1. How did you get started with haiku?
It was reading the work of Marlene Mountain in 2017 when I became aware of what haiku was capable of being. Her work completely changed everything for me, and honestly haiku did as well. When I first started writing haiku, I was finding my work to either be filled with angst or just cherry blossoms for the sake of cherry blossoms. It wasn’t until I figured out how to stitch together social issues and mental illness with kigo, or seasonal words, that I really began to settle into my voice. I honestly feel like I have done most of my growing as a haijin (and as a person in general) within the last year and a half. It took feeling like I had lost every ounce of myself for me to get back up and say “where do I go from here?” Then I could move forward. So, one day I just started writing about my abuse and it didn’t stop. I think on that first day I wrote probably twenty haiku and senryu about my trauma. And I haven’t put the pen down since.
2. Tell us more about yourself.
I’m a twenty-eight-year old queer, goth, agnostic, human rights activist who works in an adult toy store in Raleigh, North Carolina. I promise I’m not actually as fun as I sound. I spend my downtime editing #FemkuMag, reading, doing puzzles, coloring, binge-watching reruns of Twilight Zone, and writing rengay with my sweet and talented life partner, Joshua Gage. I have a heavy background in theatre and although I’m not on stage or backstage anymore, I am working on a play of monologues written in the style of haibun. Currently, my published books include: Radical Women (self-published, 2017, out of print), inkblots (self-published, 2019), The New Norm (2020, Proletaria Press), Red Flags (2020, Title IX Press), and Recycled Virgin (2020, Human/Kind Press), all of which can be found on my website. My book Uprooted, for which I was the finalist in the 2019 Sable Books Haiku Contest for Women, is forthcoming.
3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?
NaHaiWriMo is a unique opportunity to push the boundaries of your normal writing routine. I also think it’s a fantastic way to open yourself up to new topics and perspectives. I love that people from all over the world participate! Other cultures are so different from mine and a prompt that means one thing to me can mean something totally different to someone else. Not only does NaHaiWriMo provide social stimulation, but it’s a great database for learning as well.
4. What one piece of advice would you offer to those who are new to writing haiku?
Study, study, study! That includes reading whatever you can get your hands on. Read books on how to write haiku. A few of my favorites are: The Essential Haiku by Robert Hass, The Art of Reading and Writing Haiku by Randy Brooks, and The Wonder Code by Scott Mason. The Haiku Foundation website and Graceguts offer a lot of free resources as well. As far as journals go, some of my favorites are Human/Kind, Sonic Boom, Prune Juice, and Stardust Haiku. I think reading and studying are essential because you can compose pretty pictures with words all day long, but until you understand juxtaposition and linking and shifting, or why we don’t write 5-7-5 in English-language haiku, there are no bones to the haiku, just flesh. You can stack polished stones all day, but if the foundation and cement aren’t there, it’s just going to fall apart.
5. Please share three of your favourite or best haiku.
summer the heat of his punch
Haiku Dialogue, August 2019
Shortlist, 2019 Touchstone Award
she prays away
Failed Haiku 58, October 2020
Highly Commended, 2020 H Gene Murtha Senryu Contest