‘Haiku in Hadley’greets travelers on the rail trail

  • Wanda Cook, Hadley’s first poet laureate, is shown at her home, June 23. Her first project as laureate is a collection of haiku that is now displayed on the Norwottuck Rail Trail. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Bicyclists pass a haiku poem by Wanda Cook, June 23, on the Norwottuck Rail Trail. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Wanda Cook, the first poet laureate for Hadley, at her home, Tuesday, June 23, 2020. Her first project as laureate is a collection of haiku that is now displayed on the Norwottuck Rail Trail. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Bicyclists pass a haiku poem by Laurie D. Morrissey, Tuesday, June 23, 2020 on the Norwottuck Rail Trail. Fourteen haiku poems are on display on the trail in Hadley, a project created by Wanda Cook, the first poet laureate for Hadley. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Bicyclists pass a haiku poem by Larry Kimmel, Tuesday, June 23, 2020 on the Norwottuck Rail Trail. Fourteen haiku poems are on display on the trail in Hadley, a project created by Wanda Cook, the first poet laureate for Hadley. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 7/5/2020 6:40:17 PM

HADLEY — Small signs featuring brief, three-line poems, aiming to convey, through words, the transition of spring into summer, are greeting bicyclists, walkers and joggers along the Norwottuck Rail Trail.

For Wanda Cook, Hadley’s first poet laureate, the 14 displays of haiku poetry on the Hadley section of the bike path, installed in various places Sunday, should give people both enjoyment and a chance to catch their breath.

“We live in a hectic society and this is such a short and tiny form that causes you to pause for the moment,” says Cook, who has been writing haiku for 20 years and spearheaded what is known as Haiku in Hadley.

The inaugural project by Cook and the Hadley Cultural Council offers written reflections on a specific period of time when the weather is warm and nature is full of life.

“We’re trying to capture the essence of the moment with haiku,” Cook said.

Cook said haiku is a short poem that deals with nature or human nature, usually has three lines and, as derived from Japanese haiku, has specific syllable counts, though haiku written in English is less concerned with that aspect.

Haiku poetry also usually has two parts, with the middle section giving what Cook calls the psychological space between two thoughts, and the poems can often go in unexpected directions from the first line. Poets try to use subtle techniques to capture a specific thought.

Cook selected the poems on display, many written by authors from Massachusetts and New England, and wanted seasonal references or seasonal implications in the words.

One of hers on display states, “In his chubby hand/ bent dandelions/… just three.” Another, by Brad Bennett of Arlington, reads “Streetlights …/ my shadow and I/ keep meeting.” “Spring wind —/ she stands/ on the pedals” reads a third, from Laurie D. Morrissey of Hopkinton.

Cook applied for and was chosen for the poet laureate position, which she will hold for the next two years,

“I was really thrilled that I was selected,” Cook said.

Her expertise includes being the New England coordinator of Haiku Society of America for the past 11 years and being selected for an all women’s international haiku anthology, “Wishbone Moon,” published in 2018.

“It was a natural fit and I thought it would be nice to bring awareness of haiku to the local community,” Cook said.

Dina Friedman, a member of the Cultural Council who advocated for creating the poet laureate position, said the original plan discussed was to have the haikus displayed in stores and restaurants along Route 9. The COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans, but with people getting outdoors again the bike path was a perfect place for them.

Two more ways to expose people to the poetry form are also taking place. One is already active, in which an additional 15 haiku poems, all distinct from those displayed on the bike path, were printed onto postcards that are being sent to residents. People who receive these in the mail will be encouraged, through written directions that come with the postcard, to sign their name or place their initials onto them and then put them back in the mail. Once a postcard has filled up with signatures, the intent is to have them sent back to a post office box for the poet laureate.

Cook said she isn’t sure how many will end up back in her hands, but those that have circulated and been returned will be displayed in town.

Meantime, the signs are the first batch and will be replaced by ones with haikus with autumn themes in the fall. The current ones will then be displayed in the yards of residents interested in hosting them.

The role of poet laureate is to make sure there is outreach for poetry in Hadley.

“Part of my vision with this is that we present materials to the community in various forms,” Cook said

Cook said she had hoped to lead workshops, though those have been postponed due to the pandemic

In addition to exposing people to haiku, Friedman said, members believe that some pleasure will come during what has been a difficult time.

“The Cultural Council thought they would be an uplifting thing for the community and nice to have something new for people to enjoy,” Friedman said.

The cost of printing the signs, which have markings from the Hadley Cultural Council, the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, were offset by local businesses Multi-Arts Inc. and Valley Malt.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.

Please support the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s COVID-19 coverage

Thank you for your support of the Gazette.




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2019 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy