This post is in response to my question to readers and followers on why they write poetry. I hope you enjoy it and that it gives you insights and inspiration.
And, to those poets who took the time to respond, many thanks.
Susan Lee Kerr
When a haiku moment arrives, that is a heightened or deepened awareness, I need to catch it, a kind of mindfulness-in-action. And I want to convey it, to share that moment. Then the crafting into words, the catching and conveying itself, is an inner finding, deeply renewing, regrounding, calming. I used to write other poetry too, but now it’s haiku only. And prose — have just published The Extraordinary Dr Epstein, the true life of a remarkable 19th century immigrant, told as a novel… he’s my great grandfather, physician, farmhand, ship’s surgeon, founder of South Dakota University. From my long time as a creative writing tutor, I’ve published Creative Writing: the Quick Matrix, Exercises and Ideas for Creative Writing Teachers. I’m starting work on a new novel, and continue on the management committee of the British Haiku Society… please do visit me and BHS on Facebook and websites.
Alison M. Williams
Writing poetry might be seen as airy-fairy but, for me, it’s just the opposite. It serves to ground me. I love the emphasis, in haiku, on the here and now and the physical senses. (Although not just the five we usually think of.) When I write longer poetry, I like to keep that emphasis.
Grazie per l’invito! Scrivo in italiano , perchè non ne so altre di lingue e scrivo poesie perchè mi permette di estrarre da me l’essenza profonda delle cose e quindi me stesso. Attraverso la natura , l’osservazione dei suoi cicli, si comprende il nostro stesso ciclo. Osservare le piccole cose, perchè è l’insieme delle piccole cose, che fanno un uno!
Nato a Genova, sono un poeta in prestito alla classe lavoratrice, ma non perdo mai l’occasione di comporre anche mentalmente in qualsiasi luogo mi trova o qualunque cosa stia facendo.Composizioni che a volte ricordo, più spesso dimentico, a volte trascrivo e spesso cancello.
Grazie tanto, Pasquale.
Pasquale, I will do my own translation for my English-speaking readers.
I respond in Italian because I don’t know other languages. I write poetry because it allows me to extract the profound essence of things, and in doing so, I achieve self-discovery. As for nature and observing its cycles, we come to understand our own life’s cycles. Observing the small things around us, we come to an understanding of the larger picture, the totality of things. I was born in Genoa, and am a poet who draws inspiration from the working class. I never miss the chance to compose poems (even in my head) wherever I find myself or in whatever I find myself doing. Sometimes I write about things from memory, but more often, I forget to write about things that come to me. When I record things, I often do revisions.
(Sari responds to a tweet that I ran.)
I have been writing poetry since childhood. I read my poems at elementary school graduation. It’s part of who I am.
Ruth Padel said:
“Poetry is the art of saying as little as possible.”
So how does haiku, with its incredible brevity compared to all other short and long poetry work, and work for me? It’s a way of understanding that if we look, even a little, we might just see a window that is rarely noticed, or used, in this over busy world. The whole process of observing, and then working out a haiku, makes me absorbed, giving a rebate from the pressures that are both real and imagined. Once the haiku is at a stage where I am happy with it, although not necessarily publication ready, I can lose myself, completely, for a few seconds. Those seconds are like precious metals, worth far more than financial gain, and a kind of giving back to the world like small and regular thank you notes.
each of us born
with a number of breaths–
Pulse—voices from the heart of medicine, (Inaugural Haiku, October 2013)
It’s a way of encapsulating my many viewpoints without reducing them to mere strap lines or jingles, and explode with tension and resonance that larger works achieve. How does this miracle happen? What does it do to and for me, and for readers in general? They are a boon for me, and uplift me, and a way of gauging where and how I have moved in this world, and what else, often invisibly, moves around the world. They are also like the many spices, from warmth to heat to calming:
a teaspoon of spice
crows bottle the wind in caws
and then release it
8th Yamadera Bashō Memorial Museum
English Haiku Contest Selected Haiku Collection, July 2016
Haiku is an incredibly flexible poetry, despite its small number of words, and from writing mere fictive diction, or bringing out an experience that is so vital to me, it tops me up when I need it most. Despite the oft-quoted dictate that haiku have to be in the present tense, they have leaps in time and setting, and all in just a few words. It’s a continuous narrative that goes beyond what is prescribed, not just in a single haiku but every single one we write.
Just a few thoughts.
Poetry for me leaps in the way my mind leaps—in connections and patterns that link me to other human beings. Poetry takes the form of painterly brushstrokes with words. For me, poetry is unbound by strict rules, yet still adheres at least loosely to forms. Poetry reveals the heart, spirit and soul of life in great and small ways. This excites me in the way play and playfulness excited me as a child. Blending my visual art background with my attraction and joy for words is the best of both worlds for me. I like that, and I want to do it again today.
I often discover a name for things I enjoy long after I begin playing with the thing. Poetry was that way for me. I do not remember when I discovered poetry was poetry. I remember how light passed through translucent stones people called agates, how dandelion parachutes float on my breath, and how being far from home did not stop me from knowing where home was and trying to get there. These things are still wrapped up in poetry for me.
I’m a visual artist with a master’s degree in painting and drawing. I’ve created several alternative books—a one of a kind skinny ABC Postal Art Book and other Postal Art format books such as 4X4s, a number of ongoing altered books, and one self-published print-on-demand book of my haiga—This Is Not That ~ They Are Just Connected. I’ve been fortunate to be able to explore much of Europe and some of South and Latin America, Indonesia, Australia and India. I like Hawai’i just fine for now.
This Is Not That ~ They Are Just Connected:
I write poetry because I want to share my experience with others. It is about connecting with another person and sharing my story. It is about having my voice heard. I love it that anyone can write poetry, if there is a desire. For me, poetry is healing, it is a way of showing love to others, and most importantly, it is a way to worship my creator, who created me in His image, giving me the ability to create! Especially the small and humble haiku, that in just a few words can communicate the most beautiful and profound message. Most haiku, even those written about sadness, carry a message of hope. And that is why I love to write. It makes me happy, it is healing, and it carries a message of hope!
I’ve written poems since I was a teen, and in the 1990’s was a spoken word artist.
In 2000, I found comrades in poetry who wrote haiku, and began the path to short poems and haiku.
In the last two years, I’ve focused on haiku as a therapy. In 2014, I suffered a brain trauma, and could not even speak, had lost my vocabulary, and all spelling and grammar.
While at first I pushed all of my poetry folders into a corner, I eventually realized I needed mental exercise that uses my left and right brain equally. While there is still some residual mental damage, for the most part, I am back to being me. Haiku is my salvation.
crescent moon and her silk blouse a zephyr swells
Frogpond, 38:2, page 46
Though I’ve used journal writing and resulting poetry as therapy to recover from early traumas, I write poetry to fly with the birds, to swim with dolphins and to paint the sky every shade of blue. Poetry is a huge part of my life and breath.
Copyright 2016 by all individual poets above.