Haiku Reveal Our Inner Selves

What do your haiku reveal about you?

I asked this question of some longtime haikuists and got some very interesting answers, coupled with representative samples of their haiku.
I hope these comments, along with my previous posts on haiku, spur you to write some great poems.

Like these poets, you may want to join the Haiku Society of America to network with others and excel in the art. For more information about HSA, log onto its web site,

Incidentally, the word “haiku” is both singular and plural. And, the accent is on the first syllable: “HIGH-ku.” That’s the way the Japanese pronounce it. Haiku orginated in Japan in the 1600s.

Sari Grandstaff:

My haiku reveal my focus on family. I often am alluding to family relationships in my haiku.

Here is one from the Dec. 2005 “Solares Hill” (Key West, FL) haiku column which used to appear monthly:

early winter,
early nights, wishing I could
call my late father

And this one from the Summer 2006 issue of “The Nor-Easter”:

on the way home
driving by the “for sale” sign
on my parents’ lawn

From the Nov. 2006 issue of “Moonset”:

slo-o-o-w creak
of the front door
past curfew

–Sari Grandstaff

Merrill Ann Gonzales:

I’ve been thinking about this very topic as I begin to gather haiku for the new year. I’ve found that often the selection of haiku for publication reveals as much about the editor as it does about the poet. I’ve come to realize, as editors change from publication to publication, that it behooves me to watch what I send to whom, in order to preserve the direction of my own path. It would be difficult for me to select haiku that have been published, except perhaps:

this fractured life
of scrambled eggs

–Frogpond 2011 Vol. 34, No.3

This might offer a good example of what I mean. It had been included with a selection of haiku that I had considered sensitive responses to nature. I had inserted this haiku as a rather light moment. While I was thankful for the publication, it made me pause because it’s not the direction that motivates my writing, for the most part. But I do like to, once in a while, just laugh at the way things turn out.

Perhaps this editor was trying to tell me something? This is a sudden insight into the futility of some things, yet in a strange way they nourish us. Is it the philosophy of the path I want to be cast in?
I’m always surprised what editors select.. but thinking about what they do select, surely gives me insight into many areas. It is worth paying attention to.

–Merrill Ann Gonzales

Terri French:

reflecting pool
trying to see past
what she’s not

–frogpond 34.3 – 2011

Even when writing about the moment – the way it looks, smells, feels, sounds – my haiku sometimes transcend the moment. What does what I am experiencing right now, mean to me, and how might it possibly change me and how I experience future moments? I hope with each haiku that I write, whether it becomes published or not, I experience growth and a closer relationship to the world in which I live.

–Terri French

Curtis Dunlap:

I think many of my haiku and free verse reveal a regional sense of time and place. I live in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina. I’ve been fortunate to take many of my experiences (and the experiences of others) and record them as poems or stories.

tobacco market
the auctioneer pauses
to catch his breath

–Curtis Dunlap
Chasing the Sun: selected haiku,
Haiku North America 2007

Marsh Muirhead:

About half of my haiku have universal appeal, and I see myself, in the traditional Japanese sense, as part of the eternal, the natural world. The others, the ones that reveal, are confessional:

to Christian singles night
I change my sheets

–bottle rockets, 2008

Although this is funny, it is also dead serious, and is another kind of sharing.

–Marsh Muirhead

Charlotte Digregorio:

I have a wry sense of humor that often comes out in my haiku/senryu. (The latter is satirical haiku.)

after his death . . .
they fill our table
with cold cuts

–Charlotte Digregorio
Modern Haiku, Vol. XXX11, No.2, Summer, 2001

Christina Nguyen:

Haiku can highlight a memory from a real experience. For example, I remember visiting Yellowstone National Park two years after devastating fires.

after the wildfire
a haze of green
across the prairie

–Christina Nguyen
Notes from the Gean, Vol. 3 Issue 3

Donna Bauerly:

I have always been an outdoors person, spending most of my childhood waking hours near the Mississippi River or roaming the countless hills surrounding my home. Almost all of my haiku are drawn from nature, inner and outer, as you can see in the triptych below, written from my backyard porch. It is published in the Haiku Registry.

firefly and small plane

the wild canary
sings outside
my cage

porch swing
the pendulum

–Donna Bauerly

John Dunphy:

My haiku reveal that, despite having suffered a great deal, I can still appreciate the beauty of the universe and haven’t lost my sense of humor.

prison exercise yard
five lifers cluster around
a wild crocus

–John J. Dunphy

Happy Holidays to everyone! Most of all, peace.

Charlotte Digregorio

Copyright 2011 by Charlotte Digregorio.

About Charlotte Digregorio

I publish books. I have marketed and/or published 55 titles. These books are sold in 46 countries to bookstores, libraries, universities, professional organizations, government agencies, and book clubs. I recently received an Official Commendation from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner for my thirty-eight years of accomplishments in the literary arts, and my work to promote and advance the field by educating adults and students alike. I am the author of five non-fiction books: Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All; Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes; You Can Be A Columnist; Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features; and Your Original Personal Ad. The first four books have been adopted as supplemental texts at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan, and Catalonia. They are sold in 43 countries, and are displayed in major metropolitan cultural centers. These books have been reviewed, recommended, and praised by hundreds of critics, librarians, and professors worldwide. I am also the author of a poetry collection: "Shadows of Seasons: Selected Haiku and Senryu." Two of my books have been Featured Selections of Writer's Digest Book Club. I am regularly interviewed by major print, radio, and television organizations throughout the U.S. I regularly sign books at libraries, chain bookstores, and university bookstores, and do poetry readings at art centers, cafes, tea houses, and galleries. I was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry. I have won forty-seven poetry awards, writing twelve poetic forms. My poetry has been translated into eight languages. I do illustrated solo poetry exhibits 365 days a year in libraries, galleries, corporate buildings, hospitals, convention centers, and other venues. My individual poems have been displayed at supermarkets, apparel and wine shops, banks, botanic gardens, restaurants, and on public transit. I have been nominated and listed in "The International Authors and Writers Who's Who" in Cambridge, England and in the "Who's Who In Writers, Editors & Poets U.S./Canada." I hosted my own radio program, "Poetry Beat," on public broadcasting. My poetry has been featured on several library web sites including those of Shreve Memorial Library in Louisiana and Cornell University's Mann Library. My background includes positions as a feature editor and columnist at daily newspapers and as a magazine editor. I have been a public relations director for a non-profit organization. I am self-employed as a public relations/marketing consultant, having served a total of 118 clients in 23 states for the past several decades . In other professional areas, I have been on university faculties, teaching French, Italian, and Writing. I regularly give lectures and workshops on publishing, journalism, publicity, poetry, and creativity to business and professional groups, and at writer's conferences, universities, literary festivals, non-profit organizations, and libraries. I have been a writer-in-residence at universities. There have been about 400 articles written about me in the media. I have served on the Boards of writers and publishers organizations. My positions have included Board Secretary of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. I served for five years as Midwest Regional Coordinator of The Haiku Society of America, and for two years as its Second Vice President.
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8 Responses to Haiku Reveal Our Inner Selves

  1. Miami warm,
    not like Christmas
    for New Yorkers.

  2. Very interesting post to read and reread. Some new poets for me.

    I found Merrill’s thoughts about editors interesting–that selections of poems reveal as much about editors as about the poets, and that we have to be careful to keep our own voice and path. And at the same time, learn from feedback.

    One of the things I love about blogging is the many ways WordPress (where I blog too) provides objective feedback from a wide variety of people. I’m in my third year now, and “the stats” and comments give me a good sense of what my gifts are–and are not. I have gained confidence.

    I’ve come to realize too that editing is an art form in and of itself.

    Thanks, Charlotte, and best wishes to all, Ellen

  3. Jim Sullivan says:

    Charlotte, I enjoyed the post immensely. Well done and definitely a topic of interest. I found myself recently thinking why I am always writing about that.


  4. Yousei Hime says:

    I too enjoyed this. It gave me much to think about and some of it echoes other writing practices I’ve read about recently. A sincere goal of my heart is to write more and write better this year ever working toward publishing and pleasing my inner reader. May we all grow, mature and flourish in the coming year.

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