1. How did you get started with haiku?
About like most other folks! Elementary school with the 5-7-5 syllable count and tied to nature. One day, I stumbled across a used copy of the 1960 publication Cherry-Blossoms: Japanese Haiku Series Three. In the introduction, the editors note that haiku are “not intended to be clear statements.” Rather, they represent the “fleeting responses or impressions . . . [of] the poet’s awareness.” That was a new idea to ponder, and frankly, a bit perplexing as for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to capture vagueness while adhering to the other schoolgirl principles of “show, don’t tell” using lots of descriptive imagery and oh, so many, many words. At the same time, I was developing my governor-mandated “plain-talk” technical writing skills. A clash of two worlds, as it were—and haiku seemed to be the bridge between the two. A decade later when I was doing my best to bring back my creative spark from way too much technical writing, I landed on NaHaiWriMo and the revelation that I wasn’t tied to a strict syllable count. I also learned about this lovely approach: haiga. At last! A way to tie my fetish for picture-snapping to words.
2. Tell us more about yourself.
Born in the Pacific Northwest, where I still live, I wrote my first poem at age eight and haven’t stopped scribbling since. Most of my poems and stories take shape when I wander forested trails, pedal my bike, or stretch into a down-dog pose. When I’m not chained to my desk spinning policy, I dream in color and rhyme. You can visit my blog at https://tidbitsbyshannon.wordpress.com.
3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?
It’s a place to grow, discover, learn, and experiment. NaHaiWriMo is probably one of the best habits I’ve ever developed in my life. Highly recommended!
4. What one piece of advice would you offer to those who are new to writing haiku?
Let go of the inner critic that says “you can’t” but hold onto the one that says “nice try—let’s give it another go!”
5. Please share three of your favorite or best haiku.
seasonal spell which we timidly seek—green blade unfurls
Selected for the 2017 Olympia Spring Arts Walk “Writing in the Rain” project.
pierces her flesh
one nibble too many
Sometimes, haiku captures the object lesson in a way that no other teachable moment can.
before the wind blows
Reserved for use with a fatherhood conference in 2019; the only way I could capture the intensity of my son’s deployment to Afghanistan just as his newborn son turned four months old.