Nick Virgilio: A Life in Haiku

Cover of Nick Virgilio: A Life in HaikuBy Nicholas A. Virgilio

Touchstone Book Awards 2012, Honorable Mention

R. H. Blyth Award 2013 – Honorable Mention


Edited and Introduced by Raffael de Gruttola, Afterword by Kathleen O’Toole

Nick Virgilio, who started writing in the 1960s and was a pioneer of American haiku poetry, penned some of this country’s most elegiac and memorable haiku. Born and bred in Camden, New Jersey, he was a legend to some, an inspiration to others. He spent countless hours in his cellar at his Remington typewriter, writing haiku about nature, the people of Camden and south Philadelphia, and his family. In particular, he detailed the deep sense of loss that affected him and his family when his youngest brother, Larry, was killed in Vietnam.

Edited and introduced by Raffael de Gruttola, a haiku poet and former president of the Haiku Society of America, Nick Virgilio: A Life in Haiku includes more than 100 newly discovered haiku as well as old favorites, essays on the craft of writing haiku, excerpts of an interview with Nick on “Radio Times” in Philadelphia, a tribute by Michael Doyle of Sacred Heart Church, family photos and replicas of original manuscript pages from the Rutgers University archive in Camden, N.J., where Nick’s papers are kept.

It is a perfect companion for haiku lovers, urban poetry enthusiasts, combat veterans and their families as well as high school and college writing classes. Students in particular will enjoy its easily accessible and deeply moving poetry, its glimpse inside the writing process and its encouragement of new authors.

An afterword by poet Kathleen O’toole spells out Nick’s legacy as one of the most beloved and influential haiku poets in America. Readers will gain a strong sense of this great haiku poet and his life in Camden as well as an appreciation of the power of haiku as a form of poetry.

ISBN 978-0-9748147-3-5 Trim size: 5.5 x 8.5 Total pages: 137  Bookstores & libraries: please contact us for TLP’s discount schedule and returns policy.

press about the book


WIP – Philadelphia (610AM  and 94.1FM) – The Peter Solomon Public Affairs Show – Interview with Rick Black on the new Virgilio book


WHYY – NPR public radio story – Philadelphia (90.9FM)


The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Philadelphia City Paper

Rutgers Today, an in-house online publication that reaches 30,000 university faculty, staff and students

praise for the book

“A beautiful introduction to Nick — both his life and his work. To paraphrase Whitman, who touches this book touches the man.”  X.J. Kennedy, former editor of The Paris Review and author of numerous poetry collections

“The book overwhelmed me with its beauty, its power and its sadness,” wrote Don Wentworth of Lilliput Review. “The cumulative effect of the volume reminded me of books by Makoto Ueda on Basho and Issa: insightful, scholarly, and biographical. We are given a full, three dimensional picture of the artist and, in this case, as in the cases of Basho and Issa, this expands our understanding of the work rather than detracts from it. Click here for the full review.

“Nick Virgilio: A Life in Haiku will be one of the most welcome American haiku books to be published in the first half of this, the 21st, century….” wrote Lorin Ford in the first critical review of the new Nick Virgilio book in the online Japanese forms publication, A Hundred Gourds. Click here for the full review.

“a great discovery and very worthy and meaningful to find these haiku and update Nick’s significant voice and contribution to American haiku,” wrote Tom Clausen, who runs the Mann Library’s Daily Haiku Page

“…called by many this country’s foremost haiku poet.” Marty Moss-Coane, host of “Radio Times,” WHYY, Philadelphia

“…Nick has mined beauty out of the gutters of Camden. ..” Michael Doyle, Sacred Heart Church, Camden, N.J.

poem sampler

out of the water . . .
out of itself

evening sun
on the back of the bullfrog:

the young leaves blown
this way, that way
spring moon

deep in rank grass,
through a bullet-riddled helmet:
an unknown flower

flag-covered coffin:
the shadow of the bugler
slips into the grave

Vietnam monument
mirroring cherry blossoms
and gold star mothers

a blind musician
extending an old tin cup
collects a snowflake

shadowing hookers
after dark:
the cross in the park

silent World Series:
deaf mutes arguing over
the play at the plate

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called by many this country's foremost haiku poetcalled by many this country's foremost haiku poet
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