Sunday, November 23, 2008

paul m. - Three Questions

paul m., a native Californian now living in New England, is an award winning poet who has been published internationally in a variety of haiku journals. In 2007 called home, his second full-length collection of poems, received Third Place prize in the Haiku Society of America’s Merit Book Awards. called home is available from Red Moon Press.



Hi Curtis,

A delightful series! My own answers submitted below:


1) Why do you write haiku?

John Muir said: "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything in the universe." I think the reason I like the short poem is because I’m trying to figure out how I am hitched to the universe. Or to put it in a sound bite: Through my poetry I am looking to see how I fit into this world, by looking to see how other things fit. I am an accountant by trade and spend ten hours a day looking at numbers in one place and examining their relationship to numbers in another place. For example: a 12b1 fee over here a receivable on my clearing statement over there. Cash at an affiliate here perhaps a capital charge there. I think such analytics are the backbone of my poetry. For example:


spot where I proposed —
footpath gravel
from different quarries


There is a proposal in one place and gravel from different quarries in another. The short poem (and the haiku in particular) gets its power from these kinds of unsaid relationships. If gravel from different places and of different makings can work together, then logically a marriage can. Peter Yovu wrote 'A haiku.. is a balance between control and surrender.' That's a wonderful phrase that applies to life as well as to poetry. Sometimes the universe gives you things you can easily understand and so you write the understandable poem (that's 'control'). But sometimes the universe only alludes to something—something you only half understand, sometimes not at all. So you write the poem you don't necessarily understand. And maybe you have to step out of your comfort zone to write it. Maybe debits don't equal credits. You have to trust the moment. Trust intuition. Trust the poem. (that's 'surrender'). How like life, eh? I think the two are intertwined—hitched!


2) What other poetic forms do your enjoy?

I prefer free verse over structured. The shorter the better! I am moved by moments of awareness.


3) Of the many wonderful haiku you’ve written, what do you consider to be your top three?

Like the other respondents that's a hard question to answer. Favorites change daily. A few that have stayed with me are:


migrating whales
all our footprints
wash away


Heron's Nest 11/02



explaining again
our two homes
snow drifts


Ant ant ant ant ant #8



moving the cow
closer to baby Jesus
yesterday’s snow


HSA Anthology 2006



If you've been enjoying this weekly series and have not contributed, please consider sharing your response to the three little questions that paul m. answered. You must be a published poet to participate.

Ruth Yarrow will be our guest poet next week.

1 comment:

Gene Murtha said...

very nice interview Paul, and one
of my all time favorites of which
you have included:

migrating whales
all our footprints
wash away

paul m
Heron's Nest 11/02