Conversation 80: THE DAILY HAIKU Interviews: Annie Wilson


The Welsh Borders has been my home for 30 years, my roots are firmly planted here.  Previously I lived in London, where I wrote for a variety of magazines, ranging from Consumers’ Association publications to the Underground Press (a pretty wide stretch, I know). When I moved north, I wrote several travel guidebooks to destinations abroad.  I retired from full-time writing during a time of loss in my life.  Writing for pleasure and dancing both helped me through.  And it was poetry where I found I could express myself best.  I belong to a couple of writing groups, and I’ve had several poems published in magazines – but it’s the mental energy and satisfaction of writing that is my goal, not being published.

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When I was invited to join TDH last summer, I hoped writing haiku would pin down my free-floating lockdown attention – encourage me to focus on small moments, turn anxieties into ideas.  It turned out to be this, and much more.  This inspiring, supportive and entertaining group is full of wonderful people I would never have met otherwise.  It’s been like jumping into a warm pool, where I feel energised and can safely explore.  Natalie Goldberg begins her new book, Three Simple Lines: “Haiku is a refuge when the world seems chaotic” – and I’ve found that to be true.

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I thought I knew a little about haiku when I started – but the more I learn, the less I seem to know.  To start with I often used photographs and art to inspire me, but more often now I’m trying to let the words alone conjure images. I’m still trying to get to grips with the subtleties of the form – though my efforts often slip like fish from my grasp. I’m not fast writer, I like to ponder and percolate an idea, play with different words.  I started out sticking to 5-7-5 syllables, but now I’m experimenting with shorter haiku – often, when it comes to impact, less is more.

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As I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by beautiful countryside, and have a big garden, plants and birds are my main inspiration.  However, some of my most popular haiku have not been nature themed.

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in the dark attic

I trip over my teenage years

in dusty boxes

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mother’s old teapot

curved and warm as a womb

pregnant with stories

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dark forest –

my way is lit by stars

of wild garlic

 

or Marion Clarke’s suggestion, which I prefer but can’t claim as my work:

forest path

lit by stars

wild garlic

 

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thoughts of summer

folded up in my memory –

origami birds

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fallen blossom –

the tideline

of spring

 

13 Comments on “Conversation 80: THE DAILY HAIKU Interviews: Annie Wilson”

  1. Annie you and your haiku are an inspiration. So glad to have ‘met’ you through this group and hope to meet in person one day x

    1. Thanks so much, Ann – the inspiration is mutual! And I really hope we meet in person one day! xxx

  2. I only drop in to TDH now and then but your haiku always catch my eye, Annie. I think you have a real gift for writing in this form. Many thanks for all the beauty you bring to this group.

  3. It’s been such a joy and privilege to read your work Annie . I’m one of your many many fans – your haiku is a complete artistic experience – pulls me in each time – the writing /the imagery /the visuals
    all of it or just one aspect . Thankyou X

  4. It is the time of wild garlic and I was drawn into your starry forest. It’s interesting to know about the many forms of haiku, just one of the great things you point up about TDH community. So supportive and drawing unexpected words and thoughts from us . Great to enjoy your words and haiku here.

  5. I love your description of being part of TDH and writing haiku as being like “jumping into a warm pool” which feels both safe but energising. This really resonates with my own feelings of writing haiku within the TDH space, it is a sanctuary and a place I find inspiration that is nurturing, there is a definite sense of wellbeing alongside creating. I always enjoy reading your haiku which are deep, thoughtful and sit with me long after reading, they are gems worth revisiting and holding anew. Fallen blossom… your final poem here is such a perfect example distillation of thoughts to a clear, beautiful and satisfying image, it is sensory, I feel and see the blossom falling and creating those ‘tidelines’, you leave space for the reader to bring their own memories of blossom and spring, bring it to life.

    You have a great skill in finding a clear marriage between an image and a metaphorical description, the wild garlic and stars, summer memories and origami birds, mother’s old teapot and womb… woven deftly within each thread is the thought, the path, the observation, the memory that invites us in to each beautiful and carefully crafted haiku.

    Your thoughts on haiku as the more you learn the less you know is also something I feel too, it is a genre not a form, quixotic, and depending on a perspective taken can liberate or constrict. I attempt to feel a flow, inspired by John Lanyon’s approach as he outlines in his interview and not to get bogged down with worry or rules. Reading the famous haiku curated by Sébastien has been really enlightening, not least to see that even the traditional offerings often break their own rules as much as make them. Having started the group with little knowledge of haiku, having used its basic structure for my creative practitioner work and teaching, it is becoming a genre I am now learning about not least through the support of members on TDH who are so knowledgeable but also alongside others in the community keen to learn more. I sense I am on the first stepping stone across a beautiful stream where I visit to reflect, dream and quiet my mind. Mostly, despite the odd stone that disturbs the serenity of this pool with discussions that might jar and offend, I enjoy the visits from others keen to wrestle with this form and talk through their ideas.

    Thank you for this interview Annie and for sharing and choosing such beautiful haiku which I enjoyed reading together.

    1. Thank you so much for this thoughtful response, Amanda – lovely to read and much appreciated. As I have said many times, we all have so much to thank you for – setting up the group in the first place, plus all the inspiration and hard work you put into it.

  6. I am crying as I read this Conversation. You are my go-to. I can feel every word you write and see the beauty and love and pain. So much emotion when I see one of your haiku. You are a big part of the heart of this group. You keep me centered, but with wide-eyed wonderment of how you are able to express so easily your thoughts about a simple theme with words that flow seemingly effortlessly. Thank you sooooo much for being here and being the inspiration we all need and can always rely on to inspire! I got back to Irving last evening and am just catching up to this interview. Worth the wait. I hope someday to meet you even though I feel I already have on a deeper personal level. Take Care, sweet unforgettable Annie!

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