Erin Hollowell: Haiku You

Last year I had a big poetry manuscript project that I was
working feverishly on. This year, I knew that I would finish that project in
the first quarter, and I worried that I might just stop writing. This is a
common fear of writers, that the last thing we’ve written will be the LAST
thing we’ll write. I wanted to have a continuous practice that was small. So
small that I would be able to do it every day. So small that I couldn’t ever
say I don’t have time to do that.
So starting on January 1st, I began to write a
haiku each evening before I went to bed. I thought it might last a month. Each
evening I would sit down, write a haiku about something I’d seen during the
day, and then post the haiku on Facebook and Twitter. Seventeen syllables, one
image, in and out.
I finished the month and kept going. About two months into
it, folks began to comment. Sometimes it was an appreciative nod. Sometimes it
was to chime in with their experience of whatever image was featured in the
haiku. Sometimes it was to share their own haiku. Two months turned into three,
and now into eight. Every evening, a haiku.
This practice takes so little time, but it changes the way
that I move through the world. I pay closer attention. I start to notice what I see during the day that seems to resonate as bigger than just a pretty
“image.” I am acutely aware of how time influences both the physical
environment around us through the seasons and the weather and the patterns of
sunlight, and how I feel about those things. There is a sadness at the heart of
most haiku, acknowledgement that what is beautiful will also pass, that all
things are impermanent.
Haiku is also a celebration of the simple. Its language is
often sparse, imagery stripped down to the essential. By practicing each night,
I remind myself to get out of my own way. To not try so hard, to not overthink.
If I can’t write a haiku in under five minutes, I know that I’m forcing it,
that I’m not bowing to the fact that in their dailiness, each is expendable.
Some good, some mediocre, some downright bad.
To make our writing an essential part of our life, this is one
measure of success. 
I leave you with a few spare haiku. May they spark your own writing practice.
two coyotes watch
the thumbprint moon disappear
frost clings to their feet
we are all walking
towards a place we don’t know
looking at the stars
memory finds me
as I put on your black gloves
my hands shaped like yours
a sudden snowstorm
catches earthworms unaware
bleak calligraphy
those three piercing notes
like a child left all alone
golden-crowned sparrow
coyotes singing
ancient voices entangle
muscle, bone, and sky
squadrons of swallows
swooping above dusk-hushed roads
life-spark acrobats
leaf tips kindling
those first bright sparks of autumn
breath cold in my throat

3 thoughts on “Erin Hollowell: Haiku You”

  1. write my essay for me

    Totally love this one:

    we are all walking
    towards a place we don’t know
    looking at the stars

    This sounds like a great exercise to learn to notice the world around you. Some psychologists advise to write down 3 good things that happened to you every day, it's supposed to make you a happier person, well, why not do it in a form of a haiku? Simply brilliant!

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