Laurie King, poet: slightly above the others

The kind of books I write are always a compromise. If I did the kind of research I feel they deserve, a novel would take me three, four, six years and stretch to eight hundred pages. This invariably leaves me with a dozen areas where I’m spreading a small amount of research very thin, and with each publication day, I hold my breath, thinking this will be the time Someone Who Knows will wheel out the Big Bertha of scorn and blast me to smithereens.

Take, for example, Dreaming Spies. Parts of the story involved haiku.

Haiku low res copyI used haiku in discussing the culture, I put it at the center of the book’s mystery, and, to add a touch of flavor, I plunked one at the top of each chapter.

Sweet city of minds

Her spires dream, wrapped in earth’s folds

June gilds the lily.

Now, I am no poet. And I know just enough about the subtleties of this form to know that I know nothing. The haiku I wrote for the chapter heads are by way of a jest.

So it tickled me considerably to find my childish efforts taken…well, maybe not seriously, but with serious attention, by a man who knows his haiku. Michael Dylan Welch teaches the form, he wins contests, he’s literally written the book(s) on haiku. And to my astonishment and thrill, not only did he leave his heavy critical artillery unloaded, he is polite about my haiku efforts! I mean, he likes the story itself, calling it a terrific read, but instead of lowering a weighty boot on these silly and puerile encroachments on his area of expertise, when it comes to my (ie, Haruki-san’s) definition of haiku, he calls it “accurate and informed, although basic.” And of my haiku themselves, he says, “Occasionally, one rises slightly above the others in quality.”

Woohoo! I feel as if the kind gent gave me a three foot tall silver trophy when he says, “…we can give the author credit for trying.” His full review (which is attached to a marvelous web site) is here.

Ah: my blushes, Watson!


  1. Merrily Taylor on July 13, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    Love it. What do we say? “Praise from Sir Michael is praise indeed!”

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