Michael Henry Lee
1. How did you get started with haiku?
My haiku journey began over half century ago in a middle-western grade school, during the era of Big Chief tablets and fat #2 pencils. Like most other English-language children, we were taught that haiku was a Japanese poem consisting of 5-7-5 syllables, period. That perception persisted until around 2008 when I finally embraced the Internet age. Artistic expression has always played a big part of my life, including music, photography, drawing, and woodworking. After exposure to what quality English-language haiku is all about I was hooked.
2. Tell us more about yourself.
Here are five tidbits about myself you probably weren’t expecting to read in a Meet the Prompters interview. I once rode 63 miles per hour on a bicycle. Wyatt Earp is either a second or third cousin. My favorite job was working for H.A.W.K.E., a wildlife rehabilitator, caring for hawks, bald eagles, owls, foxes, otters, tortoises, and bobcats. Issa is my favorite pillar of haiku and my perfect day would be relaxing in nature with a pen paper and a great haiku anthology.
[See also Michael’s “Meet the Member” profile on the Haiku Society of America website.]
3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?
NaHaiWriMo provides an accepting community of poets with challenging, motivational material that daily exercises their haiku minds. NaHaiWriMo is a place where like-minded, diverse artists can interact, while receiving support, advice, and instruction.
4. What one piece of advice would you offer to those who are new to writing haiku?
Read and write—there are no better substitutes to learning the craft. The Internet is full of free poetry and instruction like NaHaiWriMo. Connect with other poets on Facebook, and consider joining the Haiku Society of America, or another similar organization where you live.
5. Please share three of your favourite or best haiku.
Three haiku with very special meaning for me:
windows open now
my cat laying on the sill
in the hazy moon
It won third prize in the 2010 Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tokutomi Haiku Contest (my first haiku to receive an award).
a killing frost
the fighting fish
comes up for air
This is a version of my last poem published on Haiku News. Laurence Stacey and Dick White were my first editors and I thank them profusely for all their help and encouragement.
one tuffy mouse
First published in Modern Haiku 46:1, Winter–Spring 2015, this poem was written as a memorial to a beloved animal companion.