Deborah P Kolodji
NaHaiWriMo daily writing prompter for December 2013 and June 2021
1. How did you get started with haiku?
I’ve written poetry since about the fourth grade, when I also wrote my first haiku (though it wasn’t really a haiku, just a 5-7-5 poem). Because I enjoyed science, I wrote almost exclusively science fiction poetry in high school and my early twenties. In the late 1990s I joined the scifaiku email list and started writing speculative haiku although I had no idea what I was doing. A poet on that list, gK, suggested I attend a local haiku group meeting in Long Beach, California. Eventually I did and met Jerry Ball, who helped readjust my perception of what a haiku should be. I became a regular of the Southern California Haiku Study Group, attending every month and buying any haiku books I could get my hands on. We met in a bookstore in those days, so I bought everything that bookstore offered on haiku, including The Essential Haiku translated by Robert Hass, The Haiku Anthology edited by Cor van den Heuvel, and an early Red Moon Anthology.
I started writing haiku almost exclusively and joined some haiku email lists, like the old Raku Teapot Yahoo list, and started entering the monthly Shiki Kukai. My earliest haiku publications were around 2002 and by then, haiku had become a core part of my life. When Jerry Ball left Southern California in 2006, I took over moderating the haiku group that had changed my life so dramatically. I moderated the group for 13 years before stepping down at the end of 2019 for health reasons. During that time, I discovered that I love “haiku outreach” and working with new haiku poets almost as much as I enjoy writing and reading haiku. Even though I no longer moderate the local group, I keep myself active in the haiku community in various capacities, such as being on the board for the Haiku North America conference, and still enjoy developing and presenting workshops. I continue to write haiku daily, often sitting in my backyard garden.
2. Tell us more about yourself.
I have lived in Southern California my entire life, born in Long Beach, went to the University of Southern California, and settled in the Pasadena area, living in Temple City since 2001. At USC, I studied mathematics and took multiple computer science classes, ending up with a career in information technology, which evolved as the technology changed. I wrote my first computer program on cards, using a card reader, in a high school honors math summer program, and my first job was as a Fortran programmer. From there, I evolved into a system administrator, eventually becoming a SQL Server database administrator and a business software technical consultant. I am currently disabled and have rarely ventured from my house since the pandemic started in 2020.
I enjoy National Parks, botanical gardens, beaches, tidepools, and waterfalls. I love photography and have a maltipoo named Patrick who is my loyal companion. I enjoy live theater and USC football games. Items on my bucket list include visiting all 50 states (I’ve visited 42), visiting all provinces and territories of Canada (I’ve visited six), and seeing all of Shakespeare’s plays in live performances (I’ve seen all of the comedies, most of the tragedies, and many of the history plays). I took a dream vacation to Japan in 2019 at the height of cherry blossom season.
3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?
I love working with prompts and try to write to all of the NaHaiWriMo prompts, even though I do not always post my poems to the Facebook group. Since I have a daily practice of writing haiku, prompts often get me started, whether prompts from NaHaiWriMo or from observations, photos I’ve taken, or something I’ve read in the news.
4. What one piece of advice would you offer to those who are new to writing haiku?
My one piece of advice has four parts:
Read as much haiku as you can, from books and haiku journals (both print and online).
Find a haiku group, either in your local area or online.
Make friends in the haiku community and find a couple of people you trust to brainstorm with.
Finally, haiku conferences. I love attending haiku conferences and always come away inspired, so if there’s a way you can attend one, please do!
Basically, to summarize, my one piece of advice is to absolutely immerse yourself in all things haiku.
5. Please share three of your favourite or best haiku.
I am small at the feet
a hermit crab tries on
the bottle cap
dozen red roses
she examines the bruise
in the mirror