Haiku Helps Survivors

Adobe Photoshop PDFAre you a survivor? A survivor of illness? Caregiving? Shakeups in your career?  Crime? Abuse? Divorce? A family death? A natural disaster? Addiction?

We are all survivors of some sort in life. We have survived “the slings and arrows” of life or problems we’ve created for ourselves. No one can believe that life is always beautiful. Religions and philosophies don’t tell us it is always beautiful, either. But, at least, we can find beautiful moments in our ever-changing lives, either often, if we are lucky, or at least every once in a while.

Haiku helps us recognize and be grateful for those beautiful moments. What a kinder world it would be if everyone read and wrote haiku and practiced gratitude and respect for everything around us, as haiku leads us to do.

As I have said before in my posts, haiku is healing and therapeutic. I am  reminded of this every time I am asked to speak about haiku and give a workshop at medical centers. I often give haiku workshops at “Cancer Survivors’ Day.” There, participants are attracted to haiku because it allows them to express their innermost feelings that are sometimes hard to verbalize to even relatives and close friends. We often feel bad about telling people close to us about our fears or negative thoughts, because we don’t want to unload on them. Haiku is a way to release those thoughts.

I discovered haiku by accident in doing research at the library on marketing my other forms of poems. I ran across a reference to a haiku journal and sent away for a sample copy.

I was lucky to have discovered haiku when I did, because I was grappling with my mother’s cancer at the time, as her sole caregiver. My days were lonely and frightening. After reading haiku, I was immediately hooked on it,  and I resolved to learn how to write it. Late at night, reading and writing haiku gave me comfort and peaceful moments when I felt life was out of control. Creativity often comes to us when we are going through difficult times.

The brevity of haiku allows one to enjoy bits and pieces of relief whenever one has a few moments to spare. A luxury, especially to a caregiver. Haiku has stuck with me for more than twenty years. It becomes a way of life, and you begin to think in haiku.

Haiku gives hope if you allow yourself to be open to it. Below are two of my published haiku that gave me hope when I wrote them:

after his funeral . . .

the dogwood he planted

blossoms again


after the earthquake

wisteria flourishes

along the cracked wall


Haiku can be written about anything, so long as it is written in the present tense to capture the moment. And, it  can be written in free form, without counting syllables in each line. There are about 17 or 18 syllables maximum in a haiku, though I have written haiku with as few as six syllables in one to four lines.

There is always something to be grateful for, no matter how bad things are. Haiku helps people focus on gratitude and hope. It is written in dozens of languages worldwide, and it’s my hope that in the next decades it will reach all countries and thrive in them. That’s why I wrote my book, Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All. It’s a comprehensive guide to helping others learn, appreciate, write, and even teach haiku and senryu, the latter, haiku about human nature. If you give it a try, you’ll experience its peace.

Copyright 2015 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. In 2018, I was honored by the Governor of Illinois 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 seven books including: 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; Your Original Personal Ad; and my latest, Ripples of Air: Poems of Healing. 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 by Charlotte Digregorio." 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 two Pushcart Prizes in poetry. I have won fifty-nine poetry awards, writing fourteen 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.
This entry was posted in abuse, addiction, Cancer Survivors, caregivers, creative writers, creative writing, Creativity, death, divorce, Gratitude, Haiku, Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All, Haiku Book, illness, Japanese-style poems, job loss, natural disaster, Peace, Poetry, Respect, Short Poems, Survivors, therapy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Haiku Helps Survivors

  1. madhuri says:

    Thank you for this. Having survived cancer twice, and have gone through my mother’s cancer, I am rediscovering haiku after few years of neglect. Yes, haiku and poetry in general gives a sense of peace. All the best.

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