1. How did you get started with haiku?
My first exposure to haiku was part of one English lesson at school, sometime in the early 1970s, but I did nothing with that knowledge for years, even though I found it intriguing. Later on, in 2000, I bought The Haiku Handbook, which I found fascinating—but I still didn’t really start writing my own haiku until a few years after I moved to the United States from the United Kingdom. In 2016 one of my Facebook friends, another writer, started posting screenshots from a webcam in Ocean City, Maryland, where she and her husband hoped to retire. Each screenshot was accompanied by a haiku she composed, and I thought, I would like to try that too. But it wasn’t until 2017 that I began writing haiku on a regular basis. I used to write an acrostic rhyming poem every day, and although they were only eight to sixteen lines long, they were taking too long to write when I had so much business work to do. And I thought, haiku shouldn’t take as long to write. Ha! Ever since then, I have written haiku regularly, having composed more than 2,000 poems. Most of those are published on my own sites/pages, although I have contributed to NaHaiWriMo, as well as the Haiku Society of America, Failed Haiku, Poetry Pea, Prune Juice, and Writers Connect/QuillS.
2. Tell us more about yourself.
I was born in Preston, United Kingdom, and went to boarding school at Rossall on the Fylde Coast. After school, I declined a place at Leeds University to study Chinese and linguistics to start earning some money, and after a few years of working for my father’s yeast merchant business, I had a hankering to become a computer programmer. In 1979, I began work for GRE, an insurance company, but then moved to Northampton in 1986 to work for Barclaycard, one of the UK’s leading credit card companies, where I worked as a systems analyst, design coordinator, and IT strategist. I remained there until 2005, when I got divorced from my first wife, resigned from Barclaycard, and moved to the United States, where I remarried and worked for myself, still doing computer-related work (which I do to this day). After my second wife’s sudden death in 2018, I spent a couple of years or so alone, with my three dogs, and since then, I have been in a relationship with a wonderful lady from upstate New York who is now living with me in Arizona, although we hope to buy a house on the east coast this year. In terms of interests, apart from writing (mainly, haiku and flash fiction, although I have written a book on magic squares, how to memorize pi to 100 decimals places, a novel, and several short stories), I was an amateur magician for a long time back in the UK. I also enjoy reading, and both solving and compiling cryptic crosswords.
3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?
I love that it’s a safe place to post my haiku, and I enjoy seeing how many different interpretations of the same prompt fellow haikuists come up with, because that helps expand my knowledge and appreciation of the art.
4. What one piece of advice would you offer to those who are new to writing haiku?
Share whatever you write somewhere (such as NaHaiWriMo), because if you write haiku just in a vacuum, you probably won’t develop your skills as quickly.
5. Please share three of your favourite or best haiku.
filled with selflessness
Failed Haiku #64
and an injured donkey
on his back
Poetry Pea summer journal, 2021
sitting at home
the princess’s hearse drives by
17 Onji website, 8 November 2020