In Memory of Joko Haselwood

Joko Dave Haselwood — Zen priest, teacher at Stone Creek Zen Center and Empty Bowl Sangha, father, publisher of Beat poets, landscape architect — died December 29, 2014.

Joko’s love of life and stubborn independence enabled him to teach Zen and to enjoy life through years of cancer. His death was peaceful and quick, since his accommodating gentleness was as strong as that stubbornness. He was very tired and completely ready to let go as he entered hospice care. He died at home, only four days later. Our loss is enormous.

Joko Haselwood began practicing Zen with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi in 1963 but remained with him for only one and a half years. Later, he resumed practice with Jakusho Kwong Roshi at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, and remained with him for fifteen years and was ordained as a Zen priest. He left Sonoma Mountain in 2000 and began studying at Stone Creek Zen Center with Jisho Warner Roshi. He received dharma transmission (permission to teach) from her and became Associate teacher at Stone Creek. He led the Empty Bowl Sangha for many years. He emphasized the practice of “just sitting” (Shikantaza) and the need to reconnect our body and mind in the practice of being present to life as it arises moment by moment.

On Thursday, January 8th, the zendo was open from 9 am to 6 pm for an open sitting with Joko’s ashes.

Here is an obituary for Joko prepared by longtime friend Glenn Todd:

Joko Dave Haselwood, 83, died peacefully in his sleep at his home in Cotati, California, December 30, 2014, after a long illness. He is survived by two daughters, Susan Haselwood and Amanda Haselwood; his son, Orville Haselwood; and one granddaughter, Mia Rose Ponsetto, all of Cotati. He was preceded in death by his wife, Hilda, in 2002. He had four sisters: Janice Wilkinson, deceased; Judy Nagel and Linda Baker, both of San Diego; and Jeannie Anderson of Hawaii.

Dave Haselwood was born in Wichita, Kansas, in 1931. He attended elementary schools in Wichita and in Latham, Kansas. In Latham he first revealed a religious bent, teaching Sunday school classes and delivering sermons while in his early teens. He attended Wichita High School East in the late 1940s and was a part of a group that included painter and filmmaker Bruce Conner and poet Michael McClure, artists who became his friends for life. He studied at the University of Wichita, majoring in English, and was editor of the Sunflower Literary Review. In 1953, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree and began graduate studies.  In 1954, after a summer in Mexico, he joined the United States Army. For most of his enlistment he was stationed in Germany and traveled extensively throughout Europe.

In 1957, Dave Haselwood came to San Francisco to study at San Francisco State, but in 1958, he dropped out to found the Auerhahn Press (named for a rare European grouse) to publish the poets and artists of what became known as the Beat Generation. The first title he published was “The Hotel Wentley Poems” by John Weiners.

Auerhahn Press publications were noted for their physical beauty and the care that went into their production. Dave Haselwood had taken a printing course in high school and learned the rudiments of letterpress, which he appreciated for its aesthetic effect and the affordability of outmoded equipment. He handset most of his books and printed them on a platen press. He published Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, William Burroughs, and others. In 1961, he entered into a partnership with Andrew Hoyem, and together they issued books by Edward Marshall, Lew Welch, Jack Spicer, David Meltzer, Diane Di Prima, Brother Antoninus, and Charles Olson. The books were enhanced by the work of artists, including Wallace Berman, Bruce Conner, Brion Gysin, Bob Branaman, and Robert LaVigne; all publications were issued in limited editions. The attention to details — the typeface, the paper, the design, along with the strength of the literature — set Auerhahn Press productions (and its ephemera) apart from most of its contemporaries.

“The first and final consideration in printing is the poetry itself,” Haselwood wrote in 1960. ‘’If the poems are great they create their own space.  The publisher is just a midwife during the final operation. Contrary to what to what many people think, including publishers, publishing is not a gentleman’s profession, it is the occupation of a crook or a madman.”

The press grew more influential in the avant-garde but never quite became solvent. In 1964, Haselwood and Hoyem ended the Auerhahn Press. Haselwood went on to bring out titles by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Plymell, and Joanne Kyger under the imprint of Dave Haselwood Books.

Dave Haselwood met Hilda Polak, a lawyer, in 1967; they were married in 1969. Soon after they moved to a small farm  in Cotati, where they reared three children. In 1973, Dave Haselwood changed professions and became a landscape architect. He took an active part in his community. When his son, Orville, joined the Boy Scouts of America, he became a Den Master. From the early 1980s until his retirement in 2006, he drew thousands of plans for private homeowners, along with designs for the City of Cotati Planning Department, Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District, and Burbank Housing.,

In 2007, Dave Haselwood was diagnosed with indolent lymphoma. He bore the burden of ill health with aplomb, wit, good humor, and great clarity of mind, and stayed involved with lives of his friends and his Zen students. He loved California’s coasts, rivers, mountains, and deserts, and was an inveterate birdwatcher. His favorite camping spots were the Yolla Bolly Wilderness, Letts Lake, and Death Valley.

Joko Dave Haselwood began the practice of Zen in San Francisco with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi in 1963, and studied with him for a year and a half.  He resumed practice with Jakusho Kwong Roshi at Sonoma Mountain Zen Center, and after fifteen years he was ordained as a Zen priest by Kwong in October 1996.  He left Sonoma Mountain in 2000 to study at Stone Creek Zen Center with Jisho Warner Roshi, and was re-ordained in June 2003. He received dharma transmission (permission to teach) from Jisho Warner in 2007. He remained Associate Teacher at Stone Creek until his death, as well as leader of the Empty Bowl Sangha. His recorded lectures can be heard on line by googling: Joko Dave Haselwood. Many of Joko’s talks on Zen are also available at Stone Creek Zen Center’s website,, where there is a memorial page about him.

Dave Haselwood was a remarkable, multifaceted man. He played a seminal role in the San Francisco avant-garde movement in literature that suddenly exploded and changed the world. He is mourned by his family, his Zen students, his teacher, and his many friends.

A funeral service for Joko was held on January 31, 20l5, at Stone Creek Zen Center.

Audio for talks Joko gave at Stone Creek can be accessed HERE.

(Photo of Joko by Roy Crockett)

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