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April 1, 2011

Poetry Friday--Haibun

Yesterday, I used vacation time and left work early to attend a rally at the State House in Concord, New Hampshire, to protest the NH House's budget. The budget proposes cutting an incredible number of social services. The number of people whose physical and mental well-being will be effected is appalling!

And, like the debacle in Wisconsin, NH is looking to eliminate collective bargaining for the state's union employees.

As a public librarian, I will see interlibrary loan services cut drastically, which will, unsurprisingly, hurt the smaller libraries in the state, writers who need research materials, and our children. For many years I was on the state's summer reading program committee, and I know how important the ILL van is for distributing summer reading program materials. Kids who keep reading over the summer, maintain their skills come September. That's a no-brainer.

I've attended anti-war and other rallies at the State House where 600 people was considered a good crowd. Yesterday there were about 5,000 in attendance! I was inspired to write a haibun.

You may be unfamiliar with the term haibun. The word is Japanese and means "poetry prose." Simply put, a haibun consists of descriptive prose accompanied by one or more haiku. A more detailed explanation can be found at Contemporary Haibun Online.


I know it will be a big event when I pass several buses heading in the same direction. I park my car and walk to the State House. Old people, young people, handicapped people, counselors, artists, firefighters, state troopers, writers, psychologists, librarians, and people just fed up with what is going on in our state, gather. Despite the sounds of the helicopter and an airplane circling the downtown area, I'm close enough to hear the speakers. A boy, only 16, tells us he is a recovering addict. A bishop, reminds us, "God helps those who help themselves is NOT in the Bible."

And the hand-lettered signs--oh, those signs--speak loudest of all.

rain holds off...
the nonverbal man shares
his pen with a stranger

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

Here's a slideshow of some of the signs. (I'm the angry librarian!)

Head on over to The Poem Farm for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.

Please also head over to Kidlit4Japan. Two signed copies of Littlebat's Halloween Story will go up for auction this afternoon! Many thanks!


  1. What an impressive turnout and haibun. Thank you for this, Diane. Your words are powerful, important, and, sadly, so necessary. They also taught me something new -- haibun. (Best literary term ever.)

  2. I was among the 5,000. So much at stake here . . .

    Well said, D. Let's hope our voices will be heard by the NH Senate.


  3. It is really frightening, what it's coming too. So glad to see people gathering to make a move!

    I am doing haibun this month too. Your's is very powerful. I love that haiku punch at the end. Power to the people!

  4. Today you remind me of the many powerful reasons to write. And you taught me a new word - "haibun." A haiku in a bun of prose. Many thanks! A.

  5. I love that, Amy, "a haiku in a bun of prose"! Thanks!

  6. Thanks, Diane. I was there! With so many passionate people voting with their presence, I hope the legislators listen. My colleague Tricia just introduced me to Haibun 2 weeks ago. I wrote one for the Prayer Service for Japan in Concord this past Weds. Thanks for sharing yours.

  7. Same stuff going on in Ohio.
    I hate fighting, but if that's what it takes to salvage the teaching profession, I'll be there with my signs and letters and petitions...

  8. I'm afraid we'll soon be waving signs in every state. Since when have teachers, librarians, maintenance workers, police officers, firefighters, nurses, the sick, the hungry, etc. become the enemy? The U.S. is upside down.

  9. My niece and her husband are big on "small government" (i.e. they applaud cutting all kinds of social services in the name of a "non-intrusive" government) yet her job is with the Veterans' Administration and she brags about what she accomplishes. Can't she see what's coming down the pike? What scares me is that kind of illogical thinking - people don't seem to be able to add one plus one anymore and come up with two! It's unnerving that the people getting hurt are so often the people begging for non-regulation and spending cuts. It makes me queasy to think about what kind of propaganda it took (it began with the "trickle down theory") to get get people to destroy their own safety nets....thanks for going out into the streets to protest, Diane.

  10. Hi Julie! Thanks for you comment, I'm slow in answering since I've been at three days of the National Conference on Media Reform. I'm exhausted, and a great part of it is due to the endless reports of the hijacking of the media by corporate interests. Over and over again, speakers implied that until the media is reformed, democracy/social justice will be in jeopardy. It leaves me feeling hopeless some times. But, the speakers also said that although we don't have the money to combat the corporations, we do have the numbers (of people). Numbers matter. After seeing what happened in Wisconsin, I'm starting to believe it. The numbers prove that not all of America is ready to roll over.

    If you're interested, check out this page: http://conference.freepress.net/ Over the next few days I expect they'll have some of the session videos ready to go. There were so many interesting sessions scheduled against each other that I hope to be able to catch some of the ones I missed. If they have John Nichols speech from the closing session, make sure you watch it. The man is fabulous!