Welcome to the American Haiku Archives
Dr. Kevin Starr
Former California State Librarian
We are saddened to announce the passing of Dr. Kevin Starr, former California State Librarian, who facilitated the formation of the American Haiku Archives. He also proposed our annual tradition of having an honorary curator, and hosted us for the AHA inauguration event on July 12, 1996. He inspired us all by saying "If in doubt, donate your haiku materials to the archives. Let history decide their value."
Dr. Starr was born in San Francisco on September 3, 1940, and died of a heart attack in the same city on January 14, 2017. He is best known for writing the definitive books of California history (see his books on Amazon), amounting to more than 10,000 carefully researched and engaging pages.
With the formation of the American Haiku Archives, he also contributed immeasurably to the history of North American haiku and its long-term preservation. Dr. Starr cared deeply about the poetics of English-language haiku, and we are grateful for his contribution to the legacy of haiku literature. Read more about Dr. Kevin Starr and his passing at the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, SFGate, and KQED.
Featured AHA Exhibts:
Kiyoko & Kiyoshi Tokutomi by Patricia Machmiller
About the Archives
The American Haiku Archives is the world’s largest public collection of haiku and related poetry books and papers outside Japan. This repository is housed at the California State Library in Sacramento, California, and is dedicated to preserving the history of North American haiku.
The American Haiku Archives (AHA) was originally the idea of Dr. Kevin Starr, former California state librarian, and haiku poet Jerry Kilbride. The archives took shape in 1995 and 1996 with the help of many additional volunteers and advocates, and was founded at the California State Library on July 12, 1996. At this time, the American Haiku Archives became the official archive of the Haiku Society of America. Initial major donations of books and papers came from Elizabeth Searle Lamb and from the Haiku Society of America. Since then, many other significant collections of haiku-related books, papers, and correspondence have been donated to the archives. Library archivists have meticulously catalogued and archived all donated materials using state-of-the-art archival processes so that these valuable materials will be available for generations of future haiku poets and researchers.
The haiku archives welcomes the public through the California State Library’s California History Room, where its rare and special book collections are accessible. The American Haiku Archives also welcomes donations of books, papers, letters, and other material relating to haiku, mainly in English, but also in other languages. The California State Library is primarily located at 914 Capitol Mall in Sacramento, California, and the American Haiku Archives is housed at the Library and Courts II Building at 900 “N” Street.
We invite you to read about our honorary curators, learn how to donate to the archives, conduct research, and more. Also see our Facebook page.
An invitation to the way of haiku
“A haiku . . . is a hand beckoning, a door half-opened, a mirror wiped clean. It is a way of returning to nature, to our moon nature, our cherry blossom nature, our falling leaf nature, in short, to our Buddha nature. It is a way in which the cold winter rain, the swallows of evening, even the very day in its hotness, and the length of the night become truly alive, share in our humanity, speak their own silent and expressive language.”
— R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 1, page 243