Randy Brooks lives in Taylorville, Illinois. He and his wife, Shirley Brooks, are publishers of Brooks Books and co-editors of Mayfly magazine. Randy serves on the boards of the Haiku Society of America and American Haiku Archives. He is web editor for Frogpond and Modern Haiku magazines. In 2019 he and Shirley won the Haiku Society of America Merit Book Award for editing The Collected Haiku of Raymond Roseliep. Randy also came out with two new books: Walking the Fence: Selected Tanka of Randy Brooks and The Art of Reading & Writing Haiku.

Here is an excerpt from the introduction to The Art of Reading & Writing Haiku, a collection of haiku and reading responses to haiku by college students at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois:

As a writer, editor, scholar and publisher of haiku since 1976, I have been an active member of the haiku community for over 40 years. Throughout these years, I have never ceased to be amazed by the blessings of this literary art. First, and foremost, there is the gift each haiku offers if you give it a full imagined reading; if you let yourself enter into its space of perceptions; if you are open to its insight and feel the emotional significance of its moment; if you let it touch your own life memories and associations; if you let it come alive; and, if you let yourself come alive while holding it in your heart and mind for a moment.

Second, as you read more haiku and improve at the art of reading haiku, you become more aware of your surroundings and your own life’s significant feelings or events. You start noticing things that you missed before. You stop to fully feel and perceive the moments you are living. As some of my students say, when you immerse yourself in this tradition, you get your “haiku eyes” and begin seeing and feeling things you missed before. You become more fully aware of the value of being alive; and, being a human, you get the urge to record those moments of perception and insight as new haiku.

Third, the haiku tradition is very social; it is inevitable that when a haiku touches us, we want to share our response with others. When we write a haiku, a moment of significant perception or realization, we are eager to offer the gift of that haiku to others for their enjoyment and response. When groups of people share their lives and insights through this literary art, they are drawn together into a community that values the art of reading and writing haiku.

~Randy Brooks, 2019