Barbara Strang

NaHaiWriMo daily writing prompter for March 2020 and March 2021

1. How did you get started with haiku?

I have been always interested in words and poetry. I first encountered “haiku” at an arts course for the unemployed, 1980s, of course presented as a 5/7/5 syllable form. My understanding then was that I should cram as much as I could into that straightjacket. In 1993 I happened to be where The New Zealand Haiku Anthology, edited by Cyril Childs, was being launched. I was intrigued. My first real haiku was highly commended in an annual competition of 1994; and in 1997 I was astonished to win the competition—the New Zealand Poetry Society’s haiku contest. In 1998 Cyril included my work in his Second New Zealand Haiku Anthology. I joined groups that held haiku conferences in various parts of the country, and we got to know writers throughout Australasia. I’ve edited and typeset books, taken haiku workshops, and lead the Small White Teapot Haiku Group. My work has appeared in New Zealand and overseas.

2. Tell us more about yourself.

I was brought up at Invercargill, at the bottom of New Zealand. Most of my adult life I’ve lived in Christchurch, raising my three kids. At present I live with my grandson at the foot of the Port Hills. In 1998 I completed an MA in creative writing at Victoria University, Wellington, producing a poetry book called Duck Weather. A series of adverse events in my life inspired my second long-form poetry book, called The Corrosion Zone. The cover featured photographs of scary-looking local cliffs. It was being printed when the largest of a series of quakes struck on 22 February 2011. The central city and eastern suburbs were trashed, and hundreds of people killed. My house and I survived, but the continuing quakes and recovery were quite an experience, at least providing me with more inspiration—falling roof tiles as well as falling leaves. Lately I have made several trips overseas. Last year I visited Japan and chanced upon an area where Bashō lived and worked. I like gardening, walking, and observing birds. You can see an online page with more info about me, and sample haiku on the New Zealand Poetry Society website.

3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?

I think I first discovered it in February 2012, and enjoy the stimulation and connection with the broader haiku community. I have participated during the year as well as in February, managing to produce some good haiku that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I appreciate Michael Dylan Welch’s excellent background resources.

4. What one piece of advice would you offer to those who are new to writing haiku?

Forget about counting syllables and instead read contemporary published haiku.

5. Please share three of your favourite or best haiku.

fourth summer . . .

an agave flower rises

above the broken roof

hanging valley

a nameless tarn

contains sky

he mentions regret

the moon obscured

by cloud