1. How did you get started with haiku?
I was introduced to haiku during poetry lessons at school, although back then it seemed to be all about counting syllables, so it didn’t make much of an impact. When my husband and I returned to Ireland after more than a decade studying and working in England, I had more time to focus on writing. After joining several online writing forums, I became reacquainted with haiku—albeit on a very superficial level. When I submitted some of my first haiku to Scott Metz, then editor of the journal Roadrunner, they were understandably rejected. I asked Scott how I might improve and he was very encouraging. He suggested that I read as many good haiku as I could get my hands on and gave me a link to Haruo Shirane’s article, “Beyond the Haiku Moment: Bashō, Buson, and Modern Haiku Myths.” He also advised me to read anything written by Richard Gilbert, and to connect with The Haiku Foundation. It was then that I began to read the work of haiku poets from all over the world and became hooked.
2. Tell us more about yourself.
I left my home in Warrenpoint on the east coast of Northern Ireland in 1983 to take a degree in French and linguistics in Belfast, during which time I spent a year in France as an English assistant. After graduating, I moved to Bristol, England, and gained a post-graduate diploma in French and business studies. My first job was as a bilingual personal assistant with the Channel Tunnel Project contractors, followed by over a decade in a research and technology organisation as a marketing and corporate communications manager. Since returning home I have been employed on a part-time basis in a local nursery school and I teach my children and their cousins French. The rest of the time I enjoy live music gigs, cooking—particularly Indian cuisine—and oil painting, which, like my poetry, is often inspired by the scenery in this area.
3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?
NaHaiWriMo is a great place to read haiku from a wide range of poets from across the globe. It’s great to read the different “takes” on prompts and at the minute I am particularly enjoying some wonderful haiga from Mike Duffy, Grace Galton, Pat Geyer, and Sandi Pray. It’s also good to have the challenge of responding to a prompt on a subject you might not normally write about. I have also written a few French haiku on NaHaiWriMo en français and I look forward to contributing even more in February of 2016, when it will be run by my poet friend, Hélène Duc.
4. What one piece of advice would you offer to those who are new to writing haiku?
As Scott Metz advised me back in 2011, I suggest newcomers read as much haiku as they can get their hands on and also read as much about haiku as they possibly can. That way, even if they don’t employ all the techniques available, they will at least be aware of them.
5. Please share three of your favourite or best haiku.
riptide unable to help myself
coffee and Danish
the Mountains of Mourne
dusted with snow
la balancelle de mon père
my father’s swing seat