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Mastering The Art Of The Haiku: Meet North Carolina Poet Lenard Moore

University of Mount Olive

Lenard Moore's bus ride to his segregated school in Jacksonville, North Carolina, was long, and often boring, but he quickly found that books could fill the void.

At first it was just "Green Eggs and Ham"  and "The Gingerbread Man." But those turned out to be the simple beginnings of a love for literature that blossomed into a career as a poet.

When Lenard joined the Army, poetry became his outlet. By the time he got out, he was writing an average of four poems a day, and started exploring a centuries-old form of poetry, the haiku.

Decades later, Lenard has all but mastered the haiku. In 2008, he was selected as the first African-American to lead the Haiku Society of America. In 2014, he received the North Carolina Award for literature, the highest civilian honor in the state.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Moore about his life and work as a poet.

Moore's most recognized haiku was written after his daughter, Maiisha LaShawn Moore, was killed in a car accident in 2004. 

hot afternoon
the squeak of my hands
on my daughter's coffin

Moore describes the day of the funeral as a humid afternoon in which the moisture caused his fingers to make a squeaking noise when he ran them along her casket.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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