Conversation 107: THE DAILY HAIKU interviews: Fred Mason



I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of TDH, although my exposure to it is most likely different from most of the group.  I am an old relic now,  having grown up in mid-America in the state of Indiana during the 1950’s.  When I was a young schoolboy, I discovered the magic of books, which greatly expanded my horizons.  Within the pages of books, I acquired new heroes, those magicians, who could take the 26 letters of the alphabet and could create drama and suspense.  Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum”,  “The Raven”, etc., Jack London’s Tales of the outdoors, and too many more to count.  I liked it all, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, even comic books.


Fast forward…

After spending 37 years working for IBM Corporation, I retired.  With more time on my hands, I had more time to read and to write, which I discovered brought a sense of satisfaction.  My first writing was in the style of Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and his other books (which my daughter had enjoyed).  I composed many rhyming poems that were intended to be funny or whimsical from viewpoint of youngsters.  Before long, I thought that it was time to try other types of poetry, which I did and enjoyed.


I had heard of haiku, but basically knew nothing about it, but it sounded interesting… so I gave it a shot.  Since my knowledge was severely lacking, I looked for and sampled some Facebook groups, including TDH,  thinking that perhaps some expertise might come to me by osmosis or whatever.  I was amazed at the magnitude and the breadth and depth of the haiku world.  My initial readings of the old masters did not create much of a spark… interesting, but not exciting, however there were so many other versions of haiku that I was hooked.


From the beginning, my general approach was to try to write with two different approaches:
  1. The classic haiku style (strictly as a novice beginner), and
  2. a style that youngsters and newbies to Haiku might be able to identify with. It seemed to me that although most of the haiku community endeavored to follow the old, classic styles, which was OK, in my opinion, that style would be totally boring to youngsters.


When I work, I try to complete a package – a haiku and an interesting photo to complement it.

I try to think outside the usual box… a different perspective.  Many of my creations tend to be senryu not true haiku and some defy explanations, but I don’t worry about that.  Mostly, I write for my own amusement.  Old people can do that.  I have no illusions about my writing.  I will never be famous or renown, but that was never my aim.  I find that the main value-add for this TDH group starts with Amanda’s  leadership and that members are supportive.

I think the best way to learn new skills is to be around people who are smarter than you are and to watch carefully and emulate them.  See what they do right.  See what works.  Then expand your own knowledge.  This group has so very many talented members, who serve as role models for those of us who stray from the classical styles.  We do not get berated because of that.  And finally, the last benefit, that I see every day at TDH, is that we tend to keep writing…  as Billy Collins said in his poem “The Trouble with Poetry” …    the trouble with poetry is that it encourages the writing of more poetry… the urge to write poetry, to sit in the dark and wait for a little flame to appear at the tip of my pencil.  

That is why I keep coming back.



5 Comments on “Conversation 107: THE DAILY HAIKU interviews: Fred Mason”

  1. Thank you so much for this interview Fred and your reasons behind coming back to TDH emphasising something I am keen to foster within the group and beyond with our creative writing – that ability to develop a daily writing practice. I love your marriage of image and haiku here that shows your deep connection with the world around you and your ability to express this so vividly. Exploring your thoughts on haiku I embrace your approach that is questing and open to new ways whilst having a thirst to learn. For such a short form haiku continues to give so much and offer great depths for expression, something you clearly recognise and enjoy. Fare forward dear Fred and enjoy the haiku adventure.

  2. Friend, I have enjoyed your hikes with their beautiful descriptive photos. My favorite picture is that of the “mother wrench” feeding the baby wrenches with some delicious nuts. We own a sawmill in Southern Indiana and are often wielding wrenches and tightening nuts 🔩. In truth, my husband does most of that, but I do a lit of handing him the right tool! 😉
    P.S. Did I see you’re from Indiana also? That’s great

  3. Isn’t it just the best?! Finding a treasure like TDH and it in turn opening up a treasure chest within ourselves we didn’t know existed? Wonderful to be around like minds who enjoy seeing words come to life! I doubt if I would have ventured down this rabbit-hole had it not been for covid ( i do not, unless auto-corrected, give this word power by capitalizing it). “A little voice” inside me said, ‘you need to write haiku’ … it’s a long story, but here I am. Here you are, and we get to enjoy each other’s company whenever we want just by pushing a button on the computer. Life is grand, in spite of it all! I enjoy the process and learning from others, and always a surprise when someone responds to a haiku I’ve written and speaks to my heart. That was this morning with your story about your mom’s jam. These make it worth the whole journey. These connections! Thank you, for your story of why you came.

  4. Lovely interview, Fred, thank you! I agree that with age comes a certain freedom – good to see it emphasised here…

  5. oh Fred, apologizing profusely. you were on my blackberry haiku with your story of blackberries and making some money, and i had you confused with Ron Sauve and his mom’s jam. since i can’t delete my post above, i just wanted you to know i wrote it before having my coffee. 😉 i did this the other day, too, with Phil Barnett and Donall Dempsey. oh, my! i’m getting too many men in my life on TDH (ha). so glad you are here and look forward to more of your haiku. again, apologies.

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