Millikin University Haiku Writer Profile

Elizabeth Searle Lamb

Biographical Background

Elizabeth Searle Lamb was born in Topeka, Kansas on January 22, 1917. She graduated from the University of Kansas with majors in Music and Harp. In December of 1941, she married her husband, Bruce Lamb, and lived with him in Trinidad, Spain for two years. Because Lamb was only in the United States for brief periods of time through out the next few years, she did not have a chance to pursue her music career. Therefore, she began to write and publish different types of materials, and this eventually led to poetry.

In 1961, Lamb and her husband moved to New York. This is where she was first introduced to the art of haiku. She began to study, read, and write about this form of poetry. She became a member of the Haiku Society of America (HSA) in 1968.

In 1971, ten years after she learned of haiku, she became the president of the HSA. Since this time, she has had her work published in many haiku magazines and newspapers. She has participated in many festivals and held various offices. Lamb has also been the editor for the HAS’s quarterly, which is entitled Frogpond.

Elizabeth Searle Lamb passed away February 16, 2005 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

This profile of haiku writer, Elizabeth Searle Lamb, was researched, written and created by Natalie Kussart.

See Natalie's essay on Lamb's Haiku.

Scroll through the entire profile, or jump to any section:

  from the patio
a scatter of golden leaves
and one cricket

Mayfly 14, 1992

  flight of the cranes
surely just dream but
this white feather

55th Annual
Basho Festival, 200

Author Awards

Given the title of "First Lady of American Haiku" by Father Raymond Roseliep, an eminent poet

Harold Henderson Awards (1978)

Haiku Society of America Biennial Book Awards (1979, 1983, 1985/86)

Mainichi Daily News best of issue (1988)


Author's Books

In this blaze of sun (From Here Press, 1975)

Picasso’s "Bust of Sylvette": haiku and photographs (Garlinghouse Printers, 1977)

39 blossoms (High/Coo Press, 1982)

Casting into a cloud: southwest haiku (From Here Press, 1985)

Lines for my mother, dying (Wind Chimes Press, 1988)

Ripples spreading out: poems for Bruce and others (Tiny Press Poems, 1997)

Platek irysa (Miniatura, 1998)

Across the windharp: collected & new haiku (La Alameda Press, 1999)

Reader Response Essay

As a woman and a poet, Elizabeth Searle Lamb has made a significant impact on American haiku. The main reason her haiku are so wonderful is because she writes about the "now moments" of life. She wants to truly capture a specific moment as it is or as a sharp memory that has suddenly surfaced in one’s mind.

She wrote a statement as the "Contributors’ Comment" in Hummingbird V:3 March 1993 about her take on haiku:

It is to capture the moment: light on a bricked up window in Greenwich Village, faint crowing of a rooster early in the morning after a death has come, colored sails in an Amazon harbor after rain. It is to track down the real wetness of incomprehensible tears. It is to resurrect a tiny prism of memory into a moment that lives with color, scent, sound. These are, for me, the functions of haiku, senryu, and the short lyric. Captured in the amber of words, the moment endures.

Because Elizabeth mostly writes about the "now moments", she never chooses a subject to write about. "The images of the moment have to somehow ‘choose’ me", Elizabeth expresses. I think this is a wonderful way to write haiku because it tells us that we shouldn’t force ourselves to write haiku, but instead, we should let a haiku come to us when a certain moment strikes us.


Additional Web Links and Resources



haiku conferences haiku courses at Millikin Modern Haiku magazine
speakers & readings haiku competitions at MU student renga
student haiku projects published haiku by students links to haiku web sites
student research on haiku haiku by Millikin students directory of haiku magazines


2005, Dr. Randy Brooks• Millikin University
last updated March 29, 2005about this web site