Denver Stull

Denver Stull
Image scanned from
Prairie Sunset (2000)

Denver Stull (born Denver Eugene Stull, December 21, 1919, Pennsboro, West Virginia, U.S.A; died January 6, 2011, Forest Park, Georgia), sergeant-major in the U.S. Army Reserves, payroll clerk at the Veterans Administration, Master of Laws, and editor, publisher, writer, and poet. He edited Parnassus Literary Journal from 1983 to 2005.


Early Life

Denver Eugene Stull was born in Pennsboro, West Virginia, December 21, 1919, the son of Eli Andrew Stull and Mabel Zelva Chapman. The family moved to nearby West Union, where Denver completed high school. Still in his teens, Stull joined the U.S. Army and saw service in the infantry in the South Pacific during World War II. Following his stint in the army he settled in Forest Park, Georgia, and worked for a time as a payroll clerk in the Veterans Administration. He also attended John Marshall Law School in Atlanta, earning an LLM (Master of Laws) degree. Stull was married twice and had eight children and stepchildren.

After retirement from the VA, Stull returned to the U.S. Army Reserves as a full-time technician, retiring in 1981 with the rank of command sergeant-major. Thereafter he devoted his time to writing fiction and poetry.

Writer, Editor, and Publisher

Denver Stull published more than two hundred poems, several short stories, and numerous political satires and humorous articles in literary journals, magazines, and newspapers. He was a member of the National Writer’s Club, the Georgia State Poetry Society from 1980, the Southern Poetry Society, the United Amateur Press, and the Academy of American Poets, and, from 1981, the Haiku Society of America. He was listed in A Directory of American Poets and Fiction Writers. The Georgia State Poetry Society honored him when they established a Denver Stull Poetry Award in the mid-1990s.

Stull died at age 91 on January 6, 2011, at Southern Regional Hospital in Forest Park. He was buried in Forest Hills Memorial Gardens, Clayton County, Georgia.

Cover of Parnassus Literary Journal 17:3 (Fall 1993)

Stull’s involvement with haiku centered on the tri-yearly Parnassus Literary Magazine, established in 1975. In 1982 he took over the editing and publishing of the publication, now renamedParnassus Literary Journal. Enclosed in distinctive Kelly green paper covers and adorned with Stull’s own pen-and-ink drawings and one of his haiku, each issue of the journal featured short poems and always included several dozen haiku and senryu. Poet and publisher Lewis Sanders inaugurated a haiku column that focused on more traditional (i.e., not avant-garde) haiku in Parnassus in mid-1982.1 Parnassus ceased publication in 2006.

Cover of Wood Chips (1992)

Early chapbooks of Stull’s longer poetry were A Bit of This and a Bit of That (1981) and A Sense of Humor (1987), both published by P.O.E.T.S. in Conifer, Colorado.

Cover of Prairie Sunset (2005)

Stull was also the founder, editor, and publisher of Kudzu Press in Forest Park, Georgia, and published a collection of his poems, Hatched by the Sun, in 1987 as well as his collection of haiku, Wood Chips, in 1992. From 1989 Kudzu Press put out a monthly newsletter.2

Denver Stull was invited by the Hamilton Haiku Press in Hamilton, Ontario, to judge the Herb Barrett Award in 2000 and edit the contest anthology, the publication of which was delayed until 2005. (The 2000 Barrett Award was also the last in the series). Reviewing Prairie Sunset in Modern Haiku, Jeanne Morcom wrote: “Like any anthology, especially one containing contest entries, it is of varying quality, but a nice production.”

Denver Stull began placing his haiku in periodicals in late 1981. Three verses appeared in the October 1981 issue of Dragonfly:3

A restless tide
    erases last nights foot prints;
        sea gulls protesting


Sun on the roof top:
    a woodpecker keeps drumming
        on the antenna


Broken tombstones
    blackberry vines bloom and fade
        in highway dust

Over the next few years Stull availed himself of the mentorship of Dragonfly editor Lorraine Ellis Harr, who awarded Dragonfly Haiku Awards (best of issue) for three of his submissions:

Woodpecker drumming —
     old swamp alligator
        bellows his protest4


Sound of a gunshot;
    the crow
       cries a warning5


among spring bulbs
    the old dog
        finds his bone6

Also among Stull’s earliest published work in haikai were two verses inHigh/Coo in 1981:7

On the front porch
     the empty chair rocks—
          a cold wind 


On the highway
     pools that are not there—
          hot summer day

Two haiku of Stull’s were included in the premier issue of The Red Pagoda (Spring 1983), edited by his friend and sometime colleague Lewis Sanders:

Scraping frost
      from the windshield;
            a robin’s chirp.


Little league ball game;
     the center fielder
           playing in the dirt.
first snowfall—
the last leaf spirals
from the old oak tree8

while this verse of his was chosen for a best-of-issue Red Pagoda Award in the September 1984 issue:

at the golf course
a dragonfly
lands on the ball9

All told, over the ensuing five years Stull placed a total of some 30 haiku in The Red Pagoda.

Appreciation

Denver Stull’s work in haikai showed the influence of classical Japanese haiku in the manner advocated by Lorraine Ellis Harr. Almost without exception they were composed in three lines, though not strictly adhering to the common 5–7–5–syllable pattern, and showing a clear sensitivity to the devices of juxtaposing two images and of indicating the time of the year by using seasonal words and phrases.

Stull’s haiku tended to be light in mood, even folksy. Favorite topics were animals, especially his own house pets and visitors to the bird feeder:

Ragweed in bloom
    along the country road;
           the old dog sneezes10


winter ice storm;
     the old cat wants out
          wants in11 


Old tom cat
      sits washing his face—
            feathers on the grass12


hunting season—
     only one dove
          at the feeder13


first day of winter …
a mockingbird perched
on the furnace vent14


Autumn leaves—
riding the old woman’s rake—
a butterfly15

Stull did not often venture into the realm of linked-form haikai, though in 1994 he published a rengay—an early example of that invented form—with Merrill Ann Gonzales. Note that all three of Stull’s links refer to animals:16

Morning Walk

morning walk …
the old dog and I
both limping                                                        (DS)17 .

        cloud darkens everything
	but the forsythia                                          (MAG)

storm clouds …
the mocking bird’s song
following me                                                        (DS)

	trees in the wind
	each offering up blossoms and birds
	with deep bows                                            (MAG)

fighting a head wind …
one lone Monarch butterfly
fluttering south                                                    (DS)

        so far from home —
	now my place is in the clouds                   (MAG)

It is revealing of Stull’s casual yet conservative approach to his work to look closer at his “fighting a head wind” verse in the rengay. The idea of a migrating butterfly’s tribulations first appeared in a haiku Stull placed in Dragonfly in 1982 as

On strong north winds
  one last monarch butterfly
      fluttering south.

then ten years later in Wood Chips with nearly identical text but changed formatting :

on strong north winds
one last Monarch
fluttering south 

A special issue of Parnassus in 1995 reprinted the haiku with the same text but with lines 2 and 3 stair-stepped. A recast version was used for the rengay in Parnassus later in 1995. Finally, by 2013, when the poem was picked up forAyaz Daryl Nielsen’s Bear Creek Haiku Anthology, the butterfly was already on its flight northbound from Mexico:

on strong north winds
one last monarch
fluttering north18

Some others of Stull’s haiku and senryu that he repurposed multiple times were these (last published versions):

cry of the hawk …
chicken feathers
in the meadow19


winter ice storm …
hazardous landings
at the bird feeder20


home from the hospital
paying the bill
on the burial plot21

The poet often turned his finely tuned sense of irony to humans, including himself, and the resulting verses were senryu, such as the following, which earned Stull an Honorable Mention in the Harold G. Henderson Haiku Awards in 1989:

Monday morning
listening for the rooster
eaten yesterday22


abandoned store—
     large sign reading
          WE NEVER CLOSE13

Sometimes Stull’s humor was a bit dark, for example:

at the track
     finishing his laps
          the old man lights up23


morning walk—
passing the funeral parlor
I speed up 24


On the front porch
     the empty chair rocks—
          a cold wind7

In the early 1990s Stull found success in the annual Penumbra Poetry & Haiku Contest organized by the Tallahassee Writers’ Association. He was awarded two Honorable Mentions in the 1996 competition:

this heat …
     cat belly-up
          under the fan25


back and forth, back and forth …
     the bumble bee guarding
          my front door26

while this one was a Finalist in 1998:

summer storm —
pink crepe myrtle blossoms
in her hair27

and this one was awarded a third prize in the 2000 International Kusamakura Haiku Competition in Japan:

In the latter half of the 1990s, Stull was focused on Parnassus and published his haiku and senryu almost exclusively in that journal. His work appeared in public rarely after 2000. His last known published haiku was in 2002 in the Haiku Canada Newsletter:

frost warning —
green tomatoes in
the kitchen window28

Sources / Further Reading

Books and chapbooks

  • Stull, Denver. A Bit of This and a Bit of That: Poetry. 1981.
  • Stull, Denver. Hatched by the Sun. Forest Park, Georgia: Kudzu Press, 1987. Poems.
  • Stull, Denver. It Only Hurts When I Smile. Mattoon, Ill.: Modern Images Poets Committee, ©1988. Cover and graphics by Bob Ahrens. Humorous stories.
  • Stull, Denver. Wood Chips: Haiku. Forest Park, Ga.: Kudzu Press, 1992. Available on The Haiku Foundation Digital Library website. 52 haiku.
  • Stull, Denver. A Sense of Humor. Conifer, Colorado: P.O.E.T.S. Poetry chapbook.
  • Stull, Denver. A Duke’s Mixture. Southern Poetry Association, 1994. Poetry chapbook.
  • Stull, Denver, ed. Prairie Sunset: An International Haiku Anthology: The Winning Poems of the Herb Barrett Award, 2000. Illustrated by Gilda Mekler. Hamilton, Ont.: Hamilton Haiku Press, ©2005.

Periodicals that published Stull’s haikai

  • Albatross, 1996–1997.
  • Asahi Haikuist Network, 2000.
  • Bear Creek Haiku, 1987.
  • Brussels Sprout, 1991–1994.
  • Cicada (California), 1988–1994.
  • Dragonfly, 1981–1987.
  • Frogpond, 1987–1996.
  • Haiku Canada Newsletter.
  • Haiku Dawn, 1999.
  • Haiku Headlines, 2001– .
  • Haiku Zasshi Zo.
  • High/Coo, 1981–1982.
  • Key-ku, Solares Hill (Key West, Fla.), 2003.
  • , 1991– .
  • Leanfrog.
  • Mainichi Daily News.
  • New Cicada, 1992–1997.
  • P.O.E.T.S.
  • Parnassus Literary Review.
  • Piedmont Literary Review.
  • Prophetic Voices.
  • The Red Pagoda, 1983–1985.
  • South by Southeast, 1994–1996.
  • Spin, 1997.
  • Woodnotes, 1990.

Selected periodicals that published Stull’s longer poems and stories

  • The Alura Quarterly.
  • Amateur Writer’s Journal.
  • Amber.
  • Bell’s Letters.
  • Creative Hodgepodge.
  • Editor’s Desk.
  • Hob-Nob.
  • Poets at Work.
  • Senior Edition USA.

Work in anthologies

  • Gorman, LeRoy, ed. Blue Spilling Over: Haiku Canada Members’ Anthology 1995–96. Aylmer, Que.: Haiku Canada, 1996. 1 haiku.
  • Huie, Lucy Cline, and Helen S. Weiss. The Nights the Animals Screamed. 2003. 1 “traumatic story.”
  • Kacian, Jim, and the Red Moon editorial staff, eds. The Red Moon Anthology 1996. Berryville, Va.: Red Moon Press, 1997. 1 haiku.
  • Kacian, Jim, and the Red Moon editorial staff, eds. The Red Moon Anthology 1997. Berryville, Va.: Red Moon Press, 1998. 1 haiku.
  • Nielsen, Ayaz Daryl, ed. Bear Creek Haiku Anthology: The Poets of Bear Creek. Boulder, Colorado: Bear Creek Haiku, 2013. 1 haiku.
  • Noyes, H. F. Favorite Haiku: Vol. 3. Winchester, Va.: Red Moon Press, 2000. 1 haiku.
  • Stevenson, John, ed. From a Kind Neighbor: Haiku Society of America Members’ Anthology 1997. New York: Haiku Society of America, 1997.
  • Worth, Dorothy Williamson. The Reach of Song, Book 8. Atlanta: Georgia State Poetry Society, 1988. 1 poem.

Reviews and works about Denver Stull

  • Bullock, Owen. “The Unsaid in Haiku and Senryu.” New Zealand Poetry Society website (2007): https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333433888_The_Unsaid_in_Haiku_and_Senryu. 1 haiku.
  • Denmark, Herbert Walter. “It Only Hurts When I Smile [by Denver Stull]. Georgia State Poetry Society, Inc., The Newsletter 9:4 (June/July 1988), 3–4. Review.
  • Davis, Ed. “It Only Hurts When I Smile [by Denver Stull].” The University of North Carolina Press, Appalachian Heritage 17:1 (Winter 1989), 65–66. Review.
  • “Featured Haiku Poet: Denver Stull,” Haiku Headlines 139 (October 1999), 8. Biographical sketch.
  • Prairie Sunset, edited by Denver Stull. Haiku Book Notes. Modern Haiku 37:2 (Summer 2006), 101.
  • “Stull, Denver Eugene.” Henry Herald [McDonough, Georgia] website, posted January 5, 2011 and updated February 23, 2016: https://www.henryherald.com/news/stull-denver-eugene/article_48adfc87-4475-5679-8af0-f090563e606e.html. Obituary.
  • Vilén, Florence. “Repetition in Haiku—For Meaning and Melody.” temps libres—free times (July 23, 2001). Discussion of one haiku.

Honors, Awards, and Contests

  • Penumbra Haiku Contest 1998, Finalist.
  • Harold G. Henderson Awards 1987, Honorable Mention.
  • Harold G. Henderson Awards 1989, Honorable Mention.
  • Penumbra Haiku Contest 1996, Honorable Mention (for two haiku).
  • 5th International Kusamakura Haiku Competition, 2000, Nyūsen (3rd Prize).

Activities

  • Member of the Haiku Society of America, 1987–2003.
  • Member, Haiku Canada.
  • Member, Georgia State Poetry Society, at least 1980–

Compiled by Charles Trumbull


Notes

  1. “Haiku News,” Frogpond 5:3 (1982), 46. []
  2. Kudzu Press 2:10 (October 1988), online at Jake’s Journals: Amateur Journals Collected by Jacob L. Warner and friends. []
  3. Dragonfly 9:4 (October 1981); “nights” and “foot prints” sic. []
  4. Dragonfly 10:2 (April 1982) and 2nd in Reader Votes for the Issue. []
  5. Dragonfly 10:3 (July 1982); later included in Stull’s Wood Chips: Haiku (1992). []
  6. Dragonfly 12:3 (July 1984). []
  7. High/Coo 6:22 (November 1981). [] []
  8. Later included in Stull’s Wood Chips: Haiku (1992) and in an editorial in Parnassus 21:3 (Fall/Winter 1997). []
  9. The Red Pagoda 2:2 (September 1984). []
  10. Dragonfly 10:3 (July 1982). []
  11. Original version from Frogpond 11:1 (February 1988); slightly different versions were reprinted in at least four other periodicals and anthologies, and were discussed in critical articles including Florence Vilén, “Repetition in Haiku—For Meaning and Melody,” temps libres—free times (July 23, 2001) and Owen Bullock, “The Unsaid in Haiku and Senryu,” New Zealand Poetry Society website (2007). []
  12. Dragonfly 10:1 (January 1982). Slightly different versions were published in The Red Pagoda 3:2 (October 1985) and Stull, Wood Chips: Haiku (1992). Yet another version, cry of the hawk … / chicken feathers / in the meadow, had a parallel publishing history from 1983 (The Red Pagoda) through 1992 (Wood Chips). []
  13. Frogpond 12:4 (November 1989). [] []
  14. Stevenson, ed., From a Kind Neighbor (HSA Members’ Anthology, 1997). Three different versions were published earlier. []
  15. (Autumn–Winter 1991); different versions appeared later in Stull, Wood Chips: Haiku (1992) and New Cicada 10:2 (Summer 1997). []
  16. Parnassus 19:4 (Winter 1995). A slightly different version of the link “morning walk” first appeared in Cicada (1991), and of “fighting a head wind” in Dragonfly 10:2 (1992). []
  17. First published in a somewhat different version in Cicada (1991) and redone in at least three other periodicals and selected for inclusion on the Katikati Haiku Pathway in New Zealand. []
  18. Ayaz Daryl Nielsen, ed., Bear Creek Haiku Anthology (2013). []
  19. The Red Pagoda 1:2 (Summer 1983; Bear Creek Haiku 1 (1987?); Frogpond 13:3 (August 1990); Stull, Wood Chips: Haiku (1992). []
  20. Dragonfly 10:2 (April 1982); The Red Pagoda 1:3 (1983); Stull, Wood Chips: Haiku (1992); Haiku Dawn website (February 1999); Azami 2000. []
  21. Frogpond 11:3 (August 1988); New Cicada 9:2 (Winter 1992; South by Southeast 1:3 (October 1994); Haiku Dawn (February 1999). []
  22. Original version in New Cicada 9:2 (Winter 1992); later versions reprinted and anthologized at least six tiomes, including in H. F. Noyes, ed., Favorite Haiku: Vol. 5: Collected Essays (2002). []
  23. Frogpond 9:4 (November 1986. []
  24. South by Southeast 1:3 (October 1994). []
  25. Penumbra Haiku Contest 1996, Honorable Mention; Parnassus Literary Journal 21:2 (Summer 1997). []
  26. Penumbra Haiku Contest 1996, Honorable Mention. []
  27. Penumbra Haiku Contest 1998, Finalist. []
  28. Haiku Canada Newsletter 15:2 (February 2002). []
Updated on March 30, 2024