NaHaiWriMo in Conversation

First published in Notes from the Gean 3:4, March 2012, pages 44–53. The text here has been lightly edited.

      Conversation introduced and facilitated by Colin Stewart Jones


NaHaiWriMo (National Haiku Writing Month) is an initiative that provides daily prompts on a Facebook community page to stimulate its members to compose a haiku. It has just completed its second year and goes from strength to strength.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/NaHaiWriMo/
    http://www.nahaiwrimo.com/

To celebrate its success, Michael Dylan Welch, the organiser of this February event, which actually continues throughout the year on Facebook, has announced that a book will be published featuring selected haiku from NaHaiWriMo 2012.
    Notes from the Gean believes that Michael’s initiative is an important one that fully lines up with our mission to promote education, excellence, and experimentation within haiku and are, therefore, pleased to run a special feature on NaHaiWriMo. Notes from the Gean surveyed members of the group with five brief questions and is pleased to publish select answers to each question: a kind of community interview, if you will.



Colin Stewart Jones
How did you first get to hear of NaHaiWriMo and would you actively promote the group to other writers of haiku?

Tawnya Smith
I heard about it last year from someone in my writing group. Several of them were participating in NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month]. I told them novels were beyond me at the moment, and one suggested NaHaiWriMo. I’d also seen it mentioned on a few blogs I read.

Anna Yin
I found it through Google and thought it very interesting and wanted to challenge myself since I seldom wrote with prompts . . . and it would last a whole month! I kept write one or three every day and had so much fun to read others and my own. It just kept popping . . . with inspiration and joy . . . (even sometimes we wrote haiku implying sad mood) when the last day, the prompt was leap year . . . see, time flies so I wrote: leap year, your rare birthday, the painter add dragon’s eye . . . in Chinese legend, as soon as the dragon was added eyes, it would fly away . . . But gladly, we still stay here and keep writing.

Cameron Mount
I recently joined a group of haijin in south Jersey, a new charter of the HSA [Haiku Society of America], which had its first meeting in early February. In the email list that went around, one of the other poets (Penny Harter, actually) mentioned the Facebook group. I jumped right on it. For the last few National Poetry Months I’ve written a haiku a day anyway, and I’ve been a fan of Bashō and Issa for quite a while, but never really had a community to share my own with.

Jayashree Maniyil
I learnt about NaHaiWriMo through the poetry blog dVerse Poets Pub. There was a post about haiku and its form (from memory) and everybody was encouraged to write one and link it to the post. I think, as part of the discussion through the comments section, one of the comments to the post had a link to NaHaiWriMo blog. That is how I landed here. Normally I don’t trust my memory that much but I am most certain that this is how I came to know of NaHaiWriMo. I would certainly recommend this site to anybody who is keen on learning haiku. Lot of fantastic writers sharing the same page with beginners like me, encouraging and providing constructive feedback, having fun together and learning from each other. And of course we have useful tips shared by members and most importantly Michael—lots of reading material on Graceguts. Every post that I make is one tiny step closer to understanding it . . . and of course with every step forward, I slip back a few steps again!!! :-). It’s all fun and good. I enjoy being here.

Hannah Gosselin
I noticed a writing friend of mine doing a haiku a day challenge on a Facebook page (I missed half the month looking for it, as I didn’t have the right name), but I’ve really been enjoying it now that I’m here and I’ve posted a link to a friend to help her get back into the poetry practice, too . . .

Cara Holman
I heard about NaHaiWriMo last year when I noticed several Facebook friends of mine clicking “Like” on the page. I am always open to new poem-a-day challenges, so I decided to give it a try. Over a year later, I am still writing (though not always posting) haiku daily. I would definitely recommend NaHaiWriMo to anyone who wants to improve their haiku, develop a daily writing habit, or just connect with the online haiku community.

Tore Sverredal
I found it when I made a Facebook search for haiku groups and sites last autumn. I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in haiku!

Terry O’Connor
First heard about it when I eavesdropped a whispered conversation at a Haiku Anonymous meeting last year . . . tried everything to quit, but when I noticed that even cold turkey was a season word, I resigned myself to my fate, and I’ve been here ever since. I don’t tell people . . . don’t have to, it’s an epidemic.

Carlos Colón
Susan Delphine Delaney gave me the scoop. I have spread the word to the NW La. Haiku Society, but have not seen any of the members posting yet.

Alee Imperial Albano
A Wikipedia entry! That’s very likely and soon from you, Michael! And in answer to your question, Colin: I learned about it vaguely at first from Vicki McCullough during one of our meetings, the Vancouver Haiku Group. But it was Jessica Tremblay, then a new member, who explained to us what NaHaiWriMo is. I believe I also read it on Red Dragonfly, Melissa Allen’s blog . . .

Pris Campbell
I heard about it in one of the Facebook groups on haiku back before the 2011 Feb challenge and was hooked right away. I always recommend it to anyone writing haiku or interested in learning more about it. Writing to the same prompt is fun and the links are educational.

Jann Wirtz
I gave up at Laundry . . . after Jam and Kitchen the domesticity got to me!

Michele Harvey
I’m not sure if I first saw NaHaiWriMo on Facebook, The Haiku Foundation News or one of the many blogs I subscribe to, but all at once it was everywhere! I jumped in late last February, found it addicting and decided to stay for the ride. Haiku (as many have said) is a way of life, a way of experiencing the world. NaHaiWriMo has been like catching a bullet train instead of a donkey cart. The interesting aspect of Kukai, is that the smaller the focus, (as if 17 syllables isn’t small enough) the more creativity is called upon. My only quibble is that more of the larger haiku community doesn’t join in. There are many admired poets I’d love to see tackle some of these kukai. That would be quite a thrill. Yes. I’d definitely recommend this to any haijin, beginner or otherwise. It’s great to get the juices flowing and limber up one’s skills.

Otsenre Ogaitnas
I first heard of NaHaiWriMo last year while having lunch with some haiku poets at Haiku Society of America National Quarterly Meeting/Bend Haiku Weekend, 3–5 June 2011 in Bend, Oregon where I was a haiku presenter and an invited guest by award-winning Oregon poet an’ya and PeterB. And at the meet, one day, if I remember well I think I saw MDW wearing his signature t-shirt with a “No 5-7-5” logo. But only last month I committed myself to NaHaiWriMo for its February event to support my fellow HSA friends / haiku writers, and of course to challenge myself if I can haiku for a whole month. Oh, do I still need to recommend it? NaHaiWriMo is a recommendable thing, and I can recommend it anytime, but honestly I don’t have to because haiku writers and haiku enthusiasts as well will come to . . .

Barb Westerman McGrory
I first heard about this group when I was using a page I had under another persona (a writer page I kept separate from my family page). I networked with a lot of other writing enthusiasts and it was through some friends participating in NaNoWriMo (oddly enough) in 2010 that I found this page and briefly participated last year. This year I decided to really work on the craft and now I seem to be obsessed. I think this exercise is helping me a lot with my creative non-fiction writing, though where I used to write long, complicated, word-happy poetry, since January I’ve been able to write nothing but haiku & I’m starting to think I have a more compulsive personality than I’d already suspected. lol . . . I appreciate it when I get feedback, I enjoy reading the compositions of others, and I appreciate the challenge of trying to fit the incessant dialogue running through my head into as few words as possible. I lean toward offbeat, but I like coming here in an attempt to broaden my scope. Thanks! :)

Susan Shand
I first heard about NaHaiWriMo in a message from MDW prior to the launch. Yes I would and do promote it to new haiku writers. It is an excellent site and a very welcoming place for people who are learning where they can post their early haiku. It is also very interesting to see what other people do with the daily prompts, so it is stimulating for seasoned writers too.

Kathabela Wilson
I first heard about NaHaiWriMo by someone mumbling weird sounds under their breath. When I asked them to speak up they said the same thing again whatever it was . . . I asked . . . what does this mean? Their eyes lit up and then they explained it . . . alright I said so I went and looked and liked the Facebook page. I knew MDW had started it, so I thought. Okay . . . it has to be good. This was about a year ago when I was young and innocent. Then it happened. It took over my life . . . well for a while then I thought . . . no no I can’t let it happen. It’s a trap, that’s what it is, with magic incantations too. “NaHaiWriMo . . .” say it over and over and see what happens to you. Well I dipped in over the last year and tasted it again a little thinking I was a free person. But then it happened again . . . I no longer had any control. You notice they say “NaHaiWriMo” mean National Haiku Writing Month” (I still tell people who hear ME mumble it and they look at me sideways . . . !) Well the month never ends . . . it’s an endless feast. You have to think before you recommend it . . . but I do . . . your life will be full of poems, your head will be full of haiku night and day, you will dream of haiku, wake up with haiku in your mind, your husband will be afraid to get out of bed because you will read him fifteen new haiku before coffee. You will suddenly know the deep thoughts of hundreds of new friends . . . and one of them may even decide to turn into a nine headed earthworm (really this happened in his haiku) and you after thinking about that for 3 days will decide you love it) so . . . be careful. it’s too much fun, and how will you get anything else done??? Well the good energy and humor gives a great dynamic to your day . . . and um . . . you may lose weight—I haven’t even made breakfast yet.

Annette Makino
I learned of NaHaiWriMo via Twitter on the 4th day of last month. Starting then I posted every day thru February and also posted my haiku, with links back to the NaHaiWriMo page, on Twitter . . .

Jenny Angyal
I first learned about NaHaiWriMo from a post on Troutswirl, the Haiku Foundation’s blog. I would recommend it to anyone interested in haiku. Writing to the prompts is very stimulating and results in haiku I never would have written otherwise . . .


Colin Stewart Jones
Does the sense of community work better than a closed forum which can sometimes intimidate?

Hansha Teki
It has quite a different dynamic, Col. Sometimes the sense of community challenges one to hone one’s skills more but just as easily the cosiness can make one lazy and settle for lukewarm poems knowing that they will be appreciated anyway.

Violette Rose-Jones
I think it’s much better here and we don’t seem to b attracting the troll element which can be disheartening.

James Rodriguez
The way it works here is nice, everyone who participates is here to learn and share and there isn’t the, crusty few I guess, ones with their own personal agendas or axes to grind that are so common elsewhere. MDW does a great job keeping things running smooth and providing links to help all of us grow and expand in the craft.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade
I have not been in any closed haiku forums. I like the friendliness and supportiveness of people here, and feel the beginnings of that warm sense of community which I have experienced so abundantly in other open haiku groups on Facebook and elsewhere. I think the standard here is in general quite high and that my own haiku have improved due to my participation this year.

Jayashree Maniyil
I have not been in any closed forums either. This is my first time in something of this kind and that too on Facebook. I was quiet first but soon realised that everybody here is serious and keen to learn. Serious meaning not that we don’t have fun. We do. But all in good spirit.

Annie Juhl
It was with a pounding heart I wrote my first haiku here a year ago. I was an absolute novice, (still am) and my English was very limited. I soon found out that this community was a “safe” place. It’s friendly, including, supportive, instructive and fun.

Susan Shand
They are different. There tends to be much less of the personality challenging stuff in NHWM which makes it more relaxed and less confrontational than some other groups. There isn’t much critique either, which makes for a fairly non-judgemental comfort zone. Everyone needs a comfort zone :).

Mark E. Brager
I think NaHaiWriMo provides a great sense of community but different from other fora which I have experienced which are more for workshopping. I would actually appreciate more feedback on my poems on NaHaiWriMo.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade
As a reader, I like the Like option. It saves me from having to try and find intelligent criticisms every time, when all I might really want to say is, “I like this one.”

NaHaiWriMo
I’m hearing several people say they’d like more commentary on their haiku, such as ways to improve it, and hopefully explanations of what makes a poem work. If anyone prefers just to click Like, that’s always fine, but something to consider is that if think through the reasons why you like a poem, and try to articulate them in a short note, that act itself can help you improve your own haiku.

Kathy Bowman
I appreciate the questions but find this one to be leading—future questions might be better phrased more neutrally—who doesn’t want community? Who wouldn’t prefer not being intimidated? But it could equally be phrased—does a closed forum provide a sense of safety compared to an open one where anyone can make intimidating comments? This doesn’t mean I’m right but it seems like the questions are set up to lead the answers. Hey, that may be what is wanted. It may partly be a function of the yes/no question format, which is certainly easier to tabulate than a more open ended question such as—“what kind of forum builds community and safety?” Open? Private? Closed? Other—and if so, what? Has I beated it to death yet? Asking is always good.

Colin Stewart Jones
Just a simple question from experience, Kathy. Closed forums with lots of experienced writers can seem intimidating and i just wondered if folks prefer the open community group to such forums. Patsy Turner . . . love the anonymity and internationality of this medium . . . have done lots of writing with people i know so has been great to give and receive feedback unconditionally.

Angie Werren
Yes. :) I actually left one “closed” community because I felt the “moderator” imposed his own viewpoint much too much. This page is much more welcoming, to poets of all experience levels

Sheila Windsor
Great question: from me a resounding: YES.

Sandi Pray
Absolutely love the diversity and openness! Yes. :))

Michele Harvey
Colin and Michael, i.e., a closed forum vs. an open (Facebook) community; both offer very different benefits. I have been on both and have been intimidated on some closed forums. But with that intimidation one is also forced to submit to elders who have practiced the form longer and have a greater understanding. With this acquiescence, one learns at top speed. The key to any successful forum is focus on the art (of haiku) not on the individual. I owe a great debt to some of those that bashed me the most. I think the choice depends on what your goal is. To learn how to write haiku, a closed forum will offer focus and critique. A Facebook forum is a gentler entry which offers overall encouragement, but won’t offer the focused teaching a good closed forum can. Both can create a real feeling of community.

Terri Hale French
I think it depends where you are at in your “haiku voyage.” I also belong to a closed forum and we do a lot more critiquing, but we have all been published for a while and have plenty of rejections under our belts so our skin is pretty thick! I think NaHaiWriMo is more about sharing with just little nudges of critique. Many things I share here I then take to my closed forum for critique, so both places serve a purpose. I liken it to exercise, here I warm up and there I get down to muscle defining. One of the nice things about NaHaiWriMo is someone is always here; my closed forum is much smaller and sometimes when I visit nobody is home. : )

Andrew McBride
I like this open community forum and have found it validating to have fellow haikuists “Like” my poems and make comments and suggestions. It’s very supportive and enjoyable. I also belong to a closed forum with very little participation and an in-person critiquing group with lots of participation.

Alee Imperial Albano
I plunged into NaHaiWriMo last year not really knowing what to expect. I guess I was more curious than serious. But I knew Michael from the fluke of a haiku, which won for me my one and only award in haiku writing so far where he was a judge. I’ve read a lot about him and his essays on haiku and had met him. And I wanted to belong to one more of his brainchilds. I had also thought it would be great to tug along Melissa Allen, Margaret Dornaus (both of whom I’ve befriended through our blogs) and Jessica Tremblay I’d later meet. And so I approached NaHaiWriMo with the spunk of a newbie, which I think worked for me because it felt informal. Of course, I later realized it was more than a community, in some aka group site, one to which I once belonged, where one inertly displays one’s daily ware like say I do in my blog and hope some flies would catch a waft of my offering. It was soon turning into a dynamic site where one’s haiku (ware) gets a current of eyes that either pass it on or assess and even buy it, “like it” to be more precise and even confirm this with a prized comment.
        At first, sheepishly doing, imitating perhaps, what apparently should be done to others’ haiku, I found myself becoming more confident with my own appraisals, even enhancing these with comments. I soon realized that when I did this, I was really doing it to my own work. Gradually, our daily haiku started to have definite voices, personalities even and NaHai is turning out into an actual community shaped by the varied elements of a world we constructed daily with our posts. It isn’t at all surprising that the “wall” we completed everyday is a mosaic of differing skills—of course, this showed. But there was no stopping us because as in a community, relationships began with some even getting firmed up, even established. Along the way too, the more skilled among us started taking the hand of those who were limping, fragile. I was one of them; and so, some of us were turning out better “details” for the wall. The holding of hands, the fun and the sharing of cross-cultural universes, as well as the baring of one’s self with inevitable true-to-life snatches straying into our haiku, the spontaneous caring that we expressed for someone’s pain and bliss turned us NWHMo-ers into a real community.
        In a closed forum, one of which I’ve also “dared” to sign up, this spirit of being together, working on the same wall closely with each other can’t be possible because a lapse of time often happens where response is delayed. But depending o the members, it can also be a caring community. Yet because the exchange isn’t daily, the energy is not sustained. Intimidating? It could be if a participant is self conscious of the players’ degree of craft (multi-awarded, multi-published, editor, reviewer, competition judge, etc.) versus a virtual newbie, or a learner who strayed into a rarefied field. Critiquing can also be intimidating because serious even scholarly critiques is the ken of the really accomplished, and learning through them can be truly helpful, though a simple, sincere and honest expression of why a haiku works for a novice could be taken as refreshing but then, it could also be ignored. Yes, I’d prefer a community, though now that I have a choice, I’d like to stay with the closed forum as well, echoing Terri’s voice on both.

Kathabela Wilson
This community is nourishing and inspiring and we touch new hearts in approach to the heart of haiku! I tend to prefer openness. But the quiet dynamic of concentrated dialogue in a smaller (not necessarily closed) group can be good too. I would not choose one over the other, I would choose both. Plus add one more, personal focused conversation and one on one collaboration with those we connect with through this open community, This happens, expands and adds more richness and meaning to our open group!


Colin Stewart Jones
Is it possible to write authentically when writing in response to prompt?

Alison Williams
Yes, just as it’s possible to write inauthentically without prompts.

Freddy Ben-Arroyo
The prompt is just a trigger. The answer is YES! I always write authentically. And it comes to me easy. After all, we all have some associations with a given word, and we have the present as well! It’s simple—just look around and VOILA!

Aubrie Cox
I think, like Freddy said, the prompt is/can be a trigger. Something about it resonates within us from the prompt (sometimes). . . . However, I do think it’s more difficult to be authentic if one sticks strictly to the prompt.

Judith Gorgone
A prompt, is just another source of ideas. Why does it matter where the inspiration comes from? It’s what you do with it.

Bret Mars
Define “authentic.” If the prompt is of a nature you have no connection with, an item you are unfamiliar with, you have to research it. Read about it, look at it, then construct a response based wholly on your new found knowledge. You have no choice.

Eric Fischman
It is not possible to write inauthentically. Just because the language you use doesn’t resonate with me, doesn’t mean that it didn’t resonate with you. Just because my ear has been trained and boot-camped, doesn’t mean the active expression of an untrained mind is somehow false! What could be more honest, more actual, more authentic, than being a beginner? What does the amateur have to teach the expert? It is still your mind, your mind your mind your mind, and whatever comes out of you is true true true.

Marty Smith
Yes, is “authentic.” in the moment or in memory . . . However, often I just make up a scene for the prompt, also I am inspired by other poets’ post and i write my response.

Hi-Young Kim
Heart will strip naked. The language is a prompt to the real prompt. Not a question about authenticity, just about being trigger-happy. Go ahead. Make My Day.

Christopher Provost
Yes, but sometimes I think prompts make my writing forced. I’ve written some good haiku in response to prompts, but I’ve also written some crap.

Edgar W. Hopper
Yes, of course. For those of us urban dwellers who don’t always have a nature or otherwise natural experience that acts as a trigger the prompt can serve as a stimulus that allows for authenticity. I don’t pretend to know what is meant by authenticity in haiku, I just feel that, for me, crafting an acceptable haiku is difficult no matter the source of inspiration.

Sheila Windsor
I agree with Hi-Young: a prompt to the real prompt.

B Fay Wiese
Something always “prompts” one’s writing, whether it is a word that we go to a site to retrieve, or a walk outside, or a rainstorm we watch, or a friend or loved one dying, or a massive disaster, or any other experience. The quality of our thought determines the authenticity of our writing, not where the idea for the writing came from.

Cameron Mount
I find a way to make the prompts dredge up an organic thought or observation. The authenticity of the moment may be in question (as in, did I really see that sunset?) but the image itself can be authentic. As in most poetic forms (or indeed in literature in general) fictional details do not necessarily negate authenticity, nor does being faithful to life observation make an event ring of truth. It is less about authentic being real and more about authentic driving a reaction in the audience.

Angie Werren
Yes. I try to let the unfamiliar prompt take me to a new way of interpreting what I see/observe. If I can’t bring my own experience to it somehow, I usually skip it.

Terry O’Connor
Q: Is it possible to write authentically when writing in response to prompts? Answer + 2 cents: Of course, with varying degrees of success, absolutely. In much the same way as I can feel a completely real/authentic emotion in response to an actor’s portrayal of a character or a singer’s song of joy/pain etc. I don’t require Adele to be dumped by her boyfriend before every concert, nor does Disney have to really shoot Bambi’s mom ;) for me to “really” feel that emotion of loss. I think some (left-brained haiku supremacists who only watch documentaries, hate popular culture and anyone born after the Edo period !?!) have a hard time with subjectivity, while others have a better ability, and are more willing, to put themselves into the moment and see/believe(suspend disbelief) what(ever) they are shown, told . . . A balance between the two would be ideal, but you can’t, and surely shouldn’t please all the people all the time . . . hence sub-genres and all the wonderful diversity.

Otsenre Ogaitnas
Basically, yes, it is possible to write authentically when writing in response to prompts, because they (the prompts) would, to my understanding, represent authentic writing only when you yourself as a writer would like to see your masterpiece written or done, and in it there’s an authentic feeling, felt by the reader, whether it is with reference to a personal life experience or not. Sometimes for me the only way to get my aging brain to work productively is through the given prompts, just like here at NaHaiWriMo, but of course I never forced myself, nor let my fingers bleed writing to prompts, because I already know the outcome- poor quality and often formulaic. Prompted or non-prompted, I think, to get a quality result depends on ones’ writing approach. Well, hope you enjoy my haiku below, wink!

        my haiku
        not spectacular—
        just this red sunset

Pat Geyer
Yup . . . the same way you respond to the prompts life scripts for you each day . . . ya do what ya gotta do . . .

Terri Hale French
Sure, one can be authentic or inauthentic with or without a prompt.

Alessandra Gallo
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

NaHaiWriMo
Something I’ll say about “authenticity” is that it’s a matter of process and product. Good process can help make good product, so writing out of genuine personal experience rather than pure imagination is often reliable, although that doesn’t mean that imagination can’t also come across to the reader authentically. As novelists will tell you, fiction is often truer than fact. Also, the point that something “really happened” does not mean the poem is authentic—one can still write inauthentically about authentic experience. What really matters, ultimately, is the product—does the poem itself come across to the reader as being believable, regardless of how it came to be inspired? If you write about a new moon rising in the sky, that’s simply not possible, so such a poem would be inauthentic (in this case, factually false). But if you’ve never seen or experienced the rock formation known as talus (one of our prompts last month), it is entirely possible to research and project yourself empathetically into such an experience and write a poem that could indeed come across as authentic to readers. Remember that Buson’s wife was alive when he wrote about stepping on his dead wife’s comb.

Tawnya Smith
There are many yet connected ideas of authentic arising here. There is authentic viewed from the point of inspiration, from the process of creation, from the judgement of quality, and from approval by a reader. I don’t see them as the same, but I do see them as connected. Rather like the poem itself is parts gathered and woven into a whole. I suppose each of these could be measured for authenticity. There is also a factor of time. Given some amount of time, there will be a reader, experienced or not, who will appreciate a piece of writing, authentic or not. Quite the hornet’s nest, this question. ;)

Rosemary Nissen-Wade
Yes. The subconscious is infinitely obliging, and throws up just the right memories, or directs the consciousness to the perfect item in the present environment

Violette Rose-Jones
Yes. Good haiku are not always about having a haiku moment but are always about nailing a truth or a true moment. Our memory contains a wealth of such moments, we just have to make connections.

Paul David Mena
The best haiku are authentic responses to external stimuli. That the prompts are not of the poet’s choosing is—in my opinion, anyway—irrelevant.


Colin Stewart Jones
How do you feel that by participating in NaHaiWriMo your writing skills have improved?

Mark E. Brager
Oh yes . . . the daily practice plus the exposure to such a group of talented haiku writers has sharpened my meager skills immeasurably. Seeing how others interpret a prompt and react to others’ poems is a rich source of feedback . . .

Susan Murata
I KNOW I would not write without the prompts, one. Two, you MUST write in order for there to be an interaction with community members re: (your own) haiku content. Three, the interaction with other haijin on this Facebook site sooooooo encourages your very best output. You quickly see whose haiku hit the mark—whose haiku reverberate—and the impetus is there to try harder. It works!!

Cara Holman
Participating in NaHaiWriMo has really made a difference in my comfort level with writing and sharing haiku. It made it okay to just write, without worrying about what an editor would think. And the almost instantaneous feedback, in the form of comments or “Likes,” helps me refine my haiku. Not to mention the benefits of reading others’ takes on the same prompts.

Terri Hale French
You can’t improve if you are not writing, so the discipline of writing every day has helped my writing. Plus reading other people’s work always greases my wheels!

Susan Shand
I enjoy the challenge of writing every day, even days when I’m busy, or not in the mood for writing. It is good practice. Because it is a non-judgmental space to post, I have felt able to experiment with my haiku. I have used different forms, or pushed at the edges of “haikuness.” I have sometimes been surprised when people have “liked” a haiku that I didn’t think was very good. So it has broadened my writing and given me confidence to show work which otherwise I might not have done.

Raul Sanchez
May 1st will one year since I joined the page and have learned a lot from everyone else on the page. What I like is the early morning challenge of the prompt. Sometimes it hits me right away, other times not. But letting the prompt “incubate” in my head, the haiku or senryu comes out like a spring chicken making a lot of noise. I also enjoy all the cyberfriends out there. Good work y’all!

Lorin Krogh
I stay much more in my present moment and I’m more aware of surroundings . . . besides being a better and more joyful writer/ observer.

Bret Mars
The random freshness of unexpected subjects moved me beyond my typical bag of tricks. Seeing how others approached a subject was instructive too.

Hannah Gosselin
I feel that my haiku writing skill has improved in that I’ve taken time to read the links provided specifically on how to write haiku and that by reading the offerings here I’ve learned what works and doesn’t work for people and for myself also. :)

Cameron Mount
I think the participation has increased my ability, as noted by others, because it forces “butt-in-chair” kind of devotion. I don’t know why I respond better to deadlines than internal motivation. I suspect I’m not alone in that. But I do know that I do respond better to external stimuli, so just having a dedicated goal that isn’t self-determined makes it more likely that I will put my butt in the chair and start working on my poetry.

Jayashree Maniyil
The more I write, the better it gets . . . This is exactly what I am holding on to dearly and trying to build slowly. I think my haiku has changed from the time I began even in a short duration. Has it improved? I certainly hope so. At the moment all that I am doing is responding to a prompt as best as I can. It is good to have something to work towards. And this daily practise session helps in building a routine—dedicating some time just to do one thing. I love going through the variety of interpretations from everybody. The constant encouragement from everyone only pushes me to strive a bit more harder the next time.

Lisa Hills
I think it probably does. But it depends on many elements. If my brain is thinking of poignant words and thoughts. Or is still half asleep.

Belinda Broughton
Daily writing always helps me. it has improved my haiga especially and increased output. my reading has improved too!

Kat Creighton
As others have stated the daily prompts, the likes or lack of likes and comments on my haiku have all helped me to write better. On many occasion those with much more experience than I have given me in-depth critiques that have helped me dig a little deeper. On the NaHaiWriMo page I read haiku that I love and some that I don’t love so much . . . reading may be the best teacher.

Hansha Teki
NaHaiWriMo has been a great motivator in writing haiku as a matter of discipline. Every new haiku is a new beginning; whether that necessarily indicates an improvement in haiku writing skills is not something that I am objectively able to judge in regard to my own pieces. The warm and supportive atmosphere of NaHaiWriMo is clearly a great encouragement to each of us to write haiku but more than this is necessary if we wish to write poems that may be remembered weeks, months, years, decades or even centuries from now.

Johnny Baranski
To me it’s simply a matter of practice makes perfect.

Ida Freilinger
Writing under pressure was good for me. Reading haiku I liked was also fun. I think I understand haiku better. By gauging likes I found ways to write haiku others liked better. When I heard the word Kukai, I groaned inwardly and tried to escape. It took too long to write one or two. Now, I think I’ll enjoy Kukai more and have better results.

Alee Imperial Albano
Definitely improved as has been noted by friends who I consider masters of the genre. My other gauge would be increased acceptance in my submissions. I find it easier to “nail” a haiku for here since, as well. I’ve mentioned what in NaHaiWriMo has helped in my long response to Q1 like the discipline of writing daily, the interaction with other members, the likes and no likes, comments that uplift or suggest, but especially reading what Daphne says “tons and tons” of haiku and also Michael’s random reference notes, definitely pulled me up. Still, there’s still so much to learn.

Annie Juhl
Being a part of NaHaiWriMo has improved my haiku skills in so many ways. I would probably not have experimented with one line haiku, haiga, haiku primer, and all the other challenges we were given here, on my own. Wading out on deep water with very skilled people by my side, is a very good way for me to learn. And first of all, I feel free here, to experiment, play, be vulnerable, have fun, ask questions and learn. I’m only at the very beginning of my haiku path, and I’m very grateful for all the encouragement and help I was given here, both on haiku and language.

Paul David Mena
Daily prompts fight complacency by providing a gentle nudge to write—with or without the poet’s perception of “inspiration.”

Anna Yin
Not sure. I hope to have more serious discussion with experienced haijin. Most of my haiku I save somewhere and I plan to come back to revise. Meantime, I read some discussions here and some good essays as well which help me understand better. So in this sense, I’d like to say I have improved.

Kathabela Wilson
Absolutely. NaHaiWriMo has given me a deeper appreciation, and a deeper penetration into the possibilities of haiku. In asking myself for this continuous flow of concentrated expression it has caused me to examine the elements and powers of the form and thus . . . improved my writing, I am sure of it.

Michele Harvey
NaHaWriMo has forced me to give a keener look at subjects that may otherwise go unexplored. Nachos for instance . . . who would consciously set about writing a haiku about nachos? LOL

Elissa Malcohn
Writing a daily haiku has given me a deeper experience of the form, both through practice and through reading other posts. It’s not unusual for me to think I have something ready to post and then discover ways to improve on it.

Sanjuktaa Asopa
Oh yes, the exposure is more, the output is more, without the prompts I’d not have been writing at all; improved? I thought so, till 10 minutes ago when i was informed that I’ve been rejected by Acorn. :=( That broke my heart, really it did!


Colin Stewart Jones
Is there anything else that you wish to say about NaHaiWriMo?

Lorin Krogh
I appreciate the daily prompts as they have shown me the joy of discipline.

Annie Juhl
I think I’ve said it all. But I can add that I really enjoy the “rule” of one post per day.

Freddy Ben-Arroyo
You must be doing something right! Keep going! Thank you so much!

Sheila Windsor
Thank you.

Sanjuktaa Asopa
Everything is perfect; great site to be in and thanks much for everything. But since I am among friends here, I wish if my poem is rubbish, somebody would tell me so frankly. I promise I’d try to take it in my stride. :-)

Daphne Purpus
May it continue forever! It is wonderful!

Alee Imperial Albano
I wonder if Michael expected what NaHaiWriMo has turned into. Perhaps like its precursor, NaNoWriMo, he thought it would end in a month or be a one-month event only, as its name says so. I think it’s a “stroke of genius” to use the tools of a networking site and make them work to create a learning laboratory. Not sure if I’m using the right terms here but I hope I’m giving a sense of what I mean more or less. The synergy among the participants that followed after February 2011 has been amazing—it held us up. That most seem to have been committed to keeping on adds to the wonder because it’s so free in every sense; in regular workshops one stays because of a fee and in some, a certificate awaits in the end. (Well, there never was a promise of the book!) I stayed because I felt I was gaining much more than I was putting in. But beyond my personal gains, I think a better understanding of haiku as well as a debunking of a lot misconceptions about it has been achieved in a way by NaHaiWriMo. It should continue to convert a lot more because for me, haiku is such a sublime art.

Cara Holman
What I like best about NaHaiWriMo is that it is inclusive—anyone is welcome to write and post, regardless of their experience level. As such, it is a great way to dip one’s toes into the practice of writing haiku. I feel like I’ve written a “good” haiku, when it becomes the catalyst for a lively discussion.

Kathabela Wilson
I just realized there IS one more thing I have not said about NaHaiWriMo! Every day I learn more about things I might not know or think about! Even when a prompt is something familiar, I look carefully at what allusions, references, unexpected meanings a word or idea has. Online dictionaries and googling make this easy. I realize multiple meanings, add layers to my understanding about things, including words, origins, phrases, history, mythology, astronomy . . . no end to this! I like the unexpected provocation to experience and learn and apply. Even when writing about a very familiar event, word, natural object, I am amazed at the richness and beauty of language and associations. I love that I have learned so much as a result of NaHaiWriMo, and not just about haiku!

Alee Imperial Albano
I’d like to add to Kathabela’s thoughts on how much learning seemed to happen every day from the prompts. For me, more than what Google had to say, it’s the personal notes some of us wrote which added deeper layers to book knowledge. This filter of memory or more precisely, of the heart has given some haiku a kind of diamond facet hard to find anywhere. I feel so privileged “traveling” to places without a ticket, having a glimpse of wondrous places I may never get to. Or reading a historical angle that Google may never wind of. It’s been awesome. Thanks to you all!

Colin Stewart Jones
Hi, guys. Thanks for all of your input. I am busy putting the feature together. It’ll take a couple of days but will be worth it. Thanks again.


My thanks to Michael Dylan Welch and all of the NaHaiWriMo group who gave generously of their time to answer my questions. The group is an excellent place to learn and develop as a haiku poet. If you are on Facebook and want to learn more about haiku I’d thoroughly recommend joining NaHaiWriMo.