Malik, Neetu. “The Daily Haiku: The USA.”
Transnational Literature. Vol 13, Oct 2021
Special Edition: Follow the Sun

The Daily Haiku: The USA
Neetu Malik

Hi, I’m Neetu. I live in eastern Pennsylvania, USA. Mother of two now grown children, I have a very affectionate dog, Beau, who is my constant companion.

I always find it difficult to talk about myself because being a mother full-time for two decades is essentially what I considered my “occupation”. While I often forget what my pre-motherhood life was, there was indeed one. I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to live in five countries: India (my origin), Austria, the United Kingdom, Canada and the USA. That fact has influenced my writing very deeply, both at a conscious and a subconscious level. It has also instilled in me a nomadic spirit which refuses to be confined within borders or boundaries. All people, regardless of their geographic location, have more in common at the essential human level than we have differences: our emotions, feelings, and instincts are intrinsic qualities within all of us.

I began an intense writing process of poetry and short stories ten years ago when my oldest left for university. Pangs of separation anxiety led to a walk back into my own past, my childhood, growing up and leaving home. As I made that journey back through the tunnels of time, I found tremendous release in words that connected me to myself, my relationships, and the larger world.

I have about a dozen publications in journals, magazines and anthologies in the USA as well as abroad.

As for haiku, it is a new indulgence for me. Brevity is my hallmark in all the poems I write, but I had never really given a serious thought to haiku. For one thing, I defy the constraints of form in general, not just in writing, but pretty much everything in life. I endeavor to capture moments, emotions, and the transient, yet remarkable experiences of life in a short span. I use nature metaphors; as I get older, I have become more aware of myself as a particle in the universe. Since most of my poems are visual, and inspired by images, I approach the process of writing haiku similarly: absorbing a mental or physical image and letting it percolate until it generates words.

I’ll be honest. I am a novice at haiku. As I refine the process of condensing thoughts, feelings, and impressions in my mind into a few short words, I learn something new with each haiku I read or write. Simplicity of language is also one of the things I strive to achieve. Garbled, obscure or confusing metaphors are something I have always steered away from. Minimalism and transparency are important to me. I hope to apply the same process to writing haiku. From the haiku I have so far composed, these two might be my own favorites:

from fresh, tender buds
we journey to wilted blooms
the earth continues

I am not the sea
but I flow and ebb like it
I am a woman

There was a moment I experienced in 2019 while standing at the edge of Cape Reinga in New Zealand which affected me profoundly. The image I have attached here is where I stood. I drifted into a trance as I watched where the Tasman Sea merged into the Pacific Ocean. I still can’t fully describe the sensation, but it was a freeing of everything I had been holding on to in my mind. This was it. It’s what I am in the grand scale of existence. A ripple, not even a wave. And when I’m gone, all this magic will remain. How wonderful! I still marvel at the memory and it has become part of my being. My challenge will be to express it in haiku form.

Haiku sea image