(3 November 1962 – 24 March 2020)
Stuart Quine was born in Helsby, near Runcorn, UK, in 1962 and after working in various fields, including time in a paint factory and studying for a teaching degree, he became an Intensive Care nurse, a vocation he practised until ill-health, in the form of myotonic dystrophy, forced early retirement. Stuart loved travelling and despite visits to Morocco, Japan and Australia, one of his few regrets was that he didn’t travel more. He spent his final years in Sheffield and died on March 24, 2020, from complications arising from the Covid-19 virus.
Steeped in a deep respect for the Japanese haiku and senryu tradition, Stuart Quine was known in the English-language haiku world for his one-line ‘monoku’ style. Within the one line of his haiku, however, he respected and reflected the rhythmic 'three-part' structure of Japanese haiku, as well as such essentially Japanese qualities as ‘karumi’, 'wabi/sabi’, the device – for the rhythm – of the ‘kire' and, sometimes, even a ‘kigo.'
Stuart’s work was published regularly in the journals, including Presence, of which he was, for a time, co-editor, and also appeared in anthologies. He was also a fine writer of haibun.
In spite of having been writing and publishing haiku since 1998 it was not until 2018 that Stuart’s first collection, Sour Pickle was published, by Alba Publishing. This was followed in 2019 by his second, and final, collection, Wild Rhubarb, which was awarded Third Place in the Haiku Society of America’s Merit Book Awards (Leroy & Mildred Kanterman Memorial Award) 2020.
A couple of the selected haiku below appear in these two collections but in a slightly different form, as edited by Stuart. He did a lot of 'fine-tuning' before publication:
like the honed edge of a blade keen is the cold
(Sour Pickle (2018), as ‘crescent moon like a honed blade keen in the cold’)
winter moon a glint of wolf in the mongrel’s eyes
(Wild Rhubarb (2019), as ‘winter storm a gleam of wolf in the mongrel’s eyes)
A practitioner of Soto Zen Buddhism for over 30 years, Stuart regarded his haiku writing as a dao. He was an active member of the Redthread Haiku Sangha and inspired, and encouraged the publication of, Unravelling – the Redthread Haiku Sangha anthology 1997-2019, (Alba Publishing, 2020).
Just a few days before he died, Stuart had emailed the sangha with a customary spring greeting – he always liked to mark the equinoxes – and ended his email with what turned out to be perhaps his final (and unusually for him, three-line) haiku:
Spring equinox –
a brimming bucket
mirror for a star
Awards and Other Honours:
Wild Rhubarb, Third Place in the Haiku Society of America’s Merit Book Awards (Leroy & Mildred Kanterman Memorial Award) 2020
Stuart served as a member of The Haiku Foundation’s 2016 Touchstone Distinguished Books Award Committee.
Sour Pickle - one-line haiku, Alba Publishing, May 2018, UK;
Wild Rhubarb - one-line haiku, Alba Publishing, March 2019, UK;
Unravelling - the Redthread Haiku Sangha anthology 1997-2019, Alba Publishing, February 2020. (contributor)
From Sour Pickle (2018):
hidden and unseen the burgeoning life in buds and bellies
through driving rain the ambulances’ dopplering sirens
snagged in machair a gull feather unzipped by the wind
distant thunder the old mouser raises an ear
“Not yet, not yet” says the bubbling beck
winter solstice darkness gathers in the unrung bells
under mistletoe on her lips a tang of tamarind
From Wild Rhubarb(2019):
round midnight moonlight playing on the piano hammers
a short night shrunk to a dog bark and the clanking of the trams
through the haze the headlights of a hearse
lassitude and languor these days without rain
new year’s day only the rain comes to my gate
along the strandline seaspray and sunshimmer in knotted kelp
(Wind over Water (4th Pacific Rim Haiku Conference anthology)
almost weightless this empty skull that held the robin’s song
We are very grateful to Stuart’s publisher and friend Kim Richardson who wrote this tribute to an amazing poet and master of the monoku!