1. How did you get started with haiku?
I’ve always been aware of the form, both the 5-7-5 and the two-beat variants, but I only began writing haiku in earnest in May 2009. I had just finished a major revision of a novel when I noticed that a friend of mine had “tweeted” a haiku a day for National Poetry Month. (Finally, a use for Twitter that even I could grasp.) I found the idea intriguing and accessible. I was a poet, I’d written a haiku or two—why not give it a shot? Right away, though, I found I’d underestimated the challenge. So I quickly bought Jane Reichhold’s Writing and Enjoying Haiku, Cor van den Heuvel’s The Haiku Anthology, and Robert Hass’s The Essential Haiku. I consumed them immediately. They gave me a more solid foundation from which to approach haiku.
2. Tell us more about yourself.
I live by the ocean in San Francisco. Shortly after graduating from Ithaca College in the 1980s, I moved to California to chase my bohemian dream. I lived in a hot springs resort, worked in a café and bookstore, as a bike messenger, and even wound up in Brazil for a few years, raising a family and teaching and translating. Back in San Francisco with a boy to raise, I transitioned into technical work, and still work as a technical writer. My first novel, Sleepwalking in Paradise, is forthcoming from Numina Press. It’s about that transitional moment in the 1990s when San Francisco had one foot firmly in its freaky past and the other in its geeky future. In addition to my daily haiku practice, I also inscribe each haiku on a postcard, which I then photograph in some unrelated surrounding. After I post the photo online, I address and mail the postcard to a randomly selected person. How things evolved to this point—from writing a haiku as a daily exercise to mailing artwork to mostly strangers—is hard to explain, but it has been one of the most fulfilling projects in my life. If you visit haikuandy.com, you can see all the photos going back to March 2012.
3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?
I was extremely happy to discover NaHaiWriMo. Michael Dylan Welch deserves to be applauded for creating a public platform where poets can reach a wider audience and become part of an international community of poets from all skill levels. NaHaiWriMo reminds us that haiku, and poetry in general, is not the dominion of academics or some mystical class of esoterics sitting in the clouds. Haiku, indeed all art forms, is everyone’s birthright. By exposing and sharing our work, we learn from each other and help each other develop as artists. The Internet has made this possible in ways unimaginable twenty years ago. I know of no other haiku forum that does this as well as NaHaiWriMo. On a personal level, there are people whose presence (however virtual) in my life I have come to greatly enjoy and value, all thanks to NaHaiWriMo. It also helped me break out of the 5-7-5 box. This is has been key to my ongoing development.
4. What one piece of advice would you offer to those who are new to writing haiku?
Read and reread the classics.
5. Please share three of your favorite or best haiku.
waitress leans over
freshens up our coffee
blue vein on white breast
this spider and I
have been here before—
my morning shower
red-eye to Paris
with little boy