The Camden area's literary community will celebrate next week the release of a book of previously unpublished poems by Nick Virgilio, a pioneer of contemporary haiku and a lifelong city resident.

Compiled and published by former New York Times war correspondent Rick Black, the book features new works selected from collections at the Paul Robeson Library at Rutgers-Camden, where nearly 20,000 haiku and correspondence of the late poet reside.

"Nick's poems just hit home for me in meaningful ways," Black, who reported on the first Gulf War, said in a statement. "He's become a kind of teacher to me even though I never met him."

Many of Virgilio's haiku - a Japanese poetry form distinguished by its brevity - focused on the Vietnam War era or life in Camden.

town barberpole

stops turning:

autumn nightfall

Virgilio died in 1989.

The book, Nick Virgilio: A Life in Haiku, will be launched Friday at noon at the Paul Robeson Library, 300 N. Fourth St. in Camden, along with a permanent exhibit of Virgilio's papers.

The book launch and exhibition are free and open to the public.

A community reading is planned for 2 p.m. Sunday at Sacred Heart Church, 1739 Ferry Ave., Camden. Speakers will include Black, Tony Virgilio - the poet's surviving brother - and Sacred Heart's Msgr. Michael Doyle.