In Memoriam – Haiku Poet Martin Lucas 1962 – 2014

A personal reflection on a friendship

Martin Lucas was a highly significant figure in English-language haiku for more than twenty five years, as a poet, essayist, critic and editor. He was awarded a PHD for his thesis Haiku in Britain and was the founder- editor of the haiku magazine Presence, now in its 49th issue.  He was also much loved as a personal friend to many and for his warm and supportive style as a friend of haiku for both beginners and seasoned writers alike.  Martin was a lover of nature, a keen birdwatcher and walker all of which provided him with a rich source of haiku.  Martin’s commitment to the development of haiku combined with an appreciation of haiku as nature poetry gave him a generous and compassionate world-view that was reflected in his editing.

All of this ran alongside a background anxiety condition that Martin did his best to manage for most of his adult life.  It does seem that this anxiety condition played a part in Martin’s disappearance from home on March 21st without money or phone, not to be seen again until his body was found on April 14th.  As his body was found on St Anne’s Beach near the mouth of the River Ribble, an area that he loved, it would seem that he may have followed the course of the river from Preston to the sea – a distance of some 20 miles.

The following haiku was written for Martin some years ago during one his visits to me, after what was quite a heated debate deep in the woods near to where I lived:

after our argument
on the future of haiku –
the wind in the pines

My point in sharing the poem is not about the poem per se but about the moment that Martin and I shared when our conflict dissipated and we were both subsumed into nature to rest on the sound of the wind in the pines.  I’m not sure about how much research has been done into the relationship between neurology and the haiku mind, but I would say that there is a transcendent link between the two.  It would seem that the haiku mind is open to these moments of peace and reconciliation whether or not a poem is actually written and the evidence provided by Martin’s haiku shows how deeply attuned his haiku mind was.  I would like to think that whatever was happening to Martin during those last days that he spent alone while missing, there were some moments when he was at peace and at rest in nature.

From the many tributes that I have read, we have the legacy of Martin’s poems and writings and of course, many fond memories of his friendship, we are still left with the void of his absence from our lives – a tragic loss that is beyond words for his family, friends and for English-language haiku to which he contributed so much.

Brian Tasker

Stroud, April 2014    

You can find a selection of Martin’s haiku and an article Haiku as Poetic Spell on the Haiku Presence website:  Martin’s tanka below was taken from the tanka anthology published by the Red Moon Press.

on Ascension Day
looking to the sky
spin on the wind
rain falls

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