Deborah B. Shepherd

NaHaiWriMo daily writing prompter for May 2018

1. How did you get started with haiku?
My interest in haiku was sparked about forty-five years ago, during a middle school poetry assignment. Although I migrated to longer forms of poetry, I still remained intrigued by capturing a moment in a minimum of words. I returned to haiku in 2012 because the challenge intrigued me. As a newspaper feature writer and columnist, my articles were always long. There’s no room in haiku for long-winded writing. “Every word a pearl,” as they say of writers who can’t bear to cut a single sentence. But with haiku, every word really is a pearl.

2. Tell us more about yourself.
My working career has included three years in the U.S. Army, writing and copyediting for a Northern Virginia weekly newspaper, and most recently earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2012. And as you can tell from my photo, I love dogs. That’s Phoebe, our Boston terrier. I have written quite a few dog haiku. It seems to me that, by living in the moment, dogs are the essence of haiku.

3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?
Before finding the NaHaiWriMo group on Facebook, my heavy writing spells always occurred during the autumn, a season I find inspirational. That is why I’m so glad to have found this group. I need the discipline of writing every day, and I’m working hard to trim my wordiness.

4. What one piece of advice would you offer to those who are new to writing haiku?
I know that, for me, reading is essential to writing. Reading introduces us to words, and in haiku every word counts. The sounds and textures of words are what helped compile my NaHaiWriMo prompts—I chose them because they can have different meaning, and because I like the way they sound. 

5. Please share three of your favourite or best haiku.
Here are three haiku I’ve written that I like. I’ve tried to pick examples of the things I’ve learned since writing with NaHaiWriMo.

the crow’s sharp cry
scratches into autumn’s bronze
exposing winter

purple crocuses
with cutlasses in their teeth
fight up through the snow

a solitary leaf
remains on the branch
winter’s monk