Thursday, July 25, 2013

Feature on Haiku Poet Freeman Ng

Christal Cooper – 1,137 words
Facebook @ Christal Ann Rice Cooper

Where Its Shadow Went

         Writer and software engineer Freeman Ng, 52, grew up in the San Francisco bay area all of this life.  He’s seen many sunsets; the light dancing across the San Francisco bay; plenty of stars; and full moons.

There is something about a haiku – something that makes it different from all other kinds of poems – perhaps it is its simplicity; its focus on nature; its short lines in which even every space is essential to the three-line, 17-syllable poem.
 Yet Ng did not become interested in haiku until July 2010.  Ng, who describes himself as perfectionist when it comes to writing, made an ultimate challenge and commitment in his writing life:  he’d write something every single day and post it on a website.  
His first choice of the type of writing was a serial novel or flash fiction; but eventually he saw the haiku, and due to its form, made that his daily writing assignment.  He has written a haiku per day for three years and posts it on his website called Haiku Diem.  And he never dreamed that it would last this long and be so rewarding.

 “I had produced very few poems or stories in my life, much less poems or stories I thought were good enough to show other people.  I wondered what it might be like to be forced to write every day for a readership that was expecting it and how long I could keep something like that up.  Every day’s entry could stand on its own, so new readers wouldn’t have to catch up with anything, and every day’s entry could be short!”
Ng was not aware of the deep Asian literary history in the haiku nor did he consider himself an Asian writer.
“It was only some weeks into the project that I realized, ‘Oh!  I ended up choosing an Asian art form.  What’s going on there?”
       Ng’s love affair with writing did not begin until he was attending Alameda High School under the tutelage of a dedicated English teacher, Ms. Fran Claggett.  

       “She got me started writing poetry.  I kept in touch with her through all my college years, and recently reestablished contact with her – through Facebook!  I can’t express how happy
I’ve been that she’s back in my life, especially in this period when I’m writing more poetry than ever.”

       Ms. Claggett gave him an appreciation of T.S. Eliot, in particular his legendary poem The Wasteland.  After class, he approached his Ms. Claggett with a commitment that he’d memorize The Wasteland.  He had just one question for her – could he recite it during class.  Of course the answer was yes.  And within one week Ng had the poem recited and performed the fifteen-page poem in two class periods.  

        “I don’t know exactly what influence it subsequently had on me – my poetry is nothing like Eliot’s – but it had to have some effect. I immersed myself in one of the great poems of our culture, breathing it by day and dreaming it by night. I made it part of me, and carried it with me for many years after. Fragments of it still float around in my head.”

       Ng majored in English and planned on earning his living as a teacher or a writer, but fate had a different path.       
“I got two part time jobs: one as a tutor at a community college, and one kind of by accident as a programmer for a small startup company that a friend worked for one summer vacation and then recommended me to when he went back to school in the fall. And the second job just ended up working out better.”
       Ng’s greatest inspirations have not been the poem or the lives of famous poets; bur rather his personal friendships with other poets:  such as Ms. Claggett, and political writer and poet Peter Dale Scott, a former professor of Ng’s.

       “His dedication to the work he’s been called to do in this world is a constant inspiration to me.  In his younger days, this meant carrying on even in the face of death threats because of his political writing.  Now, the main obstacle is declining energy.  I hope that writing will be as integral a part of my life when I’m his age.”

This writer’s day starts out with a very long commute
each day to Google where he works as a software engineer. 
       “I usually write each day’s haiku on the shuttle to work.  If I don’t get it done then, I work on it some more at lunch.  I tend to eat dinner there before taking the latest possible shuttle home.  I do most of my writing at work, while eating lunch and dinner.  I find that I can’t write at home, but can write very well when sitting down to a meal.  It’s a long day, but by the time I get home, I’ve done my job, my web surfing and news reading, and my writing for the day.”

       Ng is definitely not like most writers – where the writer prefers solitude in a remote cabin somewhere.  He prefers to be surrounded by people while enjoying a good meal, like while having lunch and dinner at the Google café. 
       “I love writing in noisy environments.  The energy of the crowd feeds my own energy.”

To keep his haiku commitment to himself and his readers, Ng wrote numerous haikus at one time. 
“I tried to write as many haiku as I could ahead of time as a kind of security blanket, so I could have some padding at all times, but I quickly stopped, and now I almost always write each day's haiku that day. The important message is that I quickly gave up the security blanket of stocking up on them.”
His favorite haiku is a Day 12I saw the wren’s flight/ from grass to tree top, / but not where its shadow went
“What I like about my Day 12 haiku is that it has that twist or misdirection at the end that real haiku often have. The wren flies off, and you can track it directly with your eyes, but there's also a sense in which its shadow takes off, only in a different way and in an initially different direction. It has since become a common motif in my haiku, this idea of a thing that's mirrored or reflected, but with a subtle difference.” 
In 2012, Ng published Haiku Diem The Best of Year One July 9, 2010 – July 8, 2011.  The book is illustrated by Kathryn Briggs (, Kerry Dennehy (, Ardith Goodwin (, and Susan Taylor Brown (  He is presently working on Haiku Diem The Best of Year Two July 9, 2011 – July 8, 2012.

Contact Freeman Ng at or visit his websites at, and

Photo Description and Copyright Information.

Photo 1, 2, and 3.  
Freeman Ng.  Copyright by Freeman Ng.

Photo 4.  
Fran Claggett.  Public Domain.

Photo 5, 6.  
T.S. Elliot.  Public Domain. 

Photo 7.  The Wasteland jacket cover, first edition.  Public Domain.

Photo 8.  
Freeman Ng.  Copyright by Freeman Ng.

Photo 9.  
Peter Dale Scott.  Public Domain.

Photo 10.
Freeman Ng.  Copyright by Freeman Ng.

Photo 11.
Haiku Diem  The Best of Year One jacket cover.  

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Reading is "A Worse Hunger"

Chris Cooper - 2,332 Words
Facebook @ Christal Ann Rice Cooper

“A Worse Hunger”

“For one who reads there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived,
for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives
in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.”
Louis L’Amour

“I have read many books by many lights, hoarding their beauty, their wit or wisdom
against the dark days when I would have no book, nor a place to read.  I have known hunger of the belly kind many times over, but I have known a worse huger:
the need to know and to learn.”
Louis L’Amour

Books are the cans and boxes of food in my pantry.  Books are the spices I use when I cook - not all of them at one time, but a bit here and a bit there.  I have three stacks of books on my nightstand:  fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  Each night I read – not because it is a ritual but because it is a need and a tremendous pleasure, like sleep or sex, or eating delicious chocolate and drinking an ice cold Dr. Pepper.
      Reading allows me to be whoever I want to be, whenever I want to be, go wherever I want to go:  in other words, whenever I read, I am never left behind nor am I running out of time.
      Oprah said that the book that saved her life was A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.  I think every child that goes through extreme sadness finds relief in a book – I found my relief in Bette Green’s The Summer Of My German Soldier; I found passion and escape in Shirlee Busbee’s While Passion Sleeps; and of course, there is always the Bible, the very words of Jesus, that nourish my soul.

      Reading is hereditary – and our job as parents is to make sure that we not only pass the gene of good health, good food habits, but also the thirst for reading.
      We only have about three more weeks before the kids start school, and the “real life” begins.
      Below are a few book suggestions – books on fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.  Enjoy the quick “shopping spree” below and if one strikes your fancy visit the contact website and buy a book. 
      And remember a book is a present you can open and read over again.   And they make great knick-knacks. 
A Fatal Flaw by Margaret Blake
Fiction, Whisky Print Press
Kerensa needs to find out the truth about her late mother. Travelling to Florida from Cornwall, she tries to discover what happened. When Ned Rochester comes along he seems as if he could be useful but he is a cop.  Can Kerensa really trust a cop with the mystery of why her mother shot her father?

Margaret Blake
Manchester, United Kingdom
Blake began writing since she was a child, but did not take writing seriously until her husband John encouraged her to do so.  Her first novel, a historical romance, A Spring of Bloom, was published in 1979.  She’s thus far published over ten novels, five of which are under her Grandmother’s name Ellen Noone.

Love And Its Disappointment by David Brazier.
Nonfiction, O Books, John Hunt
Love and Its Disappointment offers an introduction to an "other centered approach" to psychotherapy and, by extension, to many other areas of life. This does not simply mean that one be primarily focused upon one's friend (or client) as "other" but advocates that the meaning of the other person's life is to be found in the way in which he or she esteems their own others. This produces a distinctive turn in the method and philosophy of therapy. The book begins with a sympathetic critique of the work of the great psychologist Carl Rogers who was known to the author, but then draws in considerations from philosophy, especially that of Iris Murdoch, and from the theory of the arts, which are here regarded as a kind of therapy for society as a whole. The book is serious but not heavy, full of insights and usefully different ways of reflecting upon life, therapy and the arts, especially poetry.

David Brazier
Narborough, Leicester
David Brazier is a Buddhist master and head of the Amida-shu, an order of Pureland Buddhists. He is also professionally a psychotherapy trainer, author, poet and critic; and non-professionally a traveler, photographer, gardener and woodsman. He is the inventor of pandramatics, an improvisational theater art. He lectures regularly in about ten countries and has seven published books and many other writings. He is English but spends most of the year travelling.

Jazz by Jeanpaul Ferro
Poetry, Honest Publishing
Jazz develops Jéanpaul Ferro's considerable observational talent and poetic merit. Perfect for your commute to exorcise the repressed, sweating and fevered demons, or relaxing with a glass of wine in the evening after a hard slog, Jazz zips across, punchy and provocative, evoking Beat and post-Beat but without aping either.

Jeanpaul Ferro
Providence, Rhode Island
Ferro is a novelist, short fiction author, poet, and photographer from Providence, Rhode Island. An 8-time Pushcart Prize nominee, He is the author of five other books including Essendo Morti-Being Dead (Goldfish Press, 2009) which was nominated for the 2010 Griffin Prize in Poetry.  He is represented by the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency. 

Nightmare Along the River Nile:  A Story of Twentieth Century Slavery
by Suzanna Nelson
      Edgar is caught up in a nightmare he never imagined possible when his bus is stopped by the rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army, in northern Uganda. Along with other passengers, most of them students, Edgar is abducted and taken on a long journey to the rebel headquarters in the bush. Things turn even worse when, instead of being forced to become a soldier, he is sold into slavery. His life is changed forever. Edgar's friends learn of his fate and embark on a daring and difficult rescue attempt.
With the help of a fellow captive, Edgar attempts a daring and dangerous escape, knowing that his re-capture would end in a fate worse than death. But will he succeed? Looking collectively at the people who are involved in Edgar's captivity and the ones who assist him, we are reminded that people are capable of good or evil, regardless of their color or creed. Through Edgar's story, the reader will come to understand the resilience that human beings can exhibit under extreme circumstances, the power of faith and the meaning of true friendship.
Suzanna Nelson
Geneva, Switzerland
      Nelson is a consultant for the United Nations who has lived and worked in Africa, Europe, and North America.  She is also the author of The Helpers:  An International Tale of Espionage and Corruption.

Forever Found, Forever Lost by Ross Eddy Osborn
Fiction, Whisky Creek Press LLC
A street-wise James Jesse Dowell wouldn’t buy the legend of some Eskimo beast god until he witnessed a soul-crazed bush doctor come to horrifying life at forty thousand feet in the sky. Now James must stalk the demon and kill the beast that rules Charles Patrick MacHenery’s soul—or James will never be free of the maddening curse pounding ever louder in his head like some satanic sealskin drum.
But how does one destroy a werewolf that can only die by a loving hand? An escaped moon demon who hasn’t made fulfilling love in over five hundred and thirty reclusive years—and desperately desires to, now that he’s been trapped by his new eternal love—Miss Amanda De La Ray—a woman as witchy as the swampy Louisiana wilds she fairly rules.
Ross Eddy Osborn
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
“I grew up blue collar in Oklahoma City, snuck through high school, did an eye opening tour of combat duty in Vietnam (1968) were I learned first trembling hand that we all laugh, cry, and scream in the same language. Been writing 20 plus years now, and getting solid notice.  I’m working on a creative none fiction book titled 'Don't Stand on Greasy Grass, 1876.' Twenty three year old Irish exile joins unwitting ranks with one of US histories arguable heroes, once brevet General, Let. Colonel George Armstrong Custer.”
Manifest Destiny by Rick Robinson
Fiction, Publisher Page
While observing the Presidential election in Romania, a Congressional staffer is kidnapped by Communist rebels and held captive in a remote area of the Carpathian Mountains. The quest for his safe return takes Congressman Richard Thompson to a dark side of international politics which no one dares talk about in the hallowed halls of Congress. In trying to save the life of the young American, Thompson must do things he thought impossible for him to imagine, let alone execute.

Richard Lee Robinson
Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky
Rick Robinson has spent thirty years in politics and law, including a stint on Capitol Hill as Legislative Director/Chief Counsel to then-Congressman Jim Bunning (R-KY). He has been active in all levels of politics, from advising candidates on the national level to walking door-to-door in city council races. He ran for the United States Congress in 1998.   Rick's first book, The Maximum Contribution, was named Award Winning Finalist in the 2008 Next Generation Indie Books Awards in the genré of political fiction. It also won an Honorable Mention at the 2008 Hollywood Book Festival. His last book, Sniper Bid, was released on Election Day 2009 and opened on Amazon's Top 100 Best Seller list at #46 for political fiction. Sniper Bid has earned 5 national awards: Finalist USA Book News Best Books of 2009; Finalist Best Indie Novel Next Generation Indie Books Awards; Runner-up at the 2009 Nashville Book Festival; Honorable Mentions at the 2008 New England Book Festival and the 2009 Hollywood Book Festival. Throughout 2009 both books appeared on Amazon's Top 100 Best Seller List on the same day.
A graduate of Eastern Kentucky University and Salmon P. Chase College of Law, Rick currently practices law in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky with the law firm of Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP. Rick, and his wife Linda, live in Ft. Mitchell with their three children, Josh, Zach and MacKenzie.
Poemergency Room by Paul Siegell
Poetry, Otolith
      Poemergency Room is a "curiosity dynamo" or a "dictionary playpen" that explores the ways that words – in sight and sound – can themselves be thrilled when placed into a poem.  It is a book about a "realworldolescent" struggling with the relationship between "Fire Work" & "Hire Life," all the while taunting, "A cubical food fight? Rip-roarin' rhapsodic, I'm ready when you are."

Paul Siegell
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Paul Siegell is the author of three books of poetry: wild life rifle fire (Otoliths Books, 2010), jambandbootleg (A-Head Publishing, 2009) and Poemergency Room (Otoliths Books, 2008). He is a senior editor at Painted Bride Quarterly, contributed to many fine journals, and featured in two national music and culture magazines, Paste and Relix.   Having lived in the midst of the Long Island Expressway, the Cathedral of Learning, the Magic Kingdom, Stone Mountain and now the Liberty Bell, he currently bikes/buses/subways to a building where newspapers are published, and there he writes for a living, but not as a journalist.
Vintage Gray by Joshua Michael Stewart
Poetry, Pudding House Publications
      Vintage Gray is a slim volume of 26 poems, beautifully designed with a glittering off-white cardstock cover by Pudding House Publications. The poems inside this collection are surreal, Imaginative, full of longing and wonder and in many cases downright funny.

Joshua Michael Stewart
Ware, Massachusetts
Stewart’s poems have been published in Massachusetts Review, Rattle, Georgetown Review, William and Mary Review, Flint Hills Review, Pedestal Magazine, and Worcester Review.     
Goodbye Saigon by Nina Vida
Fiction, Random House Value Publishing
Little Saigon, California 1993.  Two young women, one a fast-talking Vietnamese immigrant who charms, cajoles and hustles her precarious way through life in a country she is determined by whatever means to make her own;  the other an Anglo, short on money and willing to risk all to get some.  In the unlikeliest of pairings, together they set up a bogus law firm in Little Saigon, California, and in a community filled with racism, vicious gangs and deadly scams, face down the forces that threaten to destroy them both.

Nina Vida
Huntington Beach, California  
“I've been asked how I came to write a novel about the Vietnamese immigrant experience in the United States.  In the nineties my husband was an attorney in Little Saigon, California, and I became best friends with his Vietnamese office manager. Soon I was going to Vietnamese weddings and karaoke bars and festivals and funerals. I sucked up everything I saw and heard. The surface of Vietnamese experience gave way, and interior doors opened. The Vietnamese war and its wounds enveloped me. The surreal became real. I imagined my friend's horrors by the way she talked about war and corruption and loss, by the way she imagined herself in an imagineless world. Her voice propelled me into a dark slumbering wood. The only escape was to write my way out.”

Photo Description and Copyright Info
1.  Louis L'amour. Fair Use under US Copyright Law.
2.  A Tree Grows In Brooklyn jacket cover.
3.  Summer of My German Soldier jacket cover.
4. While Passion Sleeps jacket cover.
5. Bible
6. A Fatal Flaw jacket cover.
7.  Margaret Blake.  Copyright by Margaret Blake.
8.  Margaret Blake.  Copyright by Margaret Blake.
9.  Love and its Disappointments jacket cover.
10. David Brazier.  Copyright by David Brazier.
11. David Brazier.  Copyright by David Brazier.
12. Jazz jacket cover.
13. Jeanpaul Ferro.  Copyright by Jeanpaul Ferro.
14. Jeanpaul Ferro.  Copyright by Jeanpaul Ferro.
15. Nightmare Along the River Nile jacket cover.
16. Forever Found, Forever Lost jacket cover.
17. Ross Eddy Osborn with grandson.  Copyright by Ross Eddy Osborn.
18. Manifest Destiny jacket cover.
19.  Richard Lee Robinson.  Copyright by Richard Lee Robinson.
20. Poememergency Room jacket cover.
21. Paul Seigell.  Copyright by Paul Siegell
22.Vintage Gray jacket cover.
23. Joshua Michael Stewart.  Copyright by Joshua Michael Stewart.
24. Goodbye, Saigon jacket cover.
25.  Nina Vida.  Copyright by Nina Vida.