Millikin University Haiku Writer Profile

Michael McClintock


  she leaves–
     warm pillow scent
by Michael McClintock
The Haiku Anthology 116

Biographical Background

Michael Windsor McClintock was born on March 31, 1950 in Los Angeles, California. McClintock received his education at Occidental College, as well as the University of Southern California. He specialized in Asian Studies, English and American Literature, and Information Sciences.

During the late 1960s, he was the Assistant Editor of "Haiku Highlights." From 1972-1976, McClintock engaged in more editorial work. Not only was he the Assistant Editor of "Modern Haiku," but he also edited the American Haiku Poets Series and "Seer Ox: American Senryu Magazine."

A short while ago, McClintock retired as Principal Librarian and Administrator for the County of Los Angeles Public Library. He now resides in South Pasadena, California. McClintock is currently working on new collections of haiku, tanka, senryu, and haibun to be published throughout this decade. Recently, McClintock has begun submitting his work, after an almost 20 year absence from the haiku scene.

This profile of haiku writer, Michael McClintock, was researched, written and created by Adria Neapolitan. She conducted the interview featured on this page and wrote a reader's response essay:

Nature, Sex, and Bluntness:
A Look at the Haiku of Michael McClintock

Scroll through the entire profile, or jump to any section:

Author Awards

"Best of Issue" for senryu in Modern Haiku, XXXI.3, Fall 2000

2nd Place, "The Award," Still [United Kingdom], Autumn 2000

Cited as "master of contemporary English language haiku" in The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms by Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray

Author's Books

Light Run [Shiloh, 1971] – collection of senryu and haiku

Man With No Face [Shelters, 1974] – collection of haiku, senryu, and tanka

Maya [Seer Ox, 1976] – collection of haiku, senryu, and tanka

Work included in anthologies:

The Haiku Anthology [years 1974, 1986, and 1999]

Eastern Voices in America. Louis Cuneo, Ed., San Francisco: Mother’s Hen, 1975.

Erotic Haiku. Rod Willmot, Ed., Windsor, Ontario: Black Moss Press, 1983.

a glimpse of red: Red Moon Anthology of English Language Haiku 2000. Jim Kacian, Ed., Red Moon Press, 2001.


E-mail Interview With McClintock by Adria Neapolitan

E-mail Interview (April 2001)

Adria Neapolitan: Why haiku? What made you choose this form, or did the form choose you?

Michael McClintock: I came to haiku by way of the Imagists, the American Transcendentalists (Emerson, Thoreau, et al), the Romantic poets and their predecessors (Cowper, Gray, John Clare). Though not named as such, the spirit of haiku – its techniques, poetics – exists in the epiphanies and best moments of every literature I’ve studied; it appears to be imbedded everywhere. Maybe that perspective makes me a pan- haikuist? R. H. Blyth’s Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics (Dutton, 1960 edition) was one of the most important books I read in college. Also, Ezra Pound’s ABC’s of Reading.

AN: How long have you been writing, and what made you start?

MM: I’ve been writing since I was a kid. Through writing and reading I found I could go anywhere, do anything. But I was living too much in and through literature, and so had to stand back from them, too, and learn to live in the world as it is.

AN: What do you consider to be your strongest piece and why? What is your favorite piece and why?

MM: I can’t answer these questions about a favorite or strongest piece. I have no single favorite or strongest. Maybe that’s for others to say.

AN: If it’s not too personal to discuss, why did you take a 20 year break from the writing scene?

MM: Ha! That’s easy – I needed to go to work and that’s what I chose to do! The time I had leftover I used to study, write, think. Something had to get heaved, and that was all the work involved with publishing, working with editors; it was too distracting. Painful to put aside, maybe, but that’s what I did. You know that old nursery rhyme – "Row, row, row your boat/gently down the stream"? To do that I had to lighten the load.

AN: How do you feel about your earlier work, looking back on it after 20 years?

MM: I’m pleased, of course, that so many value so much of it. The best will be in print again, soon. Most of the themes that are there in the body of work produced in the period 1967-1976 I wish to pursue further, to pick up and explore more thoroughly, not from the point where I left them but from where I have taken them in my thinking and experience over the past 20 or so years. And to add to them, I’m sure, new themes that at that earlier time I did not know were there...

AN: I’ve noticed that a few of your haiku have a very sensual quality to them, can you discuss that?

MM: Language is most powerful when it brings into play the senses; as beings, we’re a bundle of senses.

AN: Can you elaborate on the bluntness and the honesty in your haiku? (I’m thinking about the "dead cat... / open mouthed / to the pouring rain.")

MM: I want to see things as they are, not always as I would wish them to be. That is easy to say, but often hard to do. I want to work in both ends of the spectrum, to write about what I find, too, between the extremes of beauty and ugliness. I think that is where most of us live our lives; there’s no sense in pretending otherwise. And I don’t have to go looking for it; it comes to me, whether I want it to or not.

AN: Where are you most likely to create (a room of one’s own, a desk and soft chair, etc.)?

MM: I write in a favorite chair, indoors or outdoors. I write with a pencil on a pad of paper – usually a stenopad. Late at night, of in the quiet morning hours – these are the best times, when I am fresh, or exhausted. I don’t walk about scribbling. If I carry a notebook at all it is for writing down addresses, phone numbers, making quick sketches. I do the writing later – often months or years later. I let the imagery and feelings mull about for awhile – let them steep, brew, float or sink.

AN: What is your muse, your inspiration for writing?

MM: I can’t say. I don’t wait for inspiration. If I did, I think I would be waiting a long, long time. Inspiration is misleading and misdirected as often as it may be on target... Poetry is my muse, I suppose. I need it’s news of the world. What others write, have written, is very important to me. Or maybe my muse, really, is memory. That may seem contradictory, haiku being about the moment, the "here and now." But everything we see and do passes instantly into memory: everything we see and do is framed by our memories. Memory is a mystery – its mysteries are my muse.



Additional Web Links and Resources

(still looking for links)


haiku conferences haiku courses at Millikin Modern Haiku magazine
speakers & readings haiku competitions at MU student renga
student haiku projects published haiku by students links to haiku web sites
student research on haiku haiku by Millikin students directory of haiku magazines


2001, Dr. Randy Brooks• Millikin University
last updated 8/16/01 • about this web site