1. How did you get started with haiku?
I started writing haiku in an unusual way. I had always loved writing, but work and other activities swallowed my time. A neuroimmune illness hit me hard in 1990 and robbed me of my ability to read, write, use a computer, watch a TV show, and have visitors for nine years. A specialist gave me medicine in 1999 that helped my brain tolerate limited stimulation for the first time. After I relearned how to sign on to a computer, my brain was still too befuddled to write anything long. I discovered a hokey haiku site that taught five-seven-five and all flowers and blue skies. I did it simply as a way to be creative again at a pace I could handle cognitively. Not long after that, I met Mike Rehling online and he invited me to Haiku Hut where my eyes were opened to the beauty of the haiku posted there by some of the finest writers then and now. I read about haiku as I could, worked with suggestions, and began to come into my own, publishing more and more in journals and anthologies, even placing in some contests. This continued over the years. I love how haiku can tell an entire story in a few words. I love the experimentation I see with the form. I love the form. And now, most recently, I took first place in the Marlene Mountain 2021 contest.
2. Tell us more about yourself.
I was reared in the Bible Belt, described in My Southern Childhood (Nixes Mate Books, 2017), available on Amazon, escaped to Florida at 16 for college at Stetson University, and got my Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Illinois. I worked as a psychologist in St. Louis, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Boston, living communally my last three years there and running treatment units for people with chronic mental illnesses. Florida’s Greater West Palm Beach became my home in 1978 after a six-month meandering trip down the coast and up through the Vineyard and Chesapeake Bay with a companion in my 22-foot sailboat, Little Adventure, documented in Sea Trails (Lummox Press, 2009), listed on Amazon. I had married in Hawaii while my first husband’s ship was between tours of Vietnam and the marriage ended in Boston. I’ve lived with my current husband in Florida for forty-one years. Before my illness I ran another treatment unit here. My husband and I also sailed to the Bahamas in our 26-footer, Sanctuary, and I bicycled, read voraciously, and played the piano. All are impossible for me now except for brief reading. My website, no longer updated as of 2016, is Poetic Inspirations.
3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?
NaHaiWriMo is a perfect place to become inspired. The prompts trigger a memory of experiences sometimes long forgotten . . . or something new seen in a different way.
4. What one piece of advice would you offer to those who are new to writing haiku?
Learn the basics from reading (especially how to use juxtaposition) or from others more experienced. Then be brave and let your words flow without fear of being judged. Fear strangles creativity.
5. Please share three of your favourite or best haiku.
rolling fog . . .
searching for a hint
Cattails, Fall 2018
awash in the blues . . .
somewhere out there
his missing mate
Third place, 2019 Santōka haiga contest
traveling a bit further
from home each year
Haiga Online, 2016