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State of the Arts: International Haiku Festival, Old North End Ramble

Seventeen syllables. When writing a haiku, that's all you get. Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry composed of three lines - the first and third with five syllables and the second with seven. At the end of July, haiku enthusiasts and poets will descend upon SUNY Plattsburgh for the International Haiku Conference and Festival. This marks the first year the event has taken place in North America, after touching down in various world locales.

The central theme of the fest is ba, the Japanese word for place. "Places" might be more fitting, seeing as the festival activities aren't exclusive to Plattsburgh - attendees will make touristy treks to both Montréal and Burlington, including cocktails on the latter's waterfront. The featured speaker of the five-day jamboree will be Arthur Sze, poet laureate of Santa Fe, New Mexico, who is slated to give two talks, one about his own work and one about nature-based Chinese poetry. Also present will be several photo-graphers who have created work in the obscure haiga form, a combination of haiku and visual art.

It's probably best to sum up the upcoming proceedings in an appropriate form:

It's just days until / Haiku takes over Plattsburgh. / Count your syllables.

The International Haiku Festival takes place at SUNY Plattsburgh from Tuesday, July 29, to Saturday, August 2. One-day registration costs $100; Youth Poetry Day is $55 per student or teacher. For more information, call conference director Kathleen Chilton at 518-564-3054.


This weekend brings the Old North End Ramble in Burlington, and to honor - and document - the community celebration, Ric Kasini Kadour of Kasini House is inviting people from the 'hood to drop by and get their pictures taken. The collected portraits will go into a forthcoming book, titled I Am the Old North End: A book about a community, that Kadour projects will be completed early next year. Stop by the North Street gallery any time this Saturday, July 26, between noon and dusk for the pic. Can't make it Saturday, but want to participate? Call for a sitting: 264-4839. O.N.E. writers who'd like to contribute nonfiction pieces to the book can send submissions to Kasini House Books, P.O. Box 1025, Burlington, VT 05402 or email to


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