What Haiku Means to Me: by Vanessa Proctor

Haiku brings me joy. It brings me joy when I experience a moment of inspiration and it brings me joy when I am able to translate that moment into poetry. Writing haiku encourages us to be present, to look, really look at the world in which we live to see things with a fresh perspective. When we stop and take time to observe, we experience our surroundings fully with all our senses. We truly live in the moment.

I enjoy trying to capture in words the unique and distinctly Australian character of my local area, noticing the changes in seasons, the plants, birds and animals. I also enjoy thinking about how people interact with each other and with their landscape. Filling my notebook with poems gives me great satisfaction. There is a sense of solitary joy, but joy also comes from reading the work of others, especially when I read a brilliant haiku and it continues to resonate with me in what Wordsworth described as ‘that inward eye’.

There is pleasure in sharing haiku with others, especially with young people. Recently, I ran a haiku workshop for my local Cub Scout group as part of their Literature Badge. It was inspiring to see the Cubs writing haiku with such enthusiasm and with such a fresh approach. None of them had written haiku before, but the quality of their work was outstanding because they were open to expressing themselves through haiku.

Haiku has brought me friendship. In the places I have lived in my adult life – Japan, New Zealand and now Australia – I have made lifelong friends through haiku. The internet and email have brought me many more friends from around the world. I am now connected to a large number of like-minded people as I’m sure many of you reading this are too. I am also extremely fortunate to be a part of the Australian Haiku Society with its many members who share a passion for haiku.

There is a poster at my children’s school which states: Be a fountain, not a drain. There is so much divisiveness and negativity in the world and that needs to be counterbalanced by something positive. I see haiku as the fountain. Haiku is active. It does something. It cuts across cultural and social boundaries and unites us in the universality of human experience. That’s not to say that haiku always reflects positivity. Quite rightly, it explores the full range of what it means to be human. Haiku flows continuously. There is a great well on which to draw. It moves, it speaks to us. It is an unstoppable life-affirming force.

Vanessa Proctor President Australian Haiku Society