Mark Meyer was one of the finalists with the following haiku. Here are some questions he answered about his poem and process:
leaky K channels –
the molecular basis
of my heebie-jeebies
For me, like many of us, expression can be therapeutic, cathartic, & revelatory, & this senryu was just as much for me as it was for readers. I've always been interested in how the nervous system works & neuroscience became a prior career. There is a family history of bipolar disorder in my family and, at 74, there's no reason to hide the fact that I also have behavioral issues. Recently, during a particularly stressful and anxious time, the poem just came to me rather spontaneously, reflecting my interests in science & the mind.
It really did come up spontaneously, which sometimes happens. I did some minor pruning & tweaking, but basically left it intact. Afterwards, I returned to it over time, but it seemed basically "right" — pretty honest & not too frivolous, not too somber. I like it when I can inject some humorous element (e.g. "heebie-jeebies") into an otherwise serious topic (physiology, mental distress).
I'm predominantly a visual artist & truthfully, much better at expressing things graphically than verbally . . . I'll always be a a fledgling poet. So, I've done lots of paintings & drawings (& haiga) on the general theme of "self." But I felt this senryu could stand on its own. I considered a haibun format, but I'd had enough of meself by then, so opted for brevity.
Frankly, I'm still flummoxed that this senryu did what it did. I'm really. not even sure why I submitted it to the contest. I do not know if my work blazes any trails — I guess it's honest & interesting; perhaps it's "poetic." I've never been very good at evaluating my own work or writing artists' statements. Stuff happens — success, failure, and all too often, the bane of mediocrity.
Yeah, I like how good poets use words & concepts that make me dig deeper into meanings, as long as their goal isn't to be purposely opaque or pedantic. I constantly learn from other writers — new words, new perspectives, new ideas, expressions. (I can still recall when I had to look up "petrichor" & "kireji" for the first time.) I hope my poem with the terms "K channels" & "heebie-jeebies" enabled the reader to stretch & explore some things they might not have otherwise bumped into before.