“Haiku Heart” is Gideon Young’s interview with Roberta Beary in the latest issue of Juxtapositions, The Haiku Foundation’s scholarly journal. Both Gideon and Roberta are longtime NCHS members, as is Crystal Simone Smith, the Juxtapositions editor who put Gideon and Roberta together. You can access the digital version of JuxtaEight here.
The interview gives a retrospective of Roberta’s life as a daughter, mother, and haiku poet now living in the town of Westport in The Republic of Ireland. One highlight is her involvement with One Breath, a multi-media collaboration with Clan Beo, an organization that helps those with disabilities and their families navigate social services.
Clan Beo asked their families to write brief stories about “reluctant engagements,” interactions with social services that made them feel disempowered. Roberta was asked to edit these stories so they could be used in training. Along the way, she was moved to write haiku in response to the stories. She eventually got the idea of combining the narratives and her haiku into a book.
Roberta, Willie Walsh, and Mary White then brought the experience full circle. They invited the families served by Clan Beo to a haiga workshop where they were encouraged to create simple brushstroke art in response to their narratives. One Breath combines stories and images by Clan Beo clients with Roberta’s haiku. You can access the digital version of One Breath here.
Haiku are often written about encounters with Nature, but projects like One Breath remind us that haiku can reveal telling moments in our difficult lives.