1. How did you get started with haiku?
I started writing haiku at the beginning of 2008 when I took Dr. Randy Brooks’ Global Haiku Traditions seminar at Millikin University. I was hooked from the beginning and devoured as many books and courses as I could get my hands on. I loved the collaborative nature of the reader-writer relationship—the idea that a poem could have more than one meaning and that it grows and shifts as more people read it and share their experiences. It felt, and still feels, like a perfect example of how writing is alive, constantly evolving. I’ve not been writing as much haiku as I’d like, but I’ve been working more closely with haibun in the recent years. It marries much of what I love about flash fiction with the skills I’ve honed with haiku.
2. Tell us more about yourself.
I’m currently pursuing my MFA in poetry at Temple University in Philadelphia, and serving as the executive producer of the literary podcast CitizenLit. Grad school and teaching take up the majority of my time, but I also spend a lot of time in record stores and looking for sustainable, Whole30/Paleo, and/or community-oriented food spots. I’m always in search of community. Recently I’ve been reaching out and connecting with other writers with disabilities and chronic/invisible illnesses as I’ve become more visible and public about my own fibromyalgia and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Older haiku poets probably remember my now mostly defunct blog Yay Words!, but I’ve started tidying up my professional site. I’m also on Twitter and Instagram @aubriecox.
3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?
Historically, I used NaHaiWriMo as a way to reset my writing habits at the beginning of the year (especially when Satya Robyn and Kaspalita Thompson were still doing mindful writing exercises at Writing Our Way Home in January). Although I don’t participate much and NaHaiWriMo provides prompts year-around, I still see it much that way. It’s a practice ground, and a way to try to explore subjects that one may not think to write about.
4. What one piece of advice would you offer to those who are new to writing haiku?
Focus on concrete imagery, juxtaposition, and the break between the two halves of the poem. It’s so easy to turn a haiku into a sentence or to try to paint “big ideas” full of emotion. Let the objects of the world tell their story. The concrete world is common ground for writers and readers, so it’s easy to connect there. The juxtaposition and break is what makes a haiku a haiku, especially in English (where there are more flexible ideas about seasonal references), so really nailing the rhythm and practice of that goes a long way. That will also help you think about whether your poem is too long or clunky, or if your images are too closely related.
5. Please share three of your favourite or best haiku.
dashboard Mother Mary
bathed in light
all the places
I’ve yet to go
gunpowder the universe mostly dark matter
A Hundred Gourds 1:4