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Better Than Starbucks Haiku Anthology 2020

Better Than Starbucks Haiku Anthology 2020


In this anthology, Kevin McLaughlin presents 132 haikuists and 455 of their haiku. He has chosen 307 haiku from BTS issues 2016-2020.

125 of the haiku are new and not previously published.

There are also ten of Kevin’s haiku included in his chapter introductions, and well as the one on the back cover, and six bonus haiku on the hardcover dustjacket.

This is a wonderful collection Kevin! I find your parenthetical comments insightful.  As an undergraduate many years ago at SUNY Oswego, I studied with the formalist poet Lewis Turco.  I read and wrote poems following the structure of many forms, including haiku.  This anthology has inspired me to write more haiku. I like how you remind readers in your foreword to not "speed-read haiku.  Savor the verse.  Be open to the possibility that the haiku may present unexpected gifts."  Well, this anthology is an unexpected gift!

— Steven M. Smith

Black Bamboo

Kevin McLaughlin has studied, written, and taught haiku for 50 years. In this anthology, containing 455 haiku, he presents 132 haikuists. 125 of the haiku are new and have not been previously published. The rest were published in Better Than Starbucks issues 2016–2020.

In addition to the beautiful haiku, Kevin’s commentary on the form makes this book a valuable addition to any haiku lover’s library.

Cover Image: Downward Flying Eagle by Ohara Koson (1877–1945)

6” x 9” 106  pages

Perfect bound paperback $12.00

Hardcover $25.00

Black Bamboo Foreword:


Dragonfly Balanced on a Bamboo Leaf

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” — William Shakespeare


“Master Shogen, the Abbot of Zuigan Temple, loved teaching haiku to his monks. “Haiku,” he lectured, “is the ideal poetry form. It captures the thing-in-itself and nothing more.” There is nothing extraneous. Haiku measures the amount of Zen in the writer and in the reader.


Shogen, a lifelong devotee, wrote one new haiku per day, and enjoyed reading five or six offerings from his students.”


— Kevin McLaughlin, Three Turtles on a Log: Seventeen Syllable Zen, Vulture Peak Press


A haiku conveys those moments when absolute beauty is glimpsed within everyday existence. It is that moment of clarity we all experience. A haiku is subtle and slender. The poet isolates imagery in a way that reflects their understanding, however deep or shallow, of the world into which they were born. This is not a poetry of the imagination. This is a poetry of mindfulness, taken from direct experience. All the haikuist needs to do is to be awake throughout the day, free from distractions and daydreams. There are ten thousand opportunities to write a haiku each day. As a longtime disciple of Master Shogen, I write one every day.


Originating in Japan, the form consisted of three lines, or segments, structured by a 5-7-5 syllable count. Traditionally, there is a direct seasonal reference, a mention of a migratory bird, a flower in bloom, or some other phenomena associated with a specific season. The fictional Master Shogen would have understood the poem’s spirit. The expression of the images’ inherent beauty or insight takes precedence over strict adherence to form.

Many continue to write in the classical form. But all art forms evolve, form different schools with new styles of expression. Haiku still is usually characterized by the three-line format. However, the syllable count per line and the subject matter have grown in scope as haiku moved out of Japan into the global poetry community. At one time joined in a synergistic relationship with Zen, haiku now is celebrated and written by proponents of all religious and philosophical traditions. This is an Everyman’s poetry. Magnificent verse may vary from the sub-atomic world to personal observations to astrophysics. Master Shogen would have greatly appreciated this modern haiku, awakened to the modern world.


Equally important to the poet is the reader. Reading haiku is an art form. The verses rely on the reader’s associations and insights. Don’t speed-read haiku. Savor the verse. Be open to the possibility that the haiku may present unexpected gifts. Haiku does not use traditional poetry conceits such as simile, metaphor, rhyme, and extended alliterations. Reading haiku demands skillful concentration.


This volume presents many of the finest haiku published in Better Than Starbucks from 2016 through 2020, as well as many not previously published. I express my gratitude to all the poets who have made these gifted contributions and wish them success in their continued writings. I especially wish to thank Editor-in-chief Vera Ignatowitsch whose concept and vision shape this publication.

This volume owes a debt of gratitude to R.H. Blyth’s well-known Haiku series, to Robert Aitken’s A Zen Wave, to Matsuo Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North, and to essays by Alan Watts and Nancy Wilson Ross that appeared in The World of Zen, edited by Nancy Wilson Ross.


Molecules alter,

As each moment passes by:

Lanterns float downstream.


Darner dragonfly,

Balanced on a bamboo leaf —

Claspers hold tightly.


Kevin McLaughlin

Palm City, Florida, USA

Summer, 2020

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