An Interview with Genevieve Wynand

 How were you first introduced to haiku?

In 2017, life served up some challenges. My uncle, Victoria poet Derk Wynand, had

learned of the upcoming National Haiku Contest put on by the League of Canadian Poets, and

suggested that this might just be a small step forward. Neither of us had experience in the form,

but the process of writing and reflecting together was therapeutic. After the contest, I continued

to write — quite badly — and received the necessary rejections when I submitted my poems for

publication. I put haiku aside for a while, and then in late 2019 met a friend of Derk’s, Hannah

Main-van der Kamp. A poet herself, she had learned of our haiku therapy and adopted the

practice with her niece. She kindly sent me a copy of their chapbook, Jumping Spider Haikus, at

the beginning of 2020, and it made me realize that haiku wasn’t finished with me yet. So I picked

up my pen, and opened my eyes, and slowly the rejections became acceptances.

Who were some of your early influences?

Early on, the collective voices of the amazing poets published in Modern Haiku,

Frogpond, The Heron’s Nest, and Haiku Canada Review, and the senryu poets of Prune Juice

and Failed Haiku were the scaffolding on which I continue to rely.

Do you belong to a haiku group, and if so, why do you think it is important?

I belong to the Vancouver Haiku Group, a collective of talented and generous poets based

in or near the Lower Mainland. I was invited to join by Michael Dylan Welch, and, given that

this was then in the Covid-era, our meetings were online. This connection was so important, not

just for the opportunity to expand my creative circle during lockdown, but for the community of

support and encouragement it offered. The group is back to primarily meeting in person, but still

holds online gatherings. Every time we meet, I come away replenished and inspired.

Do you go to organized haiku events, and if so, what is your favourite part about them?

I have yet to attend any in-person haiku gatherings, but have participated in many online

conferences, readings, and meet-ups. Attending the Seabeck Haiku Getaway is definitely on my

haiku bucket-list. My favourite part of events is spending time with my fellow poets, all of whom

understand what it means to see the world through haiku goggles.

How do you encourage other people to try haiku?

I hope that by sharing my poetry on social media and offering resources on my website

others will be inspired to lean in. And when I attend conferences and workshops on writing and

editing, I make sure to find ways to promote the form.

Do you have a favourite place to go to write haiku?

If the muse strikes unexpectedly, anywhere. If she is quiet, anywhere that I can read the

writing of others that, with a word or image, might plant a haiku seed. When all else fails, a tall

Americano at JJ Bean, my favourite coffee shop, may encourage her to speak.

I know many haiku poets are inspired directly by nature, but for me it is the collision of

words and images in my mind that creates a certain kind of friction that then lights the

muse-fuse. After it is lit, I turn to nature and cross my fingers that the just-right image will

appear to offer the poem’s juxtaposition.

Do you have a favourite season?

Fall is my favourite season: The brilliant and changing leaves, the warmish days and

crisp nights, the urge to turn the oven on and get baking again! But spring creeps into my haiku

quite a bit as well. Perhaps it is the optimism of that season, the promise of the new, that I need,

and so it shows up in my writing.

In senryu, the themes that crop up the most involve language and the feeling of ‘close

distance’ that happens so often between me and those I love the most.

What advice would you give to someone just starting to write haiku?

Write haiku. Seriously, just write. And don’t be afraid of writing badly. I wrote dreadful

haiku (that I of course thought were brilliant!) for about two years. Just keep flexing your haiku

muscles, and eventually your little poems will be buff and strong and ready to flex their way into

the world.

It is also very helpful to submit your work to a variety of haiku publications. The support

and advice I’ve received from kind-hearted editors have gone a long way to helping me hone my

craft. More importantly, their words — whether encouraging or corrective — keep me hungry on

the path.

Do you have any book recommendations?

I do, though they are not haiku specific. My favourite non-‘ku books about poetry are

How a Poem Moves: A Field Guide for Readers of Poetry by Adam Sol; In Fine Form, 2nd

Edition: A Contemporary Look at Canadian Form Poetry by Kate Braid and Sandy Shreve;

Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within by Kim Addonizio; and The Poet’s Companion: A

Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Lux. These books

offer tremendous insight about the power of language and imagery, both of which are vital to

even (and perhaps especially) the smallest of poems. My favourite resources for haiku, senryu,

and haibun are the essays in Frogpond and Modern Haiku. And Michael Dylan Welch’s website

Graceguts is invaluable.

Sharing is caring ❤️

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top