Gary Blankenship

NaHaiWriMo daily writing prompter for November 2014

1. How did you get started with haiku?

In 1999, I started what might be best described as a self study in poetry, trying most common forms, among them of course the Eastern—haiku, tanka, and jueju or Chinese short songs. I fell in love with tanka, the queen of forms. I studied the masters from Bashō to Sam Hamill and their contemporaries. And I threw myself into critique forums. The people involved in these forums are almost too many to name, but two deserve a special mention, Mary Hazen-Stearns and Thomas Fortenberry, who took me under their wings early. What keeps me going? Simply the love of writing poetry, but to be honest in 2010 I was burned out and dropped out, something I regret—mostly because I lost track of several people. But I’m back!

2. Tell us more about yourself.

I live in Bremerton, Washington, where I retired after many years working in the local shipyard. I retired as deputy comptroller, chief financial officer. My primary interest is poetry, centered around tanka. I have recently published a collection, Poetic States and a Drop of Sunshine, from Writers and Lovers Studio, also available at I spent the last year editing a haiku collection, Demlips, by Traci Siler. I am considering publication of several books: a reprint of my A River Transformed, poems based on Wang Wei’s River Wang poems; a set inspired by Walt Whitman; and a chapbook about infectious diseases (Ebola, West Nile Virus, and others). And in my spare time, I moderate the Erotic Haiku page on Facebook.

3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?

It’s a community of haiku poets dedicated to sharing ideas, topics, and styles and a place to get to know very good writers.

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

Study the masters and major teachers, their styles and themes. Read everyone. Write with others, whether NaHaiWriMo, Virtual Haiku, or elsewhere. Writing haiku with others is perhaps the best way to learn.

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

I lost my files late in 2013, so these are not necessarily my favorites or best but I do like them:

fire and smoke

invade my dreams

rice hugs the ground

new cans on route 55

await Monday’s pickup

Tuesday morning

cat with a mouthful

of feathers

attacked by crows