As a writer, I need to connect with my readers. That, of course, is after I figure who “my” readers are. So when I began to formulate the idea that gave birth to the Haiku For You Project I knew I needed to figure out who my readers would be and how to connect with them.
Lacking the financial resources to undertake a major survey of readers, then surveying those to see who reads poetry, and then formulating one more study to find if any of those surveyed read haiku (let alone if they knew what haiku poetry is – hint: it’s a three line poem of seventeen syllables with the line formatting of 5-7-5 syllables per line,) I came up with a much more cost effective means of finding my readers: I’d take haiku to them.
Thus, the Haiku For You Project was created.
First vetted to my mother over dinner, I devised the following plan:
1) Develop enough nerve to enact the following plan
2) Actually tell someone about it to make myself accountable (thanks Mom!)
3) Acquire the necessary equipment and supplies (manual typewriter and gift cards)
4) Develop even more nerve to sit with my typewriter and write haiku poems on request.
As I mentioned, I explained my plan to my mother, so bullet points one and two were covered. Scouring Craig’s List, I found an Adler manual typewriter for the low price point of $40. Bribing my brother with a dinner outing, he picked up and paid for the typewriter in Portland, OR. On my next visit out to see him and mom, I reimbursed him the $40 and bought him dinner as promised. He asked (again,) just what I planned on doing with the typewriter. Hence, idea vetting scenario number two. Now I was really on the hook to make this project come to life.
My plan became to reality in August 2015 when I did a book signing and haiku writing event in Steamboat Springs, CO. By that time I decided not only would I write free haiku poems on request, I would also create a requester written book by keeping a copy of each poem and putting them into a book, neatly titled The Haiku For You Project, Volume I.
That afternoon in Steamboat Springs was a huge success.
Not so much in numbers of poems written (9), but in my satisfaction of not only creating haiku on short notice and by request, but also in seeing the joy in each person’s face upon receiving and reading their specialized poem. Witnessing their reactions, my heart was warmed and I knew this adventure would be one worth taking. I knew, too, that those who stopped by were glad they had risked suggesting a topic that was meaninful to them.
Two days later I held two more haiku writing sessions at the Steamboat Grand Hotel. Again, I was honored to have strangers come up and ask about my project, suggest a topic (that day it ranged from an automobile oil change, a niece getting married, wizards, a bridal shower and more!) and then receive their poem within three minutes of their suggestion. My writing soul was nourished and I was connecting with my readers, instantly!
An unexpected joy of creating The Haiku For You Project is three-fold:
1) Everyone is stunned to see a working manual typewriter (which creates fun discussions)
2) Many people recall writing haiku in elementary school, which leads to us sharing our fond memories
3) Not everyone knows (or remembers) what haiku is, so I get to teach a new student about the form of poetry.
Since those first writing sessions, I’ve decided to track the locations of where each one of the live request haiku poems calls “home.” In the index of volume one of The Haiku For You Project I will list each poem by number, the suggested topic, and the location of where the poem will be residing. That way there will be geodesic index identifying all the places our poems reside.
I am excited to continue working on The Haiku For You Project and can’t wait to fill up book one with 300 haiku poems. The book is nearly one-third complete and I could use your help. I encourage you to submit a topic via the project’s web page at www.thehaikuforyourproject.com. Upon receiving your request, I’ll write your own personalized haiku poem on an embossed gift card and mail it to you for free. You can even request a surprise poem to be sent to a friend or loved one.
Together we’ll create a book, share a smile, and warm our hearts with only seventeen syllables.