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Honorary Curator Jerry Kilbride

Jerry Kilbride
Honorary Curator, 1998–1999

Jerry Kilbride: An Appreciation
by Ty Hadman (November, 2001)

Kilbride papersAny haiku poet worthy of his or her own salt will have written a body of work that is autobiographical, an expression of what that haiku poet is, has done, and uncovered and discovered that distinctly reflects the haiku poet’s character, personality, experiences, and perceptions in life and involvement in human affairs. The poet’s work also illustrates some of the emotional responses and spiritual insights that are a small yet significant record of certain daily events. And the work indicates where the haiku poet has lived and traveled within a personal, cultural, or historical context.

It is not difficult to discern or distinguish between the obvious differences in haiku written by Alexis Rotella, Nicholas Virgilio, Foster Jewell, Marlene Mountain, anne mckay, and Jerry Kilbride. Haiku reflect who we are, what we have done, where we have been, and how we see, feel, perceive, and relate. Our haiku are our autobiography. There is often a dramatic personal story hidden in the depths of many of Jerry’s haiku.

Jerry Kilbride has written haiku, tanka, renga, and haibun. He is a Korean war veteran. Here is an example of one of his tanka:

cloud shadows move
across the grave of my friend
who loved speeding
shortly home from korea
his blood on lincoln highway

Jerry fell in love with the pristine beauty of the Hawaiian Islands. For years he seriously thought about possibly retiring there:

hanauma bay
in the reef’s transparencies
are flashing rainbows

Jerry has been to Europe and Mexico and traveled back and forth across the United States by bus:

home from a journey
my reflection in the glass
of the front door

Home was an apartment on Nob Hill in San Francisco where Jerry lived for many years. He gets around on foot or uses public transportation and has never owned or driven a car:

fog . . .
just the tree and I
at the bus stop

Some of Jerry’s haiku reveal and express his tastes in art, music, and literature:

the clock radio clicks on

Jerry is a very generous man. He has been an active member in several nonprofit organizations helping the poor and hungry, AIDS and cancer sufferers, writers in workshops, and more, and has donated money and time as a volunteer, but most of all, has contributed by giving helpful advice, love, compassion, and his heartfelt support in many ways:

AIDS march
I keep relighting
the candle I carry

windows filled with light
at the home for the blind
Christmas night

Jerry often writes about family members and other loved ones. Death is often a recurring theme:

my watery eyes
mother always bragged about
swallowing goldfish

condolence letter—
running out of ink
in mid-sentence

the throbbing hangnail
on my thumb

Jerry, now retired, was a bartender by profession. He really loved his work, which in many ways he loved even more than his literary pursuits. Here are a couple of favorite bartending haiku:

dice cups hitting
the bar’s polished surface

end of a long day
the old bartender’s feet
take the floorboards home

Guide to the Jerry Kilbride Papers

Kilbride papersJerry Kilbride's papers have been donated to the American Haiku Archives.

They are available for research and reading at the archives.

The portrait of Jerry Kilbride on this page is also from the papers at the archives.

The following link will take you to an online Guide to Jerry Kilbride's papers at the American Haiku Archives:

Guide to the Jerry Kilbride Papers

Indexes contents of boxes 100-120.

Biography of Jerry Kilbride

February 25, 1930 – November 3, 2005

Born February 25, 1930 in Denver, Colorado. Attended grammar and high schools affiliated with St. Mel Roman Catholic Parish in Chicago's west side, 1936-1948. United States Army, 1951-1953. Studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, Mexico City College, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Member of the Small Press Traffic Writers' Workshop, San Francisco, 1979-1986. Vice-President of the Haiku Society of America, 1989. A co-founder of the Haiku Poets of Northern California and the American Haiku Archives. Museum of Haiku Literature Award, 1987. Japan Air Lines Haiku Conference Awards, First Prize, 1987. Henderson Awards, First Prize, 1987. Henderson Awards, Third Prize, 1988. Mainichi Daily News Awards, First Prize, 1989. HPNC President's Gavel Award, 1991. Retired as senior bartender of the Olympic Club, San Francisco, March 1995. Participant in the 16th Annual Summer Writers' Workshop, Irish Writers' Centre, Dublin, Ireland, August 1995. Member of the Irish Literary and Historical Society, San Francisco. Widely traveled. Died November 3, 2005.

Read Dr. Kevin Starr's biographical sketch and appreciation of Jerry Kilbride in the California State Library Foundation Bulletin #84, 2006, pages 17 to 24.

Books by Jerry Kilbride

Kilbride, Jerry. Tracings / haibun by Jerry Kilbride; edited by vincent tripi; drawings by Chukiat Jaroensuk. [Northfield, MA]: Lily Pool Press, [2003?]

Ernest Berry with Jerry Kilbride. Forgotten war : bulldozers remove the memorial: a Korean War haiku sequence. Flaxton [Qld.]: Post Pressed, 2000.

Marlina Rinzen and Jerry Kilbride, editors. When butterflies come. New York: Haiku Society of America, 1993.

Jerry Kilbride, editor. Playing tag among Buddhas. San Francisco: Two Autumns Press, 1992.

Kilbride, Jerry. Heaton farm haiku. Glen Burnie, Md.: Wind Chimes Press, 1983.

Ty Hadman, Jerry Kilbride, Louis Cuneo, and Pete Beckwith. Cherry blossoms in East Oakland. Oakland [Calif.] : Leanfrog, 1981.

Selected Haiku by Jerry Kilbride

                                                                   nursing a friend with AIDS
                                                                   I close the window
                                                                   against rain

last flutter
of the butterfly
in the mime’s hand

                                                                   jumping rope
                                                                   the little girl and her shadow
                                                                   touch touch touch touch touch

All three of these poems were previously published in the former publication of the Haiku Poets of Northern California, Woodnotes.

“jumping rope”: WN #20
“nursing a friend with AIDS”: WN #21
“last flutter”: WN #15


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