Why Poetry is Nonfiction

Earlier this week, I finished formatting 100 Warm Days of Haiku. Ordinarily, this is where I would begin asking friends and fellow writers to look at it for me. Read and critique the poems, be sure the order makes sense. Look at the pictures and tell me if any of them need to be changed at all.

But the more I thought about what this book is, the more I realized that was not something I needed or wanted to do. This book is different. This book is true.

I have always wondered why poetry is classified as nonfiction, but after writing this book, I realize that has always been true. Poetry captures what is going on in the soul of its writer in a way that cannot be denied.

My 100 haiku were written and illustrated over the course of a four month period stretching from April 1 to July 31, 2021. To put it bluntly, this time period involvedogreat deal of change and upheaval for me personally, and that upheaval is reflected in this collection. There is anger, sorrow, beauty, love, loss and loneliness in this book. And there is also hope.

To give you an idea, here’s the description from the back of the book:

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but is it worth seventeen syllables? Poet Michelle Garren Flye explores the ancient form of Japanese poetry during three months of spring and summer. The book follows the author on a journey of change and transformation that she didn’t expect when she undertook the task, using the spare format of the haiku and her colorful illustrations to express emotions and desires that emerge from the chrysalis of her heart.

As I got closer to the end of the book, I tried to figure out how I would end it. I have never yet ended a book on a sour note. I’m not a tragic writer, and in spite of emotional upheaval, I am not a tragic person. I won’t spoil it, but I am so very proud of the final illustration, I thought I might share that with you:

Copyright 2021 Michelle Garren Flye

For more information, you can find 100 Days of Haiku on Amazon.

Adding Color to Writing

I’m so close to being done with 100 Warm Days of Haiku! It will be my longest poetry book yet. And my most unique book of any genre. I’m excited to share it, and I hope you’ll be excited, too. It’s a book meant for looking at as much as reading. Even UnSong didn’t really manage that.

Illustration by Michelle Garren Flye. Copyright 2021.

So I guess the very reasonable question would be why am I publishing a book that’s as much to look at as to read? I’m an author, not an artist, a poet, not a painter.

Short answer? I like to challenge myself. I like to be more. Long answer? This has been a complicated year in which I came to know a lot of interesting things about myself. I mean, none of us has had an easy year, right? Pandemic, home schooling, isolation, mask-wearing…it’s all a bit much. Add any other complications into the mix and you’ve got the makings of a good, old-fashioned nervous breakdown. And who didn’t have other complications?

My answer for the complications in my life was to dig deeper to find more. I found a lot. And 100 Warm Days of Haiku is my way of sharing it with you. So stay tuned for more information.

Coming soon in full color!

100 Warm Days of Haiku…finished

A glimpse of Haiku 99 before it became Haiku 99. Photo by Michelle Garren Flye

I completed 100 Warm Days of Haiku on July 31, 2021. It wasn’t what I started it out to be. If you remember, back in April, I started out full of hope and happiness. I wanted to write something cheerful to bring hope and happiness to the world in a time of darkness.

Well, best laid plans may never be realized. This summer has been a dark, cold one for me. The darkest and coldest I have ever experienced. Some would say I am lucky that this is so. I probably am. I am well and alive. The people I love are well and alive. And yet.

So my beautiful book is not what I wanted it to be. It became a sort of journal of my grief and loss. Haiku is not an easy form. Easy enough to write the correct number of syllables, not so easy to make them have meaning. I believe my life experience this summer gave an unexpected depth to the simple 17-syllable format of each poem.

And there is hope there, too. I am an irrepressible, inveterate, persistent optimist, so of course there is hope. A tiny blossom perhaps, but hope nonetheless, blooming in the weeds of lonely sorrow.

And now I am off to the editing and formatting stages of bookmaking. I’m hoping to have this one out by the beginning to middle of September. But I have my work cut out for me.

100 Warm Days of Haiku Cover (Work in progress)

You know that old adage about not making plans? My summer has been that adage over and over again. I’m living it. Starting on June 1, 2021, my life took a hard turn toward…something. I’m not quite certain what, but it definitely isn’t what I had planned for my summer. (Long walks on the beach, family time, maybe even a vacation for a change.)

Nevertheless, plans for my first full-color book of haiku are still progressing. I’m in the 80s now. And while my warm days have often felt cold, I’m finding plenty of inspiration in what life has chosen to throw my way.

So that’s something.

Today I started thinking about covers. I came up with this one. It seems to suit the book, which will have a definite feel of both beauty and loss. I’m hoping to end it on a positive note, however. Because I’m a positive person and it will take more than this…whatever it is…to keep me down.

Illustration by Michelle Garren Flye. Copyright 2021.

Update on…life…with a haiku

Summer. Warm days lazing by the pool, long walks on the beach, spending lots of time with friends and having fun.

If you’re having that kind of summer, I really envy you.

On the bright side, I am making progress on 100 Warm Days of Haiku. I am up to the 70s now in spite of life’s many interruptions. Thank God haiku is only 17 syllables long as that seems to be about the length of time I have to write now.

So don’t give up on me. I’ll regain my equilibrium eventually and hopefully venture back into romance or children’s books or maybe just a longer poem. But for the moment, I shall soldier on with my haiku.

At least it’s illustrated!

Haiku and illustration by Michelle Flye. Copyright 2021.

A Haiku for an Anniversary

I haven’t shared anything here in a while because I’m working hard on 100 Warm Days of Haiku. And my daughter thinks I share too much of my books before they’re published. She’s not wrong. It’s a delicate balance sharing enough to intrigue you but not enough to make it not worth your while to buy the book when it comes out. However, today is my 26th wedding anniversary and I just drew a very romantic haiku. 🙂 So I thought I’d share it. Here, for your reading and viewing pleasure, is Haiku 52, which will be in my upcoming poetry book, !00 Warm Days of Haiku.

Poem and Illustration by Michelle Garren Flye. Copyright 2021.

Happy Mother’s Day Haiku!

Has it really been more than a week since I posted an illustrated haiku? Trust me, I haven’t been idle. I’m working hard to get out my next illustrated poetry book 100 Warm Days of Haiku by fall. Which basically means I need to keep pace with what I did in April. Today I’m slowing down a little, but I have one ready for Mother’s Day, anyway.

This one is for the mothers. All the mothers. The mothers like me who were lucky enough to go the traditional route. The mothers of fur babies. The male mothers. The single mothers. The childless mothers. The adopted mothers. The old mothers, the new mothers, the tired mothers, the sad mothers, the happy mothers, the proud mothers, the I-don’t-know-why-I-did-this mothers, the will-this-ever-end mothers (yes…and no), the confused mothers (all of us), the grandmothers, the unexpected mothers, the I’m-supposed-to-be-an-aunt mothers… All the mothers.

My heart is with you all. Because we all know what it is to love someone else more than ourselves.

We shouldn’t be so damn hard on ourselves, but those precious lives we take on our souls are a burden we willingly bear—and often worry we didn’t bear well enough.

For you, mothers.

Poem and illustration by Michelle Garren Flye. Copyright 2021.

UnSong (T minus 1 DAY!): Final blurbs

I’ve saved some very special people for last on my list. I’m fortunate enough to belong to a group of local writers, every one of whom is extremely talented. If you think self-published authors just don’t make the cut for talent, you HAVE NOT read the work of these writers. Everyone’s self-published for a different reason. Sometimes you don’t want to jump through the hoops required for publishing. Sometimes you don’t want to write what the publishers want to publish. And sometimes you just want to cut the crap and publish your book already.

With that said, my group is made up of four of the most talented writers I’ve ever crossed paths with (and me), and all of them gave me feedback on UnSong. Three of them went so far as to offer a blurb for the cover. And here they are:

UnSong is a beautiful compilation with an amazing amount of breadth and variety. Ms. Flye is literally a song writer! I particularly enjoyed the themes of “staying” and “taking flight”. 

—Tracie Barton-Barrett, author of Buried Deep in Our Hearts and Finding Her Spirit

Ms. Flye’s personality shines brightly through both her poetry and her illustrations. A lovely and relevant book to behold!

—Leslie Tall Manning, award-winning author of Knock on Wood and Upside Down in a Laura Ingalls Town

Michelle Garren Flye’s poetry, art, and photography excite my senses and touch my heart. Oh, what a talent!

—Padgett Gerler, author of Invisible Girl and The Gifts of Pelican Isle

Heather W. Cobham was the one who suggested I put dragonflies on the cover, which, in my mind, rounded out the book in a fantastic way.

For more information on these fantastic ladies and their writing, check out their websites:

Tracie Barton-Barrett

Heather W. Cobham

Padgett Gerler

Leslie Tall Manning