three lines at a time

mini chapbook 44 poems by poet laureate vera constantineau

three lines at a time

I began writing haiku well prior to 2009. I loved the impact of haiku wanted badly to become someone who could create these three-line insights. The struggle was real. I read widely in both print and online journals. As I ended each reading, I wondered how the poems I admired so had been written with what seemed to be such ease. I say that because they all made so much sense and seemed so simple. That was just wrong-headed of me.

Haiku poems do make sense, they do seem simple, but they are anything but. So much thought goes into the writing of even one of them that it can take an age to perfect your poem. Even then, even when you feel you’ve finally made something that will speak to others, it’s hard to accept the end of the creative process. The question, “Can this be better?” still hovers over the work.

When I finally built a page or two of poems, I began to send them to journals I admired. Many rejections arrived forthwith, but because I’d been open about being a new poet, many of the editors passed along good advice. More and more pages filled with poems and finally I began to receive acceptances instead of rejections. If you think in any way that means I’m confident in my poetry, you are wrong, I still question my poetry. I struggle to make each poem speak to the reader, speak for me as a writer. I aim to make sense and imply ease with the poems I write because I feel it’s what keeps the interest going for others. I also believe the implied ease I seem to be able to pull off with haiku is not as readily available with my verse poetry.

Verse poetry is hard for me. I’ve published more than a dozen poems in literary journals, so, given the years I’ve spent writing, that’s not many. Even though some poems have been selected by the independent poetry editors of merit, I feel those poems have almost been tortured into their published form. As much of a struggle as haiku is, I feel I’m am able to capture the essence of something I am attempting to share with more ease. The need to pare back in haiku has helped me improve my verse poetry. It’s an exercise I think all poets, maybe even all writers of all genres, should work through. Less, they say, is more.

I am more interested in human haiku (senryu) than nature haiku, although I do write both. I enjoy the tongue in cheek delivery of senryu. I appreciate the often unexpected humour that comes from this form. I like a flash of wit and to be surprised.   

In Early 2020 I was gathering poems for a small chapbook. I enlisted the help of Stanford M. Forrester, poet, editor and publisher of bottle rockets journal. He’d been very accepting of my writing and was/is someone whose opinion I respect. I wanted my little book to be the best it could be, one that people might keep for a long time and perhaps read it over and over. I hoped they would continue to enjoy the work I shared as much as I did in the writing and publishing of it. I’m incredibly proud of my mini chap.

Coincidentally, as the end of the process of creating my chapbook came along, I was named the sixth poet laureate of Greater Sudbury. Hot on the heels of that announcement, COVID19 derailed any plans to be out in the public. Laureates are meant to further the cause of literacy from their position and a laureate is in a great place to aid in the developing love for poetry in their city. These lofty goals were on pause until I discovered zoom and podcasting.

COVID19 continued to play havoc with gatherings but I was able to branch out beyond my podcast, The P. L. Pod, found on Spotify, Anchor and on the Greater Sudbury Public Library website. I think opening a room on Facebook where people with an interest in haiku can gather is a possible plan. We’ll see… We’ll see.

If you are interested in owning a copy of my mini chapbook three lines at a time contact me here  I have a few left.