Introduction

photo of a moss-covered mountainside with the text of a haiku: "our mountain of lost hemlocks speaking in moss"

This site began as a photoblog on Shutterchance in late December 2007, and when I moved here in 2009, to relieve the tedium of re-posting old photos one by one, I began making up haiku for the title + description. Most of those haiku were fairly superficial exercises in imagism, but I believe I’ve gotten a bit better over the years. (At least I was never a syllable-counter!)

At the end of 2016 I expanded the scope to include many of the photos I was posting on Instagram with poetic one-liners of one sort or another: prose micropoems, basically. In 2021 I began incorporating the text of haiku into the images to make photo haiga (AKA shahai), and began including process notes on many posts. Those too get cross-posted to the ‘gram.

The Allegheny woodrat (Neotoma magister) is a native of the abundant rock outcroppings and talus slopes on ridgetops in the Appalachians, where I live. A close relative of the better-known pack rat of the American West, it is renowned for its midden, a hoard of small treasures such as snail shells, shotgun shells, feathers, and bones, all collected within a short distance of its home.

black and white photo of an Allegheny woodrat

Unfortunately, the species has suffered a drastic decline in many parts of its traditional range in recent decades, due to the fragmentation of forested mountaintop habitat by roads, rights-of-way, housing subdivisions, and other openings, which together have permitted the edge-dwelling raccoon to invade woodrat territory and transmit a deadly roundworm. The loss of the American chestnut as a dependable source of food might also be a contributing factor. According to Dr. Jeffrey Larkin (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), “The Allegheny woodrat is a poster child for everything that can and will go wrong in a human dominated landscape.” For me, it is a potent emblem of the homeyness and fragility of the Appalachians.

The logo uses this photo by the Virginia Living Museum. I’m grateful to them for allowing it to be modified for noncommercial use under a Creative Commons license.

About the license

All the photos here are available for reuse or remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States license. For web use, “attribution” should include both my full name (Dave Bonta) and a link back to the original photo page. “Noncommercial” includes any publication from a registered nonprofit. If you’re interested in commercial use, drop me a line. If you want to make prints of the photos for personal use, go right ahead. (But be forewarned that many of the haiga will not make good prints, because the mobile app-generated fonts are designed only to look good on the small screen.)

About me

photo of the author sitting on a chair among the trees

My books include Failed State: Haibun, Ice Mountain: An Elegy, and Breakdown: Banjo Poems. I’ve had work in Contemporary Haibun Online, Failed Haiku, Frogpond, Haibun Today, hedgerow, The Heron’s Nest, Human/Kind Journal, Modern Haiku, NOON: journal of the short poem, The Other Bunny, Sonic Boom, tiny words, Trash Panda, and Wales Haiku Journal (in addition to a bunch of non-haiku-focused poetry magazines). I consider myself very much a journeyman still, trying to hold fast to beginner’s mind and avoid falling into ruts.

Visit DaveBonta.com to learn more about my books, videopoetry collections, and other projects. Via Negativa is my main literary blog, co-authored with Virginia-based poet Luisa Igloria. And I have a daily microblog called The Morning Porch.

I was born in 1966, and still live where I grew up: in Plummer’s Hollow near Tyrone in the Little Juniata watershed of central Pennsylvania. I’m unemployed and way below the federal poverty line. Sadly, I do not play the banjo. Happily, I still have nearly all my teeth.