Sunday, January 25, 2009

John McDonald - Three Questions

John McDonald is a retired stonemason living in Edinburgh, Scotland. He came to haiku in the mid-nineties, falling in love with the genre. He writes:

"I write my haiku in Scots, one of the two languages native to Scotland (the other being the Celtic rooted Gaelic). I had two publications released last year, The Throu-Gaun Chiel and Tuim Tin Tassie and another set for release in 2009."

John maintains a blog at

1) Why do you write haiku?

I don't wish to sound mystical but I don't write them as much as they find me. I will go out walking seeking some inspiration and something will impinge itself on my retina or in my subconsciousness and will not let me alone until I sit with it and a haiku is born - maybe there and then or maybe years later. The world wants to be heard and I think that's where we haijin come in - a space for that still small voice.

2) What other poetic forms do you enjoy?

I love all poetic forms, but only write haiku. I am terrifically excited by gendai haiku and any similar contemporary form although, when writing, it depends on what is required: the subject may simply want a simple statement, but when it wants an expression in surrealist terms I am thrilled.

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

Like all writers I find this difficult as every poem is like a child and having favourites is difficult, but I think the best idea is to pick three that others have enjoyed.

Award winner 10th Annual Suruga Baika Literary Festival:

skreich o day —
licht muives athort
the boo o the aipple

dawn —
light moves across
the curve of the apple

(published in The Throu-Gaun Chiel)

Museum of Literature Award: Blithe Spirit:

laicher an laicher
the daffins' heids
i the weet

lower and lower
the daffodils' heads
in the rain

(published in The Throu-Gaun Chiel)

winner Haiku Ireland Kukai 1:

a skein o geese —
on the howe's haunle

a skein of geese —
on the hoe's handle

(published in The Throu-Gaun Chiel)

Thanks again Curtis. As a life-long fan of country blues and New Orleans jazz, it's been a thrill to have been allowed to stroll down Tobacco Road

aye John

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

Collin Barber will be our guest next week.


Gerald (Ackworth born) said...

great answers John

Pris said...

I'm enjoying this series, Curtis. Thanks.

nora said...

Bravo! Thank you, John and Curtis.

Magyar said...

Ah yes, John... you look at, but see beyond; this is the crux of haiku. Grand!
As always, _m

Gwil W said...

It's always a great pleasure to read your work; and what a fine selection. The first one is immense!
With best bardic wishes,

Area 17 said...

I second all the comments, and agree with Gwilym about that first haiku!!!

The other two haiku are extremely fine too!

And as John knows, I love haiku in Scots.

all my best,

The With Words Competition 2009


haiku-shelf (Angelika Wienert) said...

I loved it to read this "Three Questions". Thank you, John and Curtis.

Best wishes,