After more than three decades of writing haiku and its related genres, I wrote a note to myself:

What are my poems?
Discoveries, usually.

In other words, I may feel a haiku moment arise from my ordinary daily doings. In an essay on Chekhov, a critic speaks of “a trigger process, the release of enormous forces by some tiny movement.” Yes. It’s like that. I know viscerally when those stirring moments occur, trip something in me — even before I know exactly what to say to capture them. And I begin to write, thinking I know where I am going with it . . . But then sometimes, the nascent poem takes me on a slightly different course — an increment beyond what I’d set out to write. I let it happen. Looking at the finished product, sometimes it happens that I see it has moved to a newer, deeper place than I imagined at first. This is part of the “discovery” aspect I speak of.
Another more rare offshoot of the discovery process is when certain poems lend themselves to experimentation with their graphic presentation. Rather in the mode of concrete poetry where the visual image further enhances the meaning of the words. This can dynamically lift the poem even closer to the original experience.


from A 2nd Flake (1974)

speeding along the awning’s edge

from summer thunder (2004)

Of course, some poems literally write themselves –fall out whole — without any trouble between the experiencing of the moment and the capturing of it. Pared down to its essence like a shot! Others, I can struggle with off and on for years before I get them just right. You can never tell from the finished product which is which.

There is no pat way to arrive at a fine poem. But you should first steep yourself in the classic Japanese haiku. My initial source when I began trying to write haiku was An Introduction to Haiku by Harold G. Henderson and then R. H. Blyth’s six marvelous volumes on haiku. A broad background in fine literature forms the foundation for recognizing quality writing.

Anita Virgil is a past president of the Haiku Society of America and, along with Harold G. Henderson and William J. Higginson, comprised the HSA Committee on Definitions.

As a member of the Book Committee for A Haiku Path, HSA, Inc., 1994, she edited the two chapters on Definitions.


  • A 2nd Flake, 1974
  • on my mind, an interview of Anita Virgil by vince tripi, 1989
  • one potato two potato, etc., Peaks Press,1991
  • Pilot, Peaks Press, 1996
  • A Long Year, Peaks Press, 2002
  • summer thunder, Compact Disc, Peaks Press, 2004
  • muddy shoes candy heart, poetry of Sasa Vazic, editor, Compact Disc, Peaks Press, 2005

Anthologies & Textbooks:

  • Haiku Mind, ed. Pat Donegan, Shambhala,2008
  • Landfall, ed. Denis Garrison Modern English Tanka, 2007
  • Wordplaygrounds, John S. O’Conner, NCTE, 2004
  • Haiku, Everyman’s Library Edition, Peter Washington, ed., Alfred A. Knopf, 2003
  • Where Dogs Dream, MQP London, 2003
  • Haiku for Lovers, MQP London, 2003
  • Asian Arts and Crafts for Creative Kids Haiku, P. Donegan, Tuttle, 2003
  • Haiku: A Poet’s Guide, Lee Gurga, Modern Haiku Press, 2003
  • Global Haiku 25 Poets World-wide, George Swede and Randy Brooks, eds., Mosaic Press Canada & NY, 2000
  • The Haiku Anthology, ed. Cor van den Heuvel, ed., 3rd edition W. W. Norton 1999
  • Favorite Haiku Vol. 1 (1998) H. F. Noyes
  • Red Moon Anthologies, Jim Kacian, ed.,1996,1997,1998
  • Haiku World: An Intl. Poetry Almanac, Wm. J. Higginson, Kodansha, 1996
  • Haiku Moment, Bruce Ross, ed., Tuttle, 1993
  • Haiku, Czeslaw Milosz, Poland,1992
  • Haiku International, HIA,1992
  • Haiku in English, Hiroaki Sato, 1987
  • The Haiku Anthology, Cor van den Heuvel, ed., Simon & Schuster, 2nd edition 1986
  • The Haiku Handbook, Wm. J. Higginson McGraw Hill, 1985
  • Knock at a Star, X.J . Kennedy, Little Brown,1982
  • Four Seasons, Koko Kato,1981
  • The Haiku Anthology, Cor van den Heuvel, ed., Doubleday,1974
  • The Wordless Poem Eric Amann, Toronto, 1969

Magazines & Newspapers:

Her poetry, essays and book reviews have appeared since 1968 in major domestic and international haiku magazines too numerous to mention and in online magazines since 2004: Simply Haiku, World Haiku Review, Haiku Reality, Roadrunner, Makata, Karolina Rijecka.


The Daily Yomiuri, Mainichi, Lynchburg News & Advance.

Of her work, Anita writes:

I always had and still have a single goal for haiku: that it be poetry, that it sit comfortably in its uniqueness amid the literature of the world. There is no reason for it not to since the best artists speak, as Joseph Conrad said, “to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives: to our sense of pity, and beauty, and pain.”

Entire contents of these posts © 2009 Anita Virgil
Nothing may be reproduced without permission of the author.