your skin so warm—
outside, the wild currant
blossoms into pink

Writing can be a solitary business. I sit alone with pen and notebook, while words and phrases float like feathers above my head, tantalizingly close but refusing to be captured and organized into a poem.

Once I have something that I think might work, I am so close to it that I can't tell if it's any good, or whether it would make sense to anyone else. Or else I wonder if I am over-explaining an idea that should be as compact and sparkling as a gemstone. I try out drafts on my ever-supportive husband, but in the end it's still up to me to decide how the poem will read.

But in the beginning of February, I discovered a lively Facebook group called NaHaiWriMo, for National Haiku Writing Month. Though launched in 2011 just for the month of February, the page became so popular that it is now active all year. People from around the world, from beginners to widely published poets, post their efforts in response to a daily haiku prompt. Three months into the exercise, I have close to 80 new poems, many so-so, but several I'm happy with. The resulting poems range from silly to profound. A couple of examples:

For the prompt "wig":

blonde wig
the checkout clerk
checks her out

For the prompt "queue":

breath follows breath
how many more
left in the queue?

Through the structure and support of this virtual community, I am writing far more poems than I would have on my own, and honing my craft, one day and one syllable at a time. Like the wild currant outside our front door, I, too, am blossoming.

You can follow my efforts by "liking" the Makino Studios Facebook page or following @Ant99 on Twitter. Or check out the NaHaiWriMo page and join the fun!

The haiku in the painting above was written as part of NaHaiWriMo and then painted on rice paper with sumi ink and watercolor. It is one of the new pieces I will be showing at two group shows this month. Here are some upcoming events:

Group Show, Ink Annex Gallery. This show highlights artists participating in North Coast Open Studios in June. Reception Saturday, May 5, 6-9 p.m. during Arts Alive. 47B West 3rd Street, Eureka, California. Show runs through May.

Group Show, MikkiMoves Living Room Gallery. Opening Saturday, May 5, 6-9 p.m. during Arts Alive. 7th and I Streets, Eureka, California. Show runs through June.

North Coast Open Studios. The public is invited to tour my studio Saturday and Sunday, June 2-3, 2012. (Map)

Live Oak Park Fair — Juried arts and crafts fair, Berkeley, California, June 9-10, 2012.

Also, three new retailers are now carrying my haiku cards: Wildberries in Arcata, and Mendocino Book Company and Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op in Ukiah. For the full list of retailers, see the Store page.