My early attempts at composing haiku were typically of the 5-7-5 variety. They were, occasionally, amusing. I suppose it would be more accurate to label them senryu albeit very, very, bad senryu. Up until the time I stumbled upon The Heron's Nest via a Google search, all I knew about haiku had been gleaned from a suspenseful novel entitled Cryptonomincon by Neal Stephenson.
Through a series of enlightening essays written by Ferris Gilli, the veil of what I erroneously thought were haiku gradually lifted, enabling me to see with new "haiku eyes." I recall reading and rereading each essay, hungrily devouring the lessons, applying the techniques that would eventually improve some of my poems. I periodically revisit those essays to this day.
Ferris Gilli, editor, essayist, award winning poet, and teacher offers her thoughts on three questions.
1. Why do you write haiku?
I write haiku because I have to. In the same way that I am (usually) compelled to respond to someone who speaks to me, I respond to the moment when a haiku happens—by mentally recording it and eventually writing a haiku. I respond to the challenge of writing haiku according to specific guidelines because this stimulates mental alertness, and a natural mood elevation comes with answering the challenge. Haiku activities can be life changing, bringing cherished friendships and personal accomplishment.
2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?
Renku and rengay intrigue me, and I have written a few. My early addiction to renku may reawaken at any time.
3. Of the many wonderful haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three? ( Please provide original publication credits)
I don't know about "wonderful" or best, but I can think of three that have brought me much satisfaction, and even pure joy. They almost wrote themselves—that is, I wholly experienced the moments, and the haiku were there. They seem to have struck a chord with a number of people, which is greatly rewarding:
the baby's hair too fine
to hold a ribbon
(2008 Best U.S. Poem, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival)
the way he leans
into her whisper . . .
a mallard's wingbeats
(Snapshots Calendar 2007)
the boy realigns
his bug collection
(FreeXpressSION Jan. 2007)
Next week, Beverley George stops by with her response to Haiku - Three Questions.