Peg Cherrin-Myers was one of the finalists with the following haiku. Here are some questions she answered about her poem and process:
30th of June
my unidentified flag
furls into itself
My haiku was inspired by a prose poem I wrote. It's about the chaos and fear of questioning orientation.
To be honest, I'm new at haiku and really wish I had an intellectual answer about my process. My approach is feeling and knowing when it feels right and when it doesn't. If I had to put words to my process, it would be that I have lines/fragments that come from my head, and I have lines/fragments that come from my heart. When the perfect line from my head intersects with the perfect line from my heart is where my haikus live.
I finished an 'Intro to Haiku' class taught by Alan Summers at the end of June. This haiku was the first poem I wrote after his course. I wrote it the only way I knew how. I never considered other forms, formats, or iterations because I honestly didn't know how to write anything but a tercet haiku. After reading the finalist's poems, I'm so excited to experiment with alternative ways of writing ku :)
When I read Julie's comment about my poem bringing to light a segment of society that hasn't yet been represented in haiku, it made me smile with hope in tow that more poets will write about voiceless societies in haiku. That more journals will give a home to these words/experiences that shouldn't be 'trailblazing.' But maybe, because of Trailblazer, our voices will begin to travel, our voices will start to echo, our voices will land inside the pages of journals where they once weren't. And maybe, even inside the hearts of an editor or two.
When my daughter was young, I would get these little sharp pains at my C-section scar whenever she would fall or get hurt. She's in college now, and those sensations have ceased. Or at least I thought they had. Sometimes when I watch a movie for the third time like it's the first, sometimes when I hear songs that summon buried tears, sometimes when I read poetry that fills me as the full moon does, sometimes when I close my eyes and feel my way through a forest, do I get those same little sharp pains. That's where I love to write haiku from.
Aidan Castle was one of the finalists with the following concrete haiku. Here are some questions he answered about his poem and process:
the after ambulance
I had been drafting and scrapping and re-writing a poem about an ambulance on and off for many months, haunted by the image of the ambulance carrying my grandfather to the hospital in the wee hours. That experience was the jumping-off point, but I wanted to write a poem speaking to the process of gender reassignment. When I went through that process, it felt like there was a lot of fanfare and emphasis on the moment of change (ex. the moment the clerk of the court stamped my legal change documents). The journey that happened afterwards was much more subtle, and much more significant.
I considered many different lineations on the spectrum from traditional to alt, fixing on this one because I feel it echoes the appearance of a patient’s vitals when hooked up to a heart monitor. I intended for the poem to speak to “naming the dead” more broadly, with “name” functioning as both a noun and a verb. I have a strong preference for poems with multiple meanings because each reader comes to the poem with the background of their unique experience, different from mine, and so I like to afford the greatest possible potential for meaning. One of my favorite parts of writing is hearing a reader describe a meaning they took from my work that I never thought of.
I feel this poem contributes to the genre by treating the phrase “dead name,” and by using alt lineation. I think there is a lot more room for poems dealing with non-binary and queer experiences in haiku journals. I also think that journals would benefit from publishing more ku that employ alt lineation, as it is a powerful tool that serves to broaden and underscore the moment. I am very honored to have had my poem selected, but the real win for me will be the day when a poem like mine is no longer considered trailblazing because so many more ku treating queer experience and using alt lineation have been published.
It is inherent to my process that different experiences (ex. grandfather in ambulance, legal name change) - often separated by years - end up in the same poem. I deal with memory loss from a TBI, so my sense of time is altered. I try to use this to my advantage, joining an old experience with a newer one into a single moment. It is my intent for this act of combination to create continuity, if unexpected, and, thus, create new memory. This is my way of making lemonade out of lemons, and giving voice to the neurodivergence that I experience. Haiku, in its juxtapositions, lends itself to my natural process, and that is part of why I love it so much.