Grant Hackett was born in Missouri in 1955. He currently resides in Great Barrington, a town in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. He works as a freelance indexer of books.
Asked about how he came to haiku and short poetry, as well as his views on them, Mr. Hackett wrote:
“In 1974, in a small transcendental bookshop in Columbia, Missouri, a book opened my hand and put Ippekiro’s poems there. Cape Jasmine and Pomegranates. Reading his poems, I began writing poetry. Depending on how one defines haiku, what I wrote was haiku, or not. Like this:
could be the everlasting one
I wrote for a long time listening to Ippekiro. Sometime later I found Robert Bly’s Tiny Poems, as well as his Silence in the Snowy Fields. Also, Santoka Taneda’s Mountain Tasting and Makoto Ueda’s Modern Japanese Haiku. Kenneth Rexroth’s One Hundred Poems from the Chinese. Each of these having a profound influence. Later still, I came to Jack Kerouac’s haiku. Then the music and sensibility of James Schuyler. Lorca. Neruda. Oliver.”
“The poems I write inhabit the borderlands of haiku. There are many definitions of haiku. I don’t want to create a definition of haiku that will umbrella my work though. Others can create definitions. And yet, if I am a weed, then haiku is my soil.
I began writing the one line poem about a year and a half ago—the day I found the double colon. The double colon is there to create an unweighted pause. A pause in the breath, a pause in thought. A pause that is different than the weighted or directional relationship our standard punctuation indicates. And that is also different than a hard line break. The two sides of the thought-pause may exist in harmony or in ambiguity. At the moment of the pause there may be peace or there may be tension. The thought-pause is a poetic tool, a poetic device, used poetically.
The clearest voice I have to speak in this world speaks in one line poems.
The path to the one line poem is not reduction but distillation. The path through the one line poem should not be simple or straight.
I passionately believe that a single one line poem creates a universe of poetry.
Forgive these words, they are not birds. (Cora Brooks)
Perceiving itself, my mind is the path of birds (Grant Hackett)”
Readers are invited to visit his poetry blog, Falling Off the Mountain.
With a title of his choosing, here follows a selection of recent poems by Grant Hackett:
tiny mortal drums
Walking into snow through an inner veil I disappear
Nobody asks me why rain is my shelter
Whatever my chaos I leave clear tracks by the sea
When I block my ears :: a multitude of tiny mortal drums
By being a small and simple boat :: I capsize upon a rose
Will one leaf on the last tree be time enough
Aren't the two halves of my life wind, rain :: and a needle going through
As the snow begins :: you want nothing more to fall
A lithium rain :: and the radio of self playing midnight hours
Shut down a voice for singing :: and it will snow
Shall I braid chaos or silence with the missing strand
Is it your blue sky when I am younger and gathering up the sun
Between intimacy and the unmarried sea :: drowning shouldn't be so hard
Aren't poor stones smaller before they drop from the sky
Are the colors dreamers hoard one :: or cold
The air rusts and our bones stain :: sated with the smell of rain
I sometimes yearn the inward slope next year's spring will climb
A hopeless wind brought me my love against the moon
Waking up a thousand birds :: I have to be a perfect dawn
Autumn distilled in a maple tree :: light without a wing
Self is the whisper in a castle :: the rose is rosewater spilled
I will use the pain I use :: to lift my face from a dying moon
As the pine tree sways in the needle :: we can hardly govern ourselves
As your nightfall darkens my veins :: I dream your ballads and sayings