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New to Haiku: Advice for Beginners – Kala Ramesh, Part 2

When you are New to Haiku, you may not know anyone who shares your interest in this little poetry form. We asked established haiku poets to share a little about themselves so that you can meet them and learn more about their writing journeys. We, too, wanted to learn what advice they would give to beginning haiku poets.

This week, we continue our interview with Kala Ramesh, the notable Indian haiku poet. You can meet Kala and learn more about her in the first part of our interview here. Join us next week for the conclusion, in which Kala gives specific advice for those just beginning their haiku journeys.

This week’s question for Kala is: Where do you most often write? Do you have a writing process?

Kala Ramesh reading haiku during the dance charades event at the 2019 HNA conference.

My morning hours are best for creative work and it was so even when I was into music practice. To me each morning is an unwritten slate, and the impressions I make come from a depth of truth, which is what I would like to believe! In Sanskrit, swa means self and ra means light or to bring forth, meaning when the artist touches her ‘soul’, we say her art (be it music, painting or writing) is ‘felt’ and when that happens, like a pendulum which swings from left to right – the work swings out to touch the reader. Without doubt, a long journey…

Mine has always been a labour of love. I do go over a poem several times or at times I just leave it aside and allow it to gestate! I don’t have any fixed writing process as such. I have a group of poets with whom I share my work and we critique each others’ poems in a healthy way.

We all have an urge to create – haikai is my way of giving expression to this urge. Whether in haiku, tanka or haibun, when we are able to introduce dynamism into an image with concise language – the poem, we say, becomes alive. In Indian thought, this is called ‘prana pratistha’. This transformation fascinates me.

When being in nature and when observing people, my eyes become the camera and my mind becomes the paper. The poem then happens in the isolation of my room – all creation happens in and from silence, doesn’t it?

Kala Ramesh takes her Symbi students on a ginko walk.


Poet, editor, anthologist, and festival director Kala Ramesh has been the foremost advocate and practitioner of haiku and allied Japanese poetry forms in India, including tanka, haibun, and renku. Kala, who is also an Indian classical singer, has created magic in the world of Japanese poetry by not only authoring critically acclaimed books and poems but also cultivating hundreds of Indians to immortalize the spirit of Japanese short forms of poetry.

Kala has organized six haiku festivals and conducted countless workshops in haikai literature all over her country. Kala’s initiatives culminated in founding “INhaiku” in 2013, the umbrella organization of Indian haiku poets. As an external faculty member, Kala has been teaching haikai poetry to undergraduates at the Symbiosis International University Pune and to school children at the Katha Creative Writers’ Workshop since 2012.

Julie Bloss Kelsey is the current Secretary of The Haiku Foundation. She started writing haiku in 2009, after discovering science fiction haiku (scifaiku). She lives in Maryland with her husband and kids. Julie's first print poetry collection, Grasping the Fading Light: A Journey Through PTSD, won the 2021 Women’s International Haiku Contest from Sable Books. Her ebook of poetry, The Call of Wildflowers, is available for free online through Moth Orchid Press (formerly Title IX Press). Her most recent collection, After Curfew, is available from Cuttlefish Books. Connect with her on Instagram @julieblosskelsey.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. “…all creation happens in and from silence, doesn’t it?”
    Indeed. Creation is energy made manifest, arising from the ever-full emptiness that is silence.
    I’m always aware of art (poetry) as a co-creation.
    It arises through me and seems part of me, but I am not its source.
    Haiku allows one to experience the reality, in which one is both all and nothing.

  2. Mornings are a good creative time for me as well. I begin the day with a time of quiet, and I love watching the light through the days and seasons. Sunrises, work in the kitchen, and then the view from my small study are all sources of inspiration. I think of my blogs in an informal way – a place to practice. I try to record what I see in an accurate way, and later may be able to improve the craft. Over the years, on a blog, there is a context for poems. This is different than when a poem is in a book or journal – and readers have a different context. So a poem can change, and have more than one version.

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