Francine Porad: 1929–2006

Mercer Island, Washington

September 3, 1929 – September 27, 2006

Haiku Northwest Founder

Francine Porad, founder of the Haiku Northwest group and former president of the Haiku Society of America, passed away on September 27, 2006, at the age of 77, in Kirkland, Washington, surrounded by the love of family and friends. Born September 3, 1929, in Seattle, Francine was a lifelong resident of Washington State. An accomplished painter as well as haiku and tanka poet, in 1988 she organized one of the country’s first regional English-language haiku groups, named Haiku Northwest, a vibrant group that continues to meet monthly in Bellevue, Washington.

Also in 1988, Francine took over the editing of the Brussels Sprout haiku journal, which she published until 1995 as one of the most prominent haiku journals in America during those years. Francine also served as president of the Haiku Society of America in 1993 and 1994, a time of significant growth and change for haiku as the HSA continued to broaden its focus beyond the New York City area where it was founded. As a highly prolific poet, Francine published two dozen books of her own haiku, senryu, tanka, and linked verse, usually at a pace of one book a year, starting in 1986. Her book Without Haste won the Cicada Chapbook Award in 1989, and The Patchwork Quilt won a Merit Book Award from the Haiku Society of America in 1994. She also won many other awards for individual poems. In recognition of her achievement and leadership in haiku, the Washington Poets Association established the Francine Porad Haiku Award in 2003, and in 2004 the Haiku Society of America awarded her with its Sora Award. In addition, she was named the 2005–2006 Honorary Curator of the American Haiku Archives at the California State Library in Sacramento.

Underlying all this achievement, however, was a warm and supportive friend and mentor whose charm, inspiration, and inclusiveness made many poets feel welcome and encouraged. It is no doubt largely due to Francine’s influence that Washington state has more HSA members per capita than most other states in the country, and that haiku is well respected in Seattle’s mainstream poetry community as well. She was laid to rest on Friday, September 29, 2006 under a clear sky of brilliant blue (one of her favorite colors) at Hills of Eternity Cemetery on Seattle’s Queen Anne Hill.

As Francine proclaimed in the title of one of her books, Joy Is My Middle Name, she did indeed make joy the center of her life. Francine Joy Porad will long be remembered with love and affection, not just in the Northwest region, but around the world by many poets and friends who knew her and her poetry.

—Michael Dylan Welch, October 18, 2006