Robert Epstein and “Death Awareness Poems”

Robert Epstein coined the phrase “death awareness poems.” The phrase describes haiku, senryu, and tanka written by those especially aware of their approaching deaths.

These are not morbid or tragic poems. I find them poignant and remarkably clear-eyed.

Epstein is a licensed psychotherapist, published haiku poet, author and editor. He edited The Breath of Surrender (2009), an anthology of recovery-oriented haiku. Additionally, he is working on his book of death awareness haiku, Checkout Time is Noon.

Additonally, Robert Epstein has started a blog recently on death awareness poetry, and it is most thoughtful and impressive. Here’s the link:

It is titled Dreams Wander On. It shares this title with an anthology he edited which will hopefully come out in late 2010. Both are inspired by haiku master Basho’s last poem:

sick on a journey / over withered fields / dreams wander on

[Source: Robert Epstein’s blog, accessed August 21, 2010].

Full disclosure: I have three haiku in Dreams Wander On (the book). I am very grateful to have my poems included!

Please visit Robert Epstein’s blog!

About Andrew Shattuck McBride

I am a writer, editor, writing coach, and consultant. I work in a variety of genres, including poetry, short stories, and creative non-fiction. I also have a couple of novels simmering on back burners. THANK YOU to Nan Macy of Village Books for taking this photo (June 2011).
This entry was posted in Authors, Notes on the Literary Life. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Robert Epstein and “Death Awareness Poems”

  1. Here’s a death awareness haiku I posted recently on Epstein’s Dreams Wander On blog:

    in my fall– / publishing before / I perish

  2. Dear Andy, Thank you very much for letting others know about the blog I created for sharing reflections and poetry on one’s own mortality. You are very kind.

    And congratulations on the launching of your own blog, which is wide-ranging and full of interesting anecdotes and poetry. One could spend a whole afternoon or evening wandering through the many trails of creativity you’ve marked! Best wishes. Robert

  3. Daughter:
    Words fall away
    like wilted flowers
    Our spirits wait.

  4. Hi Marian, thank you for visiting and for your poem.

    Have you visited Robert Epstein’s blog? Blessings, Andy

  5. Andy,
    I looked up Robert’s blog. I love the title. And it’s so cool that you have three of your poems there.

    Write on!

  6. Hi Carolyn,

    Isn’t that a great title? “Dreams Wander On” – wow.

    Actually, my three haiku are forthcoming in Robert Epstein’s anthology Dreams Wander On, being published hopefully in late 2010.

    Very cool. I’m excited to have my poems included in his new book!

    Blessings, Andy

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