Patsy Turner

NaHaiWriMo daily writing prompter for May 2020

1. How did you get started with haiku?

My first encounter with haiku was vivid. We were reading Karl Bruckner’s The Day of the Bomb at primary school, and Issa’s “the snow is melting and the village is flooded with children” jumped out and stuck in my mind, though I remembered it as “snow melts and the village is overflowing with children.” Years later, from 1980 to 1981, I spent a year in Shimonoseki, Japan, as an AFS student. My father was the only child of four who survived being trapped in Rangoon during World War II and wouldn’t even buy a Japanese car, but he thought my going to Japan might help to heal those wounds. I couldn’t speak any of the language when I went, but came back thinking in Japanese. I learnt a lot, and was trained in calligraphy, ikebana, and judo, but the main thing my time in Japan taught me was patience. While visiting a temple, my first haiku came:

you laugh like a friend

ringing bells in the temple

above Lake Biwa

I strive to capture the essence of a moment in as few words as possible.

2. Tell us more about yourself.

I was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, but my childhood was spent in tiny South Island settlements as my father was a primary school principal. After Japan I went to university, married, divorced, and while raising my son alone, trained as a counsellor and was involved in setting up some poetry collectives that generated events and publications. I have lived in various ancient cottages in the crater of Banks Peninsula since the early eighties, am passionate about community initiatives, making music, growing vegetables, and my family and friends. I work at the Akaroa Museum, which perfectly fits my fascination with the past and how it relates to the present.

3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?

After the initial Canterbury earthquakes, I discovered NaHaiWriMo on Facebook, and it has been a wonderful inspiration and support. I love the connection with amazing haiku writers from around the world and it’s an important part of my life. I never feel alone, even now in lockdown [during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic]! Some of the work I’ve generated has found its way into New Zealand and international publications, and I am very grateful to Michael and the NaHaiWriMo community for the encouragement and guidance this forum provides. Thank you!

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

I love the feeling of meditating on a word and seeing what pops out. So I reckon, just be fully in the moment and open up your senses and imagination. Sometimes a poem can emerge fully formed, and other times, if it doesn’t ring right, it may need a bit of playing with until the bare bones are revealed. Oh, and always have a pen and paper handy, as poems have a knack of flying off into the ether if not captured at the moment they arrive, sort of like fishing but not.

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

Three random haiku:

adjusting a curl

the old woman

turns back time

flowery dress

how thinly disguised

her sadness


the space

between us