CAMDEN, Maine — From the window of her tiny home office, Kristen Lindquist can look out on the fast-moving Megunticook River and watch the avian dramas that play out overhead.
It’s a good view for a poet — especially a poet with a plan.
Three eagles, one duck.
Sometimes the odds mean nothing:
lucky duck escaped.
Lindquist has been busy for more than two years keeping up with her blog, “ Book of Days,” in which she endeavors to write a haiku every day. She began the project on Nov. 1, 2009, and intended it to last a year. After reaching that goal, though, the Coastal Mountains Land Trust development director found that she missed it, and restarted in earnest a few months later.
“What I found myself doing was paying a little more attention during my day to that poetic moment,” Lindquist said in early January from her home. “Some days I’d come home after writing grants all day and feel brain-dead. It would force me to find something poetic in the mundane.”
A dose of honey,
summer distilled, what I need
for a winter cold.
Haiku, a Japanese poetry form that is familiar to most schoolchildren, most often focuses on ordinary life and the seasons. It’s derived from a formal, courtly poetry form that dates to the 13th century called Renga, Lindquist said.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “There wasn’t even an America at that point. The Asian tradition of poetry is just millenia old.”
The haiku has just three lines, the first with five syllables, the second with seven and the third with five. Although it is short and simple, it has a long history and a lot of traditions. Poets often use a key word as a clue to the season described in each poem. Lindquist usually accompanies her blog posts with a brief essay.
“White sky all day, like a blank sheet of paper wrapped around the landscape,” she wrote on the Dec. 30 post. “Then, as if someone shook the air, big dry snowflakes began to fall all around us. It was like walking through a snow globe, hushed and quiet. Until the crows began cawing upriver. It’s always something with those crows. They only allow so much stillness.”
The world’s a snow globe,
self-contained, fragile. Careful
not to shake too hard.
Lindquist has a master of fine arts degree in poetry from the University of Oregon, but like many poets, has a day job.
“Poetry, you’re not going to make any money off it,” she said wryly.
Although she has been a member of different poetry groups over the years, she likes to have a goal to keep her writing. One such goal was a set of poems she wrote for work, published now as a chapbook titled, “The poetry of place: Bald & Ragged Mountains.”
“Nature has always been my primary focus as a writer,” Lindquist said. “In grad school, it seems like everybody was writing about relationships and family. … I was trying to get away from that confessional sort of poetry. A lot of poetry seems really depressing. I just wanted to write about happy things. What brings me joy. And it’s birds and nature.”
The inspiration for her haiku blog came after she saw the movie “Julie and Julia,” about a New York woman’s efforts to cook and blog about every recipe in Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.”
“I wanted a way to force myself to write, to keep writing,” Lindquist said.
She has had a positive response to “Book of Days,” with friends and family who follow along as well as some strangers. When she took the hiatus from her blog, she found that while she didn’t miss having it on her daily to-do list, she did miss having it as a creative outlet.
“I felt like I was ignoring that part of myself,” Lindquist said. “I need to do something to address the creative side of myself. Words are the way I do it. Just that magic of the metaphor — using words that are turning one thing into another thing. And someone reading it can see that change. It’s a magical thing.”
Lindquist’s new book of poems, “Transportation,” is available at the Owl & Turtle Bookshop in Camden and at Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick.
Her haiku blog, “Book of Days,” can be found at klindquist.blogspot.com.