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Haiku of Outer Space Book

illustration from the book Haiku of Outer Space, a book of poems about space exploration
Cropped illustration from the book Haiku of Outer Space, a book of poems about space exploration.

My Haiku of Outer Space book project did not start out that way. A number of years ago I began writing haiku whose main theme was space exploration, which includes the subjects of space exploration, planetary science, astronomy, and space settlement. This was quite the challenge for two reasons. First there is the 3 line, 5-7-5 syllables structure - which does not lend itself to the use of technological or scientific terminology. Second is that the heart of haiku is our planet's works of nature and the four seasons.

I reached a point where I had written well over 200 haiku about space exploration. It was with this realization that I decided to collect my favorites into book form.

What are Haiku?

A traditional form of Japanese poetry, haiku are very earth-bound and predominately deal with human observations of the natural world. These haiku capture a moment in time, informing the reader of what is happening, where it is happening and when it is happening. For traditional haiku, the 'when' will be of a seasonal nature (winter, spring, summer, fall). A time of day (morning, evening, dawn, dusk) may also be present. The 'where' will be some place out of doors: in a forest, a field, a glade, beside a lake, etc.

What I have just outlined is very much an over-simplification of what a haiku is. In researching the haiku genre, I made use of a wide range of resources on the web. I also read a variety of haiku collections to see the approach taken by various authors. I also made use of a number of books analyzing haiku and their history. A few of the books I used were:

  • The Classic Tradition of Haiku, An Anthology edited by Faubion Bowers and published by Dover Publications
  • Japanese Haiku: Its Essential Nature and History by Kenneth Yasuda and published by Tuttle Publising
  • The Penguin Book of Haiku by Adam Kern ‎and published Penguin Classics
  • Japanese Death Poems Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death compiled by Yoel Hoffmann and published by Charles E. Tuttle Company
  • How to Haiku by Jim Kacian and published by Red Moon Press
  • The Art of Haiku Its History through Poems and Paintings by Japanese Masters by Stephen Addiss, published by Shambhala Publications
  • The Haiku Form by Joan Giroux, published by Charles E. Tuttle Company
  • How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku by William Higginson, published by Mcgraw-Hill Book Company
  • Introduction to Haiku, An: An Anthology of Poems and Poets from Basho to Shiki Hardcover by Harold G. Henderson, published by Doubleday
  • How to Haiku: A Writer's Guide to Haiku and Related Forms by Bruce Ross, published by Tuttle Publishing
  • The Essential Basho by Matsuo Basho (Author), translated by Sam Hamill and published by Shambhala Publications
  • The Haiku Anthology by Cor van den Heuvel, published by W. W. Norton & Company
  • Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac by William J. Higginson, published by Kodansha International

An example of a classic haiku is one composed by Matsuo Basho some 300 years ago:

An old pond
A frog jumps in
the sound of water.

Haiku Content Status

With well over 200 space themed haiku to choose from, I have done an initial edit that has reduced the number for the book to 147. Further editing may be done in order to reduce the book's page count. I have twice done readings from the book. Once at the Capricon Science Fiction Convention and again at Chicon - the 2022 World Science Fiction Convention. In both cases, I would say that the reception was positive.

Haiku of Outer Space Table Of Contents

Following is the book's table of contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. The Apollo Expeditions
  3. Exploring The Moon
  4. Mars
  5. Asteroids, Comets, and Refuse
  6. The Pioneers Life
  7. Rocketry and Space Travel
  8. O'Neil Colonies
  9. The Outer Solar System
  10. Interstellar: Beyond the Solar System

Haiku of Outer Space Book Cover Art and Illustrations Status

The book's cover art is done and is a black and white overhead illustration of the Milky Way Galaxy. I had considered using an idealized illustration of our solar system but as the book does contain a chapter that moves beyond the confines of our solar system, an illustration of our galaxy seemed more appropriate.

I have also completed 22 black and white illustrations for the book. My plan is to choose a single illustration as an introduction for each of the book's 10 chapters and my task will be selecting 10 images from the 22 I created.

Book Design and Layout

The book will be published in portrait mode with a page size of 5" by 7". To keep the printing costs, and consequently the price, down, the book will be printed in black and white.

The most difficult design decision was with respect to the number of haiku that would appear on each page. Traditionally a book of haiku would feature one haiku per page - as opposed to anthologies which would have multiple haiku per page. Given the number of haiku that I intend to include in the book. a single haiku per page book would be inoordinately expensive because of the increased page count. At this time, I have decided on a layout of three haiku per page - which will cut the number of pages by approximately 2/3.

Haiku of Outer Space Production Summary

At present, what time I find to spend on the book is focused on the desktop publishing aspect. This entails formally laying out the book's content. For desktop publishing software I have chosen to use Scribus, an open source product. While I do have Adobe InDesign as a part of Adobe's Creative Suite, I ultimately choose to use Scribus because:

  • it is available on Linux as well as Windows
  • it is more user friendly and intuitive
  • it has a better/easier learning curve
  • the features it offers are a good match for my needs

The last major task is that of formatting the book for submission to the publisher.