibun & Renku, edited by Lorin Ford of Brunswick, Victoria in Australia. Students, Adam Blakey of Decatur, Courtney Gerk, Jessica Claussen of Grant Park, Lindsay Quick of Mattoon, and Moli Copple of El Paso had haiku accepted for publication in the February 2013 issue of Bottle Rockets.

“Dr. Brooks’ Global Haiku Traditions course is always entertaining and Dr. Brooks is an incredibly engaging professor,” remarked Elise Scannell. “My haiku is the first piece of work that I’ve ever had published, and I’m proud of the accomplishment.”

Dr. Randy Brooks, Professor of English and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, has been an active poet, editor, scholar and leader in the English-language haiku community for decades. Over the last thirteen years, he has created opportunities for students at Millikin University to study and engage in the creative work of this global literary community. His students have interviewed and written original reader-response essays on many of the leading English-language haiku poets. Cor van den Heuvel, editor of The Haiku Anthology and Baseball Haiku, both published by W.W. Norton & Company, writes that Brooks “oversees what is undoubtedly the best English-language haiku program of any school in the country.”

Dr. Brooks’ courses on Japanese poetry traditions are very popular with college students because they integrate literary reading with writing of original poetry. In these courses, his goals for students are: experiential engagement in reading and writing haiku, awareness of the challenge of writing high-quality haiku, and understanding the rich diversity of contemporary approaches to writing haiku available within current global traditions.

“The main value of haiku is learning that all art, including a literary art such as haiku, is a transactional, co-creator process,” remarked Brooks. “The writer starts something that the reader finishes. The question is not what is haiku, but what does a haiku do for the reader and how we can play with the haiku tradition as writers.”

Brooks and his students follow the Japanese tradition of small gatherings of haiku writers who engage in public competitions called kukai. To conduct a kukai, original haiku are submitted to the organizer who selects the best attempts for inclusion in the competition. These haiku are placed on a page with no names, then read and enjoyed by everyone at the gathering.

Anonymous competition is an essential part of Brooks’ classes. “Favorite haiku are noted and read out loud, and then everyone talks about what they love about that haiku,” remarked Brooks. “Kukai is not an editing session, so edit suggestions or comments about why someone does not like a haiku are not allowed. The point of kukai is to find haiku that are loved. The Japanese say that when a haiku finds the reader who loves it, that is the moment it is born. Authors of favorite haiku with the most votes receive awards of haiku books or magazines.”

“Through kukai, students experience the social nature of haiku and learn which of their original haiku are valued by readers,” noted Brooks. “The significance exists not within the haiku, but within those who take it to heart and imagine it and connect it to their own memories, associations and feelings of being alive.”
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Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL