On Writing 1,000 Poems
199 of the 1,000 poems mentioned here actually made it into a book: 199 Love Haiku. Why not try a different kind of poetry.
At the beginning of last year, 2016, I was lovesick. Very badly lovesick, and very unhealthily lovesick.
Woman and story long vanished in the rear mirror, there are only two things to note: One, I had rarely been struck by a relationship—a brief one at that—as hard as this one, but that was for my own choosing because I dug deep into the pain and took it all apart, to learn what I could (I turned almost suicidal, but it worked to a great degree). Two, it set off an urge to try something new, as so often, and that was to challenge myself as a writer, by entering a genre I had had nothing to do with, and by writing about a subject I had never written about.
I started to write poetry, about love.
Not just any poetry, then: I picked Japanese haiku.
I picked haiku after we, the woman who had ghosted me and I, had played with them at times; and I chose love for the matter that I had felt for her and hadn’t; and much more so for the love that I, per a random acquaintance in Delhi, hadn’t let in nor out anymore.
I instantly started writing, and I did so in the clinical fashion one may expect from someone male, cognitive, technical, and heart-broken; I set up a cloud-based spreadsheet as well as daily reminders, and wherever I was, whenever I could, I wrote, haiku.
I wrote haiku, indeed, even though I also early on axed the misunderstood notion of 5-7-5, as Japanese syllable counts translate rather poorly into English and other languages.
And I wrote and wrote, until over the course of a few weeks, I had accumulated enough poems—about 500—to take the next step: to start publishing the haiku on a special website.
And I set up and polished the website, and put the haiku up on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, even on Google+, and I liked these as experiments (I had never done anything serious on Instagram before), and I continued writing haiku.
And so in July of last year, I started publishing, but also soon ended writing, and from then on I was mostly busy posting daily haiku, and often, prior to making them public, editing a little and adding a graphical theme to them, that is, putting them into photographical context, through pictures taken from the wonderful Unsplash.
As of today, that’s what I still do.
The 1,000 poems long written, I now edit and enhance and publish love haiku on a daily or batch basis, then taking up only a few minutes of time.
The end result is nothing for me to comment on. I’m an amateur. The haiku are, from my point of view, of quite varying quality, and I find everything among them to range from (very) cheesy to (very) serious, from sad to euphoric, from miserably lonely to cheerfully in company; and it’s nothing for me to comment on.
What’s next? I keep on publishing until there’s nothing left; but even though I have stopped writing haiku in August of last year, there are still several hundred haiku to publish. Then, I intend to end the experiment with another one: to either take all 1,000 poems for a book, or select the ones I (or Haiku Haiku Love followers) like the most for a book. I don’t know yet.
But here, then, the story of 1,000 poems, of 1,000 love poems, love haiku, and what can happen when we challenge ourselves in unexpected ways. Please keep following my work and my experiments here—and, if you like some romantic cheesy playfulness, on Haiku Haiku Love.
I’m Jens Oliver Meiert, and I’m an engineering manager and author. I’ve worked as a technical lead for Google, I’m close to the W3C and the WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly. Other than that, I love trying things, sometimes including philosophy, art, and adventure. Here on meiert.com I share some of my views and experiences.
If you have questions or suggestions about what I write, please leave a comment (if available) or a message.
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Perhaps my most comprehensive book: The Web Development Glossary (2020). With explanations and definitions for literally thousands of terms from Web Development and related fields, building on Wikipedia as well as the MDN Web Docs. Available at Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play Books, and Leanpub.