Under the BashōEssays

Jane Reichhold
1937 - 2016

Jane Reichhold was a friend to so many haiku poets it is better to say she was a friend to the form itself. In one way or the other she connected with most haiku poets during her lifetime, either directly or through her many poems, books, online workshops, and her tanka and haiku online journals. I first met her over some technical projects, and set up some activities of hers on my servers. Most of those sites are still operating to this day. She was at the first a strong determined woman, and if it were not for women such as Jane I most likely would not be writing haiku today. They not only took me into their 'club', but taught me the rules of the road to haiku with firmness that was laced with kindness. Jane wrote about the women in haiku elegantly on her site, and you can read "THOSE WOMEN WRITING HAIKU" here, and learn this important part of the history of the form. Jane will remain for me a potent memory, and will never be far from my poetic spirit. There are many who feel as I do, of that I am certain.

We will never really be able to 'lose' Jane either. She left a lot of herself in her websites, which I pray are preserved, and in her many publications over the years. Her translations, her poetry, her art, and her observations of a life of poetry are her real legacy.

I will never know the reasons for her leaving us the way she did, but I have learned over my seventy years to see it as an individual choice, and the reasons don't belong to anyone else. As humans we often 'cling' to people we care about, but after much trial and error in this private area of my mind I have discovered that what people leave of themselves for others is more important than 'how' they left us. Let any more thoughts about the nature of her death end here.

Jane left us many poems, here are two that William Higginson used in his book, Haiku World:


All Saint's Day
the Jack-o-lantern
full of gnats

across the canyon
the neighbor hammers
on an echo

That second one 'nails' the spirit of the senryu. It is, like so many of her works, a pure rendering of the moment. What is telling about it is that it speaks of the poet's observation of the neighbor, and also provides a potent glimpse into the neighbor's persona as well. Like all fine haiku/senryu there is more revealed than the sum of the words by themselves could ever speak. She seemed to know how to be natural and clever at the same time.

Jane Reichhold was an accomplished translator, poet, and artist. Her haiga combined techniques from both the old and the new, and her poetic voice moved with the images. In short, Jane was the whole package. Her contributions in every area sparkled and motivated others. I hope her spirit is at peace now. Peace is what she richly deserved as a reward for the many positive impacts that she had, and will continue to exert even after her passing, on haiku. Every poet that writes these short poems can learn and grow from the contributions she made to the form. In that sense, Jane will never really be gone.

A fuller bio of the poet can be found at: Meeting Jane, written by the poet herself.