Carmen Sterba lived in Japan as a student, instructor and mother for 31 years. She has one degree in Far Eastern Asian Studies, another in Literature and is now studying at a seminary. Lakewood, WA and Kamakura, Japan are her hometowns. Her three bi-lingual, bi-national and bi-cultural sons are her biggest achievement.
Wim Lovers in the Netherlands published her first chapbook, sunlit jar in 2002, '03 and '05. After returning to the U.S.A. in 2004, Carmen volunteered as Secretary of the Haiku Society of America in 2005-06 and is now serving as the HSA 1st Vice President. Locally, she's a member of Haiku Northwest and the Tacoma Area Literature Enthusiasts.
1. Why do you write haiku?
It all started with a month's visit to Japan when I was 18 and a cast member of "Up with People." I promised myself to return to Japan when I was a junior in college. In my preparation to study in Japan, I started to collect books on translated haiku because I felt an inherent sensibility that drew me to haiku. At that time, I did not know that there were international haiku poets.
I moved to Japan, majored in Far East Asian Studies and ended up living there for 31 years. I think I learned a lot about the subtleties of haiku by osmosis, and finally in the mid nineties, I started composing haiku and found my niche. In retrospect, I believe that haiku has brought together my two worlds and made me more whole.
2. What other poetic forms do you enjoy?
Now that I am back in my hometown again, I became involved in a poetry group and poetry readings in the Tacoma area. One of my haibun was just published in an anthology of local poets, "In Tahoma's Shadow." Tahoma is original Native American name for Mt. Rainier.
I write some tanka and love to research the history of the Japanese poetry, so I started writing occasional articles on tanka poets and poetic diaries for the Tanka Society of America's Ribbons in the last two years. However, haiku is my focus and my heart song!
3. Of the many wonderful haiku you've written, what do you consider to be your top three?
The choice of one's one haiku is very subjective. My favorites are:
single living —
I allow the tea kettle
a long whistle
The Heron's Nest V:3; Valentine's Awards 2004, Honorable Mention
that space between us
now an ocean
A New Resonance 4: Emerging Voices of English-Language Haiku, Red Moon Press, 2005
the beekeeper's gift
on the doorstep
The Heron's Nest, Vol. III:6, sunlit jar, 2002, '03. '05
If you've been enjoying this weekly series and have not contributed, please consider sharing your response (whether it be for haiku or tanka) to the three little questions that Carmen answered. You must be a published poet in order to participate.
Ann K. Schwader will be our guest next week.