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17 syllables of awesome

Today’s post is a fun change of pace. A fellow blogger, jiu-jitsu practitioner and (most importantly) friend, Lori Latimer, is on the cusp of having a book of haiku poems released so I wanted to take the opportunity to ask her about her writing and her book. For those of you who don’t know Lori, you can find her blog at http://www.latattack.wordpress.com. I highly recommend checking it out, Lori writes about everything from her experiences training Judo and jiu-jitsu to her social work to her musings on life in general and it’s always entertaining.

If you would like to learn more about the book, check out the trailer at https://vimeo.com/121580167

To pre-order her e-book from Amazon for the low, low price of $0.99, follow this link http://amzn.com/B00T6NO6WK.

Without further ado, here are some questions I came up with for Lori about her latest project and her answers, enjoy!

What inspired you to start writing haiku poems?
I started writing a weekly haiku in 2011. My friend, Brandi, has a blog and each Tuesday, she and other bloggers in her network would compose a haiku for “Haikuesday.” I just loved the idea and decided to join in for my own blog, “Uphill.” I love haiku because it is a deceptively hard practice. I aim to convey a complete thought or capture a moment, so the constraint of the form poses a nice challenge. I was drawn to the concept of “Haikuesday” because it was a bunch of people linking to each other through art. I thought that was awesome. I love building a sense a community.

Do you like to read haiku from other writers? If so do you have a favorite?
I love reading other people’s haiku in general, but a few years ago for Christmas, my family got me a haiku collection by some of the Japanese masters, Basho, Buson, and Issa. Reading their work opened my eyes to how vivid and expressive the art can be. I was surprised by how many funny ones there were. I remember reading one by Basho and it stuck with me because I felt like he was talking to me:

Don’t imitate me;
it’s as boring
as the two halves of a melon

I know that I’ve seen your haikuesday posts on your blog, do you only write one haiku a week or are there more and you pick your favorite for the blog?
I actually write two haiku per week, each on Tuesday for Haikuesday. I post on my own blog, and the I write one for the online community, Service of Change, which aims to build communities of positive change agents at the grassroots level. SOC was started by my childhood friend, Dennis, so we decided that I could contribute positive change through art. So like we stick to our jiu jitsu class schedule, I stick to my haiku schedule. Each Tuesday, I wait for a moment to hit me and let the haiku evolve. And like jiu jitsu, some days I have these awesome little poems that I’m so happy with, and then other weeks I think, “I could have done that better. I rushed that.”

What would you say is the greatest benefit you’ve gotten from writing haiku?
I think the greatest benefit if the connection I’ve made with other people. When I started this four years ago, I never, ever thought I would get the excited response that I have. My friends love them and sometimes I learn that people I never expect stalk my blog for Haikuesday. Through my blog, I’ve connected with other writers and get encouragement, and then get to read their work. I never thought something so small could turn into something so big. My favorite thing is when I post my haiku, and someone writes one of their own in response. It’s so awesome!

How did you end up publishing a book of haiku?
Dennis has his own small publishing company, and after a year of me writing for SOC, he suggested we put out a book. I was hesitant at first because the idea never crossed my mind, but Dennis really believed in my work, and that made me jump on board. We’ve been working on this since August 2014. I’ve learned so much from this process, and it made me reflect on why I write and what I hope to each with my work. I think it’s pushed me to develop my craft even further. I guess it’s like after all the time you put in at BJJ practice, one day your coach pulls you aside and tells you should give a tournament a try. It’s scary, but kind of flattering at the same time. And then you come out of the experience changed a little bit.

I know that you like to write things other than haiku, what is your favorite style of writing?
As far as what I love to read, I love magical realism and philosophical fiction. Absolutely love it. I don’t write fiction myself, but I am drawn to personal reflection essays. That’s primarily what I write for Uphill. I try to take my experiences, whether from grappling, my profession as a social worker, or my personal experiences and make the universal. I don’t want to write a diary, I aim to write about an experience that someone else can connect with. Blogging feels very vulnerable sometimes because it’s so public, but I’ve had some incredible interaction with friends and strangers through writing.

Site updates

I spent some time updating the site a bit this weekend with new links and such. I promise to actually post meaningful content soon but in the meantime check out my updated About Me page!

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