James William Hackett


James William Hackett (b. 1929, Seattle, USA); Zen poet and pioneer in creating haiku poetry in English; history and philosophy honors graduate of the University of Washington; an adept of Tao and Zen philosophy.

Hackett began writing haiku in the 1950s following a near fatal accident. Spiritually reborn, he acquired a profound reverence for life, and now writes haiku with a focus upon Greater Nature and life's Eternal Now. He is a reclusive poet dedicated to a spiritual way of haiku in English.

In the 1950s haiku and Zen scholar R. H. Blyth became Hackett's mentor. They began a five year correspondence, and Blyth introduced Hackett's haiku in his The History of Haiku, Volume 2. Before Blyth's death in 1964, he arranged for Hokuseido Press to publish Hackett's first Haiku Poetry Volumes 1-2. JWH also enjoyed an eleven year correspondence with American haiku scholar, Harold G. Henderson. (The Henderson and Blyth letters to JWH are in the American Haiku Archive, California State Library, Sacramento, California.)

Over the years Hackett visited and traveled throughout Japan; the first occasion was as national prize winner of JAL's 1964 haiku contest. Hackett was welcomed by roshi at Zen temples and monasteries, including those of Soen Nakagawa (Mishima) and Sohaku Ogata (Kyoto). These roshi believed Hackett's 'Zen way of haiku' would allow the true spirit of Zen to reach America.

Hackett's books include Haiku Poetry 1-4, Bug Haiku, The Way of Haiku, and Zen Haiku, Zen Poems (all by Japan Publications, Tokyo). Hackett's poetry is known, translated, and anthologized world wide. He contributes to, and is Honorary President of the World Haiku Club. A prestigious JWH International Haiku Award is offered annually by the British Haiku Society. A JWH web site will appear later this year.

Favorite 5 haiku by himself

Searching on the wind,
the hawk's cry . . .
is the shape of its beak.

Deep within the stream
the huge fish lie motionless
facing the current.

As Nile dusk deepens
egrets blizzard to the same
solitary isle.

Like Blyth,* that farmer:
the way birds probe and wing
around his plow.

* refers to R. H. Blyth

Pavilion empty,
the old Shanghai gardener
dances with herself.