The Buson Challenge is, in short, an attempt to write 10 haiku a day for 100 days. If you want to know more, view this clip from Mike Rehling’s 2020 talk “Finding Yourself in a Poem,” presented at the 2020 HSA Conference. (In case the link doesn’t work correctly, the part about the Buson Challenge starts at 14:45.) This year is my third go-around, and hopefully my first successful attempt.
At the moment, I can’t locate the spreadsheet where I tracked my initial efforts. Maybe it got deleted somewhere down the line. But either way, I tried in 2020 and 2021, and neither time resulted in me completing the challenge. I don’t think I even got halfway through. Even when you’re giving yourself permission to write downright terrible haiku, it’s not easy to write 10 a day. The first two times, my biggest issue wasn’t getting the haiku down; I gave myself permission to write some truly awful stuff, which meant I could meet the quantity requirement. (Thankfully there is no quality requirement.) My biggest issue was simply remembering to actually get in 10 a day. I might get 3 in one writing session, 4 in another, and then get distracted and forget the rest.
This year, after I announced Haiku Girl Summer (my limited-run online haiku journal), a haiku friend asked me if I’d heard of the Buson Challenge. I had completely forgotten about it! 2022 was a terrible year for my creative life, and writing 10 haiku a day for 100 days was not going to work with everything else I was juggling. But now I’ve settled into a job I like, the house is getting more organized, and I have the brain space to actually write again.
As of this writing, I’ve successfully completed 12/100 days. I’ve definitely written more mediocre and genuinely bad haiku than good, though since most of the haiku are still in my notebook and not typed up, I don’t have sense of the overall proportion so far. But I’m surprising myself; the overall quality each day is better than anticipating. Most days, I manage at least one haiku that has potential.
Preferred notebook: Field Notes
Notebooks filled: 1
Places I’ve written:
- My back patio
- My kitchen table
- My neighborhood on dog walks
- Tower Grove Park
- Forest Park
- Soulard Farmer’s Market
- City Coffee and Creperie
- Mission Taco Joint
- Kampai Sushi Bar
- Goshen Coffee
- Seoul Taco
- Bruja @ Mad Art
- The neighborhoods surrounding my workplace on my lunch walk
So far, I’m having a fantastic time with this challenge, and feel optimistic that I might actually get all the way through!