Friday, May 14, 2010

Theresa Walsh Knows Haiku

I love haiku. Evocative words. Compact presentation. They’re what you can write even when you can’t seem to write. And they give back, too; they fill the creative well—at least for this author.

While drafting my debut, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, I wrote haiku every week, sometimes every day. Sometimes the haiku were light, like this one:

The Other Dragon
Wild dragon in flight;
domesticated dragon
stays home, simmers stew.

Or this:

He thinks he's fishing,
but the worm is off the hook,
learning how to swim.

Other times, not so light:

Farm Life
All just blood and bones,
scattered, spattered on the floor.
Ring the dinner bell!

Sometimes they were all about the wordplay:

Plea of the Fish
"Please add some water..."
Swirls of gold and tangerine
accent uncoiled fronds.


The Queen's Man
A pawn in her eyes,
he tripped on her libretto,
they spilled in his robes.

Often, I’d tie a haiku in with my work-in-progress—the story of twins, a tragedy, and one sister’s uneasy path to recovery:

Blood Sisters
It was not a dream:
upright white flash, blood, our oath,
blink, and you were gone.

But no matter my mood, or the needs of my muse, those poetic tapas always gratified, filled a void in me.

One of my favorite hangouts, and the place that inspired so many of my poems, is the writers’ forum Absolute Write. There you can read and/or contribute poems of any shape or variety, and participate in what is likely the longest chain of haiku in the world—Chain, chain, chain of haiku fools. To contribute, use the last poster’s third haiku line as your first. Check it out here.

I haven’t written as many haiku since my debut novel was accepted for publication and was finally published. There were so many editorial deadlines to meet, a website to construct, publicity and marketing concerns, and then the pressing need to write the second novel to fulfill my two-book contract. I’m in need of a little inspiration now though, and Rachael’s request to post here today has reminded me of this long lost favorite method for finding that. So I’m off to fill the well via a little 5-7-5, and I’m sure to feel better for it.

Thanks again for the invite, Rachael.

(Psst, would you like to read more of my fave haiku poems? I’ve dedicated a page to them on my website, here:)

Therese Walsh is the co-founder of a site Writer’s Digest named one of the best for writers four years running, Writer Unboxed. Her debut novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, was published in 2009 (Random House). Prior to becoming a novelist, she was a senior researcher and writer for Prevention magazine and Rodale Press, and has had hundreds of articles on nutrition and fitness published in consumer magazines and online. She is married to the next Tommy Makem, and has two cute kids, one cat and a Jack Russell named Kismet. Learn more about her at


Rachael Herron said...

This is absolutely fabulous, Theresa. Thank you so much for being here.

Juliet Blackwell said...

Hi Theresa! Welcome to the Pens. And thank you for sharing some incredible Haikus with us -- Blood Sisters is amazing! I look forward to reading The Last Will of Moira Leahy -- sounds great.

Gigi Pandian said...

That's so cool that haiku inspired you working on your first book. And thanks for the tip about the Absolute Write haiku chain!

Unknown said...

Welcome to the Pens and congratulations on The Last Will of Moira Leahy! I absolutely love 'poetic tapas' - what a perfect way to describe haiku. :) Thanks for visiting!

Sophie Littlefield said...

Therese, your haiku are beautiful! I especially love "the Queen's Man." I've always viewed haiku as a little pastime, almost a toss-off- I never considered them as a work-in-process tool. Your book looks amazing, by the way...

Adrienne Bell said...

I'm so glad you did this week's guest post. Your haikus are beautiful.

Therese Walsh said...

Thanks for all the comments, everyone, and for letting me swing by for a guest post. I was off the computer all weekend, so this is a great way to start of a Monday.