Author Showcase: Daniel Ausema

December 27, 2011

tm: Please describe your writing process.  How do you create twitter haiku?

D: I’m a stay-at-home dad, so my writing process for anything involves simply finding time to sit down and type…or even to jot things down on the notecards I always carry with me. Could be naptime or a time when the children are happily playing together or after bedtime…in among all the housework and such. A quick few words in between loads of laundry or while the rice is cooking. I’ve developed the habit of being able to write without needing any specific rituals or time blocks so that I can write even when I only have a couple of minutes.

tm: What were some of your inspirations for these three haiku?

D: To be honest…I sat down thinking, “I want to write some twitter haiku.” In fact, it was specifically speculative fiction-influenced twitter haiku that I wanted to write. That makes it sound somehow less romantic than we like to think creative writing should be. We have this image that true art should come from a cut vein, something demanding to be expressed. Great art definitely can, and there are times when my writing more closely resembles that image. But I’m a firm believer in the kinds of experiments of Italo Calvino and the Oulipo Group, where specific self-imposed rules and structure can be one way to access that source of art as well. Formed poetry of any kind certainly draws from that same sense of structure-leading-to-art.

So with that long-winded intro, for these haiku (and a number of others I wrote at the same time), I thought about a variety of quintessential speculative images and then riffed off those for how those images might fit a haiku sort of form.

tm: Are there any aspects of writing haiku that you find challenging?  How do you overcome these challenges?

D:…no? That sounds arrogant, and I don’t mean to be flippant. Haiku (twitter-based or otherwise) are certainly a unique form of writing, yet the challenges that I have with them are the same as the challenges I face with any writing, whether it’s a novel rushed through in the month of November, a short story set in space, or a free-form poem about immigration: finding the time and inclination to write it. So when I want to write some twitter haiku, I might read some Basho, read some of the poets and zines I follow on twitter, take a peek at the daily haiku app I recently downloaded…and then play around with words and images to see what I can fit together.

tm: What advice would you give to other writers on twitter haiku?

Read the haiku masters to understand how they use the form. And let yourself play, let the words play off each other, off assumptions, off rhythms and sounds…but the key to haiku is the surprising image, the way the poem presents the image and then gives you that nudge to look in deeper, to sense the emotion that the image evokes for the poet.


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