Terri L. French

NaHaiWriMo daily writing prompter for August 2011 and April 2020

1. How did you get started with haiku?

It seems like I have been writing haiku forever—but it’s been a mere 11 or 12 years. As soon as googling became a thing, I started searching all things haiku. Arithmetic was never my forte, so I was happy when I happened upon the Haiku Society of America and Michael Dylan Welch and learned I didn’t have to count syllables on my fingers anymore. Michael was nice enough to gently critique my first lame attempts at the genre and instruct me on its basics. I kept at it and finally got my first haiku published (I think in Frogpond) although I can’t remember what it was.

2. Tell us more about yourself.

I am from Pontiac, Michigan. All the men (and some of the women) in my family worked for General Motors. I received a BA in journalism at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan in 1981. After graduating I worked at the university library in the reference department and edited our union newsletter. In 1987 I moved to Huntsville, Alabama (yes, it had to do with a man!), got married and birthed two sons. During that time, I freelanced for a local newspaper, worked at the public library, and dabbled in poetry and painting. I have since divorced and remarried to a man who loves haiku and even writes some senryu and rengay! We now live retired life in our home-on-wheels, named Poetry in Motion (PIM), with our dog, Chaka.

3. What does NaHaiWriMo mean to you?

NaHaiWriMo is a kickstart. It’s like that tick-tick-tick you hear before the flame ignites on a gas stove burner. The daily prompts get me thinking and sometimes a decent haiku results. It is also fun to read where everyone else takes the prompts.

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

If I could give a person only one piece of advice as a newbie to haiku it would be to read, read, read and find out what appeals to you and why. Start by emulating those poems and soon your own style/voice will develop. Was that one piece of advice? I can’t just give one! Also, be aware, use all your senses!

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

One of my earliest and favorite haiku is:

a spot of blood

on the unfinished quilt—

harvest moon

Another published about five years later:

first dance—

a blossom pressed

in Song of Solomon

And a more recent haiku:

the gasp

before the sigh

cherry blossoms