Checking In With: Roland Packer

How did I meet Roland? On the page, over and over. We met face-to-face just once but I had and have followed his concrete and experimental haiku in journals for years. He has a refreshing take on things. For example,

q ant m

from Wayfarers

everyone she loved –


Or this one at is/let. I cold-called him for a set to publish. Which he, happily for both of us, provided.

Bio: Roland has worked as a professional musician for over forty years, juggling various roles — performer, teacher and composer. He has been writing haiku for that same period of time and has been published in numerous journals including Modern Haiku, Frogpond and Presence. A mini-chapbook “Wayfarers” was published by Phafours Press in 2017.

PP: Hi Roland. What has been your focus lately?

RP: The Covid pandemic ushered me towards semi-retirement. So although I still teach a few music theory students online, I now have more free time (still not enough) which I divide between music composition and recording projects and writing haiku and longer related forms.

PP: So the pandemic did have some positive outcomes. What has been inspiring you on the page lately?

RP: Numerous ongoing haiku journals and anthologies – Modern Haiku, Frogpond, Presence, Kokako, bottle rockets, Acorn, Red Moon Anthology, Heron’s Nest, etc.

And more recently; the biographies of Chopin (by Alan Walker) and Einstein (by Walter Isaacson) which led to the writing of a haiku sequence.

PP: Productive, excellent.

RP: Also, I read Enlightenment Now (by Steven Pinker), The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments (by Margaret Atwood).

Still to read; Ramayana (as retold in English by William Buck) — I read Mahabharata years ago (an excellent read, skillfully done and a refreshing alternative to dry academic translations).

PP: I read The Dhammapada this year. I wonder what the overlap might be…Anyway, do you have anything forthcoming to watch for?

RP: Nothing soon. I’m chipping away at a longer chapbook of haiku and have 2 mini chapbooks I’m not sure what to do with yet.

Recently I started writing some longer haiku-related-forms including haibun – one of which will appear in Modern Haiku in February 2023.

PP: Congratulations. That’s a tough market to crack.

RP: Thanks Pearl. I hope we can catch up at the next Haiku Canada Weekend.

PP: That would be great. Quebec City on the May long weekend.