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Page 5 — Origin Story


When I first discovered SciFaiku, I felt a whole-body jolt, my brain and my stomach seemingly flipping in unison, a sensation somewhat akin to being on a cognitive rollercoaster — a response that I get from time to time when something simultaneously fascinates me, inspires me, resonates within me and explodes like multicolored fireworks of possibility behind my eyes. I knew at once that I desired to start a literary journal devoted exclusively to SciFaiku (more on that later). The idea to include minimalist line art presented itself soon thereafter (more on that later, as well).

I first became acquainted with haiku and with Bashō through Robert Aitken and his book, A Zen Wave — Bashō’s Haiku & Zen (Weatherhill, 1978). Mr. Aitken was a Zen rōshi and a scholar of Japanese literature, having embarked on both paths with guidance from author R. H. Blyth.

Mr. Aitken was the visiting rōshi at the Ring of Bone Zendo up the hill from us. The zendō had been built on the property of our neighbor, Gary Snyder, between his house and another, which had once been owned by Allen Ginsberg on that same property (the zendō’s name reflects the title of the book by Lew Welch).

Mr. Aitken would come to dinner from time to time and I still smile when I think of his humorous references to the “pink pie,” as he called it, that my mother liked to make in those days — a cold, creamy raspberry yogurt pie with a chewy, graham cracker crust; very refreshing fare during hot summers in the California foothills.