Meet Roland Packer
A very warm welcome from the whiptail team. Tell us a little about yourself - your family, your hobbies, your dreams, or anything else you want the readers to know about you, apart from being a haiku poet.
I live in Hamilton, Ontario with my wife of 43 years, Louise. Since the mid-70s, I've worked as a professional musician juggling various roles: church organist and choir director; hammered dulcimer player in a folk duo; and as a piano and music theory instructor. I'm semi-retired now—just a few online theory students - so I have more time for writing music and haiku.
What made you decide to try out haiku and/or tanka in one line versus their more popular enjambed formats? How does it feel different to you?
I was aware of different approaches to haiku form (one, two, and four-line, concrete, and even the related one-word poem) early in my writing and experimented with many of them. One-line haiku initially had the “rapid-read” that caught my attention at first. Other poetic opportunities became apparent after writing a few: ambiguous breaks, pivot words, more varied symmetric and asymmetric phrase/fragment arrangements, and so on.
Many poets still struggle with the dilemma of whether a particular poem will work better as a one-line poem than the enjambed form and vice-versa. What is the deciding factor in your practice?
I don't usually set out to write a one-line haiku. I let the content suggest what form is the most effective.
It would be a great help to our readers if you could walk us through your writing process from conception to the eventual birth of a one-line poem. You are most welcome to take a one-line poem or two of yours to discuss how it came to be and/or process.
Here is an original haiku start and the revisions to make it a one-line poem.
1) first draft:
as they were . . .
A minimalist 3-line (short-long-short) with a seasonal stock expression as the third line. Cosmic time expressed—the stars as they were in the past due to the speed of light.
2) a try as a one-line:
the stars as we were summer night
A more rapid-read and the comparison of cosmic time to the human past is starting to develop.
3) next draft:
as we were starry night
The elimination of a haiku stock expression.
as they were as we are starry night
“They” refers to both our ancestors as well as the stars, juxtaposing human life span against cosmic time with chant-like symmetrical phrasing.
Roland Packer (he/him) has been writing haiku since the early 80s. He was one of the featured poets in A New Resonance 6 (Red Moon Press, 2009) and has a mini chapbook, Wayfarers (Phafours Press, 2017).