This semester at MacEwan University in the Professional Writing program (PROW) will be my last semester in classes. Starting in January, I will be doing my workplace learning placements in the field as the last requirements before I graduate. The prospect of getting to work in my new chosen field as a writer or an editor (or hopefully both) is both exciting and scary; I can’t wait, and I’m terrified. That, however, is the future. Today I will write about the present, in both meanings of the word.
Present as in current time
Because this semester is my last one with classes, and because I need only one more course to get all my credits before doing work placements, I was quite choosy about which course I took. As I mentioned in an earlier post (here: Thanksgiving), I decided to do something for fun: poetry.
And I am having fun, more than I even thought I would. Now, I write more of my own poetry than I ever have before, even in the era when I wrote it some of the time (instead of once every few years like became the norm for me for a long time). Now, I read poems by other people almost every night and find aspects that either resonate with me emotionally or find poetic techniques that interest or inspire me. Now I am putting together a poetry chapbook—a small collection of poetry—that is my final course assignment for my class.
Present as in a gift
I saw this class as an opportunity to reconnect with the part of me that once wrote poetry, the part that is emotional and sensitive, the part that wants to express those aspects of who she is instead of trying so hard to bury them. I also saw the class as a challenge to open myself up a little more as a writer by sharing my poetry with others, which was never something I felt secure about before. Writing always involves opening yourself up, and I need to get better at that so my writing can get better (at least the personal writing). In those senses, my decision to do this class was a gift I gave to myself.
And what a great gift it is.
For me a special part of my poetry learning has been my re-introduction to haiku, an ancient Japanese poetry form. Each poem consists of 3 lines, but the main unit of measure is the syllable. The syllable & line structure in a haiku is 5-7-5.
Beyond the classroom, I started playing with haiku for three reasons. First, trying to find words to say what you want to say but with the correct number of syllables is like a word puzzle, which I love! Second, you can write a haiku in a short amount of time, so you can do it anywhere, any time in a way that is not always possible with longer poems. Finally, the focus of haiku is often to capture a singular image of nature or the world around you. I find writing haiku very helpful for polishing my skills at creating sharp, memorable images (another element important to all forms of writing). Haiku writing also allows me to take time to notice nature, which is one of the things I most enjoy about being back in Canada.
In the few weeks since my class studied haiku, I have written nearly twenty of them, and I have read dozens and dozens in little haiku books (translations of the ancient Japanese masters) that I soak up at night.
To round off this post, here are two haiku that I wrote just now.
Poetry: a gift
I gave to my heart and soul
To free my spirit
Haiku, new passion
A few words on a white page