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Honorary Curator Alexis Rotella

Alexis Rotella
Honorary Curator, 2019-2020

Appointment Announcement

John Stevenson photoThe American Haiku Archives advisory board is pleased to announce the appointment of Alexis Rotella as the 2019–2020 honorary curator of the American Haiku Archives at the California State Library in Sacramento.

This honor recognizes her longstanding and prominent contributions to the writing, editing, and publishing of haiku and related genres of poetry. Rotella was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in 1947, and has lived in Washington, DC, the Piedmont region of Italy, California, New Jersey, and Maryland. She graduated in 1979 from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, with a BA in philosophy. For her degree, she wrote a paper on Zen Buddhism that led to a lifelong interest in haiku and related Japanese poetry genres.

She has authored or coauthored more than forty books and chapbooks, most of which have focused on haiku and related Japanese poetry in English, as well as longer poetry. Her poems have been translated into many languages, including Japanese, Polish, and Italian, and her work, often with a psychological edge to it, is widely anthologized. Rotella has been a member of the Haiku Society of America since the late 1970s and served as its president and editor of Frogpond in 1984. She has also started several haiku and senryu journals, including Brussels Sprout in 1984, The Persimmon Tree in 1990, and Prune Juice in 2009.

Rotella’s poems, essays, photography, and digital art have appeared in hundreds of publications, including Modern Haiku, Frogpond, New Letters, The Christian Science Monitor, Glamour, The Paterson Literary Review, Windhorse, Chiron Review, Blue Mesa Review, The Madison Review, Simply Haiku, Red Lights, Bottle Rockets, The New York Times, Hedgerow, Sonic Boom, Eucalypt, Skylark, A Hundred Gourds, The Heron’s Nest, Wind Literary Review, The Sow’s Ear, Poetry Nippon, Ko, Bones, Atlas Poetica, Liliput Review, Lynx, Presence, Blithe Spirit, Hummingbird, Frag Lit, American Tanka, Raw Nervz Haiku, Five Lines Down, Simply Haiku, Cicada, Inkstone, Wisteria, Woodnotes, Still, Stylus, New Jersey Art Forum Magazine, Moonset, Mainichi Daily News, Ito En Newspaper (New York), Ribbons, Ink Sweat and Tears, Haiga Online, Three Lights Gallery, Right Hand Pointing, Wales Haiku Journal, and KYSO Flash Fiction. Alexis also maintains a blog at

We are pleased to celebrate Alexis Rotella, and to bestow this honor from the American Haiku Archives, which seeks to preserve and promote haiku and related poetry throughout the North American continent.

          Late August
          I bring him the garden
          in my skirt

                              In the passing caboose    Christmas lights

          Last day at work—
          already someone has taken
          the stapler from my desk

                              Discussing divorce
                              he strokes
                              the lace tablecloth

          At the top
          of the Ferris wheel
          lilac scent

The AHA advisory board is delighted to pay tribute to Alexis Rotella as the twenty-third honorary curator of the American Haiku Archives. To search the collections of the American Haiku Archives online, please visit For information on donating material to the archives, or other information about its history and past honorary curators, please visit the American Haiku Archives website at

~Michael Dylan Welch, American Haiku Archives Advisory Board Co-chair


Selected Haiku


On the shortcut home
a pink candy heart
asks to be mine


                                                   Bringing with it
                                                   the smells of someplace else
                                                   spring rain


The lining
of an old woman’s jacket
earthworm pink


                                                   a house


a light on
for the wind


                                                   Home alone
                                                   I put on
                                                   my peasant dress


my husband watches
Donald Duck Cartoons


                                                   Driving a thousand miles to sit on plastic chairs


The garden
losing interest
in itself


                                                   Heron rising
                                                   silver bracelets
                                                   on the pond


Collared dove
a sermon
on melancholy


                                                   In the passing caboose    Christmas lights


From her neon window
the crystal gazer
stares into winter rain


                                                   Quickly I powder my nose
                                                   my mother
                                                   staring back


Last day at work—
already someone has taken
the stapler from my desk


                                                   Chin on the broom    floating petals


A butterfly lands on Park Place


                                                   Vase of peonies:
                                                   on a white bud
                                                   lipstick print


In the guest room
where my mother slept
I look for comfort


                                                   Discussing divorce
                                                   he strokes
                                                   the lace tablecloth


Trying to forget him
the potatoes


                                                   Only I laugh
                                                   at his joke—
                                                   the silence


Late August
I bring him the garden
in my skirt


                                                   I tell him I’m not
                                                   looking for a prince


Yachts all docked—
the tinkle
of ice


                                                   At the top
                                                   of the Ferris wheel
                                                   lilac scent


The wind
this morning


                                                   Across the lake
                                                   an owl rides
                                                   its echo


Around the corner
summer waits
in a yellow dress


                                                   Sunday afternoon
                                                   no mother
                                                   to call


Between waves
of grief
I season the lamb


                                                   Hanging on
                                                   by a thread
                                                   last pomegranate


Pushing winter
in deeper
hoot owl


                                                   Born with snowflakes
                                                   on its back
                                                   the fawn


Massage therapist
tired of winter
takes it out on me


                                                   A tiny wave
                                                   to the gardener
                                                   I fired




                                                   Cranking up
                                                   the sky
                                                   the geese


Books by Alexis Rotella

Author or Co-Author:

Clouds In My Teacup. Wind Chimes Press, 1982 (ISBN 0-941190-04-8)

Tuning the Lily. High/Coo Press mini-chapbook #18, 1983 (ISBN 0-913719-61-7)

After an Affair. Merging Media, 1984 (Haiku Society of America Merit Book Award Runner-Up)

ASK! Muse Pie Press, 1984

Camembert Comes from the Sea. White Peony Press, 1984 (ISBN 978-0917951008)

Harvesting Stars. Jade Mountain Press, 1984

On a White Bud. Merging Media, 1984 (ISBN 978-0934536202)

Closing the Circle. Muse Pie Press, 1985

Polishing a Ladybug. Swamp Press, 1985

Rearranging Light, Muse Pie Press, 1985 (ISBN 978-0918453013) (Haiku Society of America Merit Book Award Runner-Up)

Beards and Wings. White Peony Press, 1985 (ISBN 978-0917951015)

Middle City, Muse Pie Press, 1986 (New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship)

Moonflowers. Jade Mountain Press, 1987

Drizzle of Stars. (renga with Scott Montgomery and Bob Boldman) Jade Mountain Press, 1988

The Lace Curtain, Jade Mountain Press, 1988 (ISBN 978-0917951039)

Antiphony of Bells: A Haiku Journey Through Italy in Simultaneous English and Italian. Jade Mountain Press, 1989

How Words and Thoughts Affect Your Body: The Book of Affirmations. (nonfiction) Jade Mountain Press, 1989 (ISBN 978-0917951107)

An Unknown Weed. King’s Road Press, 1991 (Haiku Society of America Merit Book Award Runner-Up)

Carousel: 30 Senryu. Juniper Press, 1991 (Third Place, Haiku Society of America Merit Book Awards)

Looking for a Prince. White Peony Press, 1991 (ISBN 978-0917951251)

Voice of the Mourning Dove: An Anthology of Haiku. White Peony Press, 1991 (ISBN 978-0917951138)

The Essence of Flowers. (nonfiction) Jade Mountain Press, 1991 (ISBN 978-0917951114)

Eleven Renga. (with Florence Miller) Jade Mountain Press, 1993 (ISBN 978-0917951275)

Musical Chairs: A Haiku Journey Through Childhood. Jade Mountain Press, 1994

Yes: A Dozen Linked Poems. (with Florence Miller) Jade Mountain Press, 1994 (ISBN 978-0916133993)

A String of Monarchs: Thirteen Linked Poems. (with Florence Miller) Jade Mountain Press, 1995 (ISBN 978-0917951497)

No One Inside. (linked poem with Carlos Colón) Proof Press, 1996

Sassy. (with Carlos Colón) Tragg Publishing, 1998

Eavesdropping: Seasonal Haiku. Modern English Tanka Press, 2007 (ISBN 978-0615162010

Lip Prints. (tanka) Modern English Tanka Press, 2007 (ISBN 978-0615165011)

Ouch: Senryu that Bite. Modern English Tanka Press, 2007 (ISBN 978-0615163185)

A Sprinkle of Glitter. (a solo illustrated renga) Rosenberry Books, 2008

Ask! Again: Rotellagrams. Rosenberry Books, 2008

Looking for a Prince. Modern English Tanka Press, revised second edition, 2008 (ISBN 978-0-981769-15-8)

Elvis in Black Leather. Modern English Tanka Press, 2009

Black Jack Judy and the Crisco Kids. Modern English Tanka Press, 2010

Between Waves. Red Moon Press, 2015

The Color Blue. Red Moon Press, 2017

Old Diaries: Short Poems and Literary Fragments. Kindle, 2018

Different Conversations: Short Poems and Literary Fragments. Kindle, 2018

Dancing the Tarantella: Short Poems. Jade Mountain Press, 2019

Scratches on the Moon: A Haibun Collection. Jade Mountain Press, 2019
(Touchstone Book Award, 2019


As Editor:

Butterfly Breezes: An Anthology of Haiku. Jade Mountain Press, 1981

The Rise and Fall of Sparrows: A Collection of North American Haiku. Los Hombres Press, 1990 (ISBN 978-0962349720)

Ash Moon Anthology: Poems on Aging in Modern English Tanka. (coedited with Denis M. Garrison) Modern English Tanka Press, 2008 (ISBN 978-0615196411)

Unsealing Our Secrets: A Short Poem Anthology About Sexual Abuse. Jade Mountain Press, 2018 (Touchstone Distinguished Book Award)


Anthology Inclusions:

Haiku in English: A Poetic Form Expands. Hiroaki Sato. Simul Press, Japan, 1987

The Haiku Handbook. William J. Higginson with Penny Harter. Kodansha, 1989

Synesthesia in Haiku and Other Essays. Toshimi Horiuchi. University of Philippines Press, 1990

Beneath a Single Moon: Buddhism in Contemporary American Poetry. Kent Johnson and Craig Paulenich, editors. Shambhala, 1991.

Haiku. Czeslaw Milosz, editor. Wydawnictwo, Krakow, Poland, 1992

Simple Treasures: Practicing Mindfulness with Children. Deborah Hopkinson. Parallax Press, 1992

Haiku Moment. Bruce Ross, editor. Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1993

Wind Five Folded: An Anthology of English-Language Tanka. Jane Reichhold and Werner Reichhold, editors. Aha Books, 1994

Step Lightly: Poems for the Journey. Nancy Willard, compiler. Harcourt Brace, 1998

The Haiku Anthology. Cor van den Heuvel, editor. W.W. Norton & Company, third edition, 1999

How to Haiku. Bruce Ross. Charles E. Tuttle Company, 2002

Haiku: Poésies Anciennes et Modernes. Jackie Hardy, editor. Éditions Véga, 2003

Haiku for Lovers. Manu Bazzano, editor. MQ Publications, 2003

The Tanka Anthology. Michael McClintock, Pamela Ness Miller, and Jim Kacian, editors. Red Moon Press, 2003

Haiku on 42nd Street: A Celebration of Urban Poetry and Art. Clerisy Press, 2008

Haiku Mind: 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness and Open Your Heart. Patricia Donegan. Shambhala, 2008

Bright Stars: An Organic Tanka Anthology. M. Kei, editor. Kei Books, 2008

Starlights: Poetry of Urban Life in Modern English Tanka. Dennis M. Garrson and Michael McClintock, editors. Modern English Tanka Press, 2009

Global Haiku: Twenty-five Poets World-wide. George Swede and Randy Brooks, editors. Mosaic Press, 2010

Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years. Jim Kacian, Philip Rowland, and Alan Burns, editors. W.W. Norton, 2013


Essays & Feature Stories About Alexis Rotella

Bernard, Natalie. “A Comparison of Haiku by Margaret Chula and Alexis Rotella.” Millikin University Haiku, (2001): n. pag. Web. 6 March 2016.

Boynton, Bruce. "Meeting . . . Alexis Rotella.” Prune Juice 6, (2011): n. pag. Web. 11 March 2016.

Boynton, Bruce. "Featured Poet Alexis Rotella.” Prune Juice 7, (2012): n. pag. Web. 11 March 2016.

Haile, Kristen. “Alexis Rotella: Simple Complexity.” Millikin University Haiku, (2008): n. pag. Web. 5 March 2016.

Perry, Rachel. “Breaking the Rules for Love or Haiku: Masajo Suzuki and Alexis Rotella.” Millikin University Haiku, (2002): n. pag. Web. 6 March 2016.

Rotella, Alexis. “Alexis Rotella: Haiku Testimony.” Living Haiku Anthology, (no date): n. pag. Web. 18 March 2016.

Rotella, Alexis. “The Wishing Stone (In Memoriam Herman Ward 1914-2007).” Modern English Tanka 2.1, (2007): 196-202. Web. 20 March 2016.

Sheirer, John. “An Interview with Alexis Rotella.” Oak Grove 1 (1986): 1-9.

Saubers, Nicholas. “Raymond Roseliep and Alexis Rotella: Zen in Haiku Versus a Christian Perpective.” Millikin University Haiku, (2001): n. pag. Web. 6 March 2016.

Schleppenbach, Jay and Lynn Wayne. “Just Friends: A One Act Play Based on Relationship Haiku of Alexis Rotella.” Millikin University Haiku, (2000): n. pag. Web. 6 March 2016.

Sullivan, Jim. “Alexis Rotella’s ‘Canoe Through Water Lilies’.” A Hundred Gourds 2.1, (2012): n. pag. Web. 10 March 2016.


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