Writing a haiku every day for twenty years — in Esperanto

EOStephen D. Brewer didn’t start out to be an internationally known Esperanto-language haiku poet. He didn’t even know much about haiku at first– just what most of us learn about haiku in school. But now he is the author of three books of Esperanto haiku. (What is Esperanto? http://esperanto.org/us/USEJ/world/index.html)

What started him out was that he heard of Esperanto, an invented international language, and thought the concept was cool. He learned it, but then got too busy to practice it much. So, haiku. A haiku a day— not serious haiku at first, but an effort. Which led to learning more about haiku, and publication, and authorship. Persistence paid off.

I don’t write an Esperanto haiku every day. In fact, I’ve only ever written one haiku in Esperanto, plus two free-verse poems— with English translations, of course. But I am trying to write a poem every day— if not haiku, then senryu, sijo or free verse. This morning I wrote my first tanka— another Japanese form, like haiku.

This is how becoming a writer happens. You write every day— even if it’s something you don’t think anyone wants to read. Even if you are an Aspie or autistic and you don’t think you can ever communicate anything with others very effectively. But you keep it up, year after year, building your skill, and then the day comes when you can look back on a record of achievement.

Want to learn to write haiku in Esperanto? Go to the Lernu! web site for free Esperanto lessons. http://en.lernu.net/ When you have studied for three months or so, buy Wells’ Esperanto dictionary and The Haiku Handbook by William J. Higginson, and get started. If you want to share some of your best Esperanto haiku, you can come back to this blog and post it as part of a comment on a poetry-related post. Or you can post it on Twitter using hashtags #Esperanto and #hajko so Esperanto speakers can find it.

Atomic Energy is Your Friend

atomic-bombi am a shiny metal
atomic bomb
dropping so gracefully
thru your sky

do you hear my screaming silver streak?
do you see my flash brightening your last world?
do you feel my ardent heat caress you?
and are you sad to die?

i am a shiny metal
atomic bomb
dropping so gracefully
thru your sky

Nissa Annakindt 1990

This is one of my older poems but I still like the idea of getting the atomic bomb’s point of view. The poem doesn’t have any deep political or environmental message. It just is. Any meanings or hidden messages you find in this poem are unintended by the author.

This poem was included in both of my published poetry books, Where the Opium Cactus Grows and surly petunia.

‘surly petunia’ is a mini-ebook, kind of like a chapbook, with 24 poems. It is only 99 cents on Kindle right now. Check it out at https://www.amazon.com/Surly-Petunia-Nissa-Annakindt-ebook/dp/B00NZ96EYE I’m hoping to get some more sales of this poetry book before I publish the next one.

Writer Networking & Camp Nanowrimo

CampNanoAre you familiar with National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo? It is a November writing event where participants try to write a 50000 word novel in 30 days. Many participants have gone on to be published authors.

Camp NaNoWriMo is a July offshoot of the November NaNo.  While the general goal is still the 50000+ word novel, you can commit to less. For example, I’m doing a 17500 word novella instead.

It helps in doing NaNo to have NaNo goals. Some people have as a goal they want to finish a novel for the first time. Others are trying out writing in a different genre.

A less noted goal is that of writer networking. It really helps for writers to learn to network with other writers. In Camp NaNo, the chief networking opportunity is that participants are grouped into cabins. You can find a group of people to form a cabin with on the Camp NaNo site. Or if you are in a FB writing group you could use that as the core for your cabin.

I ended up in a Catholic cabin. Mainly because I’m Catholic and find it distracting dealing with anti-Catholic bigots while I’m trying to write. YOU might find a group based on your religious faith (or your atheism), your politics, your genre, or your nationality. If you have Asperger Syndrome, you might start a cabin with only Aspies, but remember that Aspies lack social skills and so you might be better off in a cabin based on something else.

Especially for a person with Asperger Syndrome, it can be hard to learn the social skills you need to do writer networking. Here are a few rules. Learn them, live by them.

  1. Remember that networking is not all about YOU. Take an interest in other people’s writing project and their progress. Don’t talk about your own work all the time.
  2. Keep your messages on the Camp NaNoWriMo cabin message board short. Long messages may annoy other people.
  3. Think of yourself as a REAL writer. Because you ARE one, so long as you are firmly committed to doing the work required to produce work and increase your writing skills. Don’t tell other writers ‘I’m no good.’ They might believe you.
  4. Don’t be negative about the other writer’s work. Find something nice to say about it. Or at least beg off by saying you don’t read much science fiction erotica (or whatever the genre is.)  Remember, don’t critique the work of other writers unless they ask for it— perhaps by joining a critique group with you. And even in a critique group, mention positive things as well as negative.
  5. Don’t be the thought police. If someone says something you believe should not be said, you shouldn’t go after him for it. Even if what the person said was ‘racist’ or ‘sexist’ or ‘homophobic’ or conservative/’right wing.’ Appointing yourself to the thought police just cuts off communication with other people.
  6. Don’t swear. Or use sexual words/imagery. It just puts people off and makes you look vulgar and/or ignorant.
  7. Don’t stray off topic unless the other person does so first. And get back on topic quickly.
  8. In polite society, we don’t talk religion or politics on social occasions. If you are not in a cabin based on your faith/nonfaith or your politics, be polite.
  9. Have fun. Networking with other writers isn’t a chore. It’s a new way to have fun.
  10. If you have Asperger Syndrome, don’t talk about any of your Special Interests (obsessive interests.) If another person shares an interest, you may respond on the topic, but limit each post to a short one— three sentences or less. Remember, going on about a topic that the other person isn’t as interested in makes you a bore.

So, are you going to do Camp NaNo? Have you set up your account or your cabin yet? Let us know how it works for you!

Was Emily Dickinson an Aspie?


Emily Dickinson— who knew she was a hot chick?

There is a scene in the 1930 film ‘Freaks’ when some circus freaks welcome a ‘normal’ person to their midst by chanting “One of us, one of us, gooble-gabble, gooble, gabble, one of us!” And that is exactly what I feel like chanting whenever I hear that some famous or interesting person may have had Asperger’s Syndrome and/or autism spectrum disorder.

I’ve recently come across info that Emily Dickinson may have been ‘one of us, gooble-gabble,’ and it means a lot to me because I’ve only recently started to read Miss Dickinson’s poems in a Dover Thrift Edition. And they are not only good, they are better than good— they are weird. Here’s a sample:

“I heard a fly buzz when I died;
The stillness round my form
Was like the stillness in the air
Between the heaves of storm.”

That is just the sort of thing that makes Miss Dickinson into my new poetic role model. And when I went to Amazon.com just now to get the link (above) for the Dover Thrift Edition I already have the b-st-rds showed me a complete edition of Miss Dickinson’s work which I am now totally lusting after but can’t afford since I just ordered a second-hand book of Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s poems and I like his name because it has two ‘Yev’s in it so I had to buy it….

OK, where was I? Oh, Emily Dickinson, Aspie poet. I don’t know enough about her life to evaluate her status as Aspie or neurotypical, but I do like her work. Maybe you might, too. Or some friend of yours, newly diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or Aspergers, might appreciate a copy of Emily’s poems as a gift. (See, I’m calling her Emily now, next thing I’ll be asking her to my house. Even though she’s dead.)

A lot of us modern poets are a bit afraid to get into poets from the age of rhyme and meter, but you will find many treasures there if you give it a chance. Because good writing is always worth a look.

Secrets of increasing writing output: goal 100

This kitten's name is Little Stranger since his birth mother abandoned him and he was raised by another mother cat who had 5 tortoiseshell kittens (all girls). Little Stranger is now a grown up tomcat.

Little Stranger

My poetry is stored by files based on the year the poem was written. Currently that means both a physical file with paper and a file on a Scrivener project. Recently I was sorting through and organizing my 2015 poems. I decided to add a page with a list of all the poems in the file to simplify searching for a given poem. And so I discovered I wrote 37 poems last year.

That’s not a lot— but it is a good output compared to some years. My problem is my Aspie disorganization. Some days, weeks and months I write poems regularly— and then I get distracted by the many other goals and don’t write poems at all.

Recently I read a book called The Miracle Morning for Writers and was inspired to put together a morning ritual which includes certain activities (like exercise on my elliptical) and leads to a session of writing. This seems to be working if only I can keep it up.

So I’m setting a goal for my poetry writing this year. I want to make it to one hundred poems this year. I currently have only 16— but this morning I wrote three. OK, one was a senryu (haiku) that I’ve already tweeted under #2Apoems (Second Amendment poems), but I got it done.

How does your writing output look? If you feel you are not getting enough done, here are some things to help you do more.

  • Monitor your output. Make a chart or a list or something to make it easier to see how many writing projects — poems, short stories, novels— you have finished each week, month or year.
  • Set a reasonable goal for yourself this year— something that’s a challenge for you, but not something you feel is impossible, like writing 20 novels in a year when you have never finished even one.
  • Don’t just beat yourself up for the times you haven’t finished enough writing projects. Praise yourself for the times when you’ve done a lot. Perhaps set up an awards system— when you have finished 10 poems or three short stories, you can buy yourself a new ebook. Or chocolate. Or go to a movie.
  • Think about your work habits. When do you write? What triggers a writing session? If you only write when you feel like it, what things/circumstances tend to make you feel like it?
  • If finishing things is a major problem as it is for a lot of people with Asperger’s/autism, try shorter projects— poems, flash fiction, short stories. Things you can finish.
  • Create a ritual for a daily writing session, ideally in the morning, connected to your daily habits. For example, you might decide that right after breakfast you will sit down and work on your writing until you have finished one poem, or 2 haiku, or one work of flash fiction.

7 reasons to organize your writing area


Yes, that’s a kitten in the chair.

Does your writing space look like a garbage truck blew up nearby? Do you shrug it off and say all creative people are like that? Or blame it on your autism spectrum disorder or ADHD? Well, there are some good reasons you ought to consider a cleanup.

  1. A cluttered writing space makes it harder to get a writing session started. When you have to move things around just to have your chair clear enough to sit on without squishing the cat, you are more likely to procrastinate.
  2. A cluttered writing space slows you down. You have to dig through your paper pile to find important notes with things like your villain’s full name or what type of McGuffin he’s trying to steal. This adds to your frustration level, so you cut the writing session short.
  3.  A cluttered writing space wastes time. Things fall from the paper pile and you have to pick them up. Or you have to chase the cat away to keep her off your clutter.
  4. A cluttered writing space is depressing. It makes it hard to be happy about the writing you are doing. It makes you remember all the criticism you had as a child over your messy room or sloppy handwriting.
  5. A cluttered writing space can be a health hazard. Especially if you make a habit of eating in that space. When everything in that space is dusty, dirty, and attracts mice, it is NOT good for you.
  6. Losing an important paper due to clutter can kill a writing project, at least for a time. I had a space opera going once and I figured out the absolute perfect system of futuristic military ranks for my space force. Then I lost the paper. I was put off the project for years.
  7. A cluttered writing area is an embarrassment in front of your friends and family. It doesn’t look like a professional space where you can actually get work done. It can harm something very essential to you— your image of yourself as a serious and professional writer/poet.

As you can see from the photo above, it’s high time for me to start decluttering. More important, I need to develop systems and rituals that will help me KEEP my writing area less of a federal disaster area.

Cleanup starts tomorrow. I will be blogging about my efforts. Do YOU have a writing space bogged down with clutter? Come clean along with me.

Blog post:
Positive Writer: Clear the Clutter to Overcome Writer’s Block


How to write 2nd Amendment poems — join the revolution

assaultriflesTweeting poetry. It’s a thing now. People write poems and tweet them using hashtags like #poetry or #haiku. Even if it’s a #senryu they use #haiku.

Defending the 2nd Amendment on Twitter is also a thing. People use the hashtag #2A for that. But why not combine the two— write 2nd Amendment poetry and tweet it? The hashtag I use for that is #2Apoems.

This topic got my attention because on my most recent visit to the website Poets United, they had an anti-gun rant poem and expected all people, even LGBT people, to be OK with them using the murders in Orlando as an excuse to promote their gun ‘control’ agenda. So, I no longer have Poets United as a venue to share my poems, so I took to Twitter.

My Twitter poems & their hashtags

black paint drips
on my deer rifle
now an assault weapon

#poetry #haiku #2Apoems #2A

fallen blossoms bleed
a killer seeks more victims
pink pistols shoot back

#poetry #senryu #haiku #Orlando #PinkPistols #2Apoems
Pink Pistols are an LGBT pro-gun group, their slogan, ‘armed Gays don’t get bashed.’

founding fathers shooting
muskets of mass destruction
scandalous, oh, my!

#poetry #senryu #haiku #foundingfathers #2A #2Apoems

Ready to join the 2nd Amendment poem revolution? Even if you don’t normally write poetry, if you can come up with a clever or pithy saying once in a while you can probably do this.

The kind of poems most people tweet are called ‘micropoems’— very short poems. Haiku, a traditional Japanese form of poem, are a popular kind. You may have learned to write them in school.

Schools teach that a haiku must have 3 lines— one of 5 syllables, one of 7, and one of 5. But most serious haiku writers aren’t strict with that since classic Japanese in English translation can have fewer syllables than that.

How do you get started to compose a haiku? Collect some keywords first. For example, in the poems above, the keywords could be ‘deer rifle’, ‘assault weapon’, ‘blossoms’, ‘pink pistols’, ‘muskets’, ‘mass destruction.’ If you can’t think of keywords, look at a 2nd amendment related article or news and just pick out a random bunch of words you find striking. Pick out a few keywords on your list— 4 to 6 is plenty for a haiku— and look at them. Let them sink in. Then start writing. You have my permission to write a few haiku that are really stinkers before you come up with one worthy of Tweeting.

Technical point:

Strictly speaking, many ‘haiku’ in English are not haiku in the traditional Japanese sense. A haiku is about nature and the natural world, not people and the human world. Another type of 5-7-5 syllable poem, the senryu, is an often satirical poem about humans and the human world. But most senryu poets who tweet their poems use the hashtag #haiku for their senryu. Because in English haiku tends to mean both.

Bad news for serious poets

If you are a serious poet seeking publication in literary magazines, you probably already know that most of them don’t accept previously published poems. What you may not know is that nearly all consider posting your poem online as a form of publication. But then, there are not a lot of 2nd Amendment poems getting accepted into literary magazines, so you may as well tweet them.

Non-haiku 2nd Amendment poems

You can also tweet short free verse poems or rhyming poems. Or use other poetic forms such as the tanka, lune, Collom lune…. And if you tend toward writing longer poems, blog the poem and tweet the link. It doesn’t matter. #2Apoems forever! Join the revolution!

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