Millikin University Haiku Writer Profile

Barbara Ressler

  noon obits:
grandmother finishes
another ear of corn
by Barbara Ressler
Midwest Haiku Anthology

Biographical Background

Academic History

MA Education (Secondary Emphasis), 1997, Viterbo University, Lacrosse, WI

Took a variety of graduate courses at the University of Minnesota, University of Iowa, and University of Northern Iowa (30+ hours before MA study)

Clarke College, Dubuque, IA 1977-78 BA: 1978

Loras College, Dubuque, IA 1974-76

Wahlert High School, Dubuque, IA 1970-74

Teaching: Post Secondary

Clarke College, Adjunct Instructor (English)
Spring 1998 – present (8 semesters)

Loras College and University of Dubuque (EDU 351 Special Methods)

Loras College, Adjunct Instructor ("Women, Religion, & Literature")

Teaching: Secondary Education

Wahlert High School, Dubuque, Iowa
August 1978 – present

This profile of haiku writer, Barb Ressler, was researched, written and created by Nikki Garry.

see Nikki's Essay on Ressler

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

Author Awards

Haiku Honors

Elected President of the Haiku Society of America (which exists to promote the understanding and writing of haiku), 1995

Re-elected Second Vice-President of the Haiku Society of America, 1994

Elected Second Vice-President of the Haiku Society of America, 1992

Co-judged the Gerald Brady Memorial Awards for Senryu, the Haiku Society of America, 1990, 1993, and 2001

Teaching Awards

The Gold Star Award for Outstanding Teaching, May 2001

Kayfa ROSHI Award for Life-Changing Haiku Action in Support of Youth, May 1999

Examples of Award Winning Haiku

pretty woman
checks her hair
in a Jesus picture

Students’ Awards

Many of her students have been published, nationally and internationally, and consistently won awards, including scholarships, for haiku over the last 12 years. Examples of one of her students’ (Wahlert High School) award winning haiku:

mother’s salt
father’s sugar
on the raw tomato

Gretchen Grutz

Author's Books


Midwest Haiku Anthology

Haiku Moment: An Anthology of Contemporary North American Haiku

The Gulf Within

Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac

The Haiku Seasons: Poetry of the Natural World

Met on the Road: An International Poetry Haiku Almanac


Modern Haiku

Lyrical Iowa
Haiku Quarterly

Wind Chimes

Haiku Zasshi Zo

Pine Needles
Brussels Sprout

Red Pagoda


Approach to Haiku

Teaching Haiku… Quotes

"Its my passion…" (Glindinning, Mary. "Dubuque: Simply a haiku hot spot for Midwest poets." Telegraph Herald 2 March 1995: 4.B.)

Haiku is "expressive and reflective, two things they so want at that age. This form is a way for them to understand their feelings. They can be angry and write graffiti or they can write a beautiful poem. I want to see less graffiti and more poetry." (Glindinning, Mary. "Dubuque: Simply a haiku hot spot for Midwest poets." Telegraph Herald 2 March 1995: 4.B.)

"In addition to building and maintaining archives of haiku, teaching the writing and reading of haiku to our young people is the only way to assure its survival as an art and heart form. I continue to be committed to the value of teaching haiku on a number of levels. Ultimately though, it is the spiritual value of haiku that compels me to climb the teaching of haiku mountain every semester. Pedagogically speaking, the fruits of learning to write excellent haiku can be overtly evidenced in clearer, crisper, and more concise writing. Students learn to transform negative emotions into poignant poems and to celebrate life’s joys through writing haiku. I submit, writing haiku is a psychologically and emotionally healthy practice, beating the less healthy alternatives culture may suggest for dealing with highs and lows in life. Ah, but spiritually – haiku functions as a conduit for transcendence. As such, it assures its own survival." (from her response letter after winning the ROSHI award)

She has lived in Iowa all of her life – which is also the "emotive landscape" of her poems. "At times my poems possess a Midwestern landscape; more often they possess a Midwestern mindscape. They reflect the growing up in a particular place at a particular time."

noon obits:
grandmother finishes
another ear of corn

The Midwest Anthology

In this haiku "…I share a composite of experience with my grandmother, when I lived in an apartment down the street from her. She always perked up when the obits came on the local radio station at noon. At the time, I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to listen to that death rollcall. Sometimes she would know someone whose death was announced, and she would talk of them as we ate lunch. She especially loved to ‘make a meal of it.’ Merged into this haiku, these separate images were really grandma’s response to life and death: listen and keep eating."


Additional Web Links and Contact Information

Barbara Mary Ressler
Wahlert High School
2005 Kane Street
Dubuque, Iowa 52001

Email address:


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