20130415

147 Million Orphans: An Introduction


Eileen R. Tabios


I am writing/developing a manuscript entitled 147 MILLION ORPHANS: A HAYBUN. "147 million" is a common estimate of the number of orphans worldwide (no one really knows the exact number). And a "haybun" is a combination of the hay(na)ku tercet and prose. Each section of this manuscript begins with a hay(na)ku; all of the hay(na)ku were formed chronologically from a list of about 900 English words that my son had to learn for a year-long 9th grade project, following his immigration from an orphanage in Colombia to my home in the United States. Dividing those 900-ish words into six (as each tercet requires six words) means my son has set up prompts to write about 150 haybuns.

For the past two years or so, I have been writing haybun, based on my son-inspired prompts, to create a book-length haybun project. At about the 20th haybun-mark, I began thinking about “I” as author. While I appreciated that the prompts allowed me to transcend the limits of my imagination in terms of beginning a new haybun section, I wanted to expand the project’s authorial expanse … and self. So I thought of asking other poets to write haybun based on the prompts set up by my son. This folio, thus, begins with a haybun I wrote, but then is followed by the haybun written by poets who accepted my invitation.

I asked participating poets to keep in mind a general theme of orphans. But I also said that if their writing takes them elsewhere beyond orphans as a subject, then this project would—like the hay(na)ku—be flexible enough to accommodate their creativity.

Many thanks to the participating poets.


 
 
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