I am a psychiatrist from Bengaluru (Bangalore) India, living in England for over a decade. A trained vocalist and a composer in Indian Classical Music, I write poetry in several languages including Kannada, Sankethi, Tamil and English. I am particularly interested in haiku, tanka and other allied genres. Many of my writings in these genres have won prizes and been published in various reputed journals and anthologies. Some of the prizes are the An (Cottage) prize in the Genjuan International Haibun contest 2015 and a runner-up in the Snapshot Haiku Calendar contest 2015, to name a couple. I am also the proofreader for the journals Cattails and Skylark, and the editor of the Seedpods bulletin of the United Haiku and Tanka Society. I will also be editing the 2016 haiku anthology of the British Haiku Society.

Haiku originated in Japan centuries ago, going through many changes to get the form it has today. It draws some of its essence from Buddhist and zen teachings, which in turn are often drawn from Hindu philosophy. Having been adopted into English as in many other languages, haiku’s development in each of these languages has been independent of the Japanese haiku in many ways. Here are some of my thoughts on haiku, very briefly. Haiku is counterintuitive in its approach to writing but intuitive in the reader’s understanding. Haiku is about “being”, not about the “thinking” or “doing”. It is about acceptance of things “as is”.

I believe that haiku uses language to shape silence, whereas most poetry use silence to shape words. The words provide a counterpoint to define the silence and the empty space (“ma” or shoonyata) better. There is as much to be understood from what is unsaid in a haiku, as from what is stated. This is what makes haiku work well. Also, it offers the reader the space to be a coauthor of the meaning, helping each one to make what he or she wants, within the broad outline drawn by the author. To that extent, it downplays individuality, ego and subjectivity, and strives for a universal connectedness. The tension between the two parts present in last haiku often requires a leap of intuitive understanding to make the connection and meaning. This can be awe-inspiring, humbling as well as very satisfying.

To me, writing is not only a means of expression, but also a form of therapy to overcome day to day stress.