A member since 1999, Billie Wilson is, at the present time, the only member of HSA living in the great state of Alaska. She notes that it has been especially lonely in Alaska since the death of haiku poet and former Regional Coordinator Cindy Zackowitz, with whom she corresponded almost daily to find ways to reach other Alaska poets. Currently serving as RC for Alaska, she hopes that the Internet will lead more Alaska poets to the haiku community that has become like a second family to her. Perhaps this profile will help in this regard.
Billie's first attempts at writing haiku date back to the late 1960s where, like many beginners, she believed that the only guiding principles of haiku were that they be poems about nature and written in a 5-7-5 syllable format. The Poetry Society of Alaska sponsored a haiku contest judged by Harold G. Henderson, at whose suggestion an anthology was created. Henderson selected six of Billie’s haiku. She admits that she didn't realize what a fortuitous honor this was until decades later.
She continued to occasionally write haiku-shaped poems in her tiny notebook, thoroughly enjoying this exercise as a way to connect with nature. A deeper interest in haiku began in 1997 when she learned about magazines that publish haiku, which led to correspondence with, and a treasured mentorship by, Robert Spiess of Modern Haiku. She later discovered the thriving haiku community online and, as she puts it, "my life has never been the same."
Billie describes haiku as "the heartbeat of my world. Whether reading or writing, haiku sharpens focus and opens awareness. So much can be said in so few words, and that remains a stunning magic."
A sample of her work, which won First Place, Harold G. Henderson Award (2003), appeared in Frogpond XXVII:1 (2004):
from a beach near Savoonga—
For younger poets, Billie has this advice:
"Enjoy the process regardless of whether anything gets published. Read current and back issues of Frogpond and other leading haiku journals. Build a library of the most respected haiku guidance books, chapbooks, and anthologies. Study carefully. Write often. Edit with a relentless search for just the right words. Keep studying. Keep writing. Become obsessed."