Heights Arts' next Haiku Hike is Oct. 30

Cleveland Arts Prize-winner Ray McNiece
shares a poem on a recent Haiku Hike.
[Photo: R. Bernstein]

Enjoying nature in all forms became especially popular during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, with folks getting out for walks, hikes and bike rides, even in the cold of winter.

To celebrate all that nature has to offer, Heights Arts now offers Haiku Hikes, led by Ray McNiece, Cleveland Heights poet laureate and Cleveland Arts Prize winner.

The art of haiku poetry dates back to ancient Japanese culture, where poems were written in three sentences, with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third.

Each Haiku Hike takes place in and around Cleveland Heights, in a park or public space where nature inspires the poems. McNiece leads hikers through the park to observe the beautiful scenery and write their own compositions as inspiration strikes.

Upcoming hikes will take place at Cain Park on the following Saturdays: Oct. 30, Jan. 8 and April 23. Hikers will meet McNiece at a defined location (disclosed upon registration) at 10 a.m., and set out on a two-hour haiku adventure. 

Hikes will begin with a formal introduction to haiku, continue with stops along the way, then conclude with a final sharing. For more information, visit www.heightsarts.org.  

Haiku Hikes are part of Heights Arts's longstanding Heights Writes program, one of the core elements of its mission to celebrate the region’s literary, musical and visual artists.

Heights Arts names a new Cleveland Heights poet laureate every two years, and offers programs that infuse poetry into community life. Other Heights Writes projects include the lively Haiku Death Match, and the Ekphrastacy series that pairs poets with artists in bi-monthly exhibition talks. 

“Our literary programming has really grown over the last 20 years,” said Executive Director Rachel Bernstein. “We are proud of the fact that our poet laureateship was the first of its kind in the state of Ohio. Ray’s Haiku Hikes are a perfect way to celebrate Cleveland Heights’ 100th anniversary, while providing opportunities for our community to engage with poetry in a deeply personal way.”   

McNiece’s guidance on the hikes in intended to inspire poets, from rookies to veterans. McNiece was just awarded the 2021 Cleveland Arts Prize Lifetime Achievement Award. His poet laureateship will be extended by one year due to the COVID pandemic.  

“Ray became poet laureate just as the pandemic took hold and we had to close our doors," said Bernstein. "It was frustrating for all of us not to be able to move forward with our programming for many months, and to have to instead simply concentrate on staying alive as an organization. This August, our Heights Writes Community Team unanimously agreed that Ray’s term be extended, and we are delighted that he has accepted!” 

Megan Gallagher

Megan Gallagher is the Heights Arts marketing intern. Reach her at marketing@heightsarts.org.

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Volume 14, Issue 10, Posted 11:15 AM, 10.01.2021