In 1987, Reed Shadows, a book collection of the haiku of John Wills, was published by Burnt Lake Press, Black Moss Press, in Windsor, Ontario and Sherbrooke, Quebec, respectively. This collection of John Wills haiku features a preface by Cor van den Heuvel, Editor of the Haiku Anthology. Here is that insightful preface:
John Wills’s haiku are closer to the tradition of classical Japanese haiku in their relationship to nature than those of perhaps any other English-language poet. And yet they come mint-fresh and original from the earth of North America, taking their distinctive colour and voice from its indigenous life-forms and from the soul of the poet as he responds to them with love and awareness. Drinking from these wellsprings of existence in the shape of haiku, we discover that even in an age of industrialism and pollution, computers and nuclear reactors, it is still possible to return to the source of life and find renewal in nature.
The great master of Japanese haiku, Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), is supposed to have said, “Haiku is simply what is happening in this place at this moment.” John Wills has discovered what this really means and how to put it into practice. His best haiku are marvels of simplicity: in their subjects and images, which are often so commonplace that most of us pass them by in our own lives as not worth attention, like rocks under a boat or a box of nails in a shed; and in their language, which in its concision and suggestiveness makes the plainest words take on new power and significance.
In this book—which will undoubtedly take its place among the classics of American nature writing—Wills takes us, through the words and silences of his haiku, walking in the woods or canoeing down a river, into the world of nature and the mystery of the passing of its seasons. When he reaches out to touch the sun on a log, or leans into the darkness beyond the porch, or looks deeper and deeper into the beech tree, he shares with us an elemental joy in the wonders of existence that immediately enriches our lives and helps us perceive the world with a new awareness. With just the barest brushstroke of a few syllables, Wills makes us one with a waterthrush at dusk, or lets us see the miracle that lies in a simple swirl of water on a trout stream
– Cor van den Heuvel
Here is a write up about John Wills by Courtney Ruffner, a student at Millikin University, :