Every editor that I've had the pleasure of corresponding with has helped me mature as a poet. There is no way I can ever repay you kind folks for the guidance and support that's been patiently given to me over the years (you know who you are). I think nurturing is the word that best describes the relationship I've had with overseers of anthologies, journals, and magazines. You all have my sincerest thanks.
Paul MacNeil was the first editor to take me under his wing (or, brawny arm). He was patient with this fledgling, offering an encouraging word when declining less than adequate poems...tutoring, and nudging me in the right direction when I had the makings of a decent haiku.
Paul shares his response to Haiku – Three Questions with us this week.
1. Why do you write haiku?
In my 40’s, I bought a spy novel, a thick paperback for “summer” reading. It was set in both New York City and “exotic” Japan. Embedded in it were several haiku, identified as such. They appealed to me and made me pause and read each again. I started a long course of study about “haiku.” Quite soon, I started writing. In a few years I had one hundred typed out (remember typewriters?). Prowling a bookstore I found Bill’s "Handbook of Haiku" (William J. Higginson). I later bought "The Essential Haiku" ed. by Hass. Still a student, I now realize a few of the things that attracted me were the simplicity of nature described, and the conciseness of the language used in these little poems. I try to capture, so to share, the little “truths” of what I experience -- in places I love.
2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?
I grew up a child of a minister so the poetry of the Bible and my father’s voice were early in my ear. I have read or seen most plays of Shakespeare, master to us all in the English language. Beyond that, I never had an affinity for traditional Western poetry and did not write any. I am so glad that haiku do not rhyme, employ “poetic” words or contractions so as to make a meter, and are not full of pregnant simile and clever metaphor.
In addition to haiku, I am involved with renku and write a few haibun and tanka. Several of my haiku have been published as haiga to visual art by others.
3. Of the many wonderful haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three? (Please provide original publication credits.)
I’m not your first responder, Curtis, to be unsure about choosing three favorites. These are such subjective and momentary choices. The 3rd one is Yu Chang’s favorite and one of mine.
Thank you for asking me to participate.
- Paul MacNeil
the stiff stance
of a bull
a boy catching leaves
in a tricorn hat
paddle at rest
beads of water slide
from the loon’s bill
Next week, Adelaide B. Shaw.