1999 - 2008

Yu Chang, Ferris Gilli, Gary Hotham, Kirsty Karkow, Paul MacNeil, Paul David Mena, paul m., John Stevenson, Hilary Tann, Paul Watsky


“Good reading!”

Featuring work from ten outstanding English language haiku poets, The Onawa Poems, 1999-2008, celebrates a specific place and affirms the social aspect of haiku and renku. For all his life, Lake Onawa, Maine, and the surrounding forest and mountains have inspired Paul W. MacNeil’s appreciation of nature. As host, he has generously shared his knowledge of flora, fauna, and local lore with poet friends for more than ten years now, and it is fitting that he should collect some of the resulting poetry into a single volume. Readers become guests as they encounter Onawa’s mountains, waters, birches, pines, moose, loons, beavers, chipmunks, black flies, and starry sky in appreciative and articulate company. Good reading!
           — Peggy Lyles, May 2009


“... at once entertaining and profound.”

“Moments of vision,” wrote the scholar/translator, R. H. Blyth, “come when least expected, unbidden, and in most people pass into oblivion unnoticed and unremembered.“ For some of us, of course, such a vision is life-changing and triggers the discovery and subsequent development of the poet within, thereby giving rise to visions that endure. The writers included in this collection (all among my favorite writers of haikai) are consummate poets.

The Onawa Haiku and Renku Invitational and Moosebreath Ale Festival was initiated by Paul MacNeil who, for years, has spent his summers by and on Lake Onawa in the great state of Maine. Some of my fondest childhood memories were born of summers spent just a little to the south of Lake Onawa and so, as I read the excellent poems produced by Paul and the others who have attended his annual festival I begin to yearn. Each year for the past eight or nine years, Paul has sparked this yearning in me with an invitation to join him and other poets at his “camp.” I’m very sorry to say that each year something has kept me from making the cross-country trip. Happily, these festive annual occasions have been beautifully preserved by the poets who attended them. Paul has collected an ample helping of their work, all of which pays homage to the environs of Lake Onawa and to one another. Not only do these poems express reverence for nature, they exude camaraderie, especially notable in the two featured renku, both of which are award-winners. Inspired in part by haute cuisine and the flow of fine ales and wines, this fine book evokes the glorious natural landscapes of central Maine. It is at once entertaining and profound.

José Ortega y Gassett once wrote, “Tell me the landscape in which you live and I will tell you who you are.” He could easily have said this about a group of haikai poets who gather year after year in a particular place to share common bonds — an abiding love of natural beauty and a craft that so compellingly conveys that beauty to others. The poets will invariably write of that place. Their awakened senses will detect what may hitherto have gone unnoticed and would otherwise “pass into oblivion.” As if in response to their rapt attentions, the place itself will seem to manifest its essences with extraordinary vibrancy. The poets’ insights will blossom in their work and common threads will appear — the landscape that helps define them. And when their poetry of place is collected into a beautifully produced book, as it has been in The Onawa Poems, their revelations will resonate, spreading like the ripples from Lake Onawa itself.
           — Christopher Herold, June 2009


“... kinship with forest, mountains, waters, denizens...”

Through the years from my grandparents’ time, some guests wrote poems among their host thank yous in the Camp Log. I have left a haiku or two for some years now. My poet friends adopted this practice; their expertise is the reason I was inspired to assemble this book. In addition to logbook poems, the poets were asked for that part of their work, published or not, that they knew was the result of Onawa inspiration. Each, including the host, had a free hand to select and correct haiku from which I chose and arranged the work. I hope naturalists, outdoor enthusiasts, and fans of haiku may feel some kinship with the forest, rugged mountains, pure waters, and the denizens shown in this collection.
           — Paul W. MacNeil, Editor


The Onawa Poems web site:
information via E-mail:

price with postal delivery in USA is $12;
$13 US to Canada; $15 US elsewhere
Paul MacNeil, Ship Pond Press,
P.O. Box 294, Monson, ME 04464