John McAteer

I am sad to have to tell you that our good friend and fellow poet, John McAteer, passed away of Alzheimer’s on March 28 in Portland, Oregon — precisely at cherry blossom time. He was 84. His wife, Peggy writes that “a little card I made was the last thing I was able to share with John … The photo was taken at the hanami party 3 years ago in Ohara. Though he was already suffering from the effects of developing Alzheimer’s, it was very important to him that we got to Japan in time for your hanami event … His relationship with the haiku group added great depth to his life in Japan and I thank you very much. I may work the text into a real haiku and use it for his grave marker.” ……… (click on the photo to enlarge)

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Kyoto sakura
The petals will surely fall
But never our love
……………. Peggy
.
Endless the pathways
redolent of times gone by —
Ogura’s shadow
……………. John (from 100 Poets)

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…………………………………… Against the sea’s roar —
…………………………………….The frail old man stands
…………………………………….Sounding his shakuhachi
………………………………………………….. John (from Lost Heian)
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Sitting entranced …………………………………. How many climbers
in the upper room — ……………………………. have grasped this root for aid?
evening mountain shadows …………………. shining still like teak
……………………………………. John (both from Meltdown)
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John was born in Massachusetts and first came to Japan in 1972. Over the years, he worked as professor/lecturer for several universities here in Kansai, including Nara Nat. Univ. of Educ.. He was a gifted performer of Noh, a playwright (most memorably his Robert Frost Noh piece, The Death of a Hired Man), a father, husband and true friend to many. His smile was a real delight. He often used to recite Yeats in his rich baritone voice as he strolled along with us on our haiku hikes. His last performance was in the Portland State Univ. production of the kabuki, 47 Loyal Samurai, in 2016. Peggy tells me that he passed away on the very same day that his own teacher of Noh, Udaka Mitsuhige, did! John will be sorely missed by all. Our prayers are with his family now. Please remember him, as we do Saigyo, under the cherry moon.
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You can see more of John in reports of some events, such as these:
https://hailhaiku.wordpress.com/2009/12/24/mt-mikami-haike/
https://hailhaiku.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/hailstone-autumn-haike-2013-uminobe-no-michi-湖の辺の道/
https://hailhaiku.wordpress.com/2008/07/22/urban-ginko-2-a-stroll-to-busons-birthplace/

5 Responses to “John McAteer”

  1. It’s horrifying who we might lose next in the world-wide haiku community. It was a shock that we lost Stuart Quine, whom many of us have met in person or corresponded with by letter or email at least.

    My deepest condolences to your friend and to his family.

    Alan

    • Thanks, Alan. As a result of what you say here, I’ve now amended the post to make it clear that, although the home where John was being treated had closed its doors to visitors a month or so ago because of the general virus scare in America, he did not actually contract the virus and died simply of his Alzheimer’s. Yes, Stuart Quine, much missed.

      • Thank you for the update. My lovely father-in-law died of Parkinson’s Dementia. These things are so cruel aren’t they?

        warmest regards,
        Alan

  2. My condolences to all and his family. Best wishes.

  3. These two haiku for John, have just been sent in by Mizuho Shibuya:

    this road
    alone, I’ll now go on―
      cherry moon

    (after Basho’s kono michi ya / yuku hito nashi ni / aki no kure?)

    footprints in the road―
    here and there,
    cherry petals

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