Interview with kj munro

Originally from Vancouver, kjmunro moved to the Yukon Territory in 1991 & now lives on the
traditional territories of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation & the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council. She is
Membership Secretary for Haiku Canada & a member of The League of Canadian Poets, The
Federation of BC Writers, & The Haiku Society of America. In 2014, she founded ‘solstice
haiku’, a monthly haiku discussion group in Whitehorse that she continues to facilitate. Since
2018, she has curated a weekly blog feature for The Haiku Foundation, now managed with
guest editors. She is the recipient of the 2023 Borealis Prize – The Commissioner of Yukon
Award for Literary Contribution, her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, & her
debut poetry collection is contractions (Red Moon Press, 2019). kjmunro1560.wordpress.com

Hi kj. Thank you so much for joining me. How were you first introduced to haiku?

When I was first investigating journals & magazines to submit my poetry, (around 2010), I
looked into haiku journals, because people had often described my short, condensed style as
“haiku-like.” I was very surprised to discover so many of them, & also to learn more about the
genre – I quickly realized that there was so much more to this type of poetry than the length of
the poem & I was hooked! I read voraciously, & spent many hours revising my poems, with
limited success. Eventually, I started submitting, & also attending haiku conferences & events –
such an amazing community – &, of course, I’m still learning!

I’ve never had the opportunity to attend a haiku event. What would be your favorite part?

My favourite part of a haiku event – seeing friends again that I haven’t seen for a while, &
meeting poets I have only corresponded with, or whose work I have read & admired…
It is always wonderful to discover a poet whose reading inspires you to buy their book.
At the larger events, there can be quite a variety of presentations – so much to learn & discuss! –
& there are often extra events at a conference to celebrate the location – a tour of a regional art
gallery or sculpture garden, for example – & it’s wonderful to experience these as well!

My next question is two parts. Your debut collection of haiku is called “contractions.” Other than
Amazon, is there a place it can be purchased? Secondly, for people just starting out in haiku,
what would be your best book recommendations?

I have copies of all my publications for sale, so people can email me to arrange delivery, &
contractions can also be purchased directly from the publisher, Red Moon Press:
https://redmoonpress.com/product/strongicontractionsistrong-haiku-by-kjmunro/

My recommendations for reading – I always encourage reading to become a better writer… & I
also recommend reading more of any poet that resonates… I highly recommend the many
offerings on the website of The Haiku Foundation (https://thehaikufoundation.org/) & also
Graceguts, the website of poet Michael Dylan Welch (https://www.graceguts.com/). For print
publications, I would recommend Modern Haiku. Also, both Haiku Canada & the Haiku Society
of America include their publications in the membership fee (Haiku Canada Review; Frogpond)

My early influences: in mainstream poetry – Robert Bringhurst; in haiku – Michael Dylan Welch,
Naomi Beth Wakan, Susan Constable, George Swede, Susan Diridoni, Terry Ann Carter, Jim
Kacian, Roberta Beary & many others – the more I read the more poets I admire!

Thank you, kj. Some great references there. Why is it important to be part of a haiku group?

I think it’s human nature to want to be part of a group! But when it comes to writing, it can be
extremely helpful to have a group of other writers who we can depend on to share the ups &
downs, & also share with & learn from… we all have different experiences & strengths that
others can benefit from.

Sometimes it can help to just confirm our own suspicions about things we already know – about
writing situations & about our own writing specifically. Feedback from poets you trust is
invaluable.

As I may have already mentioned, the haiku community is well-known to be helpful & supportive

  • maybe the most important reason to be part of a haiku group is to make new friends!

What advice would you give to someone wishing to start a haiku group in their own area?

Oh – great question!
I strongly recommend giving this a try! Of course, it helps if you know a couple of people already
who are interested & will commit to attending a group, at least for a while! I have found this to be
a most rewarding experience, & I have learned a lot in the process.
In order to explain concepts to people, you learn them better yourself – & it’s fun to share the
interesting things you have read with other people. A group can evolve in different directions, so
I suggest starting small, & regularly checking in with participants to ensure that your plans for
the group mesh with what they want to do. Existing haiku groups can be a wonderful resource
for those just starting out.
Since the solstice haiku discussion group began in 2014, I have learned some things that have
nothing to do with poetry – evaluating venues & advertising the meetings, for example. But the
poetry part has been substantial – we have enjoyed ginko (haiku walks) at art galleries &
sculpture gardens, we have written several renku that have gone on to be published, & we have
collaborated with our local community garden, resulting in an upcoming chapbook. Several
members have started submitting their own work & have been published, which is extremely
exciting! As a group, we support each other – we celebrate & commiserate, as required! Highly
recommended!

Would you be willing to share a haiku or two from your collection?

These are all from contractions (Red Moon Press, 2019) by kjmunro

first frost
the outdoor runners
hibernate

(first appeared in DailyHaiku Volume 9: Cycle 18 Fall 2014/Winter 2015)

first snow
warming all ten fingers
on your mug

(first appeared in Frogpond 41:2, 2018)

ice in the driveway
she slips
into something more comfortable

(first appeared in DailyHaiku Volume 9: Cycle 18 Fall 2014/Winter 2015 followed by big data
Red Moon Anthology 2014)

Again, thank you so much for your time. I’m sure our readers will appreciate your responses,
and I look forward to seeing you again!

Thank you!

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