I find that haiku and kids are a perfect match—both embrace the moment and find joy in the little things _______________Betsy Snyder.
1. Please share a haiku you have written.
2. Why did you pick this one?
This haiku is from my children’s book I Haiku You. I had so much fun capturing this favorite Fall moment of cozy friends around a campfire, sandwiched together like s’mores.
3. How many have you written? How often do you write? What inspires you?
I’ve definitely lost count of how many haiku I’ve written! Six haiku are published in my book Haiku Baby, which is meant to be a first introduction to poetry for babies and toddlers. My picture book I Haiku You is a collection of 20 haiku about all the big and little loves in life, from a child’s point of view. For National Poetry Month in April, I invited readers to join me in tweeting a haiku a day—I found it to be a wonderful, on-a-whim exercise that really improved my writing skills and connected me with other haiku lovers.
I write most when I’m thinking up ideas for new books and when I can find pockets of down time. Since I’m an illustrator, I usually get visual ideas first and then write to the pictures in my head or sketchbook. I am inspired by nature, up-close moments and relationships. I love drawing parallels and finding similarities between two seemingly unrelated or opposite things.
4. Why do you write haiku? How did you get started?
Writing haiku reminds me to appreciate simple, everyday moments in life. I enjoy the puzzle of playing with syllables, sounds, and words until everything fits just right. Like a diary or photo album, my haiku are a collection of memories—snapshots of moments lived that are special to look back on.
My first haiku were written in grade school as part of learning about poetry, but I didn’t revisit poetry until I had the idea for Haiku Baby. As an illustrator, I developed an appreciation for Japanese woodblock prints—the technique, the color palettes, the nature-inspired subjects—which peaked a new interest in haiku as well. I saw an opportunity to make the art of haiku, along with the simple wonders of nature, more friendly and accessible to the youngest age group. I find that haiku and kids are a perfect match—both embrace the moment and find joy in the little things.
5. Do you work with other forms related to haiku, like renga, senryu, haiga, tanka, etc.?
No, I’ve been pretty loyal to haiku, unless you consider my accompanying book illustrations a form of haiga.
6. What advice would you give to aspiring haiku writers?
I would recommend studying haiku and experimenting with different devices, like metaphor, simile, contrast, riddles and puns—these techniques can help weave in interesting relationships. I’ve found this resource very helpful: HAIKU TECHNIQUES by Jane Reichhold.
Be observant and look for inspiration in your everyday moments. If you’re feeling stuck, take a drive or a walk in nature—it tends to get the ideas flowing. When you are ready to write, be sure to have a thesaurus and dictionary handy—writing haiku is a great way to expand your everyday vocabulary.
7. Where can people read your haiku?
In my books! You can find them here: I Haiku You, Haiku Baby. All my poetry month haiku can be read on my Twitter page: @betsysnydeart (scroll down to April). You can also follow my work on my Facebook page, and at my website.