Saturday, May 18, 2013

Terri L. French

Terri L. French
Today I'd like to share this interview with a dear friend of mine, Terri L. French. We met back in 2008 over at Robert Brewer's Poetic Asides and together with 11 others from all over the world, formed a private group we coined the Baker's Dozen. It's how most of us started through brainstorming of ideas, daily writing, sharing of poems, and critiquing with one another.

Terri is the SE Coordinator of the Haiku Society of America and new editor of the senryu journal Prune Juice.

Recently, I had some questions about haiku, which is much more difficult to write than one might think, and she graciously offered me some pointers. I asked if I could share them with my readers and she said, "Of course!"

full moon--
most of my days spent
only half there
-Terri L. French

*How long have you been writing haiku and what drew you to that particular form?

I guess I have been writing haiku seriously for about 7 years. I don't really remember when I was introduced to the form, probably in school. I googled "haiku" and found out more about the form, discovering it did not have to be in the traditionally taught 5-7-5 syllable form. I emailed back and forth with Michael Dylan Welch, former President of the Haiku Society of America and a fine haiku poet. He critiqued some of my "haiku" (they weren't very good!) and gave me some links and book suggestions.

*What is the biggest misconception about haiku?

The biggest misconception is that haiku must be written as a 5-7-5 poem. Japanese "syllables" are actually sounds called "on." The Japanese wrote in 5-7-5 "on." But "on" can be much shorter than our syllable, so a haiku written in 5-7-5 syllables is actually a long haiku. So it is best to say haiku are usually 17 syllables or less and usually written in three lines. I say "usually" because haiku have many guidelines though few of these are carved in stone. It is essential that haiku have a "kigo" or seasonal word and good haiku usually have a "kireji" or cut that divides the haiku (notice the plural of haiku is haiku!) into two parts. But I am getting a little too in-depth here!

bare birch limbs
the burled knuckles

of an old crone's hands

-Terri L. French

*What other forms of poetry do you write?

Besides haiku, I write other Japanese forms - haibun, haiga, tanka, renga, senryu. I particularly enjoy haibun because it combines prose with haiku. I write some prose and creative non-fiction. I'm afraid my attempt at fiction have not been very successful. My degree was in journalism. I think my degree has helped me with the concrete imagery in haiku.

People can always go to the Haiku Society of America website or email Terri at if they would like to find out more.

Now go write some haiku!

– Terri L. French, The Mulling Muse, first published Contemporary Haibun, Volume 12,
and Red Dragonfly


Michelle said...

Wonderful! Love your Haiku Terri.

Brian Miller said...

nice...haiku is an art
much of what passes for haiku
is there is little thought in it...nice interview...

and hope tech goes well...

Terri L. French said...

Thank you so much for the interview, Laurie. I am so proud of all of the accomplishments of the Baker's Dozens! Keep up the good work, girls (and Iain!!)

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Interesting post, Laurie. Love the info from Terri about haiku.

Terri L. French said...

Glad you found it of interest, Sherry. Check out the Haiku Society of America webpage! :-)

Linda H. said...

Yay, Terri. Nice interview. Or should I say inter-'ku. (yeah, I know, that was a very bad attempt at a pun)

Terri L. French said...

:-) Corny, Linda, but cute!