Haiku Form Inspires Philanthropist

Mourning her baby
The Orca whale baby’s death
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Thus goes one of Scott Oki’s haiku in his four-book collection beautifully produced by Tim Girvin of Girvin Strategic Brand and Design of Seattle. Oki, better known as an influential Microsoft executive who launched the company’s international business in the 1980s and for his philanthropic work through the Oki Foundation, is also an avid writer of haiku and poetry.

Oki says he got his start in haiku with at Hawthorne Elementary School in the International District. The compact format of three lines and the five-seven-five syllable pattern intrigued him, and he’s still at it nearly six decades later.

When Origami caught up with Oki this fall, he was putting the finishing touches on another collection of haiku, which is sure to be another art d’objet under the direction of Girvin and his crew. The books are not for sale, but Oki gives them out to friends and associates at fundraisers for some of the dozen-plus nonprofits he has started or help start. We received the collection pictured here at a fundraiser for Densho in 2019.

Besides a new haiku collection, Oki has been working on poetry in Western form and will likely have a collection out in 2021. He is also working on a memoir. Though his writing chops are on full display in his first haiku collection, he humbly proclaims, “I am no writer.”

His themes jump from the profound to the lighthearted, but he repeatedly shows his deep love for the Pacific Northwest, as in this haiku:

Beautiful Rainier
Climbing is underrated
Down is harder still

or this one:

Camping under stars.
The endless void filled with lights,
still waiting for more.

If you’re interested in seeing Oki’s latest haiku collection, perhaps reach out to The Oki Foundation or Densho and see if a well-placed donation might land you a copy. If you are a bibliophile, you’ll be very happy you got your hands on a copy. From the sewn-in bookmark to the red-patterned endpapers, these books are true works of art.

Author profile

Bruce Rutledge loves books, baseball, and Pacific Northwest beer, He also loves Japan and has dedicated his career to telling more stories about the country through books, magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, and now, on Origami magazine. He works in Seattle's Pike Place Market. Come visit him in his store in the Down Under.