Betty Kaplan (April 1, 1919 - July 26, 2011)
Betty Kaplan entered the haiku community after retiring in the 1990's. She became an active member of haiku groups on the internet and her haiku and renga were published in many of the leading journals.
Betty also developed a strong passion for renga - the art of linked poetry, especially because renga were the product of intense co-operation between two or more poets. In fact in some of the renga she co-wrote, poets from three continents participated!
In addition to haiku and renga she also wrote tanka and haibun. Her style, especially in her haibun, was short and straightforward. The subject of her haibun was both very personal and at the same time generally recognizable in its human nature. She published in all those genres, both in printed media and on the internet. Friends and family describe Betty with a charming personality and warm character thus making many friends in the international haiku community. Her many haiku friends will miss her always warm and friendly presence. But she will live on as a valued member of the haiku community through her poems and haibun.
And what a better tribute to this talented writer than one of her own haibun from 2004:
Betty Kaplan: Haibun
My father came from Russia. When my younger sister was born, he was left with five little girls to bring up.
her name was Flora
I was told
she loved lilacs
I never knew
When papa would set the table, he would first put down a sheet of newspaper.
dishes set out
a black and white newspaper
covers the white table
my sisters and I watch and wait
papa's potato pancakes
One day I invited a friend over for lunch. I put down the newspaper. She asked, "where is the table cloth?" I was so embarrassed. I did not know of table cloths.
Many years later, I was watching a movie about Russian immigrants. They were expecting cousins for dinner. The mother covered the table with a newspaper.
There was my childhood. It was not that papa did not know what to do. It was the way of the immigrants at that time.
a holiday table
with bone china and silver
set on fine linen
my heart remembers love placed
on a sheet of newspaper
(Simply Haiku: An E-Journal of Haiku and Related Forms
September-October 2004, vol. 2, no. 5)
Awards and Other Honours:First Honourable Mention, Haiku Poets of Northern California Renga Contest (2004); work included in the 59th Basho Festival Haiku anthology.
“Annie and the Only One Problem Bear” (with Jayne Kaplan and Karina Klesko), Book Surge Publishing 2009;
“Smoke signals - nine rengay” (with Max Verhart; ), Marginale Uitgeverij 't Hoge Woord, 2003.
Credits:"dusk" - Too Busy for Spring (Haiku North America anthology, 1999); "lingering day" - The Heron's Nest 2:10 (October 2000); "wrapped" - First Place, Shiki Internet Kukai 8/3/98 (free format); Tinywords [Internet] (June 7, 2005); "taking front stage" - "taking front stage" - Tinywords (July 5, 2005); "poetry meeting" - Temps Libres/Free Times/Favorites (2000); "at his wake" - First Place, Shiki Internet Kukai 2/14/99 (free format: "secret"); Crinkled Sunshine (Haiku Society of America Members' Anthology, 2000); "all city school chorus" - Third Place, Shiki Internet Kukai 5/2/99 (free format); "footprints in the snow" – The Heron’s Nest 3:1 (January 2001); "now in a small box" - Sketchbook December 2006); "mountain path" - The Heron's Nest 2:12 (2000).
Selected haiku and renga:
gray morning –
clouds cover the lake
at his wake
growing out of a stone wall
one white flower
I try to read my haiku...
a frog in my throat
to the picnic table
a jar of fireflies
her birthday —
I count the rosebuds
left on the bush
After The Storms
A Renga by Betty Kaplan (bk) & Vaughn Seward (vs)
This early morning
the sun's reflection plays —
sparkling clean windows. /bk
Summer storms every afternoon — /bk
the creek flows a bit deeper. /vs
Garden chores —
he empties the wheelbarrow
of rain water. /vs
Links to more of her haiku and haibun: