Diana Kimler

Patricia Neubauer's Haiku

Global Haiku Tradition
Millikin University, Spring 2001

Diana Kimler



Sweet Memories: Patricia Neubauer's Haiku

As a painter, Patricia Neubauer was naturally drawn to the Japanese master painter Buson. She approached his haiku as if it were a painting with interpretation and underlying meaning. Buson’s "Foxes in the Garden" seems to have been a favorite from which she wrote a book with the same title. Her interpretation of this haiku/painting holds a great sense of detail and vision. By going after each detail she brings the painting into further analysis. The descriptive detail she includes in her haibun brings so much more to the painting and the haiku of Buson. To me she definitely has an artist’s eye.

Throughout this publication she writes from the inspiration of fellow artists and includes a haibun of her own creation. She titled this haibun, "White Shirts." This grew from childhood memories before "perma-press." This haibun is her tribute to the men who "contributed delight and enchantment" to her childhood - these men being, the door-to door salesmen, the milkman, the lamplighter, and the organ grinder, to name a few. She remembers them with great respect and affection with her haibun. In her haibun she describes a Chinese laundry in great detail. Inside the laundry an "ageless" Chinese man was always seen ironing shirts. She includes not only the visual aspects but also the smells, "the dream pictures in the steam" from the iron. She never conversed with the Chinaman, so she could only speculate about him. This speculation led her budding imagination questioning where he lived, what he did, and even what he ate. For her and her friends he became "master of an ephemeral art" to an appreciative audience. The haiku within the haibun help to set the season, place, and mood of the haibun. I feel a sense of mystery about this haibun and the haiku within.

mulberry shadows
stain the sidewalk-new moon
in a jade green sky

The author tells me she was originally a nurse but left that profession to go to art school. She wanted to explore her passion of art and she did after WWII and the birth of her children. From there she has gone on to become a life long learner of several disciplines. Her interest in haiku was stimulated by her love of the poetry and paintings of the masters such as Buson. To her, haiku seems to be a "painter’s poetry." She has been writing haiku since the late 1980’s (long before she discovered the haiku magazines and groups ) and feels she is self-taught, but considers herself a relatively recent poet. Patricia Neubauer has been published countless times in anthologies and other publications, throughout the world. She has also been given numerous awards and prizes.

What I like best about her haiku is the way in which she can give the reader a true sense of place and the emotion only the reader can put into it from their own similar experience. The variety of her haiku and the range from which she can write makes me believe she is a well-rounded artist. I think it is great that she has been able to explore her passion in art and share her obvious talent.


first time out—
sled runners leaving
rust tracks in the snow

This haiku transports me back in time to the golf course where I use to sled ride with my three brothers. I am all bundled up with the winter garb (which we kept stored in the ancient trunk that my great-grandparents brought over from Prussia when they immigrated.) I am then propelled through the excitement and the process of going sled riding. I remember what it took to work the year’s rust from the older style sleds that had metal runners. I like the place this haiku takes me.

In some of her other haiku she is good at going in for the visualization of big to small. In: "toy shop window" she is standing outside admiring a doll house that has a small sled propped against the door. This haiku could take a person’s imagination into the tiny lives of those who might live in the doll house- it might even inspire a writer to write a children’s book. (A thought to ponder.)

What I like most about the haiku I have read of Patricia Neubauer’s is the fact that they are shared experiences that most people have lived. With this fact in mind, the experiences in her haiku can transport most readers to places they might never have gone. Once in these places the readers can reflect on their own past memories. I believe that this is what great haiku is all about. Great haiku should take you to marvelous places and to your own memories of a past time, and Patricia Neubauer does a wonderful job of writing such haiku. I hope she keeps on writing and sharing her haiku for what must be a very appreciative audience.

—Diana Kimler


©2001 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois || all rights reserved for original authors