A poet and book artist, Rick Black turned to haiku as a way to capture the juxtapositions of life in Israel, of peace and war, of ancient and modern times, of religious and secular life, of hope and fear.

From 1989 to 1991, Rick worked as a reporter in the Jerusalem bureau of The New York Times. He covered both the first Palestinian intifada in 1989 and the first Persian Gulf war in 1991. But he never felt that he was able to capture the essence of the country’s paradoxes and contradictions in his reportage.

When he returned to the States, he discovered the the work of Nick Virgilio, a haiku poet who used the form to come to terms with the loss of his younger brother in the Vietnam War. Rick was transfixed by the way in which just 17 syllables, or sometimes even fewer — written in three lines of approximately 5 syllables, 7 syllables and 5 syllables — could convey so much raw emotion and beauty.

Having reported on war and on clashes between Palestinians and Israelis for so long, Rick felt a deep need to find a way to deal with what he had encountered and turned to haiku. Slowly, he began writing poems and revisited Israel with his wife. On this trip, he jotted down poems and intimations of poems, isolated lines, phrases in English and Hebrew, and then returned to the States to process his impressions.

Eventually, he created a handmade book Peace and War: A Collection of Haiku From Israel in which he recorded his impressions and poems. Over the years, Rick has garnered several haiku awards, including first prize and honorable mention in the James W. Hackett Award, sponsored by The British Haiku Society, and third prize in the Betty Drevniok Competition, sponsored by Haiku Canada. In addition, his haiku have appeared in The Heron’s Nest, Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Cricket, RawNervz, Blithe Spirit, Still, and other poetry journals.

Rick, who runs his own small press, Turtle Light Press , has just completed a major artist book project The Amichai Windows, a bilingual, limited edition of 18 poems by Hebrew poet Yehuda Amichai. He also has produced trade poetry books as well as fine art prints. Please feel free to visit the Turtle Light Press website and explore its poetry and art offerings.

Rick is a member of the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Silver Spring, MD, the DC-Area Literary Translators Network, the Haiku Society of America and Haiku Canada. When he is not working at TLP, Rick likes to garden, read and spend time with family.

There are several places where Rick’s poetry or essays about poetry can be found on the web.  They include:

  • A webcast of the talk and poetry reading that Rick gave in conjunction with the publication of his award-winning poetry book, Star of David, at the Library of Congress.
  • A few of my Israel haiku have been translated into Hebrew by Dror Burstein.
  • Cornell University’s Mann Library, where Rick was named Poet of the Month in April 2012. (Each haiku for the month can be read by clicking on the “Previous” link.)
  • Charlotte DiGregorio’s Writer’s Blog, where there is an interview with Rick about his thoughts on the connection between poetry and art, beauty and solace.
  • The Gean Tree Press blog archive from April 2013, where Rick has written blog entries on haiku and rhyme, haiku and photography, Nick Virgilio, haiku and the imagination, and finding one’s own poetic voice.

Hope you’ll enjoy exploring some of these resources as well as the poems on this site!