Bill Waters ~~ Haiku

Haiku + Tanka, Haibun, Rengay, Shahai, & More

NaHaiWriMo 2019: post script

What do dirty diapers, computer crashes, and drool have in common? They were all . . . writing prompts for this year’s NaHaiWriMo?!

Michael Dylan Welch, founder of National Haiku Writing Month, explains:

[T]his month’s writing prompts have been produced through random numbers and letters provided by NaHaiWriMo participants, using the number to choose a page number from a particular book, and the letter to indicate a particular line on that page (for example, the letter L indicates the 12th line on that page). … I’m happy to reveal that the book I used for this inspiration is Lia Romeo and Nick Romeo’s 11,002 Things to Be Miserable About (New York: Abrams, 2009). It’s a parody of the book I used as the source for our prompts in 2018, Barbara Ann Kipfer’s 14,000 Things to Be Happy About (New York: Workman Publishing, 1990).

Just as Kipfer’s book is a wonderful resource for any haiku poet—you can open it at random and find countless subjects (okay, 14,000) to write haiku about—so too is the Miserable book, even if many of the prompts are a bit darker. Quite a few of the items it lists aren’t that miserable, though, such as black cats or Vegemite, although Vegemite might be a matter of opinion. Others, though, I edited a bit, such as reducing the original source text of ‘Elderly people falling on the sidewalk’ (not fun) to just ‘sidewalk,’ and changing ‘Being the only boy in the school play’ to just ‘school play.’ In some cases random numbers produced possible prompts that I just didn’t want to use. Do we really want any haiku about poor vaginal hygiene, Colombian assassins, or Hitler? You might not have cared for dirty diapers, either, but I thought that was worth a try. So, I hope you’ve enjoyed these prompts, or have at least been challenged by them, many of which we’ve never used before. And whether some of them are ‘miserable’ or not, I hope they show that haiku can be written about almost anything. As James W. Hackett once wrote, ‘lifefulness, not beauty, is the real quality of haiku.’

So that’s how “dirty diapers” was selected as a writing prompt!  ;- )

Of the 28 poems I posted — some of them haiku, some of them senryu — one far outpaced all the others in terms of social media likes:

grooming the cat —
enough fur in the brush
to make a mouse

LOL! Three other reader favorites include the following:

using a towel
for a superhero cape . . .
childhood

home from the burial . . .
the kindness
of casseroles

center of town —
raising the sidewalk
a gnarled tree root

And so ends NaHaiWriMo 2019.

Thank you to everyone who followed along on this somewhat strange month-long journey!  :- D


Prompts, posts, and participant submissions: https://www.facebook.com/NaHaiWriMo/

More on NaHaiWriMo and writing haiku: http://www.nahaiwrimo.com

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