Why Ten Thousand?

I have used haiku as a sort of jumping-off point for poetry for a few years now. I don’t generally sit down and think, “I am going to write a poem.” Rather, sometimes I will come across something—an idea or a phrase—that sparks a poem. But sometimes I put pen to paper and find that none of my writing feels “poetic” except the tidbit I have discovered, which may not have been mine in the first place. So I stop writing, look around, and find something about which to write a haiku.

I love the structure of haiku. However, the compact nature of that structure makes for a lot of work. Integrating more than one thought or idea into three lines is not easy. Throw in a strict syllable count and you’ve got a task at hand. It’s a lot like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. But, as the confining form of haiku forces you to rethink what to say and how to say it, the edges of that square peg start to soften. Writing a haiku helps me focus on the feel of the words and the way that they work together to contribute to the poem as a whole. And once I’ve found success (a relative term with haiku) then the poetry I was trying to find makes its way on to the paper.

I don’t have any plans to publish my haiku (I don’t know of any worthwhile places to do so), so I decided to put them out into the world. A lengthy project seemed like a good way to eliminate some work-induced boredom, so I decided on one thousand haiku. But “Ten Thousand Haiku” sounded like a better title for a project. Then I Googled “Ten Thousand in Kanji” for images and came across the Japanese symbol for ten thousand. I think it’s gorgeous, and, consequently, it’s the image I chose for the front of the project.

Digging a little deeper I discovered that the symbol can also mean “everything.” And it means “everything” in both Japanese and Chinese, so the one sign has multiple meanings in multiple languages. I won’t bore you with more of my philosophy about poetry, but let’s just say all of this fit with a number of things I attempt to convey in my poetry.

This will be a long trip, and I may be the only one to pull something from it. But an audience of one is more than enough for haiku.

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