EEL PIE DHARMA - a memoir / haibun - © 1990 Chris Faiers
Chapter 1 - A Psychedelic BashoAt community college I began writing bad poetry around 1967. When I realized that I was not cut out to be a science student, I immersed myself in arts courses and declared myself a poet. Some poems submitted to the student magazine reminded the editor of haiku. Having never heard of haiku, I didn't know what to make of the comment, but browsing through a literary magazine I found a classified ad offering copies of Haiku magazine from a Toronto address.
Haiku duly arrived, and I fell in love with the haiku form. The similarity between haiku and the brief poems I had been attampting was obvious, and soon I was submitting haiku to the editor of Haiku, Dr Eric Amann.
After initial rejections. I was thrilled when Eric Amann accepted several haiku for his magazine. Encouraged, I began to devote myself to writing haiku. Basho, the wandering haiku poet/priest of medieval Japan, was added to my role models. The lonely life of a commuting college student in Florida presented a few of my early poems:
I'd like to publish a collection of my poems, I shyly told the balding, potbellied printer. Despite my hippie appearance, my American accent tipped him that I might have money, and he got me to show him what I wanted.
When he saw my Luxemburg poem with the swastike, he wanted to know if I was a fascist. I convinced him that I wasn't a fascist, only a poet, and he agreed to print my poetry in little booklets for £50 for 500 copies.
A week later I went back and picked up the box of my first chapbook, Cricket Formations. I lugged the booklets down the hill to the post office in the hamlet of Kew, and spent the afternoon mailing them all over the world.
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Eel Pie Island (words & pics) | history of haiku | Alan Watts - This Is It | draft resistance
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revised 24 October 2005
Note: May 7, 2011
This is the first chapter of my 1990 memoir/haibun Eel Pie Dharma. Many thanks to fellow Eel Pie Island Hotel communard Weed for posting EPD online about a decade ago. A few years back Weed reported that EPD has been receiving over 1,000 visits a month on his website - this would likely mean that after a decade online EPD has been read by tens of thousands of viewers, making it possibly the most widely read English language haibun (well, if we don't count Jack Kerouac's seminal books like Dharma Bums).
So far on my blog I've somewhat resisted temptations to overt self-indulgence and self-promotion (I hope). But one of the functions of a blog is personal narrative, so sooner than later I plan to drink a bottle of FuZion red, or several bottles of chilled Zywiec beer, and tell the history behind the creation of EPD.