Unless stated otherwise, all poetry on Swimming in Lines of Haiku is Copyright Kirsten Cliff and may not be reprinted in any form without written permission from the author. kirsten(DOT)cliff(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Haiku Year

This article was first published as a Write Place column in the Bay of Plenty Times, Saturday, October 27, 2007.

I hunger for haiku and began 2007 strolling the Haiku Pathway in Katikati on New Year’s Day. Then mid-year, in celebration of my thirtieth birthday I set myself this challenge: to write a haiku each day for the next year. I knew that at the very least, I would produce a unique documentation of my 31st year.

The idea originally came from the book, The Haiku Year (Soft Skull Press, 2004), which is the product of seven friends who made a pact to write haiku every day for a year as a way to keep in touch with each other. I found this very interesting and believed my challenge would be a way for me to stay in touch with myself.

I draw immense pleasure from reading and writing haiku. There is so much life contained in those three lines: I can see it, feel it, taste it, smell it. For me writing is ultimately about my connection with my spirit. Haiku is one way I can create and benefit from this connection. It’s my simple form of instant gratification.

I’m not a drinker but I imagine it’s like a fine wine: taking in the complete experience a glass of grapes has to offer. The clarity and smell, the texture and taste, the way it feels in the back of your throat. The utter pleasure of consuming it to it’s fullest potential. Yes, this for me is haiku.

Three months on, the rewards of writing a haiku a day and sometimes more, have been many. I have a journal with me always, received on my thirtieth birthday, so when inspiration hits I can record the sensations immediately.

However, I often take time in the afternoon or before bed to reflect over the events of my day. I’ve found it a great way to offload negative stuff that’s occurred, much like journalling.

Thinking back over every detail allows me to find the magic moments of haiku in a day that would have otherwise passed me by. It’s taught me to be more aware of the small triumphs and beauties in my life. It’s also good practice for that skill writers should have in their tool belt: writing on demand. It’s definitely an exercise in discipline!

I now have heaps of haiku, some that need further work, to enter in competitions and submit to publications. It feels good to know that I am writing, creating, every day in a small yet powerful way. And at the end will indeed have an insightful account of an important year in my life.

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