Hello! I’m writing this from my home in North Yorkshire. I was very flattered by Amanda’s invitation for this interview, as I’m a relative newbie to haiku and joined ‘The Daily Haiku’ group only two weeks ago! I’m a very private person, so talking about myself is always a challenge, but here goes…
I began writing haiku by accident. I’m a visual artist, and last year, my partner suggested I study haiku as a means to simplify ideas, to help capture ‘the essence’ of my subject. I naturally tend towards descriptive detail in art and writing but strive for a more concise form of expression. I hadn’t attempted any form of creative writing since school but have always loved poetry. It was the inspiration for my illustration degree show. I found literal interpretation of text too restrictive; poetry provided scope for broader interpretation.
Having now explored and tried my hand at haiku, I hope to create a body of work combining haiku and abstract painting – research into Haiga therefore required! I think both image and poem should be strong enough to stand alone but enhance each other when combined. Accompanying photographs or representational imagery with poetry can of course be successful but I personally prefer some ambiguity to evoke the reader’s own imagery. My next challenge!
As a gardener and botanical artist, the natural world is my main inspiration. I take notes on my phone, keep a notebook by my bed and write on an iPad. I’m particularly motivated to write in the morning, with my first cup of tea, watching the birds in the garden…
forward bends; a blackbird
takes a drink
Late morning, I walk along the same stretch of canal but there is always something of note and moments to record…
determined, across my path—
My partner is very ill and can’t walk with me so occasionally, later, we drive up onto the moors. The landscape, skies, changing weather, hedgerows and wildlife inspire…
from haw-laden fringe
Despite beginning to write haiku last year, I stopped after a couple of months as I felt overstimulated. On top of my usual visual overload, I felt overwhelmed. I couldn’t sleep, waking up dreaming of haiku…
waking every seventeen syllables
However, early spring this year, with life bursting, I tried again. I reread some traditional haiku, a handbook and Jack Kerouac’s ‘Book of Haikus’. Then, failing to find out much about contemporary haiku writing, joined TDH. In just a fortnight, I was again ‘hooked on haiku’!
I’m so glad to have discovered the group. I was warmly welcomed and my fears of posting and ‘putting myself out there’ quickly dissipated. I have received generous encouragement and advice. The group is abundant in humour, knowledge and intelligence. The multiple themes and prompts provide inspiration and focus. I particularly enjoy reading the diverse range of members’ interpretations of a given theme.
Creativity is often a lonely pursuit, so being part of a writing group is a wonderful way to share ideas and chat. I’m already getting to know a few friendly people! I’m also glad to find out more about haiku rules. Like art, I think it is good to learn them so they can be broken with awareness! Western poetry is quite different from eastern. I love wordplay, alliteration and assonance but realise these are often unnecessary and too ‘flowery’. I notice that personification and anthropomorphism are widely embraced within TDH, so I hope to further explore the general consensus on this and other dos and don’ts of contemporary haiku.
Living with chronic illnesses, we have lead ‘lockdown lives’ for over a decade and our appreciation of nature and the small things in life never diminishes. Haiku provides a positive art form to express this, and TDH a lovely community to share.
My favourite haiku from last year, as we now approach the same verdant time:
the week in May, when
green is greener
And to finish, my latest haiku, written yesterday…
…as spring slowly fades into summer.