1. How did you get started with haiku?
It was kind of an accident, really. Until recently, almost all of my writing was limited to my profession as a law teacher. After I retired I began to paint, and found that gallery visitors wanted to read something about my paintings. This was difficult for me—writing about my paintings—but it turned out that a short poem seemed to satisfy viewers, and I enjoyed writing them. After the gallery closed, I discovered NaHaiWriMo. It was a February, so the page was very active. I thought, well, I might try that. That was back in 2012. When February turned into March I thought I’d keep writing haiku for a while. I have kept trying to write at least one haiku a day since then, with a few gaps caused by travel or other interruptions.
2. Tell us more about yourself.
I was born in Brooklyn, New York, but at the time my family was in the process of relocating to the small town of Rowayton on the Connecticut shore. That is where I grew up, very happily engaged each summer with boats and the water. I studied engineering physics at Cornell University and went on to begin my career in nuclear engineering in the San Fernando Valley of California. There I joined the Sierra Club and began a life-long interest in hiking and wild lands. My career in engineering didn’t last long; very soon I decided to go to law school. I enjoyed studying law at UCLA and went on to two years of post graduate work at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Following that I joined the Faculty of Law at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, where I spent thirty years (with some time off for leaves at various times). As retirement approached I took up watercolor painting, an activity I pursued quite actively for about ten years until grandchildren came along and travel started to occupy more of my time. I now live in Santa Cruz, California. I still enjoy both travel and photography and fantasize that I will start painting again soon. When I look at a scene, take a picture, or write a haiku I am often thinking about how I would paint the scene. I have my Random Thoughts blog, but I haven’t posted there for some time. And my paintings (some of them) can be found online at Paintings by Robert Franson.
3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?
Ah, well, it’s sort of home, isn’t it? NaHaiWriMo got me started writing poetry, and has sustained that interest since then. The prompts help me to keep writing, and they push me beyond my comfort zone. I also find that the people participating in NaHaiWriMo are very supportive, and I never see the sort of critical comments that would discourage anyone. For me at least, it is a friendly place where I can continue to post my poems, and that encourages me to keep writing.
4. What one piece of advice would you offer to those who are new to writing haiku?
Hang in there and keep writing. It helps to have a notebook and pen with you at all times. Keep your eyes open, and when you see something you like, something you think might fit in a haiku, write it down. See what you can do with it. Try it out. Leave it for awhile, then come back and see whether something new comes to your mind. Match it up with other notes you’ve made. But watch out; you’ll get hooked if you aren’t careful!
5. Please share three of your favourite or best haiku.
I don’t have any published haiku, partly because I have never submitted any for publication. I know that’s something I should consider doing, but so far I have felt that I haven’t been writing long enough. Here are three I like:
the smell of hot tar . . .
kids riding their bikes
to the beach
the spirits dance
across the northern night
a snowy owl calls
a neglected road
potholed and empty . . .