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International Haiku Conference and Festival Coming to Plattsburgh

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (March 31, 2008, Updated July 17, 2008) - For the first time ever, the International Haiku Poetry Conference and Festival will make its way to North America this summer. The event will be held at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh from July 29 to Aug. 2.

I'm not here. Haiga by poet Gabriel Rosenstock of Dublin, Ireland and photographer Shaun Heffernan of New York

Sponsored by SUNY Plattsburgh, the Lake Champlain-Adirondack Haiku Society, the World Haiku Club and the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts, the conference will bring together world-class poets from the United States, Ireland, Croatia, India, Canada and beyond.

Internationally-acclaimed poet Arthur Sze will be the keynote speaker for the event. He is the Poet Laureate of Santa Fe, an author of nine books of poetry, a translator of T'ang Dynasty poets and a professor emeritus of creative writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.

Sze will give two talks, one titled "Chinese Nature-Based Poetry, Haiku, and the Poetry of Arthur Sze" and another titled "The Ginkgo Light: Poetry of Arthur Sze."

The event will also feature presentations by the following internationally-known poets:

  • Angelee Deodhar, from India, the author of "Children's Haiku from Around the World." Her haiku and haiga have been published internationally in books, journals and on the Internet.
  • Jim Kacian, an internationally-renowned haiku poet, theorist and motivator who was the editor of the Haiku Society of America's Frogpond and the publisher of Red Moon Press. The author of "How to Haiku," he has had seven books published, all of which have won major awards.
  • Gabriel Rosenstock from Dublin, Ireland, the author of more than 100 books of poetry and a member of the Aosdana, the Irish Academy of Arts and Letters.
  • John W. Sexton from Kenmare, Ireland, a poet, haijin, children's novelist, producer and radio scriptwriter for programs like the children's radio show "The Ivory Tower."

The haiga on this page are by poet Gabriel Rosenstock of Dublin, Ireland and photographer Shaun Heffernan of New York. These and other works will be on display at the haiga exhibit hosted by the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts from July 28 through August 2, in its building on Brinkerhoff Street in Plattsburgh.

  • James Thomas Stevens, a Mohawk poet, an associate professor and the director of American Indian Studies at SUNY Fredonia. He has received a number of awards including a Whiting Writer's Award, the Kim Ann Arstark Memorial Prize in Poetry, the City of Santa Fe Writer's Award and the Creative Writing Award at the Institute of American Indian Arts.
  • Carol Moldaw, a Santa Fe poet, who has been widely published in the Antioch Review, the Chicago Review, FIELD, The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Paris Review and Parnassus. She is the author of four books of poetry and recipient of a FIELD Poetry Prize, a Pushcart Prize and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry.
  • Pentimento Playback Theater with John Stevenson. He is the former president of the Haiku Society of America and the former editor of Frogpond, the most widely circulated journal of English-language haiku in the world.

The first day of the conference, July 29, will be dedicated to teaching the children of the Lake Champlain/Adirondack region. Groups of middle and high school students, along with their teachers, will get to hear world renowned poets speak and will have a once in a lifetime chance to work with these poets as they write and recite their own poems.

In addition to presentations from the poets listed above, the rest of the conference will allow attendees to choose from concurrent presentations and to work in small groups, using specialized poetry forms like haiku, senryu, renku, haibun and haiga. These groups will meet daily, allowing attendees to deepen their knowledge and skills in these forms in a way that most conferences don't.

As part of the event, the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts will sponsor an International Haiga Exhibit, featuring the work of an anticipated 80 to 120 visiting haiku poets, artists and photographers. Lake Champlain-Adirondack artists/photographers and poets from Ireland, the United Kingdom, Croatia, Romania, India, Canada and Japan will be represented. There will also be a reception to celebrate these works on either Wednesday or Thursday night.

In addition, Pentimento Playback Theater will perform on Wednesday, July 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hartman Theatre in the Meyers Fine Arts Building on the SUNY Plattsburgh Campus.

Playback Theater is a style of performance in which audience members are asked to participate. Volunteers from the audience will tell stories from their lives. A conductor will help the volunteers cast actors in whatever roles are required. These roles can include those of people, places, things, animals, feelings and so forth. Then audience members will watch as the actors spontaneously act out the scenes.

snowgeese at eventide shadows of themselves. Haiga by poet Gabriel Rosenstock of Dublin, Ireland and photographer Shaun Heffernan of New York.

Additional public poetry readings are in the works and will be announced as plans solidify.

Dr. Richard Schnell, conference organizer is striving to celebrate the area's natural surroundings with the conference. "Ba," the Japanese word for place, is the conference theme, and attendees will have the opportunity to retrace Thoreau's journey from Burlington, Vt. to Plattsburgh and on to Montreal, Quebec. They will take a ferry ride across Lake Champlain and be treated to cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and poetry on the Burlington lakefront. Those interested will also take part in a ginkgo walk through Montreal's Botanical Gardens, making a special trip to see the bonsai and penjing exhibits.

In bringing this event to Plattsburgh, Schnell hopes to cultivate regional identity.

" ... we are intentionally fostering the development of a regional consciousness, expressive in the written and visual arts, celebrating our beauty, our arts, our values, our independence and our multicultural ancestry," said Schnell.

"Developing Clinton County and the Lake Champlain region into an international poetry zone, a cultural destination is quite exciting, and SUNY Plattsburgh and the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts are to be commended for their support and help."

For more information or to register for the conference, visit  www.plattsburghcas.com and click on conferences and events

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