Haiku is not a shriek, a howl, a sigh, or a yawn;
rather, it is the deep breath of life.
even the small poems
mean something. they
whales in the bodies
of tiny fish.
This blog was originally titled A Year In Haiku. 2011 was the year of haiku in question which begins here and ran for 365 days. After a short hiatus I picked up the practice again in February 2013.
‘Shorelines’ came from a haiku I wrote in early 2017 and reflects where I live, surrounded as it is by coast on three sides. It also suggests to me the liminal place from where poetry comes. The wonderful header image is by my friend Cristina Omichi-Smith, whose photography illustrates much of my work.
Before 2007, I rarely wrote poetry, but as my meditation practice became more intense, snippets of verse began to appear in my head. It became easiest to incorporate these into the traditional haiku form of 17 syllables in three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables each (although I later discovered that English Language Haiku (ELH) do not have to conform to this). Some longer poems also arose, but I like the way the strict format of haiku means that a subject is distilled into a very small space that works best when capturing a brief moment in time.
I still very much consider myself a beginner in this art form. I suspect it will always be thus. I spent my twenties as a scientist (ecological genetics and plant biodiversity should you need to know) and creative writing feels like a novel garment to wear. ‘Poet’ is an even more ill-fitting label.
The book ‘Seeds from a Birch Tree’ by Clark Strand and association with the Hudson Valley Haiku Kai greatly aided me in developing my writing practice. Recently I took part in an online haiku course with Alan Summers which has been hugely helpful (and enjoyable). Richard Gilbert’s Disjunctive Dragonfly provided large insights into modern haiku writing. There is still much to learn but I feel far more familiar with the form than I did five years ago and am now trying to publish in online journals. I am a member of the British Haiku Society and United Haiku and Tanka Society.
As far as biographical information is concerned, I am 46 years old and live in rural Kent, England. I have a chronic illness and three children (one of these things is more fun than the other!). I practice Sōtō Zen Buddhism with Treeleaf Zendo and took Jukai (lay ordination) in January 2014. Haiku are part of my Zen practice and Zen is part of my haiku practice.
I hope you enjoy the poems and maybe even get inspired to write some yourself, if you don’t already.