October 2003, Volume 1, Number 4

R. D. McManes Interview by Robert Wilson

Author of six volumes of poetry, “Reflections in a Poets Mirror”, Love from a Poetic Point of View”, “Poetic Sighs”, “Don’t Read Me Like Some Poem”, “We Ain’t in Kansas No More” and “Pour Me Another Poem”. Mr. McManes has been published by Saucyvox, Literary Expresso, Prairie Poetry, Write On, Short Stuff, Writer’s Hood, HaikuSun, Scrivener’s Pen, and Baroque Review. He has also been a featured poet at Haikuhut.com . Mr. McManes is a member of the Kansas Author’s Club and his author website is www.macpoetry.com. Some of his haiku are profiled in this issue [McManes Haiku]

Q) How long have you been writing poetry. And what led you to write haiku?

A) Well Robert, I wrote my first poem in 1965 so 38 years and counting, I wrote a few haiku back in the late sixties but didn't get serious about them until 1997. My love of nature is what really led me to write haiku.

Q) You write long poems and haiku. Do you find haiku to be an easier
medium versus writing long poems?

A) Actually I find haiku to be much more difficult to write. My longer poems are usually free verse so I only have to worry about flow and meaning, and while I don't always follow the haiku rules and form to the letter I do try and stay within my own set of standards.

Q) When writing haiku, what do you look for? What kind of mindset must you be in?

A) I'm a stickler for detail so I notice small things from the different shades of pickles to the worn spots on a butterfly's wings. It's all about the moment and I try to let the haiku come to me and then express it through those senses that captured the essence of that

Q) You have written a new book of haiku which is slated to be published soon. Tell us about it?

A) It's a selected collection of haiku and senryu that I have written over the course of 6 years. I'm still adding to it and making edits here and there. I want something that feels special because that is what I
feel haiku are. I also intend to use one of my haiku for the title

in one breath
the haiku exhales
a butterfly

Q) Basho said that writing haiku is a journey and the journey is our home. Do you agree with him?

A) I agree with Basho, the moments are all about the journey and all journeys eventually lead home. I believe our time here on earth is a journey to prepare the spirit for a higher calling, what we do here dictates the purpose of that calling; I also believe once we pass from this earthly existence then and only then are we truly home and that home is of our own making.

Q) What haiku poet has had the greatest influence on your writing and why?

A) Tough question. I don't know that I can pick one but I do know that Basho has heightened my sense of what is around me, Issa has shown me new shades of humor, and Buson has touched my heart. I've grown in understanding by reading many modern day haiku poets,
Michael Rehling, Bruce Ross, Jane Reichhold, Peggy Lyles, and Beki Reese, to name a few. My guess is I'll always be a student when it comes to the art of haiku.

Q) How did your love for nature lead you to write haiku?

It seemed like a natural fit because haiku are about nature. I struggled with the brevity of haiku and while it took me years to trim away the flowers, I can now capture the stem and I really never could do that with any other poetry form.

Q) You mentioned a set of standards that you follow when writing
haiku. What are they?

A) There are 65 or so rules / guidelines which have applied to haiku at various times. I’ve probably broken them all at least one time and most of them several times. My standards which I try to stick with

Seventeen syllables or less (usually less), no complete sentences. It has to be readable in a single breath. I normally use a three line format, I like the middle line to be the longest,and I try to stay in present tense.But my main objective is to capture the moment, so whatever I have to do to achieve this goal is my real standard.


Q) You say you've grown in understanding by reading many modern day haiku poets. How so?

A) I used to stick to a stringent 5-7-5 format, which really limited me, though I confess at the time I didn’t realize it. I began to read other modern day poets like the folks I mentioned before and many others who made their haiku work without being so rigid. This opened my eyes to a whole different take of haiku and I’ve never been the same since.

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