• James Haddad

      James Haddad

      James Haddad is a treasure to our Pasadena Community both as a poet and as the preserver of a beautiful historic family and community treasure. He has read his poems privately to small groups of like minded poets who have realized the beauty and ongoing vitality of his poetry during visits to the beautiful garden. Now, Jim, has moved forward the life of the garden, setting up its non-profit status, and presenting opportunities for inaugural members to share its landmark beauty and the joy of this unique treasure. Each month he and his wife Connie welcome a special cultural event and their new members as well as the community to a public community cultural event at their traditional open day visitations.

      Kathabela Wilson

      Here’s what James has to say:

      Our Secret is Out

      The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden was conceived in the 1930s as a private garden that was once reserved for the enjoyment of an aristocratic Pasadena couple. It is a superb example of a Japanese hill-and-pond stroll garden, which is rare in the U.S., and one of only two Japanese gardens in California listed in the National Register as a Historic Place.

      This secret garden that was hidden from view for decades, surviving a number of threats to its existence throughout its 80 year history, has been re-imagined as a space to be shared. While the garden has recently undergone a transformative restoration, rescuing it from years of decline, much more needs to be done.

      Support from the community is now urgently needed. A non-profit 501(c)(3) has been established for management of the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden to encourage and facilitate community giving.

      We invite you to become a supporter by joining us as a valued member.

      Your benevolence will allow this extraordinary garden to remain a living reminder of a time and place in our history that two cultures shared.

      James Haddad


      James Haddad and Kathabela Wilson.

      James Haddad and Kathabela Wilson.

      An Interview with James Haddad, poet and owner of the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden in Pasadena.

      ​Few people know that James Haddad has been writing his whole life. It’s an honor and a joy to share the secret inner garden that nourishes the life of the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, and all of us, in Pasadena! ​

      By Kathabela Wilson

      Mapping the poet

      James Haddad

      James Haddad

      We talked of the influence of a place on our work, and you’ve told me the poet actually becomes a place, how do you see it that way?

      Being over eighty, my understanding of life has changed. I think life has always been beautiful. When I was younger –when we were younger– we were beautiful then too. You have to live to where your life becomes a setting –not only for the muse– but for the reflection and nourishing of the coming years given to you.

      Pulse of the poet

      Art became your life, and you’ve told me you grew up in an art gallery, what does it mean?

      I was raised in Art, I sniffed it, tasted it, fondled it my entire life.​ ​As a child, I virtually lived in the back of my parents’ picture framing shop, surrounded by art, and absorbing its sights, smells, and techniques. I started as an adult with picture framing, then fine art publishing is still alive today over 50 years later.​ I ran the family art gallery… I, and my family, we have always been immersed in art.

      A microscope on the poet

      Connie Haddad, wife of James. talks about the the Japanese Storrier Stearns Garden's history.

      Connie Haddad, wife of James. talks about the the Japanese Storrier Stearns Garden’s history.

      How did you come to write poetry?

      I’ve had a long inclination to write, printing out my stories, inspired by the family background, for family members-memoirs and fiction. I switched from “writing” to writing poetry as I found I could use words and descriptions in short meaningful phrases. I have a writing group in Yorba Linda for eight years now, where I “sing the song of letters”. The poetry is an outgrowth of my life’s background, and maybe a dream, like childhood. I was, and am, only a child.

      But I am in my fourth volume of poetry. I write a number of poems a week, sometimes in a hurricane of thought. I write the words of a line or two, then following, there comes a poem, and then there is peace.

      A telescope on the poet

      James Haddad reading his poetry at the Jthe Japanese Storrier Stearns Garden in Pasadena.

      James Haddad reading his poetry at the Jthe Japanese Storrier Stearns Garden in Pasadena.

      How did the Japanese Storrier Stearns Garden come into your life, and what has it meant to your poetry?

      At 18 I was sucked into the maw of World War II, and at 25 I was married and living in a Japanese garden​. My mother surprised us, and herself, when she went to an auction. She thought she would buy two Louis IV chairs at an estate sale and came back home saying…”guess what I bought today” It was the whole estate and garden. So, first a three-month interlude (honeymoon?) ​sleeping in ​the ​​original ​teahouse —a romantic but primitive adventure, lacking all amenities, and sharing a mattress on the floor with my wife and her dog— then almost three years in the former carriage barn at the back corner of the property. ​Surprisingly, ​​m​y “retirement years” f​ind​ me back at the Japanese Garden, lovingly restoring it to the condition I remembered from decades earlier. Life takes unexpected twists and turns, it revives itself in unexpected ways. I am happy that many poets and musicians have become my friends and are lured, as I and my poems are, to the beauty of the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, reading their poems, celebrating the garden with me. I could never have imagined.. but a dream come true.​​

      One Day
      By James Haddad

      One day
      I stepped upon this step
      which took me
      into a place I’d never been
      scary it was that first day
      until I did sing
      and I listened for the classroom bell
      so I could go out and play
      every day the same
      and every day different
      it couldn’t be explained
      at least I couldn’t
      my teacher didn’t yell
      we were all her children
      for the moment,
      she told us tales
      we wouldn’t have known
      as we were kindergartners
      and just starting to read
      she laid us down on floor mats
      and sang a lullaby
      we dreamed of things
      only a child could dream
      of fun and games, the child’s world
      then bid us bye
      careful now
      look both ways
      the most important words
      she could say
      look both ways.


      ! All photos are by Rick Wilson.


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        • Kathabela Wilson

          Kathabela Wilson is a local poet/writer/artist and musician. Her Poets Salon has become an international respected must read in the poetry world. She's the creator and host of the Pasadena-based group, “Poets on Site.”

          Colorado Boulevard is your place for enlightening events, informative news and social living for the greater Pasadena area.
          We strive to inform, educate, and work together to make a better world for all of us, locally and globally.

        • Latest posts by Kathabela Wilson

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      1. Toti O'Brien says:

        Thank you. Very luminous words and – as he says – full of peace.

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