I Have Deleted My Twitter Account

Twitter is kind of awful, to start with. It is also a “safe space” for white supremacists and folks who are otherwise complacent with white supremacy. Why get flooded with ads and support this?

I have decided not to. Gone with it are all of my haiku. Oh well. Everything is impermanent. I will write more haiku, but they will only be on here (my blog). I’m a history eraser.

I encourage you to get off Twitter, and Facebook and Insta-something and Snap-whatever while you’re at it. You’ve got better things to read, better ways to spend your time. In 10 years none of these things will be relevant. Books still will be.

Here’s to more haiku,

Reflecting on a Year of “Daily” Haiku

It’s been a year since I’ve taken on the challenge to write a haiku everyday. Before 2014-11-19, I was only writing a haiku tweet about once a month. I had only starting writing haiku tweets in 2014 after my grandpa passed away. On 2014-10-01, I wrote my first haiku tweet in over 10 months.

Huge air shuts my book/
They say that, “The wind rises! /
We must try to live!”

The haiku was a reference to the poem The Graveyard by the Sea and the movie The Wind Rises, which I had recently seen. The passage I sampled from had to do with living even in the face of death, which was salient with losing my grandpa.

The wind is rising! . . . We must try to live!
The huge air opens and shuts my book: the wave
Dares to explode out of the rocks in reeking
Spray. Fly away, my sun-bewildered pages!
Break, waves! Break up with your rejoicing surges
This quiet roof where sails like doves were pecking.

See http://unix.cc.wmich.edu/~cooneys/poems/fr/daylewis.html

I followed the 2014-10-01 post up with one on the first of November, 2014-11-01, all about visioning.

Go The Artist’s Way/
“Where will you be in five years?”/
Answer truthfully

Then on 2014-11-19, I decided to write haiku daily, or at least try to meet that goal. For a month up until that date, I had much lower energy than I was used to. I was, in parallel, facing the aftermath of losing my mentor and patriarch, feeling the pressure of a new job, and reeling from a relationship that didn’t work out. I needed something to do that would keep my brain busy. I needed a creative outlet that could help me find my voice again. I already had the haiku Twitter, and I’d written a number of haiku as a fundraiser, so it was familiar enough to keep going, but challenging enough to increase the frequency.

Writing 5-7-5 everyday is hard, at least to write haiku that mean anything. I could have cheated and just assembled random seventeen syllables each time, but I wanted each poem to represent something I’d seen or felt. I think some of the haiku turned out beautifully, and some are a stretch. I found that several haiku talked about the same subjects and ideas. Sometimes I had to resort to clip shows.

As of today, I have written 301 haiku on the daily cadence. There are a few more I squeezed in the next day after I missed a day, but I’m not counting those. I’d like to share some of my favorites from the exercise below. They aren’t ranked, and they may not even be the best of the batch. But I think they’re worth sharing.

1. This haiku (2014-12-20) is a translation of John Steinbeck’s letter to his son and some thoughtful advice on relationships. This advice has helped me get through some seemingly rougher times.

Main thing: not to hurry/
If it is right it happens/
Good won’t get away

The original words:

And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.
—John Steinbeck, to his son Thom

2. This haiku (2015-01-05) was my reflection on the book Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut. I volunteer as a store clerk in a fake robot store that is actually a nonprofit tutoring and writing center. This haiku made the newsletter there.

Robots don’t need sleep/
They can do your job, better/
Player Piano

3. In this haiku (2015-01-08), I was upset about the relatively low temperature outside.

Check if Fahrenheit/
Indeed, still zero degrees/
My scarf needs a scarf

4. This haiku (2015-02-15) turned out to be advice, as I found several others in this series to be. They feel kind of like fortune cookies. This is advice about learning.

Slow cook mastery/
Broil not, lest lesson be singed/
All good things take time

5. This haiku (2014-02-17) is about a quiet, starry night.

No wind, stars are loud/
Gripped by wonder, vast blackness/
Ghosts of long dead suns

6. Two pieces of advice within a week. Maybe I needed some inspiration and comfort when I wrote this haiku (2015-02-21). I get some comfort in reading it again.

Move at your own pace/
Be good at being alone/
Then it’s not lonely

7. I wrote this haiku (2015-03-05) on the day I celebrate as “my favorite day of the year”. (There’s no particular reason it’s my favorite date of the year. I do think it’s important to have such a date. For some people it’s Halloween or Christmas or the first day of summer.) It’s about timeless moments. Note that I accidentally put the line break after the last line. Is there more to this poem?

Short breathlessness, peace/
Rare bird spotted once in life/
Elusive feeling/

8. I wrote this haiku (2015-03-08) about winter’s retreat, which seems nice given that I’m currently looking out at the first snowfall of the year as I write this.

Chrome sky, soft mauve, blue/
Air thick, sweet with snow’s retreat/
Dripping percussion

9. This haiku (2015-03-09) sampled from A Tribe Called Quest’s track Push It Along, which itself sampled from Grover Washington, Jr. It’s about keeping at it, like Sisyphus. I read Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus that winter, and I had learned to appreciate tenacity even in the face of futility. The absurd hero pushes the boulder along.

In my way, a boulder/
Strength in character, not arms/
Just push it along

10. This haiku (2015-03-18) is about naked trees and their gnarly branches. I see in trees a lot of personality, mostly in their shape and not actions.

Inverted talons/
Witchy claws scrape baby blue/
Begging for new leaves

11. This haiku (2015-03-20) creates a metaphor out of dealing with difficult situations. Louis C.K. is very good at observing true things (and thus very funny), and he advocates that knowing how to sit with pain and sadness is how to be a person.

Acceptance as moss/
Sit with it and it’s pleasant/
Know your own way north

12. This haiku (2015-04-04) is about the rise of spring and the surprises buried beneath the snow. When I first learned about haiku, the samples I read were usually about seasons and nature. I think these are important ones to highlight in this series.

Branches a-dancing/
Rich spring soil beneath leaves/
Wind blows fall away

13. I wrote this haiku (2015-04-19) while feeling sad during my road trip through the southern United States. I had stayed in some hotel rooms by myself, with very populous cities outside. I thought about the millions of people surrounding me and how I didn’t want to meet any of them. I looked out my hotel window at a skyline I didn’t recognize, and I hated the skyscrapers I saw. Conceptually and architecturally they were impressive, but by that time I’d seen building after building in different cities, and they were all starting to look the same: just metal, concrete, and glass. My best friend P says, “Home is the skyline you smile at.” This wasn’t home.

City far away/
Buildings are generic blocks/
Hotel room quiet

14. I wrote this haiku (2015-05-25) about a stunning mutt named Zeke.

Soft, cool plot of grass/
Gallop gives to gravity/
Dog day afternoon

15. I wrote this haiku (2015-06-22) in thinking about the joy of exploration. When I was little, the forest outside my grandparents’ cottage seemed to unfold larger and larger as I walked through it. That forest is now someone’s property with dusty driveways and not the fresh, untrodden paths I once knew and still yearn for.

Loamy, twiggy floor/
Soft, wild, and new to the step/
Undiscovered glade

16. This haiku (2015-06-26) is about Lake Michigan at night, to my left as I was driving to my grandparents’ old cottage. The moon had risen white, and the small waves on the lake were picking up its quiet, clear light.

Licorice lakeshore/
Ripples like vigil candles/
Soft and sure in dark

17. One common trait among haiku in this series is the subject: clouds. I hadn’t before recorded how often I look out windows at clouds, for significant lengths of time, and it became very clear that’s my most practiced hobby after writing so many haiku about it. This one (2015-07-17) is one of my favorite “cloud haiku”, in that it doesn’t have the word “cloud” in it, and it doesn’t need a picture of a cloud to support it, but a nice picture is attached anyway. (Most of these cloud haiku have an associated cloud picture attached, but I think the haiku should stand on its own.)

Turquoise shines from soot/
Late day sky ponders next move/
Lumbering liftoff

18. This haiku (2015-07-29) is another “cloud haiku” that doesn’t mention “cloud”, but finds ways to express what I’m seeing in metaphor.

Suspend in gray clay/
Sun is somewhere, butter spread/
Ambiguous light

19. This haiku (2015-09-04) is another “advice haiku” about using the right words.

Diction is a knife/
Too sharp, certain injury/
Honed just right, a tool

20. I have a fascination with rivers. When I stopped going to church, my temple became the riverbanks. I wrote this haiku (2015-09-09) to express my reverence.

Rivers never end/
To sea, to rise, and to fall/
Infinity stream

21. This haiku (2015-09-10) is about “the little things”. It’s also about my grandpa going on a walk with me through the woods on a cool summer morning when I was maybe 8. He told me to look closely at the sparkling morning dew on a spider web below a fern along the trail. I’ve been looking at those kinds of details ever since.

“Is all common, base?”/
“Have you seen the morning dew?/
There’s no rarer gem”

22. This haiku (2015-10-13) is about a dream I had the previous night, where I was lost at sea and questioning some of my values.

Silent sea beckons/
Great water doesn’t douse your/
Roaring inner flame

23. I wrote this haiku (2015-10-27) about the impermanence of the beauty of fall. Some people living near deciduous trees make rituals out of seeing them in their traffic light state. I’m one such observer. About 10 years ago I remember falling to the ground as one of my crutches landed incorrectly, and I didn’t get up because I was lost in the golden leaves of a tree. I was feeling a similar awe when I wrote this.

Rush and lust for gold/
Great treasure needs reverence/
So impermanent

24. Precisely one year after I started this practice, I wrote this haiku (2015-11-19) about the practice itself. I think to live up to the phrase, “We must try to live!” we have to do more than merely passively survive, but create artifacts, ideas, and practices that can help and inspire others. (The owner of a local bookstore here replies to “That author has a gift!” with “No, he has a practice.”)

Create or consume?/
The former a firmer stance/
Against entropy

25. I wrote this haiku (2015-11-21) at the first snowfall of the season, rounding out the weather observances for the year.

Light and sound diffused/
All will be immobile soon/
As silver dust falls

That’s it for the highlights, but there are plenty more haiku available at my Twitter page, @ArthurHovinc.

I intend to continue the “daily” haiku practice for the rest of the year. I’ll decide then if I want to keep the frequency into the new year, or resume a monthly contribution.


Flood of Tweets, Winter 2014–2015

You may have noticed my Twitter account has been a lot more active recently. Up until October this year I was silent, but broke that silence when I wrote a tweet to commemorate a great man. I started writing many more tweets since then.

Now, for the next ninety days or so, I am writing a new tweet that is also a haiku everyday. If creativity is a muscle, the more I exercise it, the stronger it gets. These tweets/haiku don’t need to be “good”, they just need to be created everyday. (And if you know Lynda Barry’s work, you know that the questions “Is it good?” and “Does it suck?” cripple innate creativity.) By writing everyday, even seventeen syllables, I quiet my fears of creating “bad” or “sucky” work. The more I write and collect experience, the more I realize how I would revise even my “bad” work. As Brenda Ueland said,

“If you write a bad story, the way to make it better is to write three more. Then look at the first one. You will have grown in understanding, in honesty. You will know what to do to it. And to yourself.”

Moreover, the work stacks up. Seventeen syllables for ninety days makes 1530 syllables. At my old rate of a tweet a month, I’d have only produced 153 syllables in the time I spent silent. That’s a tenfold increase!

Inexhaustible when used/
Signature haiku,

July 2013 Tweet

I made a tweet for July 2013 a few days ago. It is about some words that appeared in my head a few days before that. I was on a long walk when the setting sun reminded me the power of light and dark.

On the subject of light and dark, I’ve had trouble with dichotomies over the years. Everything that’s black or white,
got or cold, gay or straight, and so on has always appeared to be a spectrum to me, with unattainable absolutes at the ends. The same words that told me to let light guide me and darkness define me, also told me that I have to become comfortable with the concepts that trouble me, one of them being absolutes.

Here’s to your independence on this day. Remember: everyone is talented, original, and has something important to say.


June 2013 Tweet

This is what I wrote for a tweet in June 2013. It is about how I used to commute to work for a quarter of my non-work, non-sleep hours. I tried to fit in socializing and eating to the remaining hours, and sleep took a hit. At least with so much time in the car, I listened to a lot of music I hadn’t heard before. Some of it was great and kept me awake, some of it made my yawns louder.

I’m moving to a place much closer to work today, so I don’t have to mismanage the time I go to bed and then be tired the next day. It wasn’t mentioned (Twitter favors brevity), but I can now bike or walk to work.

There are plenty of wells for natural light in my new place. It will be quiet and comfortable. I visited it yesterday, and even though the carpets were wet from cleaning and my pants and socks absorbed this moisture, it was comfortable to be there.

Tangent: sometimes I wonder if I should be a radio personality. I think my voice sounds better than those of some of these reporters.

Getting more sleep?

May 2013 Tweet

I wrote a tweet for the month of May. It is about not really having a home right now. I’m sleeping on a bed these days, which is better than crashing on couches before I moved. My time is split between two cities an hour apart, making two hours of my day in a car. Tired of my unreliable car and too much time of the day with it, today I acquired a new used car and a trench of debt for it. I also put down a chunk of cash to have a place to call my own in this new state, rather than 40% of a spare bedroom. But for now I’m still in transition. Most of my things are in boxes. It’s a relief to know I function great with few material possessions, but it’s frustrating when I can’t find my checks or toothbrush.

Master of Transitions,

April 2013 Tweet, and Thoughts on Romanticism

(Author’s note: It’s funny to me comparing the lengths of a 69-character tweet and the rest of this piece.)

I made a tweet for the month of April, even though the month has just begun. So many other things have just begun, like relationships with certain people here around the current location of Port Manteau.

I’ve got a hunch that those who know I’m leaving don’t want to think about it. “Jealous” is a word that’s come up. My mom says they’re jealous because I’m actually going after what I want rather than passively living. I said the necessary disturbance in equilibrium is pretty unsettling. Then again, as my dear friend J and I would note during a visit to the natural history museum, some fish had to crawl up on land and be uncomfortable there, or else we’d never exist. Put another way, “There are no fat tigers.”

The tweet, a haiku, is a short account about being in love with someone I barely got to know. She said, “I knew from the moment I met you that we knew each other in a past life.” I was touched by this, and I believed her. She told me this when I was sitting next to her while she was building a fire. I was across from her with candle fire in between before that. I see a fire in her eyes and I think she sees the fire in mine. I’m a Leo, she’s an Aries, and by the words of astrology we’re supposed to be hopelessly linked by our common element of fire. Fire entwines us. I have to think that if past lives actually exist, mine was spent sitting next to her previous form by the fire.

All I will have to think of her soon are two of her drawings, one she made by the candle fire mentioned. One day I will probably burn these in a fire.

I completely forget that she has a boyfriend when I’m around her. Why does she always sit so close to me?! I can’t imagine her boyfriend sets her on fire; he’s just around with arms around.

Why do I always fall in love with a woman who’s taken?! Do I find it more interesting that way? Do I have no hope for single ladies? Sorry, Beyoncé. Really, if I’ve got any fetishes, it’s got to be that I can’t have you. I sometimes think I’m the Paperman, where the challenge to get to you is the most appealing part. I’m Wile E. Coyote, where it’s the chase, the anticipation, rather than actually eating the Roadrunner that I need. Captain Ahab fits, too.

My friend P says that I’m not romantic. (Then again, upon describing my morning spent dancing to 60s rock in swim trunks simultaneously eating breakfast, he called me quite the romantic devil.) I can’t think of anything more romantic (in the general sense), than wanting the impossible and being completely irrational. (Or as my friend Bee (B?) would quote Tom Robbins, “Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules.”) This is shown in the picture below, Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich. I see myself as the man in this picture. I perch on perilous precipices with that pose, pining.


Always pining, always whining,

March 2013 Tweet

Here be my tweet for March 2013, and not dragons. It is about appreciating silence, and not filling it in with noise. It’s a daunting challenge, because for me, my brain is a noisy, noisy thinking machine. When I don’t get a response to a message or an “ACK” to something I’ve tried to say, I create outcomes in my head for why there is silence. Maybe my breath smells or I said too much or I said too little or and so on. But it’s silly to do that, because I’ll never know why without actually receiving an “ACK”. It’s as if I pursue where a paper plane flew when I threw from the top of K2, and I don’t let the view imbue true roo.

Whoever got the John Cage reference in the tweet gets +10 points.

Love in March,

February 2013 Tweet

Here you’ll find a link to my February 2013 tweet. It is about thinking that you did something wrong, made a mess, but realizing that if you hadn’t acted you’d probably feel worse. It’s hard to say how you would feel or wouldn’t feel in another parallel universe, but maybe someday we’ll find a way to squeeze higher dimensional branes together and take a peek at ourselves in other universes. I’m going to start a copyright on LookingGlass©, the IP that allows this to happen.