As we approach the heart of winter, Raffael de Gruttola has finished editing the upcoming book of Nick Virgilio poems and Rick Black is beginning to design the cover and interior. Tentatively entitled Nick Virgilio: A Life in Haiku, the book is due out in the spring and will feature more than 100 unknown poems as well as classics from previously published editions.

So far, two events have been scheduled: an exhibition of original Virgilio manuscripts and memorabilia at the Paul Robeson Rutgers-Camden University Library, which will host a program in honor of the occasion on April 27th, and a book launch at Sacred Heart Church in Camden on Sunday, April 29. More details to follow as soon as we have them but note those two dates.

The picture to the left, courtesy of Father Michael Doyle of Sacred Heart Church, shows a granite podium inscribed with Nick’s most famous poem. It was designed by artist and woodcarver Bob McGovern of Narberth, Pennsylvania, and installed by Nick’s graveside in 1991 so that others could read their haiku at future memorial ceremonies.

Meanwhile, a first round of reading of the 2012 TLP haiku chapbook contest entries has been completed. Each of the two judges, Rick Black and Kwame Dawes, read the manuscripts and judged them independently. Manuscripts came in from America, Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, England, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand.

“It’s going to be a tough choice to single out a winner,” said Black, the founder of TLP.  “We are grateful to everyone who entered the contest and shared their work with us. While we can only publish one winner, we will have some good news for other entrants, too.”

After further consultations and a follow-up round of reading, the judges will announce the winner in mid-February. It promises to be an exciting time so keep checking our website, Facebook or blog to see who takes the prize in a very competitive field.