Nicholas Klacsanzky

NaHaiWriMo daily writing prompter for September 2019

1. How did you get started with haiku?

I started writing haiku after reading haiku books on my family bookshelf and hearing them read out loud by my father, George Klacsanzky. Since he was a pivotal member of the early haiku scene in Seattle, Washington, starting the journal Haiku Zasshi Zo in 1984, I often read and heard haiku in my childhood. I started to write my own haiku around 16 years of age. My father was excited that I began to compose them and taught me which ones were better than others. The book Zen and Son (available on Amazon), published in 2017, presents selections of my dad’s haiku paired with my own.

The first books of haiku I read were translations done by R. H. Blyth of great Japanese masters such as Bashō, Buson, and Issa. But it was not until I read poems by Santōka translated by John Stevens and others that I got engrossed in haiku. For me, Santōka’s sparse, lively, and meditative verse showed that haiku was much more than literature. Of course, Bashō inspired me greatly, but it was Santōka who made me realize that composing a haiku comes with a great degree of freedom and subtlety.

What keeps me writing haiku is my surroundings. Nature is wonderful, majestic, atmospheric, and mystical. Also, our human world is filled with juxtapositions, aesthetically pleasing designs, and irony. Once you become a haiku writer, I think your eyes change. And even if I don’t write as much as I did a year ago, my eyes still see through the lens of haiku.

2. Tell us more about yourself.

I live currently in the Seattle area, though I lived in Ukraine for six years. Wanting to be a writer since I was 16, I got my B.A. from Evergreen State College with a focus in writing and received my certificate for teaching English as a second language from Seattle University. My career has mostly dealt with content creation and editing. I am currently a freelance editor for website content. Besides composing haiku, I enjoy playing percussion (tabla, djembe, doumbek), singing, chess, and writing essays and fiction. It is hard for me to do just one thing creatively. I host a blog named Haiku Commentary.

3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?

I think it is an excellent way to get inspired to write haiku daily. Composing haiku every day is a sure way to learn, improve, and to become one with the writing process.

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

Try to get at the bottom of what a haiku is by reading a lot of literature on it and see famous examples of it. A haiku is flexible in its style, aesthetic, tone, subject, and other aspects. Do your best to form a concept of haiku for yourself.

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

whale vertebrae

drifting from one god

to another

A Hundred Gourds, June 2016; Touchstone Individual Poem Award, 2017

night stroll

an owl guides me

to the woods

Acorn, October 2015

distant thunder

we have been both right

all along

Mayfly, Summer 2016