1. How did you get started with haiku?
I started writing around 2002 and soon joined the early World Haiku Club (WHC) Yahoo groups, where I learned a lot through discussions and posting my poems for feedback from notable names such as John Carley, Bill Higginson, Hortensia Anderson, Normal Darlington, and even our own Michael Dylan Welch. Bill once sent me a three-page treatise about gerunds and the virtues of using “lean” instead of “leaning” in a haiku, which just spoke to the depth of not only his commitment to haiku and its details, but also the caring and true mentorship thriving in those Yahoo groups. I then started a group called The Tadpole Society at pathetic.org, an online poetry organization of which I was a member, to share my love of haiku, encourage posting, and offer feedback. I also joined a local Chicago group for a few meetings before I moved away in 2004, where members such as Charlie Trumbull and Christopher Patchel offered some early guidance. When I first moved to Austin I also met with Mark Brooks and Robert Gilliland. These early influences shaped my sensitivity to the nuances of modern haiku writing. These days mentoring others in three different groups keeps me going, as does reading excellent haiku in my favorite journals: Modern Haiku, Acorn, Frogpond, First Frost, Tinywords, Kingfisher, and The Heron’s Nest. You can see my blog at https://agnesevasavich.wordpress.com/.
2. Tell us more about yourself.
I was born in Poland and finished first grade there, then emigrated to Chicago. I completed my comparative literature degree at Northwestern University in 1999 (except for my junior year abroad when I got to live in Paris!) Now I’m in Austin, Texas where I moved to raise two kids. My son is a high school sophomore with fantastic heavy metal hair and my daughter is a freshman majoring in physics at St. John’s University in New York City. In Austin I am involved in many activities. I play oboe in the Red River Ensemble Orchestra as well as in the Perpetual Motion Quintet. I’m teaching myself to play piano and guitar, which I practice daily. I’m also an avid learner of Argentine tango and go out dancing at least once a week. I’ve recently taken up learning tennis and golf and getting back to regularly snow skiing (most recently in Wisconsin, Colorado, and Hokkaido, Japan). I also love to bake complicated desserts I see on the Great British Baking Show. Other than that, I’ve been committed to staying healthy (and working off all that cake!) with Barre3 workouts three times a week and lots of long walks (and biking or roller blading if circumstances allow). My day job is managing Mellon grant scholars at the University of Texas Austin. I really love working in a university.
3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?
It’s a really fun place to visit for inspiration when you’re stuck! I have often participated, even if it wasn’t public. I like seeing the prompts at NaHaiWriMo, then taking a monthly calendar and writing a haiku in the square for each day.
4. What one piece of advice would you offer to those who are new to writing haiku?
Read, read, read! You will learn so much about the spirit of haiku by reading published haiku.
5. Please share three of your favourite or best haiku.
we speak the language
of the invisible
Stardust, August 2019
how your native tongue
feels in my mouth
Second Place, Little Iris Haiku Contest, 2020
with every breath
First Place, Haiku North America conference contest, 2017