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.
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:
- The classic haiku style (strictly as a novice beginner), and
- 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.