We are Alison and Kelly and we go way back.
Not all the way back to childhood, but back to our mid-twenties, which we both agree feels like a lifetime ago. A check of the calendar, though, reveals only ten years have passed since we met one another. Still, it seems as if our friendship started in another world.
That’s because it did. We met in Buenos Aires, a grand old city on the opposite side of the globe, where each of us had a job teaching English. As luck would have it, we worked at the same language school and ours was, very nearly, friendship at introduction.
Our lives diverged once we returned to the States, yet we vowed to keep in touch. We did a pretty good job of it, too, traveling to spend long weekends together and attending each other’s weddings. Eventually, though, our schedules turned hectic and our phone calls slowed.
But no more! We are reinvesting in our friendship and practicing art to boot. This blog, Haiku by Two, is our creation.
My life is packed. I am the mother of a busy toddler, a wife, a freelance curriculum developer, a cook, a stroller repair woman, a viewer of the Food Network and a chocolate connoisseur. And I used to be an artist.
After graduating with a degree in the fine arts, I moved to New York City to paint and harass galleries. It was exciting, but I lacked focus. I was intimidated by the rejections, the trends and the depth of my ambitions. And gradually, I gave up my artistic dreams and moved on to a new field—education.
For the past ten years, I’ve taught at-risk teenagers and adult immigrants; I’ve loved the work, too. In teaching, I’ve found a sense of fulfillment, and I have no regrets about choosing it as a career … except one. The artist in me seems to have disappeared. I hope this haiku project will help me rediscover her.
Now, let me be clear. I don’t think my little poems will bring me fortune and fame. I don’t expect haiku to be my path to a Pulitzer. Oh, but how I have come to love haiku!
When I write a haiku, my mind starts to focus—not on galleries, trends or fame—but on a feeling or image I want to express. Writing haiku has given me moments of clarity, moments when—even after an exhaustive day—I can tell my husband to turn off the Food Network. I am writing haiku.
I’m scattered. My work as a freelance writer keeps my brain spinning. I juggle several stories at once, heeding various due dates, all the while networking to secure future assignments. On top of that, I have dirty dishes and piles of laundry just like everyone else. I also have two dogs and a husband.
Sometimes I wish I could reach out, grab the clock and hold it still for a moment so that I could catch up and breathe. But that’s not going to happen. Instead, I’ve discovered that writing haiku can have a similar effect.
When I sit down to write a haiku, my mind stops flitting and settles on one idea. Next comes the word play, and it’s this piece of a haiku that I love best, this trying on of syllables until I find the perfect ones that fit the required count and convey my idea.
Sometimes it takes five minutes, sometimes twenty, sometimes more. In those moments, though, I’m focused on a single idea, on the one thing I want to tell, and everything else falls away.
I’m not a haiku master by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve never studied its ancient roots, nor have I been to Japan. I do know that haikus are supposed to be about nature, but the ones I write often aren’t. The purists, perhaps, would view my poems askance, but I’m not doing this for the critics: I am following my muse.