one-minute vacation
grand canyon haiku

While artist-in-residence at Grand Canyon National Park, in the fall of 2010 and again in the early winter of 2011, I wrote haiku.

These emerged organically from my habit of hiking every day. The long stretches of solitary sensory immersion in such a mercurial landsacpe, the distraction and retreat of my own internal narrative, and the rhythm of my feet on the mostly-flat rim trails, lent themselves to verse. So: hiking haiku. Hiku?

I did a good amount of creative writing in college, including a year-long special seminar in the English Department, but I've written poetry only occasionally since then. I had forgotten the pleasure of writing regularly only for myself.

Though at first I thought to focus on re-rendering my auditory experience of the Canyon soundscape — I have become acutely interested in alternative approaches to documenting soundscape beyond conventional field recording, including in text — my scope in the end incompassed many aspects of my experience.

Distilling even simple observations into such a compressed format was a delicious challenge. Indeed, I found the constraints of the haiku in its Western interpretation — a syllable count of five, seven, five; a landscape evocation and a twist — liberating.

Working in minatures, especially outside of my nominal medium, the burden of my own expecation to perform was lifted, and I freed myself from my usual neurotic scrutiny.

The resulting freedom to simply do my best, and move on, was remniscent of the removal of ego-investment that makes speed chess (for me) such a pleasure.

The results are not serious literature, nor serious haiku.

Some of them I am fond of. But what I am fonder of is that they got slowly better.



grand canyon haiku
sound, art, music
audio restoration at the cathedral
on leaving
how to use this site
an old artist's statement

(diy advice here)

Grand Canyon National Park from the South Rim, fall 2010.

autumn 2010

So distant, so clear,
the lonesome piping wail. Elk—
Harmonic series!

Here the Redtails shriek
with no California drawl.
Their own dialect.

The rock at Horn Creek,
dusk. A bat wings loudly by.
Within me, loud blood.

Each disturbing drop
adds small volume to the sky
of stone-caught water.

Crackles then grumbles
flood spaces prepared by the
moments of silence.

Cloud takes canyon. Check
the rim for remnants; absence
does not just vanish.

So dark, this water
fell all morning! So fickle,
rising already, light.


winter 2011

To fall too easy,
a lingering through kind air,
to wait, spent, to melt.

Abashed the winter
sun repents its timid hours
offering them gold.

Where with shade inclined
to wearing silver, red rock
recalls the sea. Foam.

Such dust, such haze, as
cold air takes leave present, plain,
what's no longer here.

To hold the sun so
close unmakes you, but you, ice,
go out ecstatic.

Again, flakes. But bark;
there's the woodpecker. He is
erosion, also.

Phantom Ranch: eight miles.
The short way still some ways to
carry my own ghosts.

'Castrate a crayfish,'
Emily said, 'it grows back!'
Her nails sky blue. Bright.

Mantra dropping lip
to ledge: hike within your means.
But close to the edge.