Having finished another round of editing my upcoming book, I am sitting here with a cup of coffee, reflecting on my haiku journey. As I mentioned on the About page, I didn’t discover haiku on a trip to Japan or reading Japanese literature, but in a university seminar about Mexican modernismo. It wasn’t until the seminar that I heard of great masters like Basho, Buson, or Issa (my favorite!). This said I heard of them after having fallen in love with the works of José Juan Tablada. More than three decades have passed since. And while many teachings from university dusted in the back chambers of my mind, haiku and senryu pretty much stayed alive. But little did I know how much they would change my life.
Writing My First Haiku
I started writing poetry by the age of thirteen. When I began writing short stories at the age of six, it took a while for the “poetry vibe “to hit me. Back then, I wasn’t much interested in free-verse poetry, even less in Far-Eastern poetry. I used poetry to cope with my often conflicting thoughts and feelings. Being a born empath (or as I prefer to call it, “an avid energy reader “) without knowing that this “thing “existed, to begin with, I needed to write down what I felt I couldn’t talk about. Many poets start this way. I made no difference. However, when I got older, I resorted to screenwriting (Yes, really! And yes, I spent half of my youth in cinemas!) Writing poetry again didn’t occur to me until I was in the seminar mentioned above. So, I started writing again, and with this, my haiku journey began. In the 90s, haiku weren’t as known as they are now. The community was small, especially in Germany, where I grew up.
Trying to write this poetic form myself, I fell in love again. I liked that it was free-verse, and I loved even more that it was so short while saying so much. However, capturing the essence of what I wanted to express took a while. I was too focused on getting the 5-7-5 structure right.
A short while later, and after reading more into the topic, I discovered that I wished to express more about capturing human nature rather than “pure botanical observations.”. This way, I got acquainted with senryu. Among my two loves – haiku and senryu – I chose senryu as my “first husband.” I also remember that I had my first heated argument about Western Europeans writing haiku and senryu with a half-Japanese poet. Long before, the term “cultural appropriation “was en vogue.
Times passed, and I started working in a business consulting firm. Now and then, I wrote haiku and published them on a large internet forum. It wasn’t until visiting the Frankfurt Book Fair that I reached out to publishing houses to see if some of them would be interested in having some of my works published in anthologies. I landed a publication here and there and was very happy to make some progress in my little haiku journey.
My mom was even happier. She started bragging to the neighbors. 🙂 Also, I contributed haiku to a children’s book. Something I very much enjoyed. I used my first and last name as my author name. Later I decided to go with my first name only. The reason couldn’t be more personal.
Awakening One Saturday Evening
After some publications, my haiku journey stopped. I lost interest in writing them and instead focused on my career. This part is boring; fast forward to a Saturday evening in August 2013. Literally, over an episode of NCIS, I experienced a spiritual awakening. A very odd situation considering that I considered myself an atheist making fun of people believing in angels and spending weeks and months in ashrams. Well, the joke’s on me! 🙂
The weeks, months, and years after the initial awakening were filled with much change, transformation, anger, and frustrations about my life falling apart. It was only then that I resorted to writing poetry again in English. Suddenly, it felt easier to express myself in a foreign language.
Not having written much poetry the years before, I looked at my old poems and couldn’t be more surprised. In several poems, I anticipated exactly what was happening that Saturday evening and beyond! It was as if I had a look into my future! Today I know that writing poetry is one way to access our eternal wisdom.
Discovering A New Level In Haiku
Also, I had a look at my haiku again. Many I still liked, and others I suddenly disliked. I quickly figured out why. Many of my haiku – and senryu – were mere observations without depth. Meanwhile, I discovered that life is very layered.
For the first time, I read into the lives of the great Japanese masters. Many saw themselves faced with severe life changes when writing haiku. Just like I was. They, too, had started to witness the different layers and had seen through many illusions we live our lives. Suddenly, I felt the urge to write haiku again. This time for fun, but as a way to capture the essence of what I was feeling and observing. It then developed into accessing what I knew to be true. My Truth! Since then, there has been a noticeable spiritual layer in my works. No matter if haiku or senryu.
A while later, and with more understanding of energy and consciousness, I started to weave in this knowledge, too. It’s also what you will find in my book.
The Haiku Journey Continues
Again, since then, a couple of years have passed. Though I was writing, I wasn’t ready to share publicly. My experiences still felt “raw,” and I felt very vulnerable. It wasn’t until March 22 that I decided that this vulnerability was my superpower and that the world needed to see more of it. (Please know it’s totally fine to be vulnerable!)
So, I started to publish on Twitter and Instagram, write more, sift, sort, arrange and rearrange until a book was ready. Now I am pondering what’s next. I want to bring more haiku to the world. I want to get you on your haiku journey to connect with your wisdom! So, I am playing with many ideas. Also, different technologies. Who said that haiku could only go in a book? There is much more possible. So, I am reading and playing with ideas now. And I am open to collaborations if you have an idea.
Meanwhile, another book is growing in the back of my consciousness. And who knows what’s next? To find out more, I will end this little haiku journey today. Thank you for traveling with me.
Love & Wisdom – Always!
Nicole Erika is a self-realized writer and coach who reminds you of the Ease Of Creation and the Joy of Self-Expression.